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The Art of the Teese

She’s the glamour queen of burlesque and has been wooing audiences with a seductive nod to all things old world 1940s Hollywood for the past two decades.


Dita Von Teese comes back to Australia next month with a new revue show titled The Art of the Teese – described by Vanity Fair as an intersection of Bettie Page meets Betty Friedan. This is where pin-up fetish and feminist intellect come together in a titillating stage show in seated theatres around the country.


She’s become an icon in a fickle business where longevity is determined by your age and beauty, but Von Teese proves that even in moments of self-doubt she’s remained true to her desire to be the best she can be.


The 45-year-old LA based star has become more than a burlesque icon across her famed career. She’s an entrepreneur who also runs her own lingerie, eyewear and fragrance lines, has written two books [her latest Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Beauty] – that have inspired many young women to embrace their own beauty and shows us reinvention and self-belief is the key to success.


She’s proof blondes don’t have more fun [she was born one as Heather Sweet from Michigan in the Midwest] and made a name for herself as a black haired diva with crimson lips that’s a perfect intersection of vamp Gothic and retro glamour.


womanwithdrive contributor Jane Rocca spoke to Dita Von Teese ahead of her Australian tour.


Dita Von Teese

Q: You’ve been performing in burlesque shows since the 90s. What motivates you to keep doing what you do? 

The desire for longevity motivates me. Knowing that nobody else is going to do it for me is also another good reason. It’s about evolving who I am as a performer and as a businesswoman and always wanting to take it to the next level.


Q: How does your fan base inspire you? 

They are a tremendous source of inspiration. When I do in-store appearances for my fragrances or book signings, I get to meet people and they tell me how I have inspired them. That totally affects what I do and why I do it. It gives me meaning and purpose behind my job and makes it more interesting than just being about the feathers and rhinestones I wear on stage.


Q: Your new burlesque show sees you work with British fashion designer Jenny Packham who dresses the Royal Family. How did you meet?

Jenny is known for her beautiful beadwork. She designed five costumes in my new show. Some others were done in collaboration with burlesque dancer Catherine D’Lish. I visited Jenny’s press office in LA and made a beeline for all the beadwork and started wearing her clothes and then met her in London. She is very enthusiastic. I have worked with other designers like Eli Saab and John Galliano but Jenny is truly enthusiastic. It’s intense and expensive to make these costumes but when she’s finished one she’s like, let’s do something even more extravagant and get onto it right away.


Q: What are some of your favourite fashion labels? 

I am a big fan of Christian Louboutin shoes – we are close friends and we custom design together. I also love Jean Paul Gaultier. His team is quick to pull haute couture from the archives for me when I need them for red carpet events. I can ask for a dress from a collection that’s more than 10 years ago and he’ll send it to me. Sometimes I feel there is a commercial aspect to dressing for red carpet events and with Gaultier it’s never about that. They only dress a few people and I feel very privileged.


Q: Name some beauty and fashion role models growing up?

I didn’t have many role models in beauty or fashion that I could relate to. I felt like in the late 80s and early 90s everything in mainstream media was about natural beauty and was very focused on Sports Illustrated swimsuit models like Cindy Crawford. It was all about these epic beauties and the emphasis on natural beauty, which I couldn’t relate to. It was one reason I looked to the past to create iconic glamour from the 1940s for myself. It’s not what you’re born with it’s what you make of it. Women like Rita Hayworth is a classic example – she was pretty girl – but when she was made up and had her hair dyed bright red and hairline moved a little it made her an icon and sex symbol. These big makeovers always interested me.


Q: How do you spend your downtime? 

I am a big collector of antiques and vintage things. I like to go to the flea market on weekends and look for treasures and I love decorating my house [Tudor style home in Hollywood Hills]. I also love to cook. I have a little log cabin in the woods a few hours from LA that I like to get away and have quiet time. I have vintage cars I collect and drive as well. It all relates back to what I do but they give me a lot of pleasure.


Q: Why did you consider retiring a few years ago?  

I had a moment where I felt it was time to retire and take a different path. I was falling for ageist mentality – the pressure I put myself under like ‘I don’t have a family like everybody else, I don’t have children etc’. It was about realising that is not what I want in life and this life is satisfying for me. When I came to that conclusion I decided I could either fall for this ageist pressure and retire and not let people see me age in front of them, but I’ve gone back on the road with more success than ever. I never expected it. I am doing better selling tickets now than 10 years ago. I’ve come back with a vengeance and am very happy.


Q: Why do so many women love burlesque? 

I think the reason we have so many female fans and ticketholders is that it speaks to them and when I look at the audience I see women of all different sizes, shapes and ethnicity embracing glamour with their red lipstick, get their hair done and wear clothes that makes them feel confident. I feel like I’m the Piped Piper of Retro Glamour – and I love bringing people with me there.


Q: Valentine’s Day is coming up – what’s your idea of romance? 

I love a little romantic getaway. For me romance is about supporting each other every day. I don’t care about the little flighty things. I am not materialistic. I don’t need to be bought or anyone to buy for me. I like a man who supports me in my work and those who are elegant in their manner not just with me, but also with other people.




Thursday 15th February – Astor Theatre, Perth

Friday 16th February – Astor Theatre, Perth

Saturday 17th February – Astor Theatre, Perth

Tuesday 20th February – The Barton Theatre, Adelaide

Thursday 22nd February – State Theatre, Sydney

Friday 23rd February – State Theatre, Sydney

Sunday 25th February – State Theatre, Sydney

Thursday 1st March – Palais Theatre, Melbourne

Friday 2nd March – Palais Theatre, Melbourne

Sunday 4th March – The Star Gold Coast

Tuesday 6th March – QPAC, Brisbane

Wednesday 7th March – QPAC, Brisbane

For tickets click here

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