Sunday, December 27, 2009

Divine beginnings.....

Since I just recently posted my recollections [at Felix in Hollywood] regarding my very first Midler sighting, I thought it might be high time to do the moment a wee bit more justice. Here's how it went....

I just happened to be up that fateful night (in 1970 (?)....I don't know the precise date/year) and watched la Midler do her thing on "The Tonight Show". It was as if i'd been struck....oh how stupid of me to say that, of course i'd been struck! Slapped is more like it! It was a true 'moment' and I needed to do something about it, but it must've been after midnight and that gave me few options available. Somehow, I had the nerve to grab paper & pen and write a letter. I'm certain it was awful, back then, I barely knew what a sentence was, but write I did. i have no idea what I wrote...frothy misspelled blather from an illiterate 16 year old, BUT, I do remember one sentence and it was, "I think you're hot shit." I mailed it off the next day to Bette, in care of "The Tonight Show". The response I received is postmarked February 5, 1971. As you can see, the stationary is a very sunshiny yellow [with a predominantly pink flowered liner that you cannot see, sorry]. It's return address reads "Midler c/o Friedman 358 W.44th St.. NYC, NY". The letter reads, "Dear Matthew: Your letter was a total delight and I am thrilled that you think I am Hot Shit. I think I am too, Isn't it wonderful?! Thank you for taking the time to write me- it's nice to know that there are people out there who understand what I do- yours, Bette Midler"

If you think i ever acted blase about receiving this, you're wrong.

Now as for my first LIVE viewing, dates are sketchy. It occurred at Lenny's on the Pike, a dump in Danvers, Massachusetts. i had the foresight to snatch a little souvenir from that show; a tacky yet delightful placard. This table topper had been amateurly pasted up, touting Midler as Johnny Carson's discovery, giving Barry Manilow, musical director, a small plug and proclaiming that their $1.40 roast beef & home baked hams sandwiches, "are hearty and wholesome". The bottle of Soave Bolla was $6.05. The dates written are June 29-July 2. (one can only hope that her 4th of July gig was a step up from this dump!) My problem is with what year this was. 1971? ...1972....'73? 

This note came later, after I indulged myself and wrote again. Can you blame me? Heck, look at that return address she wrote on the first note! She was practically begging me to write. Lightning did not strike twice though....printed stationary and NO return address. I got the message. Just noticed the stamp on this envelope, I wonder what "right to lifers" would say about it?

As for the other concerts, there were so many I've forgotten a bunch. Every time she came into Boston, I'd be there. Saw "Art or Bust" in Universal City, CA. Years after she'd made it big, she played The Paradise on Commonwealth Ave. A very small room in comparison to her usual venues. At this show, I took a whole role of photos with my instamatic camera. What a joke, they're all blurs....except one. A very close-up, not so flattering shot of the lady herself.


  1. How great to be able to see the back up documentation!

    Welcome to the big roundup, cowboy.

    I'll be following you!

  2. Oh my! I just found out you've started a new blog!

    *rushes off to update Blogroll*

  3. I had no idea you and Felix went back so far!

    This is a very sweet post. I, too, have a letter from Miss M, in response to a huge missive my tormented teen-aged self felt compelled to write her. God only knows what sort of nonsense I spewed her way! It took many months, but when her reply unexpectedly arrived I just about died. Seriously!

    BTW, Norma, I always thought you were younger! My, but you photograph well.

  4. hey thom, maybe bette has gotten a letter from every gay boy, 1971-up until a few years ago? maybe one day (if she saved 'em) she'll put together a book? could be good?

    thanks for the compliment. i only use avedon for my photography....hymie avedon.

  5. Leave it to our Norma!!! What a fun read. And the postage stamp was a chuckle. I just bette you are full of stories. I have the gin if you have the time tootes.

    1. the postage stamp was a chuckle? sweetheart, in 1971, EVERYTHING was a chuckle. xx


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