The Divine Miss F

Bette Midler on feminism and diva boot camp.

Topics: Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

I have always loved Bette Midler. No, not for “Beaches” or that “From a Distance” song. No, I love her for “The Rose” and the series of little-remembered but hilarious comedies she did in the ’80s (“Ruthless People,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” and the grossly underrated Shelley Long buddy picture, “Outrageous Fortune”). And because she has an amazing voice and seems unapologetic about being a pain in the ass, and because she talks nonstop about the environment and routinely puts her time and money into cleaning up New York City’s parks.

All this is to say that I was thoroughly pleased to see her interviewed in this week’s Time magazine about her new album of Peggy Lee covers. She tells reporter Richard Zoglin that she first came across Lee’s music when her old bathhouse accompanist, Barry Manilow, sent her some songs. “In my excavation of cool,” Midler explained, “like Miles and Chet and the beatniks — she never came up. The women never came up. It was always the men. And she was cooler than any of them.”



When Midler, who last released an album of Rosemary Clooney covers, tells Zoglin that she loved Mae West as a kid, he asks. “Is there a feminist theme in the artists you celebrate?” She answers: “Yes, I think there is, really. I’ve always liked kind of independent spirits, because they’re not fake. They’ve kind of accepted the fact that this is the way for them, and they’re not going to hide their light. I’ve always felt myself a little bit outside the mainstream. My parents never told me that there was any other way to be. They always insisted that I was going to work for a living, that I didn’t have to get married, that I didn’t have to take any old job, that I should fight for something that I really loved.”

But the best part is her announcement of what she’s doing next, which, she claims, is “creating diva boot camp. I’m going to tell all the little girls who want to be a big diva how to laugh.”

Diva. Boot. Camp. I am so there.

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>