Dita Von Teese: Americans don’t understand burlesque


Dita Von Teese sat down for a pretty good interview with Fox News’ Pop Tarts, probably to promote her new book, Dita Stripteese (hopefully Santa will bring it for me). In the interview, Dita speaks in a very thoughtful, analytical way about the art of burlesque, and the confusion she still causes today. She actually says, “I don’t mean to America bash, but it is interesting that burlesque is an American invention…75 years later and people are still saying ‘I don’t get it, she’s a stripper.’” But Dita says she doesn’t even mind being called a stripper, because “that is what I do, but I don’t understand why there is such a taboo attached to it.”

Dita Von Teese is hands-down the most in-demand burlesque belle on the face of the earth – and even though she’s practically considered royalty across Europe thanks to her chic, choreographed dance/stripping routines, she can’t understand why so many in her native America still have so many reservations toward “burlesque” as an art form.

“I don’t mean to America bash, but it is interesting that burlesque is an American invention. Burlesque as we know it and the great burlesque that was prevalent in America in the 30’s and 40’s in big theaters with big stars that were in the movies and on TV and wrote books. It’s shocking to imagine it is now 75 years later and people are still saying ‘I don’t get it, she’s a stripper,’” Von Teese told Tarts at the Samuel French bookshop in Studio City on Friday night where she was signing copies of her new flip-book “Dita Stripteese.”

“I don’t mind being called [that] because that is what I do, but I don’t understand why there is such a taboo attached to it. Basically what I do is like an actress that has nude scenes in a movie, it’s part of the role and its part of what my show is. It’s not really any different. I think it’s just too easy for people to criticize.”

And while Teese said she’s had to overcome numerous critics since starting her shows in underground strip clubs in her early 20’s, these days most of her fans are actually female.

“When I first started doing what I do, a lot of my fans were men. A lot of them were comic book fans, Bettie Page fans and into that sort of thing. It is interesting the way it has shifted and the majority of my fans are women now. Probably 80 percent, but I can see why,” Teese explained.

“I started thinking about that more over past several years why that is and I think a lot of women like to see another kind of sex symbol that doesn’t fit into the blonde, tanned, California beach babe beauty. I can never fit into that role so I think there are other women like me that say ‘no, me neither’ and there are things that make us feel good about ourselves. I don’t need to have a tan to feel sexy. It’s not like you have to have these things, a lot of women see what I do and the way that I portray sensuality is another version. It’s the opposite of all of that, you can put on red lipstick and put on black gloves and you can curl your hair and play dress-up. Then if you’re tired of it you can just get rid of it. It is not like you have to go to a tanning salon and do all these things to make yourself a certain way, it’s something you can try on and leave.”

Speaking of looks, here’s something we don’t hear everyday in Tinseltown: Teese actually likes looking older!

“When I’m scrubbed clean people can’t even consider that I’m the same girl. I get a lot younger, everything thinks I’m about 23,” she added. “People say that don’t understand why I wear all that makeup because it makes me look so older but I never had the intention of looking younger. In fact I always wanted to be older than I was.”

So when does the 37-year-old starlet and ex-wife of Marilyn Manson feel the most fabulous?

“I feel sexy when I’m in love and with somebody that thinks I’m the best thing ever with or without all my hair and makeup, when I’m just totally myself,” Teese said. “I feel sexy when I’m having fun whether its on stage and having fun and I think its hilarious that I’m doing what I do or whether I’m with my friends and family that really know me. It’s all about your degree of confidence and how much fun you have in your life.”

[From Fox News]

You know what I want now? A History Channel special, hosted by Dita, on “The History of Burlesque”. I totally think it would work, and I’m being completely serious. I recently caught The History Channel special on Roman brothels, and you wouldn’t believe the sh-t the History Channel gets away with. Dita would class the joint up, and she would educate. I, for one, would love to know more about the history of burlesque. I would also like to see Dita in her famous martini glass. Sigh. Girl crush.

Dita at a book signing in Los Angeles on December 11, 2009. Credit: WENN.

