What exactly is burlesque? Is it a striptease? Is it a form of seduction? Burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese has all your answers to this lost art form. Recently, Dita took time out of her busy schedule to sit down with Kontrol to talk about her gorgeous art form, Hollywood glam, and her career.
Dita credits her mom for sparking her fascination with the golden age of cinema.
“My mother watched old films. So I grew up watching those films with her and I became obsessed with the technicolor musicals of 1940s especially. They were like cartoons to me with Betty Grable, Carmen Miranda, and all these lavish musical numbers.”
Dita’s burlesque career grew from her love of the 1940s films and she started her career in 1992. Throughout the years Von Teese has perfected her craft and is often referred to as the “Queen of Burlesque”. If you have never had the pleasure of experiencing a burlesque show, Dita explains what her fans experience at her shows.
“Well the show is a variety show. It’s about an hour and forty-five minutes long. It’s a modernized version of a classic American burlesque show. Burlesque originally was a spinoff of Boudville. So you had all these different variety acts, but with burlesque shows the jokes were a little bit more risqué. They were more sexually themed. The stars of the burlesque show were the striptease artist. So you know it’s kind of geared towards the average working man back in the 30s and 40s. Now it’s really interesting because in its new form, it’s become an unlikely feminist movement. The audience consist mainly of women and a large LGBTQ community following. So it’s become quite different. A different kind of show then it was back then. With my show you’ll see my biggest production numbers along with the very best of modern burlesque.”
The art of burlesque goes hand and hand with style and glamour. Dita wears lavish costumes during her shows that resemble the old Hollywood glam. Dita’s personal fashion style is very similar.
“I’ve always loved dressing in vintage clothing but my style has evolved over the years. I originally started dressing in vintage because I couldn’t afford designer clothes. Now my style is more mixed. I really like finding ways to modernize it with modern clothes. I just want to walk around looking like I just stepped out of a movie set. I like the spirit of classic Hollywood glamour.”
Not only is Dita the “Queen of Burlesque” but she is also a successful entrepreneur. Dita has a very successful lingerie line that can be found in Bloomingdales, Dillard’s, Nordstrom’s, and online.
“I wanted to start my own lingerie line because my first job was working in a lingerie store when I was 16. I have always had an obsession with lingerie. I kind of saw it as something symbolic of womanhood and femininity. I have always loved lingerie but not so much as a tool of seduction. But I believed that beautiful lingerie is a way of adding a moment of glamour and beauty in your everyday life. It doesn’t take any extra time out of your day. I make things that are beautiful and glamourous and that capture the spirit of your inner style. Something that’s comfortable at an attainable price.”
Dita’s fashion style has also spilled over into eyewear.
“I have a sun glass collection with a company called Dita Eyewear. The founders are people that I have known since I was 18 years old. Originally the name was specific for me so we did a collaboration of sunglasses together.”
Her entrepreneurial spirit has also gained her the title of author. Dita’s book entitled “Your Beauty Mark” has become an inspiration to many.
“’You Beauty Mark’ is a 380 sum page book of all my beauty secrets. I spent about 5 years writing it. I wanted to make it step by step instructional. A how to get the kind of 1940s and 50s look that I’m known for. I do my own hair and make-up for all the photo shoots and red carpets that I’m on. It’s an easy way to get those looks and it’s also an inspiring story. I shine the spotlight on a few other people that I think have inspiring stories. That went from ugly duckling to swan or how they took something perceived as making them strange or different into something very valuable in their life with their work. A story about like the title make your beauty mark on the world. I just felt like there is not a beauty book for people that want to be different or dare to be different. It doesn’t tell you all the rules of beauty. My book encourages breaking the rules.”
By Ronda Brooks