Catching Up With . . . Dame Edna

“DAME EDNA: BACK WITH A VENGEANCE!” devised and written by Barry Humphries. Photo by Grea Gorman

( Reposted From June 22. 2009)
I first discovered Dame Edna Everage the international housewife, therapist, gigastar, guru and celebrity confidant back in 90’s when she had a brief stint as a talk show host on a monthly show on NBC.  I knew then that I was in the presence of greatness.  Back then the Dame was only a megastar, but as she will tell you today she is a gigastar.  How things have changed.  She has been called the funniest person alive by Rolling Stone Magazine and they are right.  I thought I was in for a great time with the most famous person in the world, (she will tell you she is), little did I know she knew as much about me as I knew about her.  I felt  like I was on her hilarious British show Neighborhood Watch-the game show that’s also a Dame show (Available on DVD).  For me this time with the Dame just reconfirmed she is the funniest person on the planet.   I caught up with the Dame in her suite in New York . . .

SL: Hello Dame Edna, how are you?

DE: Very well, I am a fellow Aquarian, we are both Aquarians Scott.  I could hear a little tickle of water in your voice.  I am so longing to come to Dallas and to Fort Worth.  I have never been to Fort Worth is it a nice theater?

SL: It is a very nice theater.  I want to start by telling you how honored I am, because you are by far the most famous, most talented, and most desirable woman that I have ever interviewed.  

DE: You are very kind and you are not wrong at all.  You have struck me as a matter of a fact as in a slightly sad mood.  (I have been very sad that Bea Arthur passed away and I have never gotten the chance to speak with her.)  I have been thinking of my friend Bea Authur and that was a loss to me, we were very close.  My last memory of Bea, she came to see me on Broadway and she got the time wrong and she came in half an hour late.  I couldn’t see Bea, I saw this woman coming in wearing a caftan and I said thank you for coming or something sarcastic and she called out to me in that voice of hers and she cried out “Edna, its Bea.”  Isn’t that lovely.  And now we don’t have her.  You know I went to New York the other day to see Angela Lansbury in Blyth’s Spirits and Angela used to come to my shows with Bea and we both sat down and had a little cry.

SL: As you obviously know, I feel a great loss too.  How did you go from Moone Ponds Housewife to mega star and advisor to the queen?

DE: It’s a miraculous journey that I have had Scott and it hasn’t spoiled me.  Isn’t it extraordinary that I can say that and I don’t sound conceited?  I have remained approachable.  I don’t have a bodyguard.  

SL: Really?

DE: I don’t have a body guard of any kind.  I don’t wear lead vests.  I weave and mingle.  You will see me in shopping malls, you will see me walking down the streets moving around Dallas, at Neiman Marcus, the original Neiman Marcus in Dallas, and people will say “How can an international Gigastar do this?”  It is because everyone adores me.  I am that lucky.  No one wants to assassinate me!

SL: Of course, we all know you work tirelessly for the prostrate.  What some may not know is why.  Tell me about your Husband Norm and his problems with the prostrate.

DE: My husband Norm he was older than I thought and on our honeymoon he was up and down all night, but not in the way he was meant to be.  The bathroom light kept being switched on and off.  So I spoke to the family doctor and said “I am concerned about my new husband.”   He showed me a diagram an aspect of the anatomy that I hadn’t really considered.  And I said “Well, what do you think is wrong with my husband exactly?” He said “Well, we would be fumbling in the dark. But we think it could be a prostate condition.”  It was a little condition that existed all Norm’s life and in Australia, I don’t know if you know it, but we were pioneers of prostate transplants.

SL: I did not know that.

DE: We were.  And Norm was the first recipient.  The doctor’s warned me.  They said,  “There is a chance that your husband’s organ could be rejected.”  I said “Well he should be used to that.”  I got interested in it because no one else was and I started something called Friends of the Prostate. Because I thought everyone should know more about it.  It was sort of not spoken of and it was prostate awareness and that is why I started this campaign to buy land in Texas to build Prostate World.

SL: I hope it is in Houston.

DE: It will be a big tourist thing in Texas.  It will be a urological adventure playground.  There will be a giant prostate in fiberglass containing all sorts of things, bowling alleys, Starbucks, of course.  A Hungry Jack, a chapel, meditation center, Cinnabon.

SL: Tell me about the night you burned your mothers’ things, after placing her in a maximum security twilight home, and why does she need maximum security?

DE: My mother is not young, she is miraculous really, she is confused but she has moments of lucidity.  She is in a facility now, which is a wonderful facility really.  There is a button on the wall that she can fall against in an emergency.  She used to be a hoarder when she lived at home She collected everything and you couldn’t get into her room.  The fire brigade had to break her out and I decided that I had to do something so I decided that I had to burn her things and I did.  We had a big bonfire and my mother’s reaction was that she thought the room was much bigger.  She didn’t realize how big the room was.   But lately she started collecting things again so I got an old supermarket cart, shopping cart and you will probably see her around the streets of Fort Worth.  She is traveling with me at the moment.  She doesn’t know she is, but she is.

