R.I.P. Diane Webber

Diane Webber - May 1972

Diane Webber was one of the most gifted artists I have had the honor to know. She founded Perfumes of Araby, one of the first American belly dancing companies. My dad took this photograph of Diane at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in May, 1972.

Believe it or not, the Renaissance Pleasure Faire used to be spectacular fun, especially from about 1968-1973. Those were the years after the LA Sheriff’s department stopped surrounding the venue with mounted cavalry and before the people who ran the Faire started taking themselves too seriously. Back then it was a gathering of counterculture types from the beatnik and hippie eras.

I had the fantastic good fortune to spend many hours on stage with Perfumes of Araby, unobtrusively on the side or in back with the musicians, except for my star turn helping one dancer get her giant snake back in its basket. I remember one afternoon as if it happened yesterday, although it was almost 37 years ago.  We were on the small stage at a corner of the Faire for an early afternoon show. The lead drummer yelled out to the audience, “baksheesh,” which throughout the Arab world means charitable giving.  Some guy in the audience threw about half a dozen fat joints of dope onto the stage, wrapped together with a couple of rubber bands.  My eyes popped out so far the pupils thought it was recess.

The joints landed a few feet in front of me. I thought to myself, “I’m 13. I spend hours every day at the Faire on stage with beautiful, athletic, dancing women. And the audience throws drugs on stage! Am I living one of the best lives a teenager can hope to have, or what?” While I was entertaining myself with these grandiose thoughts about my own splendid good fortune, the drummer glided across the carpet and the felonious cigarettes disappeared into his vest pocket without his missing a beat. Right then, another thought came to my mind. “I’m an idiot teenager who doesn’t know anything, but that drummer has got a pretty soft racket going…”

From 1969 through 1972, Diane and Perfumes of Araby had the big stage for the last hour of the Faire. Her show was so wonderful that anybody who was left at the Faire would come watch her. It’s worth noting that although Diane’s shows were extremely sensual, they didn’t pander to the audience.  Lots of women and children enjoyed the shows.

OK – you might find yourself asking this: just exactly what does belly dancing have to do with the Renaissance in Europe? Who cares? Use your imagination! Or go sit under a tree and have somebody play “Greensleeves” for you on a hammer dulcimer, and let the rest of us have our fun.

Diane Webber was a fine artist and a successful businesswoman.

May 10, 2010 update: here is another picture of Diane, from 1971.

16 thoughts on “R.I.P. Diane Webber

  1. I studied Belly Dancing with Diane Webber in 1972 at Everywoman’s Village in the Valley. She was a great teacher and dragged my sister and I kicking and screaming to public performance and great fun learning the skills and lore of Belly Dancing. She is missed.

  2. No relation I presume to the Unlate (maybe) DIANE WEBBER.
    Hollywood Star turned Nudist Queen!
    They look the same, Has the same Hair!
    But Diane Webber was a Goddess!
    She wouldn’t, couldn’t “Die”.

  3. Thank you for the beautiful picture of Diane. She was my belly dance teacher and I was part of the Perfumes of Araby troupe. There are not very many pictures if Diane as a belly dancer and I have been trying to collect as many as I can of her as a dancer.

    She inspired me to dance and I have been dancing and teaching for over 37 years.

    Thank you again for a beautiful picture. If you have any others that you would like to share of her and the troupe please let me know as I would like to see some of them. They are rare item. Please no nude photoes I am interested in the dancing ones only.

    Thank you
    Donna (Dawna) Kissling

  4. I stumbled upon this picture by accident. It’s amazing. I’ve been infatuated with Diane Webber for as long as I can remember.

  5. I was so happy to find this beautiful picture of Diane from the old Ren fair.
    Thank you so much for sharing, please post a few more!!!! Would love to see them! I was one of the dancers with the Perfumes, I joined the troop in ’72 and quit in the late 70’s when Diane retired from performing. What a sad day that was for me, she was an amazing dancer and I always looked forward to watching her solo at the end of our show!
    Sadder now, because she is gone…but Diane left many professional dancers behind and a few of us are still performing, thanks to her guidance and inspiration!

  6. Diane was my teacher too. I was in the troupe the first year. She was one amazing dancer and human being. Thanks for posting the picture.

  7. This is the same Diane Webber!
    The Sundial Sun Goddess!
    The Ultimate Nudist Queen!
    But now everybody wants to remember her for
    everything else, but what they really remember her for!

  8. I just watched the episode of “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” that I remember seeing when I was a kid with Ms. Weber in it playing a mermaid. As a grown-up (of sorts) and the use of the internet I found out who this gorgeous actress really was. Bravo! I’m sure she was a beautiful person inside and out.

  9. If you take an interest in Diane Webber you should check out my web site. You might find it interesting & fun. It will inform you about Diane’s dance ensemble (mid 60’s thru 1979)

  10. Inspired me to dance,had my daughter Heather dancing on a picnic table when she was a little girl. Also saw her at the Faire and Everywomans Village.A pioneer. She is missed.

  11. I had the pleasure of being Diane’s student for the last 16 years of her life. I had just called a few weeks before to tell her I was moving back to northern California as I had lost my job and my mom was letting me stay rent-free. That was the last time I spoke with her. The day after I moved I got the call from a friend and fellow student. I would have LOVED to see her in her prime, knowing how amazing she was as a teacher and the glimpses of genius I’d see when she’d demonstrate a move. I really miss her. Thanks for this page and the beautiful picture!

  12. “What does belly dancing have to do with the Renaissance in Europe? Who cares?” LOL
    Exactly. Have some fun!
    Beautiful shot. Beautiful lady. Thank you Scott.
    I miss the old Ren Faire in Agoura and Navato.
    Its up to us to bring it back.
    Eat, Drink, and be Merry for tomorrow we die.
    And I’m not dead yet! HAZAH

  13. Pingback: Scott Pearce.com › Diane Webber 1971

  14. I was another of Diane’s students and also danced in The Perfumes of Araby for several years. She was incredible, she taught me so much, and it was a great period in my life.

  15. I was yet another student of Diane’s at Everywoman’s Village back in 1976-77. What a magnificent woman. Then 25 years later in 2001, I located her still teaching in the San Fernando Valley and began taking her classes again. I’ll always remember that after she watched me dance again after 25 years, she said to the rest of the class “I’m good, aren’t I?” (with that uninhibited laugh of hers), patting herself on the back at what a fantastic teacher she was that I could still move the way she taught me 25 years earlier. Isn’t it so lovely how she left such an unforgettable impression on those who shared time with her.

  16. OMG!! It is really her! I was a kid when we started to go to the Fair. She had every man, woman and child just staring at her. You couldn’t look away from her. When she danced EVERYONE was at the stage watching her. She was amazing! I didn’t know anything about her teaching, like I say I was a young teenage and my family had a booth there. Such memories!! It was some of the best days of my life. Every year I couldn’t wait to see her again. I didn’t know until just now that she passed. I am 65 years old now so it makes sense. No one else could every do what she did.

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