Remembering Edna: an interview with the great Dame, may she rest in peace
Upon meeting Dame Edna Everage, one feels they’ve just got to curtsy. Beyond mere entertainment icon, she is virtually royalty on Australian shores, if not just a brilliant ambassador for our nation.
Cream chatted to Dame Edna about her pioneering in the art of drag (or “expressive fashion”), her thoughts on cosmetic enhancement, and how she wishes she could leave the greatest of carbon footprints.
“What an interesting implement you’ve got there,” remarks the Dame as Antonino Tati and his assistant enter the room with a trusty Zoom camera in hand, ready to record what turns out to be less tête-à-tête and more rollicking banter.
Photography by Mauricio Alpizar
Dame Edna, it’s a pleasure to speak with you. Now, you pioneered flamboyant dressing in Australia, a country that was once renowned for being very ocker.
I don’t call it flamboyant; I call it expressive.
Expressive to the degree that now we have football players on television dressing up in drag.
Actually, don’t you think they’re overdressed, these footballers these days? And those cricket people with their bright colours? And they wear those cages over their faces…
It’s all a bit Silence Of The Lambs, really.
It is very Silence Of The Lambs [laughs hysterically].
On that note, have you seen any of the more expressive performers in Kings Cross in Sydney?
I never go there.
Then have you seen Australian drag on the big screen? Say, The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert?
Oh yes, I saw that one and I enjoyed that. I went with Kenny, my son. He loved it, of course.
Does Kenny realise that his Mum pioneered ‘expressive’ fashion in Australia, and that you really opened the floodgates for dressing up?
[Laughs at the floodgates remark:] I don’t think he does. My son is a couturier, though. He designed this lovely dress that I’m wearing now (pictured above and below).
The detail on that dress is phenomenal. It must be a bitch to dryclean!
[The Dame temporarily ignores the dryclean statement only to have us focus on her décolletage with all its faux gems and sequins]. Oh look, when it comes to taking something to the drycleaner, it’s not a task that I perform. I leave it to one of my… people.
These people, do they have to put up with a lot in the life of Dame Edna Everage?
No, they are privileged. The people who work for me are the luckiest possums on the planet.
“I like to burn up as much energy as I can. I have a huge carbon footprint. I wish it were bigger. And you know, this is a scientific fact: the ozone layer above me is the thinnest in the world.”
When you began introducing international audiences to Australiana, such as [calling them] possums and [throwing them] gladioli, did you have a lot of explaining to do? Particularly with our colloquialisms, like “shrimp on the barbie”…
Well, that was something that Paul Hogan did, really: the shrimp on the barbie, forgetting that we actually call them prawns. But he lost track of his Australian roots very early on. What happened to him? [Coming across as very forlorn now]. Where is he, Ol’ Hoges? Not one of cosmetic surgery’s successes, was he?
On that subject, are you pro or anti cosmetic enhancement?
Anti. Although I have had a little cosmetic surgery.
Really? You wouldn’t know it.
Yes, yes. I was just too young-looking. So I went to Brazil and I had some crow’s feet put in [around the eyes]. And a little double chin. Just to make me a little bit more like my age.
“The doctor found this piece of flesh at the bottom of his deep freeze. And I said, ‘What is that?’ and he looked at the little label on the plastic shrink wrap and it was Elizabeth Taylor’s love handle.”
It came off Elizabeth Taylor’s tummy. And there [points to the left of her chin], can you see a little half-moon? That’s Richard Burton’s fingernail. It’s historic. My double chin is historic.
Now that’s what I call genuine recycling. How are you on the eco-conscious front at home? Do you have recycle bins and solar paneling?
No, no, I like to burn up as much energy as I can. I have a huge carbon footprint. I wish it were bigger. And you know, I must tell you, this is a scientific fact: the ozone layer above me is the thinnest in the world.
Barry Humphries died on April 22, 2023, aged 89. His legacy of wonderful characters include Sir Les Patterson, Sandy Stone, and the great Dame Edna Everage.
View Cream’s interview with the Dame here:
2 Responses to “Remembering Edna: an interview with the great Dame, may she rest in peace”
Bloody brilliant, love it!!
Luv this! 👏🏻❤️❤️❤️