“I’m more attracted to glamour than natural beauty. The young Marilyn Monroe was a pretty girl in a sea of pretty girls. Then she had her hair bleached, fake eyelashes, and that’s when she became extraordinary. It’s that idea of what you’re not born with, you can create.”
~ Dita Von Teese
When you think of Burlesque, what comes to your mind? A woman with a Mona Lisa smile sidling onto a smoky stage in a gorgeous satin bustier and sky-high heels? Watching her gracefully remove one article of clothing at a time, revealing the curve of her breast and alluring stretch of her thigh? If it weren’t for modern-day Burlesque pioneer Dita Von Teese, you might have envisioned something far less artful! This form of slow, tantalizing stripping focuses on seducing the audience through subtle but deeply sexual dancing ... but for decades people associated it with seedy carnivals and strip bars. Thanks to Dita, thousands of women have embraced Burlesque as a potent way to explore, own, and express their white-hot sexuality.
In 1974, Dita was born as Heather Sweet, and grew up in small-town Michigan and later Orange County, California.Even as a young girl, she was mesmerized by the Golden Age of Cinema, images of voluptuous pin-up girls, and lacy vintage lingerie. So she set out to transform herself into a glamorous, sexy, powerful woman like those she admired.
She recalls the first makeup moment that changed her life, saying, “I remember really vividly the first time I put a red lipstick on. I was maybe 13? It was the ‘80s ... and everyone was wearing that foil-y pink lipstick—Revlon Pink Foil. I loved that color, but I remember one time putting on a red and thinking, ‘This changes everything. This is all you really need.’”
She kept experimenting with her image, dying her blonde hair black in honor of Bettie Page and refining her vintage-inspired fashion sense. By the age of 19, Dita was living in L.A. working as a go-go dancer; a few years later she had upgraded to stripping; and by the early 2000s she was using her ballet training and passion for gorgeous costumes to thrill audiences all over the world!Today, Dita Von Teese is credited with single-handedly reviving the art form that is Burlesque.
And rightly so. Her touring acts are famous for pairing sensuality with glamour, titillation with class. Her famed “martini glass” routine involves her slowly revealing her alabaster skin and
flawless figure, then climbing into an oversized martini glass to splash around; deeply sexy, but also fun and playful. Classic Lover!
And like her idol, legendary stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, Dita has continued to practice the art of seduction well into her 40s.What a powerful message to those of us cruising through the later decades of our lives: that being sensual, sexual, and attractive are about energy and attitude, not age.
Dita Von Teese loves her job, and loves the sex-positive messages her glorious Burlesque act broadcasts to women the world over. She’s thrilled to see Burlesque classes popping up in cities everywhere, and hearing how learning this seductive art form is reconnecting women of all ages to their inner Lovers. She owns her power, as a sex symbol and a woman, and does it in the most inspiring way. In an interview with the L.A. times, she said, “I'm not the youngest. I'm not known for being at the forefront of the burlesque movement because I'm all those things. I'm there because I'm something different. Otherwise you'd be talking to an 18-year-old, beautiful, 5-foot-10-inch, leggy blonde girl that can high kick. Why aren't we talking to her? Because she didn't want it as badly as I did.”