Watch rare footage of Bette Midler performing in a gay bathhouse

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Bette Midler has for a long-time been a gay icon, but you probably haven’t seen this performance she did in 1971.

Appearing at New York’s Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse, Midler jokes: “This is my 800th farewell appearance here at the Continental.”


The archive footage shows Midler at around 1971 at the now abandoned Continental.

Continuing, Midler jokes: “I didn’t expect to be back so soon…They had me booked at Fire Island…I was supposed to work at Cherry Grove — I was supposed to sing. But they couldn’t find room for me in the bushes.”

Continental owner Steve Ostrow opened the bathhouse in 1968 at the Ansonia Hotel on the Upper West Side.

He said he was starting a “nightclub in his basement”.

According to reports at the time, Midler had been booked for a 20 minute slot at the venue, but hadn’t been aware that lots of the men would be more scantily clad than her usual appearances.

She goes on with the show, however blasting through a number of hits.

According to the video’s description: “Due to her performances at the baths, Bette Midler earned the nickname Bathhouse Betty. It was at the Continental, accompanied by pianist Barry Manilow, that she created her stage persona the Divine Miss M.”

Check out the footage below: