New Yorkers are packing on the layers this winter, but Thursday night inside Bedlam Bar guests will be stripping down to nearly nothing as Daniel Nardicio revisits the glory days of gay bathhouses with “Bette, Bathhouse and Beyond,” a new event paying tribute to Bette Midler’s iconic days at the Continental Baths.
He’s teamed up with singer Amber Martin, who will create one of Midler’s infamous Continental routines from the 1970s, when she used to play with Barry Manilow as her accompanist. (Manilow reportedly followed the club’s “towels only” dress code.)
A far cry from Hocus Pocus or Hello Dolly!, the steamy performances helped launch Midler’s career—and earned her the nickname Bathhouse Betty.
Nardicio launched “Bette, Bathhouse and Beyond” at Club Cumming, his East Village partnership with Alan Cumming, and has hosted versions in New Orleans and Fire Island. After a mandatory clothes check, guests are offered a towel before they go check out the show or cruise the bar in classic bathhouse fashion.
Martin performs three 20-minute sets but, as the night wears on, focus often turns to more intimate acts between towel-clad audience members.
“It’s very titillating and thrilling,” Nardicio teases. “It’s not just a sex party, it’s both a sex party and a cultural experience. You get lifted up while dropping your towel.”
“Bette, Bathhouse and Beyond,” will be held December 28 at Bedlam Bar in New York.