Weekly Burlesque: Dita Von Teese Interview Part I

You have said in interviews that you maintained other jobs besides modeling so that you could choose only those modeling jobs that you liked. What were some of your favorite early modeling jobs?

Well, I liked all the fetish jobs and the Playboy jobs. I liked coming up with ideas for shoots, doing all the styling, and getting satisfaction from the end result, or seeing the mistakes and learning from them.

I liked the silly fetish videos, especially Dita in Distress, which was a real effort but worth it in the end, and I used to make these custom fetish videos.

I just loved getting these letters, and sometimes I would make these funny short films for fans to make money on the side. One favorite was one where Catherine and I are taking ballet class, and she gets annoyed with me and puts a big cream pie right in my face. It’s priceless.

And then there was a guy who paid to get a video of me walking through a forest all dolled up, throwing trash out of my handbag — littering fetish! This stuff always entertained me to no end. I kept every script, every letter! And I thought that it was all very funny, with little or no nudity required.

For some reason, I had these really gentle fans that were more interested in the silly and cute fetishes than the hard ones.

And I liked all the Playboy photos and videos and events that I did; it was funny to be completely different than all those other girls. It was always a real novelty for the photographers to work with me on those shoots!

And it was exciting to be in Playboy; it was a real thrill to go from the fetish world to the Playboy world like that.

I tested to become a Playboy playmate, but I got rejected over and over after each test, so obviously it was crazy to be on the cover years later. I still have a hard time believing that really happened!

You seem like the ultimate entrepreneur. You have several revenue streams — modeling, performing, and your website. Do you recommend this approach for new performers with long-term goals?

I think that the best goal is to do it because you have a genuine love for it, and not to be doing it for the wrong reasons.

I’m a firm believer that good things come from good intentions; when a person isn’t ego and money driven, things work out the way that they should. And you have to work hard. You have to pay your dues!

Make no mistake — I suffered! I stayed in the worst of the worst motels; I did manual labor. I definitely wasn’t demanding champagne and fancy dressing rooms and making people treat me like a star.

I’ve seen girls do it, and I discovered early on that when you don’t ask for all that and you just do a good job, well, they want to do nice things for you, you know?

But I sort of take the same approach that actors take: you do the research, you do your homework, you do all that stuff and for some reason, it all comes across on stage, even if it doesn’t seem like there is much relevance.

Working out five hours a day to have a perfect body isn’t what makes someone have star quality; I think it’s all these layers of depth and genuine interest in what you’re doing that makes it good.

To be continued! Dita was so generous with her time and information that I’ve split the interview into two sections. In the next section, we’ll be discussing Dita’s website and showing more astonishing images of her and her costumes.

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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