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40 Responses to “Dita Von Teese: Americans don’t understand burlesque”

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  1. queenie says:

    oh whatever…i guess women will never get over embracing their own objectification. really, what other professions pay women as much to take off their clothes or to fuck men? i find it really offensive that a womans value still lies in her t&a

  2. ME says:

    I think thats a great idea! You should make some calls and let us know if you can get it going…. she is truly one of the most classy people that Hollywood (America) has right now.

  3. Dorothy says:

    I’d watch too, and I saw the history of sex thing on the History – very racy.

    I agree with her – America is all about violence but as soon as a little boob is shown it is the end of the world. I find it really annoying, I would rather see a couple in love doing whatever than brutal violence. Why do we have so many Law and orders? CSI’s?

    Oh and queenie – get real

  4. Dorothy says:

    Oh but she clearly is messed up in SOME way I mean she married Manson….

  5. Popcorny says:

    I agree, Queenie.

    It’s not a matter of “Americans not understanding” what she does -that’s self serving and delusional on her part, she’s blaming others for not being interested in what she does.
    If she was more honest about it, she’d be saying simply “there’s more interest for what I do (yes, stripping -with props) overseas” … but no, she felt the need to fault America for “not understanding”.
    Maybe this is too strong an example but -America didn’t “understand” Roman Polanski either.

    She’s a clown, 40lbs of make-up and all, and within a few short years even those overseas won’t be “understanding” what she does (who’s going to want a spent, fermented, sagging and wrinkley olive floating in their 6-foot martini, like a worm in a Tequila bottle?).

    She sells herself on looks -and the look is fading fast.

  6. Betty says:

    In the new Playboy calendar all the “girls” have shaved their nether parts. Is this the new trend? I don’t follow this stuff much. Does the lovely Dita shave her’s. Come on bring back body hair. Otherwise they look like five year old girls with breast implants.

  7. Firestarter says:

    I understand Burlesque, I just don’t GAF about it, as Peaches Geldof would put it.

  8. Bodhi says:

    I love her too & I’d TOTALLY watch a special like that!

    I have some friends who are in a burlesque troop in GA. They are all wonderful women of all shapes & sizes who perform because they love it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say ALL Americans don’t get burlesque, but obviously there are some

  9. Black Kat says:

    I used to really like her
    but her ‘schtick’ is getting
    boring and then that X rated video
    of her and another woman using high
    heeled shoes to …. umm, you know…
    kind of turned me off. That, and the fact that creepy Perez Hilton worships her turns my stomach now.

  10. diva says:

    Considering she is just a regular woman from Michigan, she sounds rather lofty in her interview. She also admits to having plastic surgery to enhance her “natural looks”.

  11. Prissa says:

    She looks great for 37!

    Popcorny you are HILARIOUS!!!!

  12. Asea says:

    She’s a stripper. Be proud of it if that’s what you are!

    Burlesque is exotic dancing, then you take of your clothes, so that = stripping.

    It’s just more boring (very very boring) and little less aggresive (read: no crotch in the face) or botty jiggling) than “typical” stripping but alas, it’s stripping.

    She’s annoying.

  13. thepickle says:

    I think she is great at what she does. It is just not for everyone.

  14. BitterBetty says:

    Compering her act to actresses in a nude scenes makes no sense. sure, you can draw parallels between her and “actresses” like Jessica Beil, but real actors are story tellers. they portray a range of multidimensional characters to do so, and sometimes nudity is a part of that. strippers and burlesque dancers portray one superficial, siliconed fantasy of women over and over.

    Also, what is there to understand? it ain’t that deep, hon.

  15. princess pea says:

    I even like burlesque. I just don’t like Dita. She seems, in every single interview I have read, to be so completely in love with herself. It’s one of those delusional loves, where anyone who doesn’t agree is lame and just doesn’t get it. I honestly think that she thinks she is so highly evolved and superior; I have no patience for that crap.

  16. Wench. says:

    Queenie and Popcorny – I couldn’t disagree more.

    Asea – in the most vapid of terms, she’s a stripper. But, comparatively speaking, the two are different. Not that one is far greater than the other, different aspects and objectives go into each.

