|1 September 2000|
ART for art's sake
Louise Gray: Time Out Student Guide
A welcome alternative to stand-up,
or a lanky geezer with bad maker up?
We think the former...
Louise Gray met up with The
Divine David, a man who's come closer than most to giving political cabaret
a good name.
"Good evening, ladies 'und!'
The 'und!' is exaggerated with a plosive precision, and the
apparition that utters it, an elegantly tall man who's style and trowelled
on make up defy gender, waves away the rapturous applause that greets him.
"Some of you may have come to The Divine David's Inn Season
because you're under the impression that you're gay." He pulls a face:
labels, designer or otherwise, are an anathema to his message. "Well, I've
said it before, and I'll say it again: sexuality is a fluid thing. Some
of us have weeginas (he belongs to the weni, widi, wici school of Latin
pronunciation), some don't. But remember: you are all beautiful. You are
Since 1996, when The Divine David
became a regular at Duckie - the most consistently interesting club, gay
or otherwise, in London - the Manchester-based artist has established himself
as one of the most acerbic satirical performers of the decade. Often ridiculous,
always hilarious, his performances tread a fine line between incitement
to riot and abject danger.
Numerous one-man shows - now accompanied
by the ethereal Jay Cloth, a mute, sinister presence ("He's been with me
ever since I played with a ouija board when I was 12") - and a TV series,
The Divine David Presents, have brought him a wider audience,
but nothing can prepare the newcomer for the live Divine David experience,
coming soon to a London venue near you.
The anarchic qualities of The Divine
David are deceptive. For all the real anger present, he's actually a fierce
proponent of individuality and, along with it, individual responsibility.
At times, he'll stop the show after catching a far-away sound, unheard
by anyone else. "Oh, a man's been run over in Peckham", he'd say. "He never
did write the poem he'd been meaning to." In answer to those who insist
on labels, he affirms, "Be your name. Whatever it is, be yourself. Don't
fit yourself . Don't fit yourself into any pre-ordained identity."
The Divine David is the creation
of David Hoyle, a 37-year-old who spent his formative years beneath the
shadow of the Blackpool Tower. The persona first manifested itself ten
years ago in Manchester pubs and clubs, his lightening wit quickly gaining
him a cult following with a crowd that was both liberated by opportunities
following the pink pound boom and yet uneasy with the way it fostered vapid
gay identity, predicated on gym queens and conspicuous consumption. "Apolitical
sex zombies are go," he sneers. "Human life is beautiful, and if you meet
anyone who says otherwise, kill them and mount their head in a slide."
To this end, he's engaged in a
campaign to further an art form that will allow everyone the opportunity
to enhance their creative potential while earning a crust. "Lap- and pole-dancing
is, anthropologically and economically, where it's at," he pronounces.
"A lot of people, particularly students, are not going to go into their
chosen careers immediately, so it's as well to have a practical skill to
fall back on. I'm trying to get the Minister for Education interested in
teaching both disciplines from primary school on."
More than just offering momentary
gratification, The Divine David is convinced of the social critique contained
within. "It acknowledges the way society is run" - Hoyle is in the full
grip of the divine now - "and in the future, we'll be divided between those
who do and those who watch. The House of Commons will soon be adopting
it. No more of the ayes to the right, nays to the left. The Speaker will
simply ask all those who agree with the motion to please slide down their
pole in a provocative manner. It's going to be at the heart of the democratic
Never one to shirk his own responsibilities,
The Divine David has been ending his own recent shows with exuberantly
alarming displays of pole dancing. Bottles fly as he clambers onto a ledge
and shimmies up a ceiling support at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, a beloved
if sleazy riverside backwater that's soon to be bulldozed. "Personally,
I've got a very supportive audience and a very supportive pole. It's not
custom-made - one does what one can - but with the support of the audience,
I'm propelled higher and higher up my pole. I can touch the ceiling with
the tips of my stilettos".
It's a maniacal sight, one to be
relished in it's white-hot brilliance. as he waves his heels towards Westminster,
it's clear that Hoyle and The Divine David have their joint sights set
High may his pole rise.