Move over, Cher
and Tina. Dame Edna Everage has given birth to the
ultimate “farewell” performance. In her First
Last Tour, which opened to rave reviews in San
Francisco several weeks ago, the heavily jeweled
Australian with wild lilac tresses doled out advice, sang
with glee, scrutinized the poorly dressed, and solved
some of the world’s problems -- all in just two
Edna’s glorious ascent to international stardom
actually began decades ago when the Aussie -- spawned
by alter ego Barry Humphries -- became a smash on
stage and television Down Under in the 1950s and
’60s. By the time she flung herself onto
American shores a decade ago, the entertainer was so
revered for her dry wit and banter, she nabbed a Tony
and kept audiences hanging onto her every word. Perched in
her suite in San Francisco’s illustrious
Huntington Hotel, her eyes peering through her
diamond-speckled horn-rimmed glasses, Dame Edna indulged
Advocate.com with an exclusive interview
Advocate.com:How is your show going?Dame Edna: Why, it seems to be lovely. I just
look out at the most beautiful people every night.
It’s a lovely type of person that comes to see
They do adore you. Yes, they do. I think they need me. I think
there is a need for vitamin E, for Edna. But San Fran
has been so good to me for 10 years, since I made my
American debut here in the same little tucked-away theater,
the Post Street Theater.
You have a decade worth of celebrating.Oh, yes, Greg. I really want to get to know people. I am
here right through January. I don’t have an
entourage. I travel with my musical director Andrew
Ross, a stage manager, of course, and a gynecologist.
That’s an important thing. I brought him out of retirement. He’s
Spanish. He is, in fact, the father of Julio Iglesias.
He’s a lovely old man, of course ... a very lovely
person, and I am giving him a beautiful Christmas present --
a new speculum, which I got from Tiffany’s.
He’ll treasure that. He will. Dr. Iglesias will be with me, and
that’s about it. I don’t have a
bodyguard, so I will be in the streets. But no one has ever
attempted to mug me. Even though I am encrusted with
Well, you have a lot of gay and lesbian fans seeing you. Isn’t that nice? Do you know, in all my
years of caring and sharing, I have never actually
thought of the sex lives of my audience. Nor do I
think it’s all that terribly important. I just think
of them as people. I did go to the gay men’s
choir the other night. I was there in a lovely
What do you want to tell Americans in this curious
time in 2008, when there is so much going on? I just want to remind them that laughter is
very, very important as a therapy. And my philosophy
is let go of the past, let go of the future, live now.
I like that. And I feel that when I look down on those little
faces, not long before that have been glued to CNN --
explosions, rape, horrible evil -- that they are, in a
way, being cleansed. When I was in Texas a man offered me
a lot of money to become a religion.
The Dame Edna religion, really? Well, yes -- the Church of Edna, as he
suggested. And he said there are big bucks to be made
out of religion and it was tax-free. But I didn’t go
along that path.
Imagine if you had. We’d be on our knees. Well, it would be a huge responsibility.
It’s putting myself in a position I
don’t want to be in. I want people to feel free. I,
admittedly, have worked miracles. I have. I have found, for
example -- I don’t want to boast about this --
but when the cleaners have gone through the theater
after me they find things under the seats.
Do they now? Yes. The other night they found a walker
abandoned. And an artificial leg was left. And black
glasses and a white stick. And a very hungry dog. They
were all found by the cleaning staff, so I may have
performed a few miracles without even knowing it.
I think so. What do you love most about what you do? I love communicating with people. But I
don’t need to do the show, you see. A lot of
performers, as I say on the stage, are needy. You see how
desperate they are. I am fortunate that I am quite a wealthy
woman, and I do this because I really care about
people. I love talking to the audience and getting to
know them and inviting them onto the stage. Empowering
them. That’s the key word. I empower these women.
I see. I resent critics -- ignorant hacks -- who accuse
me of patronizing and being cruel to audience members.
If they could see the gratitude on the faces of
audience members when I empower them ... I call my audience
possums because that is a term of endearment. My mother used
to say, “Good night, possums,” or
“Eat your dinner, possums!” Possums in
Australia are loveable cuddly creatures, not the savage,
feral, and often rabid creatures you have here ...
