Dita Von Teese needs no introduction. But, the ones she does receive usually involve giant martini glasses, back-up dancers, barely-there costumes,and a standing ovation.
The burlesque dancer, model, actress, costume designer and businesswoman has been in the industry for over 25 years, and shows no signs of slowing down. At the moment, Von Teese is prepping for her newest touring striptease spectacular, “the Art of the Teese,” despite telling fans that her most recent stage show, “Strip Strip Hooray” — which ran for five years — would be her last.
“I feel like I’ve retired myself a few times,” says Von Teese. “When I was 25, I thought I was at the height of my beauty. I thought that I had achieved what I wanted, and I was done. I was really wrong because there was a lot more to learn and cultivate. If I had a dollar for every journalist that asked me what I was going to do when I got old and ugly… It’s shocking the things that people say.”
Luckily, the performer hasn’t allowed anyone to dictate the terms of her career, including her early reinvention from blonde, Michigan-raised ballet dancer Heather Sweet to the sultry Queen of Burlesque Dita Von Teese.
“I had boyfriends that had a heart attack, nearly, when I dyed my hair from blonde to black,” laughs Von Teese. “When I started wearing red lipstick and heavier makeup, a lot of people said, ‘You don’t need all that, you look older. It ages you, I don’t like how you look.’ I did everything because I wanted to do it. That’s the thing I always say: if you want to have a successful seduction, and you want to be in a happy relationship, you really have to be who you want to be at all costs.”
Speaking of relationships, Von Teese’s show stops in Toronto just ahead of Valentine’s Day. You might call it the perfect aphrodisiac.
“We have a lot of couples that come to the show,” she says. “The men always have a lot of fun and their wives or girlfriends usually leave feeling inspired.”
What is your worst habit?
Text messaging my friends instead of just calling them!
Who was your first celebrity crush?
Oh, George Michael.
What is your biggest fear?
Illness or death of loved ones.
Do you have a secret talent?
Hmm, secret talent. What do I do? I guess people don’t know I’m a good cook. [Laughs.]
What’s the one piece of lingerie you can’t live without?
Well, I mean, you have to start with a bra, but I automatically think about garter belts and stockings.