David Diamante at Club Noir

Diamond geezer

Sandra Marron talks to the godfather of modern burlesque, David Diamante, as he brings his live band, the Organ Grinders, to Club Noir.

David Diamante is to modern British burlesque what Charlie Chaplin was to comedy - its Godfather, its energy and its salesman, but definitely not in a pushy double-glazing type way. The ‘product’ speaks for itself: ‘glamour’ is priceless and affordable, so there is no need for the hard sell. Burlesque and Diamante are putting the raw sparkle back in the lives of the everyday people who have, for far too long, been sitting at home practically beating off to Celebrity Big Brother and the like with their remotes. He’s taken the tits out of titillation and put some beautiful nipple tassels on instead.

Diamante runs one of Europe’s most successful Burlesque nights, The Flash Monkey at the Café de Paris in London, and his approach is quite unique and different from most modern day burlesque nights in that every performance is accompanied by live music courtesy of The Organ Grinders. Like Club Noir, almost all of the acts are specifically created for The Flash Monkey as one-offs.

You may have noticed that more and more Burlesque nights are opening up and down the country. Club Noir now travels between Edinburgh and Glasgow, while one offs such as House of The Golden Lotus and the Ministry of Burlesque are also regular visitors.

Diamante puts this renewed interest down to a number of factors, but one of the major ones (and the reason audiences are made up of mostly females) is, as he puts it, ‘That old intangible hard-to-define quality called glamour. I have a phrase that we use and some people seem to have picked up on it- “invent your own glamour” - you know it’s not all about expensive labels.’

It’s true. On walking into any good quality night like Noir, the first thing that hits you right between the eyes is the glamour. Where the hell are these people in daylight, you may well wonder? Well, apparently they are everywhere, another reason Burlesque, according to David, is on the up. ‘It’s classless,’ he says. ‘From the Flash Monkey point of view we get people from all walks of life that usually don’t really come together. You get some of the rich crowd, you get some of the everyday job type of people, a lot of artists. We even have a group of transvestites who, during the week, do the construction work on the M25 and we also have one of the leading experts on prosthetic limb design.’

He’s also had Dame Judi Dench as a punter, but, he says, ‘it’s not about celebrity culture. Celebrities are perfectly welcome to come along but they are no more elevated than anybody else.’ Diamante also thinks that after 15 years of DJ culture, people are ready for something else. For the same price as seeing a big name DJ play records, you can see 10-15 different acts, all accompanied by live music plus a DJ.

As for burlesque becoming mainstream: ‘It’s inevitable, that happens to everything,’ according to Diamante. However, one has to remember that just because something, after years of being underground, suddenly gets successful, it doesn’t mean it’s no longer brilliant. As long as it’s quality, why shouldn’t the masses have sparkle?

David Diamante and The Organ Grinders play live at Club Noir’s Battle of the Sexes at Carling Academy, Glasgow, Sat 10 Feb.