the original duchess of the disco; DIANE CHORLEY CHATS ABOUT CHAZ & DAVE, the WILD RIDE TO FAME AND HER NEW SHOW ‘DISCO NIGHTS’ ON NOW AT SOHO THEATRE
She went from a council flat in Essex to owning 80’s cult celeb haunt The Flick. She’s dripped in sequins as the star of the stage, fronts a hot indie band, partied with MJ and Jagger, and even served time in the slammer!!
Diane Chorley has seen and done it all! Now the duchess of the disco is bringing the glitz, glamour and hedonism of Canvey and her wildest days back to Soho where it belongs. Taking fans on a roaring journey through her tumultuous ride to fame – from the soul-infused disco classics that inspired her, the infamous tales that shaped her, to the songs ‘what made her a star’.
I caught up with the mega-talented, smooth taking starlet to chat about the good old days, kicking a Calpol addiction, and what to expect from her glittering west end show!
Diane it’s such a massive honour to interview you, I’m a huge fan!!
I know babe. Have the police been in touch yet?
Did you always know that you would become the star of the stage?
DIANE CHORLEY: My mother said I came out wearing a red top hat…. turns out it was just some placenta. I was always a show off. The Essex Fire brigade had to remove me from the top of a bus shelter when I was 12 because I thought it was a podium like on Top of the Pops.
What was your first performance?
My singing career came after I became famous for owning my club The Flick. They was convinced I could have a hit single, so they got Chaz and Dave to write me a song called ‘Tugging on Your Oily Rag’. It was just about to be released when my agent noticed in the small print that I had to bare one of their children if it made the charts; so it never got released. I mean they’re nice blokes but that is a bit of a commitment?! So I wrote my own and it turned out I was quite good.
Tell me about your band The Buffet. How did you all come together?
Well I had the original band back in the 80s but when I tried to get them all together, the only thing they had in common was gout. So Ron put an advert up in the Job Seekers and my current bunch or reprobates applied. They looked like the cast of Auf Wiedersehen Pet. I had to give them a makeover. Now they’re a bit more Jimmy Cliff than Jimmy Nail.
What can fans expect from your new show ‘Disco Nights’?
My story and the story of Disco. My shows are a right old knees up. Lots of laughs, lots of dancing. Don’t wear your best shoes, they’ll get mucky.
You’re no stranger when it come’s the disco! You famously owned The Flick, the most glamorous nightclub in Essex! I bet if those walls could talk they would have a few stories to tell!!! What was the wildest night? Who was the biggest star that came through the doors?
I had that Michael Jackson come down there once. It was ‘BAD’ era, the album. It wasn’t worth the hassle. Fame hadn’t just gone to his head, it had replaced it; It was worse than the bleeding queen!!! We had the whole place sterilised, smelt like TCP for a month. He got delivered in a Kinder Egg. No word of a lie, a full sized Kinder Egg! With foil ! It turned up on the back of an Eddie Stobart Lorry (the only thing big enough to carry it) I said to Ron when it turned up, “This is going to be a long night”, I can’t pander to peoples eccentricities, I’m a woman of the soil. I mean who eats dinner in a bleeding high chair?!
How did you get the name the Duchess?
Bowie used to come to my club and he’d sit at the bar with a Drambuie and soda. It did curdle, but as it was him you didn’t argue. He always said he was the ‘Thin White Duke’ and I was the ‘Duchess’. I guess it stuck.
But it wasn’t always Drambuie with Bowie, sequins and big lights! The Flick came to a dramatic end, and like your mother you found yourself doing a stint behind bars! What was the first thing you did when got back on the outside?
Had fish and chips. I was weaning myself off Calpol at the time and I was a wretch from the withdrawal symptoms. I missed it so much and I still do. But I tell you something, you could have waved that sweet red liquid in front of me and I’d of still gone for the Cod. Best meal of my life.
When you’re not on stage what are music are you listening to?
I like Hawaiian music and anything I’ve written. The sound of my own voice relaxes me.
Lastly where can your fans expect to see you after ‘Disco Nights’ is over?
I wish I knew babe. Ask Russell Grant, he’s more in the know than I am!