    Also, what’s wrong with a female making money out of beauty? We’re beautiful creatures. It doesn’t immediately make her stupid and worthless.
    The woman’s movement irks me something chronic. Just because women can, doesn’t mean every one of us should stomp around shouting into mobile phones wearing power suits.

    I applaud Dita. I find her and Immodesty Blaise to be beautiful inspirations. They use intelligent eroticism to engage and excite people. It’s not about giving a man a cheap thrill. Look beyond an exposed nipple.

  17. pickelhaube says:

    I understand burlesque, I just have zero interest in it. All it is really is stripping masquerading as an “art form”, so that the higher class wh0res that do burlesque can feel superior to the low-class wh0res that just strip in some sleazy joint. Either way, it’s still taking off clothes for money. Like the saying “You can put lipstick on a pig, but its still a pig”, Dita is still a stripper, just with better clothes and clubs. So yeah, I “get it”, but I don’t f*cking care. None of it interests me, I don’t particularly like to see women degrade themselves by selling their T&A, but it’s their choice. I just don’t have to play along with all this rationalizing and reclassification of women who take their clothes off for money.

    And if Europe “gets it”, then do it there. THE UNITED STATES WILL NEVER BE LIKE EUROPE…AND WE DON’T WANT TO BE! Why the hell should we have to constantly hear about how much better Europe is? F*CK THAT. I’ve been there, it’s a shithole, they can keep it. And I went BEFORE the mass immigrations, the NWO..oops, I mean the EU, so God only knows how craptacular it is now! So nope, the “OMG America SUCKS” crap is getting old and does not work on me. So STFU Dita, go to Europe and strip there, don’t waste your “talents” on us boorish, ungrateful philistines….skank.

  18. Kylie says:

    I agree with her. That’s because most Americans don’t know her. What she makes is art and she’s even the personification of 20′s burlesque in my eyes. Nobody can do better!

  19. MaiGiIrl says:

    I don’t shy away from calling myself a feminist, but I am also a realist. Unfortunately, it’s true that one of the most lucrative things women can do is trade on our looks. I had the privilege of a college education and was raised to use my brain, and not my body, to get ahead, but I am totally aware that many women were not as lucky. The easiest way to get attention as a woman is to get naked, add money to that, and it is a little hard to resist for some women. It’s really complex. We are a very hypocritical society when it comes to sex, but pr0n makes TONS of money, and is consumed by millions. I don’t blame some women for being confused and going for the okeydoke, unclear on how exploitative and two-faced it is.

    Anyhoo, what I like about burlesque is that it is about beauty, the tease, and performance. I love the lingerie and the fans, and all that. It is a really primal kind of femininity that is being shown. Contrast that to your average jiggle-in-your-face-and-grind-in-your-lap strip club, and there is no comparison. Part of being sexy is the mystery, the reveal, the tease. I agree with her that that aspect of sexy is being lost in mass media as a whole, not necessarily just in the US.

  20. Peach says:

    You went before the mass immigrations? Um. No. Not fucking acceptable.
    Let me tell you something about my city, Paris. Let me tell you about how proud everybody is of it’s multicultural and diverse roots. That we can see all women of all shapes in all types of clothing. From Pakistani to Kenyan to Cambodian and they proudly wear their cultures clothing without shame and without remorse.

    Let me tell you how colourfull my city is. Let me tell you about the delicious kabop shops and the fantastic Ethopian resturants that dot my streets.

    About the festivals and the music and how absolutly fantastic it makes my home.

    Oh sure, it’s not mothefucking Detroit in all it’s glory. Nor is it LA or Orlando. But it is one hell of a city and if you think immigration has ‘ruined’ it, than I feel sorry for you. Immigration has brought new cultural relevance and a exiting new dimentions to my country. Not the opposite.

    How incredibly small minded to say something like that. Especially being from the US where immigration has done the same to benefit you.

    Also @Wench–
    The “woman’s movement” was there to give you a decent job, a right to vote and right to be taken as seriously as a man.

    If that’s a problem for you, perhaps the Amish community would suit you better. Oh, and way to be incredibly disrespectful of everything your formothers went through to get you where you care today. Again. What a shame.

    Dita. Meh. Yawn.

