Interview: Dita Von Teese (2017)

Model: Dita Von Teese
Photo by Ali Mahdavi


This interview was featured in the 6 Year Anniversary issue of Sinical Magazine. Print copies can be purchased here.

Sinical Magazine: How has the burlesque scene evolved since you started performing?

Dita Von Teese: In major ways. When I started doing shows in 1992, my audience was mainly fetish fans that knew me from my vintage style Bettie Page bondage photos. I watched a big shift. I would say around 2000 that my audience was becoming predominantly female. It just becomes kind of an unlikely feminist movement. It’s much different than what is was in the golden age of the 1930’s and 40’s when it was entertainment for men. It was a way for men to see live and nearly nude girls in real life. So I think it’s vastly different. I think we’re actually seeing a golden age now in a lot of ways, just because it’s become a global phenomenon, and a lot of women are finding empowerment from it. It’s extraordinary.

Sinical Magazine: What is it about burlesque that appeals to you directly?

Dita Von Teese: I was first attracted to the look. There really wasn’t a burlesque scene when I started. There was no internet. I basically had the idea of bringing my pin up photos to life for the show. I didn’t really have anything or anyone to reference except for the past. Things were quite different than it was when I was first starting out than it is now. I wasn’t trying to do a burlesque scene. I just started doing shows at fetish parties and strip clubs. I was touring strip clubs in the nineties as a headliner, and this was because I was kind of known for posing for Playboy Magazine back then. I was doing a circuit tour of all the big gentlemen’s clubs across the coutry and flying to London, and doing parties there, but there really wasn’t much of a scene. I remember being featured in an article in the State, which was a magazine that was around in the early nineties and basically featured everyone in burlesque and there was maybe 12 of us around in the world and so I think that it is very different now than it was then.


Photo by Kaylin Idora

Sinical Magazine: What inspired the routines in your new show “The Art of the Teese”?

Dita Von Teese: In the new show, I’m not saying a lot about it. I don’t want to reveal too many things. I’m always adding and shifting things, and we’re still several months out. One thing I am doing is restaging a show I’ve only done in Paris. I’m giving that show a big makeover and I’m having new costumes made for it. I’m re-recording some of the music and I’m building some new sets for it. There’s a lot that I’m doing and bringing on tour that hasn’t been seen in the United States and or has never been on tour at all. I have some new cast members and some of my favorites from my show “Strip, Strip, Hooray”, which has been to Houston a few times, but there’s definitely a lot of new things to see in it and a couple old favorites that have been re-imagined. Of course, I will be performing my martini glass routine in a new way that hasn’t been seen on a tour in the U.S. before. There will be the same kind of energy that we had in “Strip, Strip, Hooray” with new numbers that people haven’t seen before.

Sinical Magazine: Who are some of the other performers?

Dita Von Teese: I have a few that are yet to confirm. I’m importing one in particular so I’m not announcing all the cast yet. We do have my favorite MC Murray Hill who always on “Strip, Strip, Hurray” with me. That’s the only person I’m going to say right now.


Photo by Albert Sanchez & Pedro Zalba


Sinical Magazine: How do you feel about bringing the tour to your home town of Michigan?

Dita Von Teese: It’s very exciting. I’ve had the opportunity bring the show to the Grand Rapids and Detroit a few times, but I have to say that I was very apprehensive because I know that the tour has been a success because I’ve been over and over again to Texas, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and all these other cities that I know well and that I know these big burlesque scenes there. Places that I know will be a success and so I was really nervous about bringing it to Michigan because I really haven’t been back to Michigan since I was really quite young. It’s always a big financial risk going on tour, and I’m the sole producer of the show, so I have to take into account that I need to sell 95% of tickets just to break even on the production and so I got really nervous about trying new places. I was really surprised about that the Detroit show sold out very quickly. I’m very exciting about going there and I’m very proud of my home state. I really can’t wait to do that show.

Sinical Magazine: You’ve performed in Texas a few times. What are some of your favorite things about Texas?

Dita Von Teese: I’ve always loved coming to Texas. We always get a great response. One of my sisters lives there and I’ve always find it to be a stylish and interesting state. There’s lots of great places to eat and we always have a lot of fun in Texas.


Photo by Kaylin Idora

Sinical Magazine: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to get started in burlesque?

Dita Von Teese: The best advice I have about that is that when I first started performing, I was performing because I really loved it. I never had any intention or dreamed that I could become famous for it, and that it would become such a big thing. I think that’s part of the secret to my success is that I just did it because I enjoyed it so much. I think there’s people around who just want to do it because they think they’ll be famous. They like the attention. If you’re going to do it, you have to think about why you are really doing it. Also, you don’t have to be on stage to necessarily capture what burlesque is about. I have people who write to me and say that they won’t to be a burlesque star but they are so terrified of going on stage in front of all those people. That’s how you know you shouldn’t be performing burlesque, but there’s ways you can use it in your every day life.

Sinical Magazine: Do you have any projects or products you would like to mention for 2017?

Dita Von Teese: I’m really focused on “The Art of the Teese “ tour. I’m also excited that my lingerie line is launching the new collection in February. That’s at Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and online retailers as well. And of course my book Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour is a must have for any would be glamour girl. |



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