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Dame Edna takes pity on a loyal subject

On May 3, Floridian published a confessional article by New York singer-songwriter Christine Lavin. Headlined "Stop me before I Edna again," it began:

"My name is Christine. I am a Dame Edna-holic. Please help me."

Lavin _ a folk singer known for such songs as The Kind of Love You Never Recover From _ admitted she is addicted to the Broadway show Dame Edna: The Royal Tour. Edna, played by Australian actor Barry Humphries, is a self-absorbed diva who sings hilarious songs and makes outrageous off-the-cuff remarks from center stage.

"I am still able to breastfeed," the character once said. "I only mention this fact in case we are ever stuck in an elevator together. You will be able to survive."

When the story ran, Lavin had seen the show 19 times. She has seen it twice since.

Lavin overnighted the Times article to Dame Edna at the Booth Theater. Recently she received this response, dated May 12.

Dearest Christine:

I feel very guilty to have unwittingly addicted you to my show. I was hoping this wouldn't happen in America as it has happened in some parts of Australia. There is a small but beautifully equipped clinic, which I have endowed in Melbourne, for the treatment of poor folk like you who can't get enough of me.

It is flattering of course to see the same yearning faces in the front row night after night but when it becomes pathological it's more of a worry than a compliment. In my little hospice for Ednaholics, women and some troubled young men are treated with aversion therapy. They are exposed to large vases of gladioli and given mild electric shocks. I have persuaded a talented American colleague of yours, Mr. Jackie Mason, to record a long monologue attacking me in no uncertain terms and this distasteful recording is played to the patients day and night. Unfortunately, I have to report that the success rate for these expensive treatments is very low and most Ednaholics relapse in a short space of time.

What I meant to say, dear Christine, is that I loved your article. Above all, you have enlivened the otherwise dull St. Petersburg Times with your funny and compassionate prose. I'm hoping some of our wonderful Australian newspapers picked it up. And I will mention it to my friend Mr. Murdoch.

I long one day to "catch your act," as showbiz folk say. Now as my season moves to a close (on July 2), I'm starting to pack up my possessions. All these Tonys and other awards are rather a nuisance for they will make my luggage overweight and play havoc with the metal detector.

A joyous heart always,

Edna

EDNA COMETH

"Dame Edna has confirmed a week's worth of performances at Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall beginning February 6, 2001," according to Robert Freeman, president and chief executive officer of the venue. Full details will be in Floridian on June 11, when Ruth Eckerd Hall announces its 2000-01 season.

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