  21. Popcorny says:

    Americans know her and have known of her since her early days as the overly made-up arm ornament of that repugnant poser and pretender named “Marlyn Manson”.
    Oh yes, he’s “art” too …-*phhhllllt*
    So, yes, Americans knew “Dita of Tease” and her shtick of selling her pitch-able goods (T&A), capitalizing on a by-gone era, and were mildly amused at best.
    We Americans, in fact, know her best.
    Perhaps that’s why the Europeans are “so taken by her charm” … perhaps they didn’t know her or live through/watch/know her as the abused and tragically dumped arm candy of what can only be described as Satan’s Forgotten Fart.
    Sympathy, you bet. (and that’s probably the ONLY thing Americans didn’t understand about Dita and her gig -that awful union)
    But the association (the conditioned image/response) of her and Manson are indelibly etched synonymously/together, and frankly, it’s a huge turn-off. Huge.
    She’s too obviously insecure and that does not translate into “sexy” at all -I don’t care what the “cover” looks like.
    The less you know about her, the sexier she is I suppose.
    She’s a mess … -and a stripper! *phhhllllttt*

  22. Amy says:

    this is news? didnt you post an article a few weeks ago about how she already said americans dont understand berlesque but europeans do?

  23. pickelhaube says:


    You have your opinion, and I have mine. I was born and raised in the DC area, and IN MY OPINION, it is way worse off due to UNRESTRICTED and UNCONTROLLED immigration. If you want to buy into the idea that CURRENT IMMIGRATION POLICY is such a boon to society, go ahead, but I disagree. And no I do not have a problem with immigrants, I just don’t like the practice of flooding Western countries with them so that nobody has to assimilate or even bother to learn the language or live by our laws and rules. I’ve lived it, I’ve seen it, and I don’t like it. And I won’t apologize for that. I am pro-sensible immigration policies, not anti-immigrant, and there IS a difference. Too bad you got on your high horse and started preaching instead of reading what was posted, but hey, I can’t blame you for taking the opportunity to make yourself look superior to an “anti-immigrant racist” such as myself. LOL. Don’t worry though, the REAL problems haven’t even begun, so come and preach to me in 10 years about how much you LOOOVE immigration. I’ll be waiting….

  24. Munkey says:

    Pickelhaube: I don’t particularly care for Dita, myself, but your post went so far over the line it’s ridiculous. I’ve visited Europe, and even lived there for a short while, and it’s far from a “shithole” as you so foolishly claim. In fact, I loved every minute of my time there. I also love my home here in the US, but it’s a wonderful thing to visit far away places and experience their cultural differences.

    But of course, you’re no stranger to ignorant, sweeping generalizations. I still remember your claim that all Georgians have a “strange look about them” or something along those lines, because I have family in Georgia who are wonderful, smart people who “look” just fine.

    It’s people like you who give Americans a bad name.

  25. I respect her art, and I think that Americans are NOT as open to burlesque as they should be. Here, everything is cut and dry. “She takes off her clothes, therefore she’s a stripper”. No disrespect to my strippers out there, but I think that burlesque is a more sensual style than general stripping. I give her props for keeping it alive.

    p.s.-Stop Hating! Shoot! LMAO!

  26. elysee says:

    I think she is very pretty. She has great face and awesome lips.

  27. pickelhaube says:


    I didn’t like Europe. Should I pretend that I did? I PERSONALLY thought it was a shithole, but I am well aware that many people like it, and my opinion is just that…MY F*CKING OPINION. Why is this so hard for some of you to grasp? Lots of people make sweeping generalizations about the US but nobody ever calls them out on that. I have been outside the US on many occasions, to places I’ve liked and hated, just like anyone. Just because I am not gushing about how wonderful Europe is while bashing the US means that I’m ignorant? Please.

    As for the Georgia thing, I do not remember exactly what I said, but I imagine it was along the lines of how most people I have seen from GA have a similar look to them. And it’s only weird in the sense that they look unique, like you don’t see many other states where everyone looks similar like you do in GA. I don’t mean it badly, although the STATE of GA is kinda weird IMHO. So…sorry if that was offensive or ignorant, because I didn’t mean it that way, but when I try to elaborate then my posts become novels, so it’s a no-win situation.

