Beauty in Trash (Ep 334 - Bruce Vilanch/Bette Midler)


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On last week’s episode I talked with James Sie about the importance of one well-placed Bette Midler album, and this week I want to dive into the Sewers archives with another guest whose life was changed by Bette — in his case, when she called him to offer him a job. Today we’re revisiting my 2017 interview with Bruce Vilanch, a writer an comedian who’s been slipping sly queer jokes into mainstream entertainment since before some of us were even born. Starting out as a writer for great divas of the 1970s and then moving on to variety shows, the Oscars, and a notorious Star Wars holiday special, Bruce provided a subtle queer infusion into American showbiz for decades. And this week we'll talk about how he managed to get away with it.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a quick thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.

And check out my YouTube videos for deep dives into queer pop culture history. I’ve got a new video about The Nanny, and how Fran Drescher managed to set the show apart with its treatment of queer characters at a time when TV was not quite so inclusive. That’s at

Also, a reminder that I’ve got a newsletter where you can see the stuff I’m working on and fun surprises I’ve discovered. You can sign up at

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