Spin It: I'm Beautiful, Dammit

How can we not love Bette Midler? Big voice, big hair, so easy to do in drag...and she's never tried to cover up her early career as a big ol' bathhouse entertainer. Checking in with her first new release since the ballad-heavy Bette of Roses (1995), there's nary a contrary word to be said about one of our favorite performers.

Bathhouse Betty (Warner Brothers, $16.98) is a spectacular chance to see what makes queers love Bette so. She's extravagant and larger than life. She vamps like nobody's business. Even if she had no voice, we'd probably love her anyway, just for her sheer chutzpah. As it is, though, she has that big-shouldered girl of a voice that knocks you off your feet, then gently lifts you up again.

Here, you'll find standout songs like "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show," recorded with new labelmates and super-retro-swing-gods Royal Crown Review. You'll find a cover of the haunting Ben Folds Five cut, "Boxing." "My One True Friend" (with the notable Carole King on piano) is the track you will play over and over till the radio jocks get ahold of it and you grow to hate it. Finally, you're sure to play "I'm Beautiful" as you strut in front of the mirror, trying on all your finest. What would we queers do without songs like these?

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