Photo by Penny Lane.
Dita Von Teese was gracious enough to take time to do an interview with Sinical Magazine about her upcoming Spring Southern 2014 Tour and her lingerie line. Dita’s lingerie collection is now available at select Bloomingdale’s stores and Bloomingdales.com. Special thanks to Jasmine Vega.
Danny Stygion: How has the burlesque scene evolved for you since you started performing in the early nineties?
Dita Von Teese: My first shows were in strip clubs mostly. Of course they weren’t on the same production level that they are now, but my very first shows were done at strip clubs and also fetish clubs too. One of the most notable evolutions of my career has been the fanbase has shifted from a predominantly male audience in the underground scene to a predominately female audience. People have shifted from the kinds of people who want to see a show like this. So it’s really interesting for me personally to have seen the various shifts that have happened over the years in my career.
Danny Stygion: What inspired some of the routines in your current show?
Dita Von Teese: I’m inspired a lot by vintage-style burlesque, obviously. When I first started making shows there was no internet or anything for me to google burlesque shows, so I got a lot of inspiration from old movies that depicted burlesque or even musicals from the nineteen forties. I was very interested in turning those kinds of moments and movie moments from the forties into striptease moments. And a lot of time I would read about different burlesque acts and different performer’s biographies or books about burlesque scenes in the thirties and forties and I would try and interpret what I was reading or find inspiration from photos, and now I think I’ve kind of developed my own brand of burlesque. I’m inspired by a lot of things that I read or things that I see in movies or even by my own personal fantasies of what kind of burlesque show I would like to see, or some kind of way to evolve a burlesque show into something more modern and something I haven’t seen on a stage before.
Photo by Kaylin Idora.
Danny Stygion: Was there specific performers that inspired you in the beginning?
Dita Von Teese: Yeah, I was really inspired by Sally Rand and my first act was a feather fan dance, so I recreated that. And of course Gypsy Rose Lee. I would get my hands on a VHS tape of Sally Rand’s feather fan dance or I would watch Gypsy and get inspiration from her. So those are probably my two main inspirations. And Lili St. Cyr. I did a bathtub act in the very beginning too, so I was really inspired by her.
Danny Stygion: Some of your routines are very elaborate such as your “Opium Den” act. What is your process like when developing a routine?
Dita Von Teese: I usually work a lot with my friend Catherine D’Lish who is also in the “Strip, Strip, Hooray” show. We first like to talk a lot about different ideas and different things until an idea comes along that might actually work, because it is a big undertaking. The level that I create shows now is expensive and extravagant and I have to be pretty sure about a show before I start making one. It usually starts with the costumes. That’s what takes the longest. And the props. And as things evolve there are usually obstacles to overcome and every show has its own issues. Some of the shows like the “Opium Den” took about three years to make really because music was an issue. I had specific music I wanted to go with it, and I would sort of get stumped on what to do for certain parts of the show. And the costumes were some of the most extravgant. It took quite a long time to make.
Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Danny Stygion: Your show is returning to Texas and other cities along the South. Is there anything different about this particular show?
Dita Von Teese: Yes, there’s a couple new numbers. I have a new number in it. There’s one of my acts called the “Bird of Paradise” act, and I kind of redid that whole number. It wasn’t easy to put it in the show. It’s quite a complicated show with a big complicated set. It took quite a bit of work on the side of production to manage to get that show in the act and lineup. I also have one of those iconic acts from the Crazy Horse in Paris. One of the legendary stars of the show. So I have that act in “Strip, Strip, Hooray” this time. And it’s the only time ever in the history of the Crazy Horse that act has been allowed to be put into another show, so I’m very proud of that fact. That show will definitely never be in Texas any other time. It is a very rare moment to see a glimpse of what the Crazy Horse Paris is about. I’m very proud to have that.
Danny Stygion: What can people who are seeing your show for the first time expect?
Dita Von Teese: If you don’t know what burlesque is, burlesque is a big movement that has been happening over the course of the past twentyyears. It’s striptease done in a classic manner like it was done in the nineteen thirties and forties but of course it has evolved. It is a ninety minute show. It is a broadway-style production with broadway type productions values. It is ninety minutes of the very burlesque performers from all over the world. There’s a lot of comedy involved. You will find that there is a lot of woman that go. Our audience is predominantly female which is an interesting aspect. The reason for that I think is that women are embracing burlesque in a completely different way then ever before. I think a lot of women are interested and enjoy seeing an alternative and diverse kind of beauty and glamour.
Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.
Danny Stygion: You have collaborated with Bloomingdale’s on a line of lingerie. Can you talk about this collection and your fascination with lingerie?
Dita Von Teese: I started working in a lingerie store when I was fifteen. It is one of the things that sparked my career as a burlesque performer in the early nineties. And I started working on the lingerie line four years ago and it has been available all over the world, but this is the first time we’ve launched it in a major department store here in the United States.
Danny Stygion: What advice do you have for aspiring performers and models?
Dita Von Teese: I usually try to tell them not to just recreate what they see, but to really embrace their own personality and learn about the spirit and history of burlesque and figure out ways they can do something new in burlesque and being a forward thinker in burlesque is really what it’s about now, and that notion of it. When you see a show like “Strip, Strip, Hooray “ you’ll see so many different kinds of burlesque performances. It’s not just one kind. It’s not just my brand of burlesque. There’s a lot of people who are really tapping into their own character and their own personality. We are really changing what burlesque is about. It’s really exciting when you can kind of not just be creating a show set in a certain era, but really understanding why and what it is that people love about seeing a burlesque show.
Photo by Penny Lane.
Danny Stygion: Do you have any other upcoming projects or products you would like to mention?
Dita Von Teese: My lingerie line is really my main focus and I also have four perfumes that are available on the internet mostly. I will also have my perfume available at the “Strip, Strip, Hooray” show to purchase and lot of other little items too. The lingerie is really my biggest focus right now.
Danny Stygion: Thank for you doing the interview. I’m looking forward to the show.
Dita Von Teese: Thank you so much.
Photo by Scott Harrison.
Burlesque: Strip, Strip, Hooray!
Ticket price: General Admission $35
* VIP seating, Tables, VIP Meet & Greet Experience and other ticket types available on Ticketmaster.com
Dallas, TX. April 1 & 2, 2014
House of Blues
2200 N Lamar St, Dallas, TX 75202
Houston, TX. April 4 & 5, 2014
House of Blues
1204 Caroline St, Houston, TX 77002
New Orleans, LA. April 7 & 8, 2014
House of Blues
225 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Ft. Lauderdale, FL. April 10 & 11, 2014
100 SW 3rd Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
Atlanta, GA. April 13, 2014
152 Luckie St, Atlanta, Georgia 30303
More information on tickets and shows may be obtained by visiting www.ticketmaster.com
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