Drag star Diane Chorley hits the big time: ‘Death threats didn’t stop me’

Drag star Diane Chorley hits the big time: ‘Death threats didn’t stop me’

September 21, 2020

As the ‘Duchess of Canvey’ releases a greatest hits album, her creator relives an extraordinary journey from Southend to the West End via schoolteaching and Ibiza superclubs

‘Diane is based around the strong women I knew when I was growing up,” says David Selley, reminiscing about his childhood in Southend-on-Sea. “You’d go to a pub and there’d be a woman at the bar smoking, with all these men hanging off every word. And she’d give you a little wink, and you’d be like, ‘You are the coolest human being who’s ever existed.’”

We’re in the Glory pub in east London, where Selley’s alter ego – the 80s nightclub icon and so-called “Duchess of Canvey” Diane Chorley – first made her name almost a decade ago. Selley, 38, has never publicly stepped out from behind Chorley’s mask before. But today there’s a new album to promote – and a remarkable story to tell.

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