David Hoyle first came to prominence through the clubbing scene around Manchester's Gay Village in the early 1990s, when club nights introduced performance elements to add to their experience. Hoyle was the host and compere at Manchester's Paradise Factory nightclub, and was also involved in the early days of the superclub Manumission, when it started as a club night in Manchester. Hoyle began appearing as a character whom he called 'The Divine David', which would later be described by reporter Ben Walters as "a sort of anti-drag act caustically lamenting the narcissism of the gay mainstream... through song, dance, painting and whatever else took his fancy." Other elements of his performance included pole dancing, mural painting and even striptease. Meanwhile, Hoyle had begun indulging in large quantities of alcohol and illegal drugs, leading to a "lot of near-death experiences".
Hoyle achieved national prominence as The Divine David with his 1999 arts TV show The Divine David Presents on Channel 4 under his stage persona. This was followed a year later by the series The Divine David Heals.
In 2000, Hoyle publicly killed off the Divine David in a show entitled The Divine David on Ice which was held at Streatham Ice Rink in London; at the end of the show, the character died to the soundtrack David Bowie's "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide". Commenting on the reason for killing off The Divine David, Hoyle would relate that:
"In a way the Divine David became the patron saint of decadence and nihilism and all the rest of it, and it's hard for that not to affect your own actions... As much as I used to say, 'Oh yes, you have to be very sure of your identity to be doing all this business,' I don't think I actually was. If you're used to creating aliases and camouflage and all that sort of palaver, eventually you have to peel it all away and work out who you are."