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50 glorious years of Dame Edna

On her silver jubilee, Australia's most famous housewife takes time out to share her fabulous life with us. She's Australian royalty, a major player on the world stage, a self-described "gigastar". But our magical mauve-haired Dame Edna Everage insists that at heart she remains an immensely humble woman from the Melbourne suburb of Moonee Ponds. Currently wowing her home crowd with the smash hit show Dame Edna: Back With A Vengeance, the star, in a fit of boundless generosity, invited Woman's Day's Glen Williams into her palatial Sydney penthouse for a revealing, intimate "caring and sharing" interview. No subject is taboo and we find Edna in an incredibly giving mood, despite her pushy manager Barry Humphries' attempts to cut our time short, and the ceaseless vacuuming of her Lebanese housemaid Selma. The Dame talks about her hatred of the word "bling" to describe her Aladdin's cave of jewels — "Its common darling" — why she can't stand hyphenated names or the name Yasmin, and refers to Queen Elizabeth as "that needy woman from Buckingham Palace". Welcome home Dame Edna. What did you miss most about Australia?
Monte Carlo biscuits, darling, and those gorgeous Melting Moments, and a lovely cafe latte at my favourite little coffee shop, it's called the Latteria in Victoria Street, Darlinghurst. I literally get off the plane and go straight there for a toasted sandwich, a sort of Italian thing. It's the best coffee in the world. And there's these lovely Italian boys there, my little dago friends. You're a jetsetting gigastar. Have you ever had any items confiscated coming through customs?
I often have jewels confiscated and pantyhose. The jewels get fumigated because they think I might have been on a farm. I regularly cast my pearls before swine, but that is ridiculous. I never get the pantyhose back, those customs men probably sell them on eBay — at least, I hope they do. Do you marvel at your phenomenal career? And how did you escape the "sad Valium-infested life" endured by so many other women less fortunate than you?
I do marvel at my career, possum, but I am glad I took my hands out of the sink when I did and snapped off my pink Ansell's. Do you have an addictive personality? What would be your drug of choice?
My drug of choice is applause. It has kept me young and vibrant and I can never OD on it. You mix in a very heady world and think nothing of giving advice to the likes of Kylie, Nicole, Russell Crowe and even Germaine Greer. What's the best advice you've given them?
The best advice I have given to my fellow Australian high achievers is to avoid false modesty. I have always had a healthy self-esteem and I found the world has been only too willing to accept my own estimation of myself. It has been reported Kylie is mending a broken heart with Botox. Have you ever had a jab or do you just have good genes?
I doubt that yucky rumour about Kylie but I have never injected myself with germs and if my skin gets thirsty I use my own products which contain enzymes from wombat-spleen jelly and droplets of my old mother's healing saliva. Is Nivea still your cream of choice?
I have stopped using Nivea now I have my own beauty range. Is it true Queen Elizabeth wanted you, rather than Helen Mirren, to portray her in the movie The Queen?
Queen Elizabeth begged me to play her in the film The Queen, but frankly I looked too young. Queen Elizabeth is very dependant on you isn't she?
She's very clingy with me, Glen. She is. In fact, I have my own lovely penthouse in London, but she refuses to let me stay there. It's always Buckingham Palace. She said to me, "You'll have absolute privacy." But she's there the whole time. I wake up in the morning and she's sitting by my bed. Do you actually feel stalked by Her Majesty?
Not exactly, but I think, "What more can I give her than what I've given her already?" My advice, my wisdom, what else does she want? You really are a giver aren't you — it's almost a fault?
It's almost a medical problem with me, it really is. My gynaecologist is very worried about me. He says, "You've given too much already." You're regarded as Australian royalty. Do you think Crown Princess Mary has risen above her station?
She's very natural, possum. But there's been a bit of sniping about her in the Australian press. But what else is new? They need new blood coming from Tasmania. Let's face it, that's a gene pool that needs replenishing. The Queen thought I might be jealous of Princess Mary, but I'm not. You used to be a very house-proud Moonee Ponds mum. Do you still do a bit of housework to remind you of your suburban roots?
I no longer do housework, but occasionally penthouse work. There is nothing wrong with a vacuum cleaner. There are some optional attachments I prefer to others. Do you ever feel as if you're rubbing your incredible wealth, fame and superstardom in our mediocre faces?
I have never boasted of my wealth and fame but my public is thrilled with my success and want me to have even more of it. You had your mother locked away in a maximum-security twilight home. Do you feel your son Kenny may one day have you committed to a similar institution?
My mother now lives in a twilight home on the outskirts of Melbourne called Grey Waters. I can't see my son Kenny ever popping me in a downmarket facility. I have already built for my own comfort in old age, but that's a long, long way down the tracks. There's a spooky psychic side to you isn't there? Do you marvel at your mystical gifts?
I am incredibly psychic! And I know what my audience is thinking before they have already thought it. I prophesised my own success years ago. You've sung with some of the biggest names in the world. Who has been your favourite?
I have just sung duets on British TV with a few big names — including Debra Harry, Shirley Bassey, Michael Bolton, Fergie and kd lang. I think I enjoyed kd lang the best. She's a great singer and an adorable woman and Fergie was the raunchiest. I mean Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas, not that other red-headed woman. You wouldn't call her raunchy, would you, Glen? Debra Harry I adored. I asked her if she's ever played nurses and nurses with anyone. She told me she had and that she had enjoyed it. That's a real scoop, isn't it? People tell me things because I'm caring and sharing. How do you feel about Diana Ross?
I have never met Diana Ross and, forgive me, I don't really want to. You have a Lebanese maid called Selma who does your "dirty work". Can you tell us a bit about her?
My Lebanese housemaid Selma is half-Mexican and loves doing the dirty work around my home. Not that there is much dirty work — dropped sequins and wiping caviar stains off the bed sheets and reminding guests who have outstayed their welcome that they should leave after a quick body search. You're known for your compassion and your philanthropy, but when it comes to your long-suffering bridesmaid, poor Madge Alsop, you don't seem to have any patience. Why is that?
I love NZ but Madge is the unacceptable face of the Kiwi. She is never wrong like most of her compatriots and that has always grated on me. I'm sorry, Glen, but it has. Has Kevin Rudd turned to you for any pearls of wisdom and motherly advice?
Mr Rudd's people have asked me to work on Julia [Gillard, deputy leader of the Opposition]. But the task may be too big, even for me! Is there anything that causes you to be anxious?
I only get a little anxious when I am being chased by paparazzi. They have been known to behave like termites and drill holes in the wall of my home. What do you do in your quieter moments, Dame Edna?
Pilates and yoga — and peruse the latest Di Morrissey or Jackie Collins [books], and latest fashion magazines flown in all over the world, some seeking my guidance. I am a happy and contented woman with a mission to share my caring and sharing with as many possums as possible in the next 50 years of my career. I am taking a spooky hormone that will "keep the dream alive".

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