“A Night to Dismember”: Bette Midler’s 26th Annual Hulaween Bash

Bette Midler speaking on video at dinner
Photos by Randy Brooke

650 spirited guests, almost all in costume, converged on Cipriani South Street in celebration of Bette Midler’s legendary Hulaween Bash. The evening benefits the New York Restoration Project (NYRP), a nonprofit founded in 1995 by Midler, who is a renowned champion of “green” transformational open spaces and neighborhood-boosting community gardens, http://www.nyrp.org).

Guests at Cocktail Hour

Hulaween is a playful take on Bette’s heritage of growing up in Hawaii and her adoration of Halloween. “The Divine Miss M” also loves inviting her high-profile friends to a spooky soiree with great ambiance, food, and drinks.


During a lengthy cocktail hour (with a red carpet, of course), guests, including Suzanne Bartsch, David Barton, Don Lemon CNN Anchor, architect and NYRP Trustee David Rockwell, Cynthia Rowley, Michael Kors, Alan Cumming, and Anthony Perez Manhattan Borough Commissioner at NYC Parks all had a chance to parade around in their elaborate costumes.

Guests at Cocktail Hour

Most took great pains to outfit themselves in keeping with the theme of The Seven Deadly Sins: Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, and Sloth, and for this event, they added an 8th: Climate Inaction.

“Sloth” James Moore

How Perfect! When you think about it, this sums up fashion. Well, maybe not the Sloth part. Even though fast fashion is frowned upon these days, there is nothing slow about fashion. It is still coming at us at breakneck speed.

Graphic Designer Bob Bottle

Unsurprisingly, the most popular “sin” last night was Pride. There were plenty of rainbow stripes, and the feathers were flying. As they say, “Proud as a Peacock.” There were peacock-feathered fans, peacock-feathered embellishments, and peacock-feathered capes. Perhaps most elaborate was Cynthia Rowley’s enormous peacock feather cape attached to her iridescent green top and shorts.

Guest at Cocktail Hour

Rowley was hardly alone; many others followed suit. The best way to summarize the outrageous, over-the-top evening is that it was a cross between New York’s Gay Pride Parade and the Village Halloween Parade.

Lance LePere and Michael Kors

Fashion designer and NYRP Trustee Michael Kors, born under the sign of Leo, was utterly unrecognizable, dressed as a proud, vain lion complete with a mirror. It must have taken him hours to get made up. Michael arrived with hubby Lance LePere, 2021 Hulaween Honoree, who came as his polar opposite: the lazy, apathetic Sloth. “Why Bother?” asked his t-shirt.

Susan Ashner
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Meanwhile, Michael and Lance served as judges for the Annual Costume Contest. Individual Winner: Susan Ashner, “Proud as a Peacock,” Runners-Up: Don Lemon and Tim Malone, “Envy” (The Duke and Duchess of Sussex,” aka Prince Harry and Meghan Markle). Group Winner: Yann Joffredo (NYX Cosmetics), Jonathan Collard, and Table #22 for “Let Them Eat Cake,” Runners-Up: Vernon Evenson (EvensonBest) and Table #52 for “All Sins.”

Right, Suzanne Bartsch

Several guests, like Suzanne Bartsch, incorporated all of The Seven Deadly Sins in their outfits. Does this woman ever NOT dress in costume? If Suzanne were in regular street clothes, that would be her Halloween costume. Of course, I can say about many people these days. Hey, who needs costumes when you have fashion?

Jane Krakowski

Even though I surmised that Sloth would be the most difficult of the sins to translate into costume, it was one of the more popular. Jane Krakowski took the theme and ran with it, wearing a long dress made to look like a chic bedsheet, accessorized with a huge white pillow attached as a headdress.

Jose Andre Sibaja and Jennifer Wray

Jennifer Wray and Jose Andre Sibaja, a mother and son duo, arrived in their comfy cozy home attire: robes, pj’s, and fuzzy slippers. James Moore came dressed as an actual Sloth.

The downside of Pride and Envy
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Another couple sought to prove what can happen when Pride and Envy go wrong. One had a bandaged nose and wore a bloodied hospital gown. The other, in hospital scrubs, was his plastic surgeon.

Lynn Bodnar Kelly, Sam Ashner, Sondra Wenger, & Darcy Stacom

“Greed Is Good,” announced Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street.” Greed made for a good costume. There were plenty of gaudy gold, diamonds, and fake dollar bills adorning outfits.

Marilyn Kirschner

Dinner was served in the Great Hall. It began with a taped video from Bette Midler, who could not attend this year because she is out of town on production. The program also included an Awards ceremony. Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) received the “Green Visionary Award” and Samuel M. Ashner the “Green God Award” from Lynn Bodnar Kelly, NYRP Executive Director.


Sondra Wenger, CBRE Investment Management, was presented the “Green Goddess Award” by NYRP Trustee and Board Chair Darcy Stacom. Award-winning Broadway and TV actress Jane Krakowski was the recipient of the “Wind Beneath My Wings Award,” presented by Alan Cumming. This was followed by a performance by global pop star Ava Max.

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Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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