5 Questions is a series by Steve Duffy –
Burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese is idolized by many for bring back the art of burlesque dancing. The legendary beauty has also been called the “Gypsy Rose Lee of her generation. She is currently on tour and bringing her new show to the House of Blues.
SD: How did your burlesque name come about?
DVT: In the early 90’s, I was working in a strip club and I was asked to pose for Playboy. I wanted to use just my first name, but I was told I had to have a last name. After searching through the phonebook, I gave them “Von Treese,” but when they printed my name they misspelled it to “Von Teese.” I loved it, so I kept it.
SD: What influenced you to become a burlesque dancer?
DVT: As a little girl, I was a ballerina and I loved to dance, but I was not very good at it. I loved watching old Hollywood movies with my mom and wanted to be like Betty Grable or Rita Haywood. As a teenager, I started styling myself in the vintage retro style.
SD: How does this new show “The Art of the Teese” differ from what you have done in the past?
DVT: I toured with my old show for about 6 years and it seemed to be pretty successful. With this new show, I wanted to capture the spirit of what has worked for me in my other shows, while creating something new and exciting.
SD: For anyone who is not familiar with your show, what can you tell us about it?
DVT: My burlesque show is a spinoff of the old vaudeville shows from the 20’s and 30’s. It a variety show just like the ones that Sally Rand and Gypsy Rose Lee would perform. Its roots were geared to the working man. It was not about sex. Its modern form has become an unlikely feminist movement. Now, it is very fashionable and more women attend my shows then men. Some men do attend, but it is on the arms of their wives or girlfriends. I also love that fact that I have a huge LGBT following. They make the best fans. What I love most about burlesque now is that the performers are more diverse in shape, color, and age. It takes a lot to display an incredible stage presence while showing what real sexuality is.
SD: What’s your favorite thing about performing burlesque?
DVT: My favorite part is the art of creation. When I am putting together a show for the first time, I am always uncertain whether it is good or not. I love the validation from the fans when it turns out good. The show itself is a big process to put on. The best part for me is creating the costumes, the music, and the choreography. It is not something that I make a lot of money from, especially because all the money goes to the costumes. I love my job and I believe it there is no other show in the world like it. It gives me a great sense of pride and purpose.