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Lady Gaga loves to court controversy. The latest proof: At a concert in Sydney, Australia, last week, Mother Monster took to the stage dressed as a mermaid and sitting in a wheelchair -- drawing the ire of those who found the bit offensive to disabled people (some fans even hurled eggs at her following the performance!). Now, legendary performer Bette Midler is also fuming at Gaga over the stunt, but not because she felt it was insensitive to the disabled. No, Midler, 65, is miffed because she thinks Gaga, 25, ripped off the stunt from the famous "mermaid in a wheelchair" act she's been performing for years.
The Divine Miss M. took to her Twitter feed on Friday to say, "I'm not sure @ladygaga knows that I've performed my mermaid in a wheelchair for millions of people -- and many of them are still alive....."
On a roll (so to speak), Midler continued: "Dear @ladygaga if you think a mermaid in a wheelchair seems familiar-it's because it is! You can see it on youtube 24/7-with ME performing it... Ive been doing singing mermaid in a wheelchair since 1980-You can keep the meat dress and the firecracker tits-mermaid's mine."
This isn't the first time Lady Gaga has been accused of "borrowing" from another artist; when her single "Born This Way" dropped, Gaga took flak from critics who thought it sounded an awful lot like Madonna's "Express Yourself." Gaga famoulsy called the Madonna comparisons "retarded," an insensitive comment that she was quick to retract.
Borrowing from other performers is par for the course in show business, but it is customary to give attribution. That's especially true with something so specific as Bette Midler's unique wheelchair-bound mermaid act, which has always been a huge hit with her fans.
Although Midler is known for her comedy, a source close to Midler says tells Huffington Post that Bette isn't joking in her tweets to Lady Gaga. "She's fed up of these younger stars coming forward and stealing her act," the source says. "To this day she regrets never saying anything in the early '80s when Madonna replaced her as the queen of vulgar without ever crediting her. Now she's had enough and needed to speak out. If it wasn't for Bette there would be no Madonna, and if it wasn't for Madonna we would have no Lady Gaga."
But despite what this source says, Midler did close out her tweeting tirade with a final word of solidarity: "Let's drink this over at the Emmys in September," she wrote. "Fabulous mermaids can coexist!" Let's hope so!