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Guests Get Lei-d at Bette's Benefit

October 30, 2002, 12:00 AM EST

New York Restoration Project's Hulaween benefit Marriott Marquis Wednesday, 10.23.02, 7 PM onward
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“Send us money!” pleaded the always-sassy Bette Midler at the conclusion of her press room TV interview. The superstar singer-actress was back for her annual Hulaween benefit bash at the Marriott Marquis for the New York Restoration Project. After last year's post-September 11 patriotic red, white and blue decor, the benefit's tropical kitsch theme returned with a vengeance, turning the Marriott's sixth-floor lobby and Broadway Ballroom into a wacky island paradise with stiltwalkers, Bette look-alikes and fun party favors.

Performers from Hollywood Pop Gallery worked to get guests into the hula mood. A pair of actors handed out faux leis, two stiltwalkers—one dressed as some sort of tribesman and another in a strange tropical clown getup—stalked around the lobby mingling with guests. Two talking tables—one with a mermaid-costumed actress sitting inside a treasure chest, and a second table with a Midler look-alike with a giant pineapple headdress—chided guests to put on the hats, skirts and leis.

Inside the ballroom, Martin Izquierdo (Midler's concert set designer) decorated the dinner tables with multicolored tropical fabrics and potted amaryllis centerpieces from ZeZe Flowers. A sparkly blue curtain hung from the balcony, and the stage was covered with giant tiki heads, blue lights and glittering foliage. The Marriott served a tropics-themed dinner, including braised duck with sesame seared shrimp with macadamia nuts in steamed coconut rice. Dinner was followed by a coconut sorbet with Polynesian island fruits and mango coulis.

Suzanne Ito

Read about last year's Hulaween...

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