Burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese grew up inspired by nineties club kids and queer culture. She spoke to Matthew Wade about why her LGBTI supporters are like family.


Many women in Hollywood find that their star begins to fade as they grow older, the cruel product of a misogynistic society that places capital in a woman’s looks above all else.

Not Dita Von Teese, though.

The dishwater blonde, who grew up in a Michigan farming town before transforming herself into a burlesque superstar, found her tribe among the gays, who she says have accepted and championed her irrespective of age.

“I don’t know where I’d be right now without the LGBTI community,” she says.

“If I was still a Playboy model under the straight male gaze, I’d probably have to choose a new career.

“In the LGBTI community there’s a lot more acceptance, and they actually want to see their idols age and be inspiring.”

Before she graced the pages of men’s magazines and appeared in strip clubs around America in the nineties, Teese injected herself into the club kid rave scene, where creative queer culture blossomed.

She says it was there that she found a home among like-minded people, inspired by the queers and fetish enthusiasts around her.

“When I was a young girl I didn’t have a lot of role models that I could look up to,” she says.

“I’m not that special to look at without all my glamour, so I really embraced playing with make-up and clothes, and creating my own myth using nineties fashion.

“I met a lot of interesting queer people at the time who influenced me and opened my mind to new things.

“I liked being part of a group that accepted me for whoever I wanted to be.”

Teese adds that she feels most recognised by the LGBTI community for what she does.

Two years ago she thought about hanging up her corsets and retiring, plagued by paranoid thoughts that people didn’t want to see her anymore.

However, the LGBTI community reminded her that they didn’t care if she was 20 or 50 – they’d still turn out in droves to watch her perform.

“I’m an aesthetic control freak by trade, and my creative gay friends have always appreciated that beauty,” she says. “They’re not just out there for younger women all the time.”

In early 2018, Teese will bring her brand new show The Art of the Teese to Australia, following her sold out tour down under last year.

The show will bring on a number of new acts never before seen in the country including Lazy, an act only ever performed at The Crazy Horse in Paris.

It will also feature a brand-new version of Teese’s iconic Martini Glass routine which features a beautiful baroque style gilded champagne glass, crystallised from top to bottom with over 150,000 Swarovski crystals.

The performances will be hosted by comedian and singer Jonny McGovern, creator of the popular YouTube series Hey Qween.

Teese says Australia was the first place outside of America and Canada that supported her enough to fly over and perform.

“I’m my own tour producer and it’s not an easy thing to do, so it’s really touching to have that sort of support in Australia,” she says.

Teese encourages all of the LGBTI supporters planning to head along to her show to wear their most fabulous attire.

“I’m really excited to see what they’re going to wear,” she says.

“We have a runway moment in the show so we’re always looking for good looks and good dance moves.

“Burlesque to me is about transforming myself into a sex symbol of my own creation, to a time when glitz and glamour and artifice were something women embraced.”

Dita Von Teese will be touring Australia in February and March 2018. For more information and to buy tickets visit: www.artoftheteese.com.

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