“i went out one night and it lasted three years” – the parallel universe of david hoyle
Fresh from his performance in the latest Morrissey video, legendary avant-garde performer legend David Hoyle takes us into his parallel universe via a new book by photographer Holly Revell.
"The enfant terrible of queer culture" is how human rights activist Peter Tatchell, describes legendary avant-garde performer David Hoyle. Since his days as The Divine David, an "anti-drag queen" developed in Manchester's booming gay clubs in the early 90s, the Blackpool-born artist has made a career of combining blistering social commentary with, well -- having a bloody good time (example: "I went out one night and it lasted three years").
Although he dramatically killed off The Divine David at a live spectacular at Streatham Ice Arena in 2000 (think Ziggy at the Hammersmith Apollo meets Torville and Dean), the Rick Owens and Rottingdean Bazaar favourite continues to prod and probe his audiences on both gender and politics from his weekly residency at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Does he still feel like an enfant terrible? "Well I don't think I'm an enfant really," he replies dryly, down the telephone. "You're an enfant when the first thing you do in the morning is search for a really nice T-shirt. I'm at the stage where the first thing I do in the morning is look for my teeth and glasses."
Today -- aside from a recent starring turn in the video for latest Morrissey single, Spent the Day in Bed -- he's the subject of a new limited edition book, David Hoyle: Parallel Universe. Made in collaboration with acclaimed London performance photographer Holly Revell, it contains more than 300 unpublished photographs of David backstage and on, as well as over 25 specially created art works, including one that reads, "To the adults who crucified me as a child, thank you, you made me think" and another, "Never compliment a gay child". Loosely inspired by Matthew Todd's Straight Jacket -- a book exploring the sense of shame felt by some in the gay community -- they tackle the subject of homophobia in childhood and the effect it can have on people's mental health, particularly in later life.
"You're an enfant when the first thing you do in the morning is search for a really nice T-shirt. I'm at the stage where the first thing I do in the morning is look for my teeth and glasses."
"Well, it's a very deep internalisation really, isn't it?" explains David, who suffered his first mental breakdown at the age of 14, following a period of homophobic bullying. "And it's very difficult to reconfigure the brain, as a computer, once that information goes in. When you're a child and you're surrounded by people who seem to hate you for some reason or other that you don't really understand, it is quite a full on experience. It's bound to colour how you see life because it's such a strange experience."
As someone who has been speaking about the subject for some 25 years, does he see a shift taking place in terms of the gay community discussing mental health? "I hope there is, on some level, a sort of manifestation of confidence going on," he replies. "And I hope people are striving to achieve their authentic selves while they're still alive on this planet. I think there's more of that, which can only be a good thing."
And what about David's authentic sense? "I'm happy to get through the day, love," he chuckles. "Anything else is a plus."
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe is on on sale at Holly's website now