A Q&A With Dame Edna

June 2001By Comments

Dame Edna Everage (who some claim is actually Australian character actor Barry Humphries) will be appearing in Houston June 5—10 and in Dallas July 24—29.

Dame Edna, good morning. How are you today?

I’m sitting in a beautiful chaise longue on a lawn on a beautiful estate outside Phoenix. I’m talking to you on my rhinestone-studded cell phone. It’s beautiful. It was created for me by Tiffany—just one of my personal accoutrements.

You are bringing your show to Texas for the first time?

You know these promoters come from New York, and they thought Texas wasn’t ready for me. But I’ve always felt that Texas would be my greatest triumph. I’ve felt it instinctively. And, of course, Larry Hagman is a great friend of mine. He wanted me to be in Dallas as myself. Oh, he wanted me, but there was a lot of fuss. The producers didn’t think I was well-enough known at the time. Since then, I’ve had a chain of triumphs—England, Israel, Hungary, Australia. And I’m adored in Scandinavia.

They speak English very well in Scandinavia, don’t they?

They speak it better than you do! I don’t mean that unpleasantly, of course.

Of course not. I’ve noticed that Houston is your favorite American city. How is that going to play in New York?

Well, Houston. I’ve done my show in New York, and even though I won a Tony, I was really honing a work of art for Dallas . . . I mean Houston, of course.

Of course. But you will also be doing a show in Dallas during July. Are there particular things that you want to do while in Texas?

Yes. I’m going to be feted by a host of millionaires. All those wives will be clamoring to entertain me. I’ll be choosy, though. You should warn them. I want to explore your fabulous art museums, experience the joy of Texas food, go out into your great Texan outback. I’m going to explore all your lovely shopping malls.

How will your Texas shows differ from your New York show?

When I come to a place, I don’t just stroll out onto the stage and do something I’ve done before. I do a lot of research. I’ve sent my bridesmaid Madge Allsop ahead. She’s going to do a sort of reconnaissance. She’ll have her ears to the ground, which isn’t difficult for her. She’s very short.

I’ve heard that you are a rather tall lady.

I’m statuesque, not tall. And I have beautiful legs, which are heavily insured. I’ll be wearing costumes designed by my son, a top Australian couturier. They are designed especially for Houston and haven’t been seen anywhere else. There is a beautiful cactus dress, a prickly frock. It’s an inspiring outfit. Then I have a native costume—I’m adored by your aboriginal inhabitants. I was once an Indian princess, you know.

In another incarnation?

Yes, I’m really into reincarnation. In fact, I put Shirley MacLaine onto the track of reincarnation. She never thought of it until I mentioned it to her. Oh, I am plagiarized right and left . . . I was a lot of famous Americans. In former lives I was Eleanor Roosevelt. I was also Emily Dickinson, the poet. And I was also Ethel Merman. And that’s not easy, being Ethel Merman and Eleanor Roosevelt. They were both alive at the same time, so I was pretty busy. Do you have any famous women in Texas?

Oh, yes. Dale Evans, for instance, was a Texan. She recently passed away.

I was her! I just remembered that. My show has proved popular with all kinds of people, because there is no obscenity in it. I manage to entertain people of all ages and intellectual capabilites, without resorting to what Mr. Nixon called “expletives.” So it is a family show, but it is very, very cutting edge. And there are gifts for the audience. And gladioli, which I grow in Australia and have flown in. Free of foot-and-mouth disease, these gladioli. I have a huge farm in Australia where I grow them. And I want to emphasize that I am an Australian, not British. So I’m really one of your cousins, perhaps the most famous cousin.

Quite possibly. I was wondering about your Australian roots. Australia was once a penal colony?

Yes, it was. And that is why, I think, we have a little bit of a rough edge to us in Australia. But we are straightforward people. And that gives us a sort of raunchiness, our penal background. We are lucky: We got the convicts; you got the Puritans. And look where that got you. Huh! It shows, don’t you think, in every aspect of American life, the puritanical background. Look at all those embarrassments of Mr. Clinton and the fuss made about them.

That was quite the comedy around the world, wasn’t it?

I’m afraid that you dear little Americans lost quite a lot of points internationally for that. It was your equivalent of foot-and-mouth disease, except, of course, it was a different body part.

Of course, our Mr. Bush has been known to have a foot-in-mouth problem.

Poor little Mr. Bush. It makes me wonder about the system you use in order to find the smartest man in the country. You seriously failed! Oh, he’s one of yours. I should be polite about him, shouldn’t I? Of course, his dear little wife, Laura, is seeking my advice about fashion. I’m helping Laura. She needs all the help she can get, that woman.

Can you give us more of a hint of what you might be wearing in Houston?

If you go to my Web site (dameednaontour.com), you can see a dress that I might wear in Houston. My son designed a native costume—it’s exactly like a frock I wore when I was an Indian princess. He designs all of my clothes with the help of a medium, a clairvoyant. We’re thinking about opening a big Kenneth Everage outlet in Houston. I’m hoping to have a whole range of products available for people in Texas, including skin products. I have beautiful skin, and I don’t mind who touches it. When I’m walking down the street, I’ve found that people have an irresistible urge to touch my skin. And I don’t mind, so long as they avoid my erogenous zones—which, according to Cosmopolitan magazine, are pretty well everywhere these days. In fact, you can hardly avoid them.

I have that same problem.

Do you? Well, it could be worse, couldn’t it? In short, I feel that Houston is going to be the climax of this triumphant tour of the United States. And I would urge especially seniors, highbrows, yuppies, even same-sex partners to pop along and see my show. But I hope we’ll get a lot of those squillionaires along to the show too. They like me, because I am richer than they are. And I’m also going to be doing a lot of work for the prostate when I’m in Texas. As you know, I am the president and founder of Friends of the Prostate.

Mr. Barry Humphries has run into some problems with Friends of the Prostate, I’ve read, for perhaps embezzling funds?

Yes, there is a serious problem with it. He is my manager, and he has helped himself to my money hand over fist. But that’s another matter. I don’t want to get into litigation. I’m going to have to go now, I’m afraid, because my little pool attendant, my personal trainer, is flexing his muscles in front of me.

It’s been a delight, Dame Edna.

Lots of love. See you in Texas. Bye.

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