That’s good to know. But I am not leaving this tour until some of the
little [political] problems are ironed out. I am not
prepared to divulge them, except it has something to
do with matrimony, and when you come to the show I will
reveal to you my plan. And it is a grand plan, and it is an
obvious one. I use tough love sometimes. I believe in
That’s helpful. And it’s nice that you are
able to dispense wisdom about love and relationships. Well, they’re very important. They are
the key to our happiness, aren’t they?
They are. But we must have a good relationship with
ourselves first, don’t you think? I am lucky in that I love myself. I have a very
high regard for me. And I think that’s become
True. Now, many people have high regard for you. I had written this lovely song [about my son],
“Friends of Kenny.” Well, I wrote it for
San Francisco, and it would be a lovely song for the gay
men’s chorus to sing. Perhaps I can come next year
and I can lead them in it?
Now, when did Kenny come out to you? I don’t know what you mean?
I assumed he was gay. Well, everyone thinks everyone is darling, but
until Kenny mentions it, I am still hoping he finds
Miss Right. I do have a dysfunctional daughter,
Valmai. And another son that is a bit of a loser.
Isn’t that sad? I am a highly successful
actress and a failure as a mother -- I blame my
children for that.
Maybe they got in the way? Well, I made a decision many years ago to put my
family last. And I have never regretted it. You know,
your magazine, I’ve seen it. It’s
beautifully produced. Nice paper.
You’ve read through The Advocate? Well, I’ve skimmed through it actually. I
didn’t see very many recipes or knitting
No. I think they were discontinued. Oh, that’s a pity.
I think so too. I am doing a program soon where I am cooking a
meal. One of my signature dishes is pineapple and
Pineapple and sausage? Tell me about it. Well, it’s a simple dish. It’s the
way it’s presented. You buy a can of pineapple
rings and then you have a pile of mashed potato and you stud
it with the ring, and then you put the sausages in the
rings so they are standing up. It looks a bit like a
Rises to the occasion, I would think. Do you ever
worry you may outdo Martha Stewart? Well, I could do a program like Martha Stewart,
and I hate to say this, but I think it would be more
Why is that? Because I am more attractive. She’s a bit
cold, don’t you think?
A bit below freezing, maybe. [Laughs] Poor woman. I don’t think
she’s recovered from her experience behind
She may need your advice. Well, I would just tell her ... I don’t
think she’s adventurous enough. There’s
no humor in her taste and suggestions. They are all a little
bit too safe. I am “cutting-edge.”
You so are. Any thoughts about where America is
heading in 2009? Well, I am hoping that it will all work out. I
feel very sorry for Mr. Obama because he has inherited
such a mess. He has actually been made captain of a
sinking ship. That’s a vivid description,
isn’t it? It’s as if the Titanic
were about to go down and they said, “Oh, you can
take over now.”
You’re worldly. Any advice? Well, I have been asked by his wife for ideas
for the White House.
And? Well, I am hoping to provide them. I did get
calls from little Sarah Palin when she thought she was
moving in. And she loved the idea of the Capitol
because it looks like an igloo. Reminded her of her native
land, and she was thinking of shooting a lot of polar
bears and making bearskin couches and chairs and rugs.
Moose heads all over the walls. Luckily, she did not
Luckily. Oh, yes, I know. She wears those glasses --
there are no lenses in them. She wears them to make
herself look more interesting ... but it is amazing.
I’ve had calls already from little Michelle Obama.
She wants advice on dresses, and my son Kenny is a
dress designer -- and the logical successor to Yves
Saint Laurent. And he is sending her some lovely
Do you like the way Michelle Obama dresses? I do. It’s simple. No one will be happy,
but people will criticize her clothes because people
are so superficial. They need to see through the real
woman. Now, I am wearing at the moment -- you can’t
see this, readers -- but I am probably in my oldest
dress. I am only wearing it out of consideration to
readers who are probably wearing their oldest dresses