Dita Von Teese — queen of burlesque returns to Houston

Photo by Kailyn Idora

Burlesque has seen its highs and lows. After it declined in the 1970s