He says that as a child he wanted to be an entertainer. The pop star dreams of youth have grown into a much more dazzling reality for the man behind cabaret sensation, Dolly Diamond. Michael Dalton is every bit as fabulous as you would expect - and maybe just a little bit more.
Initially from London, Michael had spent a long time travelling between Australia and the Motherland before he made his permanent move. He was enjoying moderate success in both countries, so he explains his decision to stay with a happy laugh. "L-O-V-E, love!" he exclaims. "I met my partner over here."
Michael's career began to take shape when at age ten he was cast in the 1980 West End production of Oliver! He got involved withThe Rocky Horror Show in 1990 and has never looked back. Now as a solo performer, Dolly Diamond, his act still holds a certain Rocky Horror flavour, "mixed with West End."
Dolly is an incredible alter ego to have; she is a lively, infectious, melodramatic character. But Michael claims that he is not like that. "My friends would say I am," he muses, "but I don't think so."
The side of Michael that is serious gets Dolly involved in plenty of activist work. Having just finished a round of shows for Midsumma 2011, which Michael declares was "brilliant, I loved it!", Michael also recently got involved with Equal Love, Australia's biggest same sex marriage support party. "You have to put yourself out there," Michael says firmly. "We are getting closer to a change. I attend marches too."
In addition to Equal Love, Michael is also actively involved in the Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men's Health Centre, one of the sponsors for his show Getting Down and Brassy. Michael also supports and is supported by Joy 94.9, Australia's only gay and lesbian radio station. Michael's work is naturally liberating and inspiring for the gay community, but it is also just a whole lot of fun.
Politics aside, Dolly Diamond is something to behold. She has gotten rave reviews from The Age, The Herald Sun and The Australian Stage, but Michael says the best thing a critic ever said about him was in regards to Getting Down and Brassy. "Her voice is like honey over gravel," he remembers. Michael's talent as a cabaret performer is remarkable; his voice has a telltale husky quality to it, and he also has an amazing range, similar to that of Liza Minnelli.
Along with that voice, Dolly does a lot of work with Luke Gallagher. "Luke and I both do solo work too, but I love working with him." The show comes equipped with a 14-piece big band, making you feel like you're in the presence of a particularly fabulous 1920s flapper in drag.
And it is no ordinary drag. It is, naturally, nothing short of sensational. When asked about Dolly's costuming, Michael chuckles in delight. "Well, I couldn't just shop at Sussan or something, could I? I love to work with Mathieu Salem and of course Kerrie Stanley does my hats." Both of these artists combined contribute largely to Dolly's burlesque look, which is somewhere between Elizabeth Taylor and Liza (of course). It's a virtual landslide of colour: sequins, feathers, satin and bridalwear are all a fairly dominant theme.
Michael has a 2011 choc full of performances coming up. The Melbourne Cabaret Festival will be graced with Dolly is just one of many shows yet to be announced, but Michael doesn't balk in the face of all these shows. He's not worried about his private time at all. "I'm lucky, I get to do what I love. Damn right!"
It is this kind of confidence and self-assurance that makes Dolly Diamond so irresistible. She will wrap you around her little finger from start to finish. Don't miss out on this saucy and enthrallingly queer temptress.
You can catch the fabulous Dolly Diamond at Red Bennies for the Rocky Horror-themed Midsumma Wrap Party on Friday February 11. Dolly is joined by Smokin' McQueen (boylesque), Raven (boylesque), Madame Natalia and Lallah L'Amore. It starts at 8.30pm and it's $15, with all your ticketing an extra info needs at redbennies.com.