Bette Midler | Lady Gaga | Music

Bette Midler Blasts Lady Gaga For Mermaid Wheelchair Bit

MidlerDelago Lady Gaga caused some controversy during a concert in Sydney last week, when she rolled onto stage as a mermaid in a wheelchair.

Differently-abled activists were upset by Gaga's antics, and some demanded an apology, and may have been behind Gaga nearly getting egged while coming out of a gay bar this weekend.

Singer Bette Midler, however, has a different bone to pick: she took to Twitter to remind Gaga that she originated the Mermaid wheelchair bit over three decades ago.

I’m not sure @ladygaga knows that I’ve performed my mermaid in a wheelchair for millions of people -- and many of them are still alive," The Divine Ms. M wrote. "Dear @ladygaga if you think a mermaid in a wheelchair seems familiar-it's because it is!You can see it on youtube 24/7-with ME performing it"

She also remarked, "I've been doing singing mermaid in a wheelchair since 1980-You can keep the meat dress and the firecracker tits - mermaid's mine."

Midler forgot to mention that Kurt Cobain also used a wheelchair during a 1992 performance.

Watch Midler's Mermaid character, Delores Delago, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. The next gay icon Lady Gaga will be stealing from will be Paul Lynde, when she ends up the center square with the other has-beens.

    @Grover, yes some of us young'uns are aware of Bette's career prior to the mixed bag that is her film career. The day they release her older cable TV specials on DVD, I'm there.

    Posted by: Attmay | Jul 17, 2011 5:01:15 PM

  2. Lady Xerox strikes again. The least original performer ever. Direct music copies to direct performance lifts. Now wonder Xerox is popular. Everyone has heard all before.

    Posted by: Brion | Jul 17, 2011 5:08:36 PM

  3. "Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal" - Picasso

    Gaga is like Midler - only with talent. HBO recently had a Midler special and it was so horrific that they didn't even want to put it on the schedule once it was filmed. Truth.

    Posted by: Ph | Jul 17, 2011 5:26:25 PM

  4. not a bette fan(nor gaga fan either) BUT!!!

    ".........You can keep the meat dress and the firecracker tits - mermaid's mine."

    100% agree and kudos to Bette. The singing wheelchair bound mermaid is Bette's

    Posted by: mstrozfckslv | Jul 17, 2011 5:31:36 PM

  5. someone on here said "Homage"
    Get Real.
    Lady Gaga, Steals out right.
    Great artist, but lets call it what it is..
    Just cuz youre young doesnt mean you get to
    be stupid.

    Posted by: ric | Jul 17, 2011 5:46:51 PM

  6. Gaga is one long homage. I believe she had semi-original ideas some time around 2009...but you know...'The Fame' got her and she realized she had to improve. Of course the lightning bolt effect wouldn't get far and thats when Gaga started paying 'homage'.

    Posted by: Riana | Jul 17, 2011 5:57:01 PM

  7. bwahahahaahaha......! there's a wheelchair banner ad up on the page right now...! That's a riot..! (sorry...I'm totally non-tech-y. )

    Posted by: Jeff | Jul 17, 2011 6:07:51 PM

  8. Hey Bette - No one cared about your "singing mermaid" then, and no one cares about it now. Get a life.

    Posted by: Jake | Jul 17, 2011 6:08:12 PM

  9. yaaawn

    Posted by: MoJo | Jul 17, 2011 6:18:22 PM

  10. Do you think Sophie Tucker took to twitter to complain when Miss M stole her personality? Or the Andrews Sisters, or... This compliant is just bizarre. Why would she not just be grateful for the compliment. Gaga certainly knew where the bit came from. Duh.

    Posted by: Trasker | Jul 17, 2011 6:27:02 PM

  11. Bette is actually accused of stealing the mermaid in a wheelchair from Warhol superstar Jackie Curtis. She saw his show and a week later it was in her own show, without credit. So who is the theif?

    Posted by: Marc | Jul 17, 2011 7:21:47 PM

  12. GaGa needs to tweet an image of her as a mermaid in a wheel chair with the caption "inspired by Jackie Curtis". That would shut Midler up.

    Posted by: Thomas | Jul 17, 2011 7:59:01 PM

  13. "Lady Xerox". Ha ha. *snort*.

    Posted by: evan | Jul 17, 2011 8:07:31 PM

  14. I didn't realize that mermaids, as an idea, were considered intellectual property. If they were, wouldn't Hans Christian Andersen have predated female divas (or some more pejorative term) like Bette Midler who are rather full of themselves?

    Posted by: Anthony-S | Jul 17, 2011 8:10:09 PM

  15. Coming soon: Gaga & Bette being huggy-kissy/all is forgiven for the cameras.
    Love the wheelchair ad accompanying this post! Almost as good as the bath salts ad accompanying the NYT story about people ending up in emergency rooms after snorting bath salts to get high.

    Posted by: Grady | Jul 17, 2011 8:28:08 PM

  16. Att: All GAYS !!

    Bette is God !!

    Get on your knees bitches !!!!

