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Though few entertainers possess a visage as striking as that of Dame Edna Everage, née Barry Humphries, of Australia, she’s always been excluded from the celebrity beauty bandwagon. No longer. Dame Edna has teamed up with MAC on a signature makeup collection, launching next month. Here, the Dame reveals her secrets for staying forever young.
This story first appeared in the November 14, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE BEAUTY?
It’s an indefinable thing. Every morning I look in the mirror and there I see it. If you don’t think of yourself as beautiful, you’re always behind the eight ball, as far as personal appearance is concerned. I have a very high self-esteem. I’m not conventionally beautiful, but I am very, very attractive. I look in the mirror every morning and I fall in love with myself.
WHAT’S YOUR BEAUTY REGIMEN?
I don’t really have one. Isn’t that naughty? I don’t overpamper myself. Less is more, as far as I’m concerned. Lovely thoughts I entertain. I think about money a lot and I think that’s very, very good for you. When I go to Switzerland, to my other home, I often go to the vault in my bank and sit very quietly and meditate, looking at my wealth. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, though, because it might be depressing, particularly for Americans at the moment.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
My style is my own. I’ve been around quite a while, and yet you wouldn’t think it. People come up to me on the street and want to touch my skin. Even people in the back row of the theater tell me they couldn’t help but notice my legs and my skin. I let them touch it so long as they don’t touch my erogenous zones, which these days are everywhere. Did you know that the skin is the largest organ of your body, so generally speaking, if there is a large organ in the vicinity, people are pretty keen to get their hands on it.
YOU’VE BEEN IN SHOWBIZ FOR 50 YEARS! HOW HAVE YOU MANAGED TO STAY SO YOUNG LOOKING?
It’s how I think. It’s a youthful attitude. I’m popular with very young people. If you asked the average young person who they prefer, Britney, Lindsay, Paris or me, it would be always me, depending on, of course, where you were. There are obviously slummy parts of America, as there are everywhere, where my name doesn’t mean a great deal.
YOU’RE LATE TO THE CELEBRITY BEAUTY BANDWAGON. WHY DID YOU WAIT SO LONG TO LAUNCH YOUR LINE?
They’re in a hurry. How long are they going to last? I believe I have a long shelf life, though I’m not on the shelf paradoxically. I’ve been waiting for the right cutting-edge cosmetics company to come along and approach me. I don’t want any old manufacturer of gels and emulsions and creams. I was waiting for the right modern-thinking, youthful company.
HOW INVOLVED WERE YOU IN THE CREATION OF THE LINE?
I was in the laboratory from start to finish. I was in the art department designing the beautiful packaging. It’s been a thrilling experience for me. Unlike those other glamour-pusses, I was in no hurry because I knew I would still be around in 20 years’ time.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PRODUCT?
I like the Kanga-Rouge. No kangaroo was hurt in the making of that product.
WHAT’S YOUR BEST BEAUTY ADVICE?
Don’t overdo makeup in the T-zone, and remember, less is more, particularly with MAC products, which go a long way. You don’t have to plaster them on. They bond with the enzymes of your epidermis. I’m a bit of a skin guru. Don’t neglect your gastroesophageal junction, either. It is so important for breathing. If you neglect that inner tubing, you’ll get blotchy.
YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A HOUSEWIFE, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGIST, TALK SHOW HOST, SWAMI, CHILDREN’S BOOK ILLUSTRATOR, SPIN DOCTOR, MEGASTAR AND ICON. HOW DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE?
I don’t. I have no balance at all. I do the first thing that amuses me. The secret of my happiness is procrastination. I put things off. If I don’t want to do it, I wait until tomorrow and sometimes those horrible things go away. Those irksome tasks, those little chores we dread, don’t always wait for us to attend to them. I believe in doing what amuses me. If it makes me laugh, guaranteed it will make my little possums laugh.
YOU’VE PERFORMED COUNTLESS TIMES IN FRONT OF THE QUEEN. HOW DOES YOUR PREPARATION FOR A ROYAL APPEARANCE DIFFER FROM THAT OF A REGULAR ONE?
The queen accepts me as I am. She’s very jealous of my appearance. I have sent her the whole MAC range to try out, and you’re going to notice a big difference.
YOUR MAKEUP COLLECTION IS HEAVY ON THE SPARKLES AND BRIGHT COLORS. CAN EVEN WOMEN D’UN CERTAIN AGE WEAR SUCH SHADES?
Yes. The more color, the better. The world is full of dull, drab-looking people. You sit in a car, waiting for the light to change, and all you see is pedestrians slouching past, particularly on Fifth Avenue. They’re all wearing the same color. Women look like they’ve just come from a funeral in the cathedral across the road. We need color, girls. Lots of it. Don’t be afraid.
WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE TO WOMEN WHO ARE AFRAID OF COLOR?
I have tested all these colors personally, in social and in romantic situations, which can sometimes involve quite a bit of wear and tear. Men have thanked me for looking vivid. Whatever happened to vivid women? I see people who really, quite frankly, look as though they belong in a nunnery, not on the streets of a vibrant city.
YOU HAVE AN ARDUOUS TOURING SCHEDULE THIS FALL. WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION FOR YOUR SHOWS?
I’m inspired by my public. If I stand on that stage and look across the footlights and see these eager little faces looking up at me—their faces like flowers, the occasional cactus, but on the whole, faces like flowers—drinking in my words, that is my reward, my inspiration.
DO YOU HAVE A MOTTO?
My motto is, I care, I share. My other motto is, there’s no such thing as crow’s feet. They are the dried-up bits of old smiles.