For his upcoming documentary on New York's legendary/notorious Continental Baths, filmmaker Malcolm Ingram has offered to donate $5,000 to Bette Midler's favorite charity if she'll agree to be interviewed about the years she performed there.
Ingram, director of the award-winning 2006 doc Small Town Gay Bar, has been working on Continental, a film about the Continental Baths and has traveled to Australia to interview proprietor Steve Ostrow. Now Ingram wants to interview Midler about her experience as a performer at the baths where she first became known as "the Divine Miss M."
To many people, Midler is still synonymous with the baths, having performed there along with pianist Barry Manilow during the early 1970s. Midler even earned the nickname "Bathhouse Bette," which would become the title of an album the singer released in 1998.
"Bette Midler is the jelly to the PBJ that is Continental," Ingram tells The Advocate. "The documentary would not be complete without her story. She is so connected to the lore that it would be unthinkable to not make every concerted effort to get her involved. Before Lady Gaga you had Bette. Bette connected with the gay audience like few have before or since...and it all began at the Continental Baths in New York City."
Ingram has offered to donate $5,000 to Midler's pet charity the New York Restoration Project if she'll sit down for an interview. Ingram's pal and fellow filmmaker Kevin Smith tweeted his offer of an additional $1,000 to Ingram's donation.
Midler once told the now-defunct gay newspaper Houston Voice, "Despite the way things turned out [with the AIDS crisis], I'm still proud of those days [when I got my start singing at the gay bathhouses]. I feel like I was at the forefront of the gay liberation movement, and I hope I did my part to help it move forward. So, I kind of wear the label of 'Bathhouse Betty' with pride."
Read an essay Ingram wrote about his documentary here. To find out how you can help Ingram complete Continental, check out his Indie GoGo campaign. Watch Midler perform at the Baths below.