    Posted by: anthony | Jul 17, 2011 8:43:58 PM

  17. No one has commented on the term "differently-abled" in the news post? Excuse me while i retch.

    Posted by: scott | Jul 17, 2011 8:51:16 PM

  18. @ Anthony (From Anthony-S),

    Religious worship is not the best idea to begin with, but you're saying that god (God, whatever) is of the twatish persuasion? Not Buddhist or Episcopalian or something? Is god Reformed Twatish or Orthodox Twatish? Why not help to propel gay men to stardom as musical artists? Hey, now there's an idea.

    Posted by: Anthony-S | Jul 17, 2011 9:15:27 PM

  19. Bette is just trying to get a few mins of fame at the expense of Gaga. STFU Bette!

    Posted by: Crystal | Jul 17, 2011 9:19:47 PM

  20. Ummm....there is a Hoveround ad in my browser. Gotta love the search word thingie. LOL.

    On another note, I don't mean to sound bitchy, but Lady Gaga has been more vocal for marriage rights than the lukewarm response Bette gave Larry King a few years ago. I realize Bette is full marriage equality, but it took her a couple of years for her views to "evolve."

    Posted by: Angela Channing | Jul 17, 2011 9:43:53 PM

  21. I can't believe that some folks actually believe that what Lady Gaga has been doing since the release of her "Allejandro" video has been a string of homages to those who've come before her. That's rich. In order for something to be an homage, the artist has to actually go out of her way to make a statement starting with something along the lines of "this isn't a concept I've come up with" or "this is based on the work of" or "this is inspired by," etc. Gaga hasn't done that. She mentions - very generally - that she has been inspired by those who've come before her. That, however, isn't enough. Any work that is inspired by another artist has to be acknowledged. Besides, any artist that isn't inspired by the works of other artists isn't an artist.

    What Gaga does is appropriation. The fact that she doesn't educate people about her particular influences suggests that she doesn't know what those influences were (meaning someone in her legion of stylists has done the lifting and hasn't updated Gaga about it) or she wants to pass it off as something that she's created herself. If I apply the principle of charity, I guess it'd be fair to say she might have thought of the idea without ever having seen it done before, but I don't buy that because the people on her team have years of experience and have been following pop culture for as long as it has existed... certainly since the late 70s and early 80s; one of those people had to have told her "this has been done before."

    When Gaga said after the controversy over similarities between "Express Yourself" and "Born This Way," she suggested (through offensive, not-so-very accepting language) that she'd have to be stupid to purposely put out a song with such striking similarities. I agree. I didn't think it was that big of a deal, since both of those songs are simple pop tracks, meant to be consumed by the masses before moving on to something else.

    What Gaga is doing in this case is creating an entire character that is far too similar to another character that has been hauled out over and over for decades. So, she's either stupid, ignorant about what's been done or lying through her teeth. You can decide what any of those is, but you can't say it's homage, since Midler would have been in on it. Also, Gaga is running around talking about how this character is gestating or whatever the hell word she used to suggest that it didn't already exist. Well, it did exist.

    Posted by: TerryJackson1nyc | Jul 17, 2011 9:55:34 PM

  22. So there's really a debate over a tasteless idea that Bette didn't create herself and that Gaga was stupid enough to reproduce--even after her public apology for the "retarded" comment?

    I can assure you that are other ways for mermaids to be mobile than using a wheelchair.

    Both of these women can stand up from the wheelchair after singing their songs. They're providing no insight. Midler should be ashamed of herself for doing it for 31 years. Gaga should be ashamed of doing it for one night. Try being disabled and see how entertaining this imagery becomes. This is essentially blackface.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 17, 2011 10:01:08 PM

  23. If artists don't want someone to "copy " them they need to copyright their act.. Is that even possible?

    Posted by: J | Jul 17, 2011 11:17:54 PM

  24. Seems like a storm in a teacup to me. Bette makes a few offhand tweets and is accused of trying to leverage her career off Gaga?? Gimme a break. Bette's had an amazing career. She doesnt need to leverage anything off Gaga.

    In fact Bette tweeted just a short time ago saying "@ladygaga, let's drink this over at the Emmys in September. Fabulous mermaids can coexist!"

    Seems Bette isnt a c**ty about it as some seem to think. I know Bette has said that she really likes Gaga before. I think Bette was just joking around rather than seriously trying to be evil.

    As for the "essentially blackface" comment.. thats ridiculous. So, use of a wheelchair by a non-disabled person is automatically something to be ashamed of? Talk about taking PC to the nth level. I find it ludicrous that this is the level of debate we sink to when disabled people have far more important things to think about than if someone wearing a mermaid costume gets transported in a wheelchair.

    Posted by: OberonOZ | Jul 17, 2011 11:48:48 PM

  25. So, "homage" is just a fancy word for stealing. I like Gaga-the person, not her crappy music-but I'm with Bette. Gaga ripped off Madonna and now Bette. Can't she come up with ANYTHING original?

    Posted by: Doc Marten | Jul 17, 2011 11:55:31 PM

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