The '50s had Marilyn Monroe. A few women since have come close to epitomizing her glamor, but none really truly reached her status. Then, came Dita Von Teese.
For those of you who don't know who she is, maybe you are like our
mother who asked, "Wait, that girl who was married to Marilyn Manson?" But you
also might know she takes her clothes off for a living as a world famous
burlesque dancer. But don't call her a stripper. Well, if you do, she
actually doesn't mind.
Hours before her "My
Cointreau Travel Essentials" party at the Mondrian South Beach for the
spirit's US launch of her new to-go mini bar, we got the chance to sit
down with Von Teese. And in what seemed like five minutes, we talked marriage,
Miami, and being the burlesque maven she is today.
New Times: You are as chic as I thought you would be. I wore my highest heel today just for you.
Dita Von Teese: Thank you. I love your nude pumps. But these are just my clothes. People always ask me, "what's the occasion?" I don't think there needs to be one. You always feel better dressed up.
Where do you shop? I figured most of your stuff was couture.
I have my favorite vintage shops and my favorite designers. I wear a lot of Moschino, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Elie Saab. I have come to realize it's about investment pieces. I like to buy one really great dress other than five I might wear for a couple of years.
There are paparazzi pictures of you and you look fierce leaving the grocery store.
I try to have my simply day-to-day beauty routine when I am not working. A little powder, red lipstick and mascara. I love me a red lip -- it's so simple and it makes you look polished. I am also big believer in no sun, no cigarettes, and beauty sleep.
There is a lot of great shopping here in Miami. Do you like coming to South Florida?
I really do. I am so intrigued by the people here. Like today: There were these gorgeous, blonde and fit girls in the hotel lobby. We all got in the elevator and some guys followed us in as well. The guys look over at them and ask, "Hey, want to come over to our room?" And then there they went off back to the guys' room. Miami is such a sexy town.
You say sexy, I say slutty.
(Laughs) I wanted to choose the right wording, but yes. I was just like, "Wow. They just set up a date right then and there.... wow."
Have you ever gone out and hit the town in Miami?
I am always working when I am here. I guess I don't really know where to go. I like a glamorous lounge, but I really like to go dancing and hit up a real Miami party. Last time I was here, I went out with Fat Joe. He knows how to have a good time.
I know you are promoting Cointreau while you are here. Can you keep in shape and drink cocktails?
Yes, of course. I drink their margaritas or MargaDita. I remember seeing the bottle on the shelf for the first time and thinking what a glamorous bottle it was. Then when they approached me, I learned the history and just fell in love with the brand. I actually helped the mixologist create both my self-titled drinks, but I love the MargaDita especially. It's spicy, but with something unique with the hint of rose.
Speaking of keeping in shape, are you naturally thin?
Yes, I am. (Her assistant in the background, "Bitch!") Wait, don't get me wrong. I workout a lot and eat very, very healthy. But I wouldn't say I have struggled with my weight.
So, you and your career have always fascinated me. How did you get here?
I started working in a lingerie store and that is where my love with vintage style, especially vintage lingerie, started. Then I started looking at pin-ups and I became obsessed. I did my research and learned most of the pin-up girls were burlesque dancers. From there, I started working in a strip club in the early '90s because I wanted to emulate burlesque. From there, I got a following, the show got much more elaborate and here I am.
What's the favorite part of your job?
I really love creating the shows. The process of making the show and seeing it come to life is what I am most proud of.
What's the best part of being famous?
Getting recognition for what I do. I have been doing this for twenty years and people are just starting to understand what I do. I got some criticism when I first started. People really just don't understand what it is that I do. I got a lot of, "She is just a stripper." Which I am fine with, but I am put on a Vegas style show that usually takes 15 to 20 people to put on. With my shows, it's just me.
People call you a stripper? Really?
Yeah, I mean, that is what I am. No one who has ever seen my show would say that. Former burlesque dancers I admire were technically strippers too, so I don't find it insulting. People just assume I don't do much more than get on stage in funny clothes. People just don't understand it, which made me want to make people understand exactly what I do.
Has there been a moment that you looked at your life and thought, "Ok, I made it."
Being on the cover of Playboy, for sure. Looking like I do and getting the honor of being on the cover was a moment, because I am definitely not the girl next door. I was the first guest star at the Crazy Horse in Paris -- that was amazing. When someone I deeply admire comes to one of my shows, like Jean Paul Gaultier, that is also incredible.
Who is your celebrity crush? I know you prefer vintage, so we can go dead or alive.
Ok, good. I have always had a thing for Gregory Peck. His voice and he is the epitome of tall, dark and handsome.
I want to be nosy: Are you single?
Oh, I can't answer that.
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Too bad. Well, what do you look for in a man?
Someone who has the same work ethic as me. Someone who likes me for me and doesn't get caught up in my persona. I don't really have a type. I like short, tall -- I just know it when I see it.
Think you will ever get married again?
I liked getting married. It was fun to have a celebration of love. I would like to get married again. I was only married a year and I realized you can't beat yourself up if your marriage doesn't work out and you do it again.
Think you will ever have kids?
I would love to have kids. I love being an aunt. But I will have to plan for kids, you know? I am not a television or pop star where I can just put on five pair of stockings and hide anything.