  28. Erin says:

    Great article! I too have a Dita girl-crush. She is one of the classiest celebrities around. I am looking forward to seeing her show with my hubby when she comes to town. :) )))

  29. Cinderella says:

    What I don’t understand is how she wound up with Marilyn Manson? For love of pancake makeup?

    I may be in the minority, but I don’t find her classy. She’s done some cheesy porn. Sorry.

  30. Jenna says:

    It’s not so much that I do or don’t understand it…it’s just that I don’t really care.

  31. Emily says:

    @Peach, I agree with you on your first point, about immigration. I feel lucky to live in a city as multicultural as Melbourne. But I think you misunderstood Wench’s point about the women’s movement. While it’s great that women can now do whatever they want, it doesn’t mean they have to. I personally have no career ambition, and just want to marry a nice girl and have babies. I shouldn’t have to become a businesswoman just because I can.

    @Picklehaube-how can you say that an entire continent is a shithole? Did you go to all 50 odd countries there? Way to generalise. Plus you could have just said you didn’t like it, and left it at that.

    “Just because I am not gushing about how wonderful Europe is while bashing the US means that I’m ignorant?”

    No, but saying that the whole continent’s a shithole really does make you sound ignorant.

  32. oh hey says:

    @pickelhaube. As lucky as I am to live in the US, all I can say people like you make me embarrassed for my country and its people, but I stay grounded in knowing small-thinking people are all over the world, no matter how advanced their society. In case you didn’t know, much of American culture is formed of bits and pieces of many cultures, including Europe (think about that next time eat a piece of pizza, a burger, hot dog or apple pie). I don’t know how far back you remember in history but Europeans were the ones who came over here. America nor its citizents were sprung forth out of Zeus’ thigh fully formed. I don’t know what boards you visit, but I have witnessed people who call out others who bash the US, unfortunately, they do in a “my country is better than your country” attitude, which is what you’re doing.

    OT: granted that I’ve never heard of Dita until she started dating Manson, however, I guess what’s considered sexy is in the mindset of the beholder.

    If want to look at burlesque as glorified stripping, that’s fine, but for god’s sake, most of the people on this section trashing it act like it’s pornography. I’ve seen old burlesque clips on cable on demand, that may not be what Dita is doing now, but it seems more entertaining that some anorexic with breast implants and lucite heels barely keeping to the rhythm. There’s a big difference between what Dita and Jenna Jameson used to do. Nothing wrong with celebrating female beauty, many women (and men) with beauty are also very intelligent.

    This biggest problem with our attitude towards sex is that we as a culture want it both ways, we clutch our pearls about how horrible and dirty it is to look at the naked body, especially a female, yet our country has a billion dollar porn industry.

    Puritanical attitudes aren’t “what make America great.”

  33. Julia says:

    She’s creepy and gross. And full of herself.

  34. Amy says:

    Yeah going 2 or 3 countries does not represent a whole continent. And there are plenty of “$hit holes” in the USA as well. Not all of the USA is great to live in/visit either.

  35. BitterBetty says:

    Get off pickelhaube’s nuts, people. Europe is a continent of versatile cultures but in general they all have one thing in common – they patronize Americans to feel culturally superior. and Dita is yet another American turned Eurotrash for that reason alone. the end/

  36. oh hey says:


    One actually have nuts (figuratively speaking) in order to be on them. Writing obnoxious comments doesn’t mean a person has nuts, it’s just makes them an “internet tough guy” and a small minded one to boot.

    Europe isn’t culturally superior, but it has been around longer, I would say millennia, than US culture.

    Don’t worry though, just because the “fanciest” thing you’ve done is a wine-tasting at Wal-Mart doesn’t mean you have to feel threatened by difference of opinion.

  37. oh hey says:


    “Also @Wench–
    If that’s a problem for you, perhaps the Amish community would suit you better. Oh, and way to be incredibly disrespectful of everything your formothers went through to get you where you care today. Again. What a shame.”

    LOL. The Amish do make awesome food though :-) .

  38. just sayin says:

    … women should be content (not vengeful) since new actresses taken the male fan base …