SL: Last I heard your son Kenny and his longtime companion Clifford were running a boutique in Hong Kong.  What are they up to?

DE: Well Kenny has designed the clothes for my tour, so you will be seeing Kenny Everage originals.  Kenny and Clifford are no longer as close as they once were, unfortunately.  People have said horrible things about their relationship, Scott.  They have suggested things, unwholesome things; I don’t believe a word of it.  They were very good friends but they fell out on a business matter; I’m not sure what it was.  But Kenny is on his own and he is going to be coming on this part of my tour which is the last date on my wonderful tour and I might ask you if you could perhaps guide him in the right direction?

SL: Oh, I know I could

DE: Could you?  I am worried about your operation, when are you having the Gastric Bypass?

SL: I just had it on Monday

DE: How do you feel?

SL: Surprisingly well, a bit more surprised that you know about it.  

DE: Was it a local or do you stay overnight?

SL: I stayed overnight.

DE: And they give you a little injection and you feel wonderful.  And then you wake up and say when is the operation and they say you’ve had it.  I hope you will be more comfortable.

SL: Thank you.  You are confidant to some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world including the Queen of England.  How did this relationship come about?  Any tidbits you can share about advice you have given her?

DE: Well I have advised her as best I can.  She doesn’t open up to too many people.  When I am in England I stay at the Palace.  I don’t want to but she insists.  I go in a little side door and go up in a private elevator.  We have breakfast and she opens up.  We laugh.  People don’t realize what a sense of humor she has.  It doesn’t come across on the stamps.  You wouldn’t have any idea would you?  She gossips about the people that come to see her.  She likes very much Michelle Obama, and when Michelle put her arm around the Queen, do you remember that?

SL: I do.  

DE: There was criticism.  The Queen loved it and said she wanted to have more of a cuddle with Michelle.  In fact a very serious cuddle with her.  It worried me the funny look that came onto the Queen’s face as she said it, “That lovely warm arm.”  She wanted to know if I knew the name of the deodorant the Michelle uses, and I asked “Why do you want to know that?”  And she said, “Because it doesn’t work.”

SL: You call your fans possums, where did that term of endearment come from?

DE: It came from my mother when she was having a period of lucidity.  In Australia Possums are cuddlier than they are in America.  In America they tend to be more rabid and feral but in Australia they are rather soft and lovely.  And my mother used to say “dinnertime Possums,” or “Bedtime Possums.”  I think it is a nice name to call people and I have gotten into the habit of calling my audiences possums 

SL: What is it about the glad that makes it your favorite flower?

DE: the gladiolas to me symbolizes Australia.  It is totally lacking in subtlety it is thrusting and ambitious and flexible all the things my husband wasn’t really.  I grow them on a farm in Australia and they are organically grown in my own manure.  And we fly in masses of them and I give out about a thousand a night to my audience.  Sensible audience members keep them.  They shrivel up in the end, they keep them in drawers.  They do have healing properties, now I am not advertising myself as a healer; there are enough people in Texas doing that.  But these people have cello taped my gladis, sometimes strapped my gladi’s to their anatomy and the enzymes leak into their systems.  Now this may sound a little far fetched but when you come and see me if you catch one, you won’t be the same again.  I have sometimes unfortunately, blinded people in the audience, and those people have never been the same. 

SL: This is your first last tour?

DE: Yes it is and goodness knows I can’t keep going on forever.   I am only doing this tour because you people in the United States so desperately need me.  

SL: We do!  What can we expect from you on this first last tour?

DE: You can expect, and this is a guarantee by the way.  You will see the most beautiful dresses you have ever seen on the stage.  You’ll be in intimate conversation with me.  You will hear beautiful songs, you will see dancing from me, and a little moment of healing will take place.  I can’t give away too much, but everyone says it is the best show ever done.  

I hope that you will give me a ride in your entry level Jaguar.  Take me on a tour.  I will give you this guarantee:  If you don’t have a laugh in the first thirty seconds you can ask for your money back!

SL: Would I get it. 

DE: No, of course not, but you can ask.  What show gives a guarantee like that?

SL: Is there any way that your first last tour will last longer than Cher’s?

DE: No, it couldn’t.  No tour could last as long as little Cher’s.   I just love being down there deep in the heart of Texas.  I just think what an affinity we have my little Texans and me.  Especially you, my darling little Aquarius from all the way back in 1970 when you popped into the world.  Incidentally, you won’t believe this.  I bumped into Chris Kemp the other day here in New York.  Do you remember Chris?

SL: That was my first boyfriend.

DE: You are very well rid of him.  You are well rid of him Scott, he’s gone to pieces.  Is Steve coming over with your sister Holly to my show?  I hope that marriage works, I am sure it will.  She’s a lovely girl, your sister.  By the way, Elaine Page sends her love Scott, you know she is a close friend of mine, but I have to go now.  I can’t wait to shake your hand and give you a little kiss at the show. 

Dame Edna’s First Last Tour is presented by Casa Manana at Fort Worth’s Bass Hall.  I have seen both of the Dame’s previous tours, and without exception this will be the most fun show you have ever seen.