Bette Midler

Bette's ad

Kiss my brass!

The purpose of last week's visit to Las Vegas — when I forgot my dongle — was to see Bette Midler's latest show, Kiss My Brass, at the MGM Grand.

As Bette says, "I'm not retiring, and you can't make me!" And I say, "Thank goodness for that!"

Bette always makes an entrance, and this show was no exception. The stage was gussied up with a big proscenium representing Coney Island in the early 1900s. Bette entered riding on a merry-go-round horse suspended from a track that came out from behind the stage on one side, circled all the way around the front of the stage, and went back in behind on the other side.

Bette takes no prisoners! Her opening routine was very political and very bold. One of the milder jokes: "Las Vegas is such a wonderful place. There's always so much going on here — non-stop gambling, free drinks, legalized prostitution... Thank goodness this state voted for 'moral values'!"

She found opportunities to poke fun at just about everybody, including herself for her disastrous CBS sitcom that was ignominiously cancelled after a few episodes. And there was a poke at the "Britney Bunch" — "You know, all these new girls are so trashy! And do I get a thank-you note? I opened the door for trashy singers with bad taste and big tits and don't you forget it."

At least one couple sitting near me stalked out after about 15 minutes. What did they think they were going to see, The Hour of Power? Of course there's no such thing as red state riff-raff, but if there were, these two would have been.

Delores De Lago

And the Coney Island theme was a great excuse to indulge in Bette's trademark Delores De Lago routine, this time set up as "Delores the Fish Woman" in the sideshow. Of course, Delores was not satisfied just being a freak in the sideshow — her dream was to take her show to Broadway, which of course she did, as "Fishtails Over Broadway." This, in turn, was an excuse for production numbers based on all the Broadway standards: "All that jazz" (Chicago), "One" (A Chorus Line), "Oklahoma" (Oklahoma), and "Hello Dolly" (Hello Dolly). For this last number, Bette descended a grand curving staircase riding one of those electric staircase elevators! It's all shtick, glorious shtick.

Of course there were the now standard ribald Sophie Tucker jokes. Never mind that Sophie Tucker would not have dared to tell these jokes. I would include some for your entertainment, but I always laugh so hard I can't remember them.

Bette, I'll be happy to kiss your brass!