Michael Dalton’s alter ego, Dolly Diamond, is Melbourne’s (if not Australia’s) foremost drag cabaret performer. This year the Midsumma Festival celebrated its 30th anniversary, and although somewhat lacking in big ticket productions, the local talent made up for any shortcomings with Dolly leading the charge.
It becomes incredibly difficult to count how many performances Dolly is involved with each Midsumma. This year for instance, she was primarily involved with her productions Dolly Di*mond’s Bl*nkety Bl*nks (Chapel off Chapel) and Dolly Diamond’s Piano Barre (Arts Centre Melbourne) as well as closing the Pride March roster, and acting as Ambassador and host of the inaugural Queer Art Prize Australia.
I was honoured to have worked alongside Ms Diamond as curator of the latter mentioned award exhibition. Honoured can be a bit of an understatement after seeing Dolly’s best performance yet with Dolly Di*mond’s Bl*nkety Bl*nks.
The TV show Blankety Blanks, inspired by the US show Match Game, is becoming a distant memory in Australian television history. It is a game show with a simple format: two contestants (one male and one female) take turns in guessing the “blank” in a sentence that matches the words written on six celebrity guest cards. More often than not with hilarious outcomes.
Although the Australian version is now restricted to occasional reruns and remembrance programs, the US version is still going strong hosted by Alec Baldwin with drag superstar RuPaul even featuring her own Snatch Game in RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Combining both the acidic humour that only Drag performers can muster with a hilarious game show feel, Dolly Diamond took the iconic show to the stage at Chapel off Chapel for five special performances. Guests featured included many famous Australian names such as Rhonda Burchmore, Anthony Callea, and Joel Creasey, as well as Callum Francis & Toby Francis (Kinky Boots the Musical) and Virginia Trioli & Michael Rowland (ABC TV News Breakfast hosts).
The humour was crass and the jokes cheap, but the audience were in hysterics. Dolly captured the quick witted and carefree nature of our great Australian game show hosts and ensured that even the clueless contestants and more outspoken audience members were dealt with in a hilarious and flawless manner.
The final sold-out performance featured the hilarious combination of Rowena Allen (Victoria’s Gender & Sexuality Commissioner), Jason Ball (former AFL star and LGBTI and mental health advocate), Polly Filla (Melbourne Drag icon), Luke Gallagher (singer, director and producer), Hans (the ‘wonder boy of Berlin’ cabaret performer), and comedian Tina Del Twist.
Polly Filla, Hans and Tina Del Twist stole the show (or at least attempted to), and as soon as they entered the stage, the crowd did not stop laughing. It was also genuinely cute to see Ro Allen and Jason Ball’s nervous interaction with their overpowering counterparts. Half-time entertainment was provided by Luke Gallagher who continues to give pitch perfect performances.
My only regret after seeing the final performance was not having seen all five shows, and they really, really, should have been recorded. While I cannot recommend for you to see this show (the season has finished after all), I can recommend you pester Ms Diamond in doing this show again. If she does, you will be -blank- you did.
Dolly Di*mond’s Bl*nkety Bl*nks
Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Performance: Saturday 28 January 2017 – 8.00pm
Season: 20 – 28 January 2018
For more information, visit: www.dollydiamond.com.au for details.
Image: Dolly Diamond and Guests – courtesy of Dolly Diamond
Review: Jimmy Twin