If I was asked to describe a diva, immediately I would imagine a female performer who sings and dresses with a particular sort of style and flair. Thinking of the male equivalent, in a term which has been claimed by a semi operatic pop group, summons up something less flamboyant, but also stylish in a sauve or debonair way. There is an American singer of advanced years who has all the attributes that I would associate with a divo, but he looks like that because of his genetic inheritance – not particularly because he is a dresser to watch.
An acquaintance of mine from the days when the Africa Centre was a regular central London haunt, told me he met the singer in question in an up close and personal manner. He worked part time in one of the large hotels in the West End and the singer was a frequent visitor, whenever he was on tour.
In those days, I didn’t have a strong impression of the singer’s work – I only vaguely knew of him by name, so the information didn’t mean as much to me as it could have done.
Apparently, this singer wasn’t efficient in doing his laundry whilst on tour – something which was understandable regarding dry cleaning of suits, but his shirts always had grimy collars and sleeves near the wrists!
It is highly unlikely that the singer’s fans would have been aware of this fact, since he would have appeared onstage in a West End theatre or concert venue, serenading them from distance too far away for most people to tell. In any case, his habits don’t seem to have worked against him, because he still pulls them in, several decades later. It only goes to show that a lot of what we see in performance is artificial. My acquaintance had the dubious privilege of seeing and knowing what the real deal was, behind the image.