Burlesque Star, Secret Hoarder: Dita Von Teese

October 29, 2009


HOLLYWOOD GLAMAZON Dita Von Teese is best known for bringing back the art of burlesque (OK, and her short-lived marriage to goth-rocker Marilyn Manson). The surprisingly down-to-earth star talks about her new book, “Stripteese” ($30, It!), and how long it takes to put together her throwback Hollywood look.

“Stripteese” is actually a package of three flip books showing you performing. What was the idea behind it?

I love that flip books are very old-fashioned, but I also thought it was a great way to show people what I do without a video. My favorite is the “Classic” book, which shows me up close. In some ways, it’s even more intimate than seeing me onstage.

» EXPRESS: What else are you up to lately?
» VON TEESE: For the first time ever, I’ve put my burlesque performances from the Crazy Horse in Paris on DVD, which is coming out in mid-November. It includes a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff, as well as the show. The DVD won’t be available in the U.S., but it’s not too hard to get. I’m just too hot for America, apparently.

» EXPRESS: Your personal style nods to classic Hollywood glamour. Why?
» VON TEESE: From a young age, I would always watch old movies. When you look at the icons of old Hollywood — Rita Hayworth, Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe — there’s always a ton of makeup, great hairdos and really flattering clothes. As soon as I was allowed to wear makeup, I copied the heavy cat’s eyeliner.

» EXPRESS: It’s the opposite of the “effortless” style we hear so much about.
» VON TEESE: Now there’s so much emphasis on “natural beauty” and looking like you don’t have makeup on. I never felt like I could be that type of woman — I don’t look beautiful without makeup or with my hair not done. I’ve always been more interested in creating beauty and glamour — in some ways, I think that’s more attainable.

» EXPRESS: Is getting ready to go out very time-consuming for you?
» VON TEESE: I’ve been doing my hair and makeup the same way for years, so I have it down to a science. Today, I had 20 minutes to get ready — I did my makeup in 12 minutes, set my hair in rollers in five minutes, brushed it out and left. That’s not to say that some days, like any woman, it’s just not working and takes forever.

» EXPRESS: Still, that’s really impressive.
» VON TEESE: I don’t spend any more time getting ready than any other girl I know. It doesn’t take any longer to put on a red lipstick than a beige one, but the red just looks more high- maintenance.

» EXPRESS: Do you ever just throw on sweats and go to the grocery store?
» VON TEESE: People have actually caught me lots of times when I’m wearing no makeup at all. I’ve found if I put on red lipstick and a huge pair of sunglasses, it looks like I have a full face of makeup on.

» EXPRESS: Give us a glimpse of your closet.
» VON TEESE: I’m a pack rat, but I’m OK with that. People say if you haven’t worn something in 10 years, you should get rid of it, but I’m not that way. I’ve made huge discoveries in my wardrobe of a piece I’ve had for 12 years. And the next thing you know, I’m wearing it on the red carpet.

Photo courtesy Sheryl Nields

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The Manolo · October 29, 2009