She came, she saw and she conquered. Cliched as it sounds, it could very well describe Dolly Diamond’s first show in Melbourne in 2004 as well as her reign for over a decade as one of the city’s iconic entertainers.

In August, ‘Australia’s reigning queen of cabaret’ locked up her crown in a secure location, and bid adieu to Melbourne to head back home to the UK. Dolly describes it as a “brief hiatus”, holding out promises of a possible return to take back her throne in 2023.

Farewell Concert Cancelled

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“Ain’t life unpredictable?” Dolly told Star Observer on the eve of her flight to the UK, when we asked her about her plans to return to the city that she had moved to in 2009. That unpredictability came into play when plans for a farewell concert in Melbourne had to be cancelled due to an emerging COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria.

“I’m obviously really disappointed not to get a chance to do any of the farewell concerts. They were the fastest selling shows I ever produced. There really is an appetite for me to leave,” said Dolly and you can almost hear her chuckle.

Dolly Diamond

Dolly Diamond. Image: @photosbyjeevs.

But, you can’t keep a fabulous queen down for long. A welcome concert in London was in the works – appropriately titled, Dolly Diamond Queen of the Dessert.

That takes us back to her 2004 concert at Chapel Off Chapel – Songs that I like and shows that I didn’t get.

 “Great title but it wouldn’t all fit on the ticket,” recalled Dolly. “I remember loving the fact that the audience really listened and that I was a novelty because I could sing. I think my dreams remain the same today, I just want to perform to a grateful, fun loving crowd (who all bought a ticket).”

Australia’s Queen Of Cabaret

JOY949’s Kerrie & Dolly’s House Party

A seasoned cabaret performer, for over a decade Dolly has received top billing for shows at Midsumma, ChillOut, Melbourne Fringe et al.

During the extended pandemic lockdowns in Melbourne in 2020, Dolly kept the city’s spirits up with her livestream show Kerrie and Dolly’s House Party, which she co-hosted with fellow entertainer Kerrie Stanley.

One question she hates answering is being asked to pick out her favourite moments. 

“There’ve been lots of great moments for me and I’ve loved being part of the Midsumma Festival, Chillout and working alongside some very talented performers, most of whom are now friends,” said Dolly. “I’m definitely coming back, however, it’s only a brief hiatus of a year or so. I guess nowadays you never really know and time does feel a little more precious.”

According to Dolly, London was always on her itinerary. Just before the pandemic hit the world, there were plans for an overseas tour that was unfortunately cancelled due to travel restrictions.

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“I was always planning to spend a year back in London but like most things over the past few years it wasn’t to be. I thought about waiting but I’m quite impatient and I thought I may as well go now,” she said.

In London, she hopes to recreate the magic that she stirred up and served in Melbourne. “I’m looking forward to catching up with my friends over there, it’s been a long time between drinks. I’m also looking forward to the hustle, I want to break back into the cabaret and theatre scene over there. I don’t imagine it’ll be easy at first but I’m ambitious and pretty determined,” affirmed Dolly.

‘I Love Drag Race, but…’

Dolly Diamond

The drag scene not just in London, but across the world has changed, in no small measure due to the massive popularity of the RuPaul’s Drag Race series. Dolly acknowledged both the success of the series, but also its well documented challenges with diversity.

“I love Drag Race but it’s like every other reality TV show in that it doesn’t represent everyone in that genre,” said Dolly. “I admire the queens that go on it, I’d be terrible… I don’t sew, I hate doing my own makeup and I sing live. Other than that I reckon I’d win.” 

For now though, Melbourne will have to wait for the return of the queen. 

“I feel that Melbourne has given me so much to me over the years and that feeling is priceless. It’s always so lovely when people say they’re going to miss you and thanks for all that you do for the community. I followed the path of giving back and when you do, it’s so rewarding,” said Dolly.

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