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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 298 > BETTE ON IT


She’s been an ally of the LGBT community pretty much for ever — she’s not known as Bathhouse Bette for no reason — and now Bette Midler appears in a new film about a gender-bending teen

Bette Midler had plenty of snap, cackle and pop as one of our favourite cinematic crones, Winifred Sanderson, in cult hit Hocus Pocus. “You know I’ve always wanted a child. And now I think I’ll have one… on toast,” she sneered. The film has been casting a spell over fans since its release in 1993, and more than two decades later the Divine Miss M proved fittingly bewitching over the course of a sweet and sassy interview. She even cackled once or twice. It was a kid-friendly chat, too, with no mention of any tot-based snacks.

Bidding aloha to her childhood home of Hawaii, Midler became a singing sensation on the New York gay scene in the 1970s, performing in the Big Apple’s be-there-or-be-square bathhouse, The Continental, in the basement of the Ansonia Hotel.

Rub-a-dub-dubbed “Bathhouse Bette”, she has supported and campaigned for LGBT+ rights since day one. This diva had long been our hag before she played one on the silver screen.

Not content with making a name for herself in the music business, Bette also sprinkled her mischievous brand of magic in movie gems ranging from 1988’s grab-a-deluxe-box-of-Kleenex weepie Beaches, playing spotlight-seizing singer CC Bloom, to 1996’s The First Wives Club, as scorned spouse Brenda Cushman. Our pillows are still soaked through from the tears.

With a trophy cabinet stocked with Grammys, Tonys, Golden Globes and Emmys (all she’s missing is an Oscar) the 72-year-old showbiz legend now returns to the big screen in Freak Show. Based on the bestselling novel by Monster Party author James St James, it’s the directorial debut of Trudie (wife of Sting) Styler and follows the story of genderbending teen Billy Bloom, played by rising British star Alex Lawther.

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About Attitude

QUEER EYE! Five-cover special issue. Plus: Bette Midler on why ageist and sexist Hollywood won’t bring back the cast of Hocus Pocus for a sequel, Whitney Houston’s secret childhood trauma, Drag Race All Stars Shangela, and the shocking reality behind the Truth Project.