Weekly Burlesque: Dita Von Teese Interview Part 2

Your style is one of decadent glamor and lavish indulgence, and you always have a look in your eye on stage that indicates you have a great sense of humor about all the to-do (as well as a great sense of style).

Obviously, all your rhinestones and giant props have been good investments. Do you ever find yourself up there thinking, “Can you believe this giant lipstick I’m about to ride?”

Yeah, that’s the whole point! It’s all quite absurd, and the second that you take yourself too seriously, forget it! The more ridiculous the show, the better. That lipstick is hard to beat.

Catherine and I were pretty proud of that one. We had all these real cowboys around, showing us how to run this mechanical bull that we put a giant lipstick on, and they thought we were out of our minds. We had trick ropers and gun slingers in teaching me all this stuff, and it was hilarity.

We were actually terrified of the monster that we created at first. It was a $60,000 prop venture, and when we fired that thing up and watched it start bucking and spinning, we really didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it. So it was a bit scary to risk that much money for something that may have been impossible.

I had to sign all these waivers saying that I wouldn’t sue the manufacturer since I “modified” the machinery.

My latest show is an opium den, so naturally, I went to China and I smoked some opium in the traditional way. I have been watching tons of Chinese films and operas, which would probably be more fun if I smoked the opium at the same time.

And for my Cointreau show, I practically had to be carried out after testing all those signature drinks that they invented for me! I love the research that goes into a new show. Most of it might be useless, but it’s totally entertaining for me to leave no stone unturned and go beyond what’s required just to do a show. I like having good stories to tell!

What do you think you’ll do with some of those incredible costumes when you retire some of the numbers? They are some of the most amazing things that I’ve ever seen — absolutely museum quality.

I don’t know. I guess that I would find someone to take care of them and make sure that they get seen. The work on these gowns is incredible, and it’s beautiful even up close without the stage lighting. Although it’s great to see them under the stage lights and in motion, I think that people would enjoy seeing them up close.

My friends make jokes about the museum that they are all going to run and work in someday. They have big plans for the merchandising!

What advice would you give to would-be burlesque performers who are also business minded?

I would say that your best assets are the things that make you different from others. Don’t fall into a trap where you think that there is a “formula” for success. Don’t base your show on what you see everyone else doing. There are no rules.

If you have something unique and different to offer, you have no competition. But above all, do it with integrity and conviction and because you love it, not because it’s cool right now or because you want to be rich.


I could have interviewed Dita about her business for endless hours, but she’s already been more than generous in this interview. I’m very happy to present it because I believe in following your passion, just like the heroines in Judith Krantz novels (yes, showing my age with that reference).

I am thrilled that there is, in my lifetime, a stripper as famous for what she wears as for what she doesn’t, a stripper who has made a career out of celebrating the art form of burlesque without having the dilettante’s compulsion to insult table dancers or pole dancers, a stripper who inspires both imitators and originals to aim higher, work harder, and dream more vividly.

Dita will be appearing at the Crazy Horse in Paris in February — follow the link below for more information! She has helped to develop the numbers and trained the dancers. Again, Gypsy Rose Lee and her troupe come to mind….
Crazy Horse Paris

Just a shout out — Dita and I also have the same publisher. Harper Collins, who published Burlesque and the Art of the Teese, and also published Liz Goldwyn’s Pretty Things, has definitely displayed an affinity for burlesque! I love my publisher!!! HC Forever!

However, I have to work very hard on my manuscript for the next several weeks, which means that I won’t be posting many interviews or articles (if any) for a bit.

I have some beautiful interviews that I’ve done for the book that’ll just have to wait to see the light of day. However, I’ll do my best to keep blog subscribers entertained with choice photos and tidbits.

Dita’s website, with her scrapbook photos, journal entries, and more.

– Jo Weldon

Jo Weldon is headmistress of the award-winning New York School of Burlesque and is a regular burlesque performer. Visit burlesquedaily.blogspot.com to read her daily blog.

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