Dita Von Teese has established herself as the “queen of burlesque” thanks to her decades-long success as a performer pushing the boundaries of femininity and scandal on stage. At 50, she does not intend to stop anytime soon. In fact, she told Dua Lipa that she believes we live in “the golden age of burlesque” today.
“For almost 25 years, it’s really been a movement, but it’s a place of inclusivity and diversity. It was then and it wasn’t then,” Von Teese said during an interview. an appearance on the singer’s podcast. Dua Lipa: at your service. “So the show I’m touring with isn’t like a pin-up show, there are as many men in the show as there are women stripping and as many different people as I can bring in. “
The evolution of her show and burlesque as a whole is a testament to how far Von Teese has come in her own career, especially when she reflects on how her work was perceived when she was just starting out.
“I kind of lived my career and my life with, I think, an arc that didn’t happen of my own design, but started as a performance that seemed to be more under the male gaze. But that changed drastically,” she said. Explain.
She remembers touring England for the release of her book, Burlesque and the art of Teese/Fetish and the art of Teese, where she had the chance to talk about “why I love this era, why I love pin-ups, what gives me power over burlesque”. From there, she saw her audience begin to evolve and felt better understood.
“I was doing a signing at Harrods with the horse and carriage and all that kind of stuff and they closed the streets and I looked outside and there were all these women, and I thought, OK, that’s different from what I thought it would be,” she says. “I think by telling my story of why I love him, it resonated with other women, like harnessing your power erotic, your sensual power, living life your way, a new kind of feminism because ultimately, to me, being a feminist means choosing to live life as you see fit. I don’t respond to other people’s opinions.”
Although burlesque apparently had its heyday in the 1920s and 30s, what Von Teese was doing even in the 2000s was considered outrageous and even controversial. Instead of feeling intimidated by the notion, however, she said she was motivated by it.
“I feel like I’ve always leaned into things that might be considered taboo or risky. For example, I mean stripping obviously or choosing to be objectified or put yourself in a position where you are objectified or bondage and fetishism Corsets , a lot of people are very offended by the idea of putting on a corset but I love the idea of taking things that could be perceived as degrading or as bondage, for lack of a better word…you can release that taboo by saying I love her for that reason,” Von Teese explained. “There’s power in saying, I’m going to do it because it’s liberating.” So I like that. And I like the idea of making things more friendly, playful, fun. It’s something I’ve always loved.
By blazing her own trail in the industry and creating her own shows, the artist has also been in full control of how she is seen, which ties into that sense of empowerment.
“When I’m doing my own thing, all the costumes are designed in a way that makes me feel confident and comfortable and covered and accentuates the things that I choose,” she said.
Still, there are practical downsides to stepping into the limelight in the age of social media, especially when it comes to the criticism people often face about their bodies.
“I had no worries in the world before social media when I was in my twenties. I was just having the time of my life,” she said. “Nobody ever said, ‘Hey, you have a little cellulite’ or ‘You look a little puffy’.”
Luckily, she said she enjoys a kind of confidence that comes with age.
“I used to be so preoccupied with perfection on stage and now I’m kind of like, it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to say just because I’m not perfect from that angle, I’m not going to not do that thing anymore,” she explained. “Before, I wanted to be perfect on stage, and now I don’t feel that anymore. I want to be perfect in another way.”
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