How does Bette Midler celebrate Halloween? If her tenth annual Hulaween Gala at the Waldorf the other night was any indication, by lacing into a string of good-natured obscenities to browbeat other celebs into supporting her New York Restoration Project, which cleans up, replants, and maintains neglected city parks.
It was a crowd of well-heeled, big-drinking nature lovers, all of whom had enough money to buy some fabulous costumes, like the man dressed as a Christmas tree covered in ornaments and the half-dozen Andy Warhols roaming about, including an unrecognizable Michael Kors, who’d added a prosthetic forehead and nose to his face. “What are you, Golda Meir?” Harvey Fierstein, dressed as John from Peter Pan, asked Midler’s co-emcee, Joy Behar. “No! What? I’m the Queen!” she replied, hitting his arm. “I’m the blues,” said Willie Nelson, dressed in a black suit and looking exactly like Willie Nelson. “I’m Flora, the goddess of the garden,” said Midler, her thoughts trailing off. “Who are you?” she continued. “Oh! It’s Shalom. Goodness, what are you, dear?” Shalom Harlow, in a bikini, satin robe, Afro, and abdomen full of bullet wounds, said she and her date were dressed as Scarface. As she reached to say hello to Midler, she spilled a sizable amount of “coke” all over the Waldorf’s pristine carpet. Midler laughed. No one bothered to clean it up.
Midler’s goal for the event was enough money to line Harlem River Drive with mature cherry trees, and the night’s highlight was watching her and Behar bully the crowd into anteing up. First was an auction. “You can bid on tickets to a Barbra Streisand concert at the MGM, where she will tell you to go fuck yourself,” said Behar. “Worth every dime.” Another prize was “experiences with Rosie O’Donnell and me,” Behar said. “I don’t know what that means, but you should know I’ve never been into muff diving.”
The shtick got more degenerate as the night went on. “Trees, like men, get better with age,” Midler said at one point, “and they’re always hard!” Then it got personal. “Martha, you can afford two trees,” said Midler, as assistants eagerly ran to give Martha Stewart a pledge card. “Martha came as a black cat. She crossed my path, and I don’t give a shit.” Said Behar: “Tomorrow I can name names on The View if hands don’t start going up for these fucking trees.”
They ended up raising more than $2 million.
— Jada Yuan