So, how does she do it? How does Morgan Fairchild manage to look pretty much the same today as she did in 1980 when she became a prime-time fixture in NBC's "Flamingo Road" series?

"I made a Faustian bargain," said Fairchild with a laugh. In one line she has put a funny spin on 22 years of skin care and personal maintenance and also managed to sound the theme of her upcoming cable movie, "I Was a Teenage Faust."

The film, airing Sunday at 8 p.m. on Showtime, revolves around Josh Zuckerman as a teenager badly in need of a life change after losing a student election to a dog. He'll do anything to regain his sense of self-worth and get in the good graces of the school glamour queen, played by Caroline Elliott.

Robert Townsend plays the tempter who, on behalf of the devil (Stuart Margolin) makes the young man an offer he falls for.

Fairchild is the devil's girlfriend, Babylonia Fine, who is on hand to make sure that Townsend's character sticks to business.

"I loved the script," said Fairchild. "I thought it was cute, and I don't get cute scripts very often. I thought it would work at both a children's and at an adult level, real family television."

While the show is cute and the theme is played for laughs, it carried with it the basic Faustian question: "What is your soul worth in the end?" said Fairchild.

The ancient tale of Doctor Faustus has taken many forms, with dramatist Christopher Marlowe giving it a place in Western literature in the 16th century. The story deals with the consequences of a man's selling his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power.

While she was working on the film, "a number of people asked me what 'Faust' is," said Fairchild. "I was surprised that people had no familiarity with it. I said, Have you heard of a Faustian bargain? The answer was, Yes, and I always wondered what that was about. Well, this is it, honey."

People to whom she had to explain the premise included "some very well educated people, one an attorney. I was surprised. So, it's an educational program too," she laughed. "But we'll do it as a comedy."

Fairchild perceives a general lack of historical understanding and sense of perspective among many Americans and doesn't regard it as a laughing matter.

Once, she recalled, while working with the late Roddy McDowell, Fairchild watched as a young production assistant gathered the actor's biographical material. "Roddy says, My people came over during the war to escape. The assistant says, Oh, you mean Vietnam?

"There's a serious educational lack," she said. "Things that other cultures would consider very basic knowledge, even primal, is lacking."

Fairchild, who refers to herself as "nerdy," is a member of the Entertainment Industry AIDS Task Force, helped found the Environmental Communications Office and is on the board of directors of the Hollywood Women's Political Committee.

"I'm sort of the go-to girl in Hollywood," she said. "People called me after nine-eleven and said, 'Should I get a hazmat suit?' By the time you know you need one, it's probably too late to put it on."

People also stop her on the street, she said, and ask her what she puts on her face.

"Walking down the street in Beverly Hills once, five women pulled me over," she recalled. "I'm thinking about redoing my beauty book I did in the eighties. We know so much more now about the aging process at the cellular level."

Fairchild's cells look pretty much the way they did when she hit most prime-time viewers' radar screen playing a seductress in "Flamingo Road." Fairchild went on to do many, many TV guest shots and movies. And she also can be found on stage, the venue she played first at age 10.

In addition to "Teenage Faust," she's appearing in Old Navy commercials.

"My interest in science has helped me maintain my looks," she said. Next year she plans to sell what she knows. Look for her in infomercials selling her line of beauty products, Morgan Fairchild Pure Effect.

Has the beauty plan for Fairchild, who will be 53 in February, ever included surgery?

"I never talk about that," she said cheerfully. "If I do the book, I might."