Dita Von Teese — The Queen of Burlesque (#379)

Photo by Cosimo Buccolieri

“You can be a juicy ripe peach and there will still be someone who doesn’t like peaches.”
— Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese (@DitaVonTeese) is the biggest name in burlesque in the world since Gypsy Rose Lee, and is credited with bringing the art form back into the spotlight. She is renowned for her iconic martini glass act and dazzling haute-couture striptease costumes adorned with hundreds of thousands of Swarovski crystals. This “Burlesque Superheroine” (Vanity Fair) is the performer of choice at high-profile events for designers such as Marc Jacobs, Christian Louboutin, Louis Vuitton, Chopard, and Cartier. She is the author of The New York Times bestseller Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour, and has a namesake lingerie collection available internationally at prominent retailers. You can join Dita on one of her upcoming tour dates in 2019 and 2020, or at her “Weekend of Glamour” event on August 24th and 25th.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Castbox, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Want to hear an episode with another artist who makes her own rules? — Listen to my conversation with Amanda Palmer in which we discuss books, trauma and grief, crowdfunding, understanding the role of pain, and much more. (Stream below or right-click here to download):

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


  • Connect with Dita Von Teese:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


  • What is haute couture? [04:30]
  • Dita fondly reminisces about the classic cars she’s collected, refurbished, and flipped over the years. [05:27]
  • What other vintage things does Dita collect as a self-proclaimed “maximalist,” and how did this hobby begin? [09:51]
  • From where did the stage name “Dita Von Teese” accidentally originate? [11:53]
  • How did Dita go from aspiring ballerina to modern-day burlesque breakthrough — reviving an art form that had mostly died out in the 1950s? [15:25]
  • At what point did Dita realize this was a niche that she could fill full time and quit her day job? [21:22]
  • Growing up as the shy and introverted Heather Sweet from Michigan, how did Dita find her voice as a performer and spokesperson? What changed? [29:09]
  • Dita talks about getting kicked out of her father’s house at age 16, going to live with her mother, and where she got the capacity to deal calmly with this passage from her life. [33:38]
  • Why we should embrace the shortcomings and flaws that make us uniquely us. [39:01]
  • On Madonna and Mae West as ahead-of-their-time influences. [45:09]
  • Clearing up something from the rumor mill: Does Dita employ the use of stylists, or does she do everything herself? [52:56]
  • Why does Dita famously arrive four or five hours early to prepare for performances? [54:41]
  • New behaviors or beliefs that have had a positive impact on Dita’s life. [58:47]
  • How meditation, massage, and — believe it or not — going to the dentist help Dita focus and work out her best ideas. [1:00:58]
  • If Dita could give advice to a younger version of herself, what would the advice be, and at what age would she direct it? What advice does she think her 10-year-older self might offer her now? [1:04:31]
  • We discuss our attitudes about children: to have or not to have? And a bonus sure to upset a parent or two listening: are pets just as good? [1:07:01]
  • Wise advice Dita has gotten from older friends. [1:15:52]
  • At what age should a woman stop wearing clothes that show off her skin? Dita weighs in on the surprising blend of sexism and ageism being promoted by people in the fashion industry who should know better — and why she sees it as her duty to carry on, regardless. [1:18:24]
  • Final thoughts and touring/event plans for the immediate future. [1:21:24]