Lady Gaga and Bette Midler in wheelchair mermaid war

Lady Gaga as a mermaid

Lady Gaga as a mermaid

Bette Midler has mounted a challenge to Lady Gaga's claim of originality after the Just Dance singer performed a routine perfected by the Beaches star 30 years ago.

The spat developed after Lady Gaga, who is known for her eccentric outfits, performed a Sydney show dressed as a wheelchair-bound mermaid.

The unusual combination is one the four-time Grammy award-winner Ms Midler has used on stage many times since at least 1980 – years before the singer formerly known as Stefani Germanotta was born.

Bette Midler

Bette Midler

The Jewish singer and actress, whose biggest chart success was the 1988 tearjerker Wind Beneath My Wings, told her Twitter followers that Lady Gaga was borrowing from her back-catalogue.

She said: "I'm not sure Lady Gaga knows that I've performed my mermaid in a wheelchair for millions of people - and many of them are still alive."

"If you think a mermaid in a wheelchair seems familiar-it's because it is," she added. "You can see it on YouTube 24/7- with ME performing it."

In a reference to Lady Gaga's other sartorial choices, Ms Midler, who is 65, wrote: "You can keep the meat dress and the firecracker tits - mermaid's mine."

However, Ms Midler said she wanted to work the dispute out. "Let's drink this over," she said. "Fabulous mermaids can coexist."

Last updated: 3:38pm, July 19 2011