Dame Edna and the Sydney Funnel Web spider cake

Dame Edna Everage is standing in a brightly coloured room. She has a mauve bouffant hairdo and her trademark winged glasses. She is holding an iced cake with a chocolate spider on top with gloved hands.
Dame Edna and the Sydney Funnel Web spider cake
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Dame Edna loves the camera and enjoys engaging with an audience. This photo is a great example of her unfailingly welcoming – and somewhat unnerving – gaze.

This photograph is associated with the Dame Edna Everage Coffee Table Book (1976) which contained recipes for culinary masterpieces such as 'snowball and apple sandwiches' and 'Norm's favourite sausage and pineapple patties'.

Satirist Barry Humphries exaggerated the house-proud characteristics of the women in his early life to create the character of Edna, who is obsessed with homes, cooking, childrearing, celebrity and gynaecological matters.

Here we can see that Everage has established her look of winged spectacles and wisteria bouffant, however this is before she started dressing in couture gowns and became a self-styled celebrity megastar in the 1980s. Interestingly, she wears the same spectacles in her interview with Mike Willesee where she uses numerology to compare Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser.

The dressing of her surroundings is self-consciously Australian kitsch with a koala tea towel, floral wallpaper, Fab laundry powder and a bottle of Bex – the 1950s and 60s housewife's analgesic of choice – in the background.

This photograph is part of a collection of documentation relating to Barry Humphries from the NFSA collection.

Notes by Beth Taylor