ROXY EXLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DITA VON TEESE
By: Brent X Mendoza
Starting Monday, December 13 the queen of the striptease becomes queen of The Sunset Strip, when burlesque icon Dita Von Teese shimmies into a three night stint at The Roxy Theatre. Starlet and pin-up come to life, Ms. Von Teese has become known around the world for her traditional meets modern style of burlesque that draws inspiration from the glamour of classic Hollywood. Earlier this week, the iconic beauty took a break from rehearsals to speak with The Roxy Theatre about what stirs her martini and what gets her tassels twirling. Here’s what she had to say…
Who are your influences/inspirations, both classic and modern?
I’m mostly inspired by the real history of burlesque, particularly its “Golden Age” as they say, the mid-century American burlesque which is the showgirl-type burlesque with all its feathers, rhinestones and glamour! I’m inspired by the real women of burlesque, like Gypsy Rose Lee, Lili St. Cyr and Sally Rand. I read a lot about their lives from every angle, from books they wrote about burlesque, to books others wrote about them. I love to try to modernize classic burlesque, while staying true to what it really was, which was a variety show in which the stars were striptease artists. I also get a lot of inspiration from fashion, interesting women of the past like Mae West or The Marchesa Casati for instance. I can get inspired by a film I see (old or new), a book I read, a photo or artwork I see….I don’t have any trouble coming up with ideas for shows; the problem is coming up with the money and the time to actually make it happen. Each of these acts takes between $50,000 – $150,000 to build and create, with the costumes, props and music; so I have to be pretty committed to follow through and make it happen!
Ever get embarrassed while performing?
It’s always a little embarrassing when the costume doesn’t come off easily, but it’s par for the course since I choose to wear very complicated costumes. With all the Swarovski crystal, some of these costumes weigh in at around 40 – 60 pounds which is quite heavy, and it’s not as easy to wear as it seems. Even when I watch videos of my shows, I can see why people think it’s easy; it just looks slinky and shiny but not heavy. But it’s all real crystal.
You have been credited with having one of the first “model sites” on the internet. How have you kept pace with technology to keep in touch with your fan base?
Well, I admit my website has only undergone three changes in all that time, and we’ve been working on a new design, but have had a few snafus in the design work, so hopefully it will be up to speed by the New Year! My site is very personal for my members, with lots of personal behind the scenes pics I take of what’s going on in my life, constant conversation on my message board, oodles of images and videos too. So in that respect, for members it’s great. A well-kept secret too is that I always arrange for my website members to attend certain VIP only events that I do all over the world. My members and I have hit a few red carpets together this past year! I do a lot of big fancy VIP parties and it always means a lot to me to invite a few of my loyal website members to be in the audience!
Being a high-profile sexual icon, do you run into much opposition from feminist detractors?
Occasionally I’ll get some heat about it, and they rant on about me being objectified by men, but the thing is, the majority of my fans at my shows, or at book signings, and even on my website are women, so I think it’s a very invalid argument, so I dismiss it pretty quickly. They don’t usually know what to say when they learn that it’s women watching. Most of my critics that come from the feminist angle just see what I do and don’t look at who I’m doing it for, and they judge before getting the whole story.
Men. Turn-ons, turn-offs?
Turn-ons: A man who has the right blend of confidence and humility and genuine kindness toward others….that combined with some good old-fashioned sexual chemistry between us is just about all I need!
Turn-offs: A man that brags about money or is just a general know-it-all. I’m also quickly turned off by men who don’t think safe sex is important. That’s a HUGE red flag for me!
Given The Sunset Strip’s decadent history, does bringing your burlesque show to The Roxy Theatre hold any special significance for you?
Well, I love The Roxy because it’s a more intimate room. I’ve personally seen some amazing shows from stars and bands that usually play huge arenas, so I’m hoping my loyal fans will come to this show to appreciate how it’s different than the usual bigger venues I do here in LA. And….. The Roxy DOES have a reputation for debauchery, and one thing that’s for sure is that burlesque is and always was for adults, even in the 1930s and 40s! This ain’t no PG-rated show!
Dita Von Teese is set to perform December 13-15 with 8pm and 11pm shows each night. All shows are 21+ Tickets are sold out for the 8pm shows but, if you get them soon enough, you can make it to the 11pm shows. You can purchase online here or call the Roxy box office at 310-278-9457.