Get us in your inbox

Diane Chorley
Photograph: Courtesy of Diane Chorley

‘I drank so much Cup a Soup I smelt like a stock cube!’: we meet the Duchess of Canvey, Diane Chorley

Fresh out of lockdown, the queen of cult 1980s nightclub The Flick is preparing for her greatest hits show at The Grand in Clapham


She’s seen it all has Diane. In the 1980s, she ran The Flick, the hottest nightclub in Canvey, Essex, where she served chicken kievs to Des Lynam and rubbed shoulders with Jagger. Behind the scenes, her glamorous life was plagued by crime. But she won’t let her chequered (and if you hadn’t guessed, entirely made-up) past get her down. The ballad-crooner (and drag artiste) is on the cusp of yet another comeback.

Why is now the time for your greatest hits?

‘Cos it’s bleeding armageddon and the world needs a tasty little disco beat. If I have to listen to one more advert with some bugger singing along to an acoustic guitar in a baby voice I’m gonna lose the plot. I want horns with my Corn Flakes, you get me, babe?’

What can crowds expect from the big night at The Grand?

‘A lot of Cillit Bang! It’ll be spotless in there, clean as a whistle. I’m shielding, so you think I’m stepping foot in anywhere that ain’t safe you’re off your rocker. The audience ain’t gotta worry about a thing! All they need is their hand sanitiser and a mask – the Duchess will bring the magic.’

What are your songs inspired by? 

‘The three Ls: life, love and Lambrusco! As an artist, you gotta live life to the max. Fall in love, get hurt, take risks and drink whatever’s going. Whilst it’s all happening, you make a little note in your little gold book and a song will follow like magic.’

How have you been entertaining yourself in lockdown?

‘I lost my thumbs to Candy Crush. Drank so much Cup a Soup I smelt like a stock cube! I even hit the Baileys whilst watching “Homes Under the Hammer”. If I’d have kept on like that, I’d have been doing shots of Aftershock whilst watching “Come Dine with Me”.’

Which celeb was your favourite of The Flick’s heyday? 

Well, the big names kept themselves to themselves, they wanted to be cool, Bowie would sit at the bar with a pint of Nesquik. Tina Tuner liked her own private finger buffet and ballpit. It was the young ones you needed to look out for: if I had a fiver every time I pulled Shane Richie off a chandelier I’d be the American president.’ 

How would you describe your home town, Canvey?  

‘Canvey is bloody beautiful: cinema for a fiver, caravans as far as the eye can see, a sea wall so high you feel safe as an oyster in a shell. If you want a little guided tour I’ve got a golf buggy and I ain’t afraid to use it.’ 

Lady Gaga has her little monsters, Nicki Minaj has the Barbz, what are your fans like? 

‘They’re the Dianettes, I always keep a taser on me in case they get too close, but they’ve learnt to respect my personal space. They’re a lot tamer now than they were in the ’80s. One of them harvested his toenails for a year and threw them in my hair at the premiere of “Terminator”.’

What do you miss most about the 1980s?

‘They ain’t looking too dissimilar to now, babe: nobody’s got a job, the country’s on its knees. The only thing we ain’t got that we had in the ’80s is a good old-fashioned glamorous knees-up with more sequins than a Primark cushion. Get yourself down to The Clapham Grand and it’ll be 1980 all over again!’

Diane Chorley: Greatest Hits LIVE will take place at The Clapham Grand. Oct 13. £40.50 for two. Find out more here

Need showtunes and need them now? London’s biggest cancelled musicals return to the West End for four special shows

Want more? Here are the London theatre shows that are still happening in 2020.


    Popular on Time Out

      Latest news

        Read next