Dame Edna has a new makeup collection. Is that scary? Maybe a little. On an unusually soggy day in Los Angeles, the unusual new MAC cosmetics muse is giving interviews at a creaky old bungalow at the Chateau Marmont. You know Dame Edna — wacky cat-eye glasses, lavender hair, Tony-winning Broadway show, alter ego to Australian comedian Barry Humphries? And to those who have never cowered beneath the hands of MAC’s brush-wielding, peacock-green-eye-lidded counter girls, this is the makeup line known for deliciously unholy unions of makeup and iconic personas — RuPaul was MAC’s first model, followed by Dita von Teese, Barbie, Lil’ Kim and Elton John, among others. Brides love MAC. So do trannies.
“She likes to skip around, but just go with it,” whispers one of her handlers, as Dame Edna descends from the room above. “And remember that questionnaire you filled out? We gave her that so she’ll know stuff about you, but just pretend to be surprised.”
The grand dame settles into a squashy green sofa. She peruses a display of the products: lipsticks in Coral Polyp, Gladiola (her signature flower), gloss in Possum Nose Pink. Varicose Violet, a frosty pinkish-purple nail lacquer named after her mother’s varicose veins, is a personal favorite of Edna’s, as is the dark blue-red lipstick Kanga Rouge. That one’s popular with beauty editors, we’re told.
Is she wearing the makeup right now? “I am wearing it right now. It’s wearing me, really.” Edna is also wearing a fuchsia-pink sequined, feathered chiffon gown and matching pink-satin pumps.
Her beauty regime begins within. She travels not with a bodyguard but with a gynecologist, for “daily exploratories.” She eats sensibly. Meat in moderation — and cake the rest of the time. “The very thought of it makes you vomit. Vomiting is nature’s way of getting thin. Cake is creamier than bulimia,” she crows happily. “That would look better in italics, I think,” she says, leaning over to inspect the notes being written. Cake is creamier than bulimia.
She’s done five interviews so far today, with an outfit change and a Leno taping to follow. Chelsea Lately wanted her too, but in the TV world, Leno gets first dibs.
“The hard part is keeping her voice that high all day,” says Edna/Humphries’ wife.
When Edna is asked what inspired the color collaboration, a lengthy, occasionally uplifting, often bawdy discourse follows, which is tangentially about makeup, and primarily about facets of her Dame Edna–ness: her daughter Valmai (who is in rehab, electronically tagged, “one on each ankle so we can always know how far apart they are”), the glamorous gowns she has which are sewn by children in Manila (“some of them are blind”), her erogenous zones (many), and precisely which reproductive part of a kangaroo is red.
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Who will buy this makeup? “Smart people,” she says. “Cool people. The young in particular. The very, very, very old will buy it for writing on the walls of their facilities.”
In case you wondered, yes, Dame Edna has thought about designing a clothing collection, one with lots of bright colors. She is concerned about American women wearing black all the time, she says, gazing around the room at the black-clad publicists sipping Earl Grey tea and armed with iPhones, hovering like skinny bats around the large, crimson flower that is Dame Edna.
Another bit of Edna wisdom for the coming year, heralded by her makeup collection’s launch on December 26: One thing that will not be affected by any recession is beauty and the need to be beautiful. And the need to laugh. She is suddenly reminded of the wombat-spleen cream she loaned Nicole Kidman to rub on her tummy stretch marks. “And if you believe that, possums, you’ll believe anything.”
“I enjoyed you mo-o-o-re than any of the others I had today,” Dame Edna calls out magnanimously, as a handsome young man escorts her back upstairs to do only god knows what.