Though Dita Von Teese famously performs in a gigantic martini glass, she insists that regular women can feel sexy with lesser props. In this exclusive Metro interview, she explains the history of her last name, why she dresses the way she does and how she puts together her legendary performances. Teese’s new book, Dita: Stripteese, has just been published.
Most people think of sex symbols like you as having sex all the time. Is that true?
I do have plenty of sex, that’s true. But I’ve always been a bit of serial monogamist — so yes, lots of sex, but with the same man. And what you see onstage is the real me in many ways, but having sex with me isn’t like having sex with the person on stage.
You often say you want to put “tease” back into “striptease.”
Which other names did you consider before choosing Dita Von Teese?
None, really. I chose my name in the early 1990s, when I was working in a strip club in California. I had no idea it would turn into my career and my identity.
Your performances and persona hark back to the 1930s and 1940s.
Why do you find that period so fascinating?
I was very shy as a girl. Dressing up like this was a way for me to express myself without words. And I always felt like I didn’t fit into modern standards of beauty. Women in the 1930s and ’40s were very striking to me for some reason.
As the Queen of Burlesque, you perform with props like feather fans and a giant martini glass.
What do you hope people will do after watching one of your performances?
I hope women will discover an alternative way of being sexy. You don’t have to be as extravagant as my shows, but by trying something adventurous and fun, perhaps you’ll feel sexy. I want to change people’s minds about burlesque and striptease, and I also want to make sure the art of striptease doesn’t get commercialized.
How do you get ideas for your shows?
Having ideas isn’t a problem, but I have to decide whether an idea is worth the money. I do everything in putting together my show, from financing, choreography and music to lighting and staging.
What would a perfect day look like for you?
Sleep for nine hours. I’d have one perfect show without a single hitch. Then I’d go home and have a beautiful dinner with the person I love and have the best sex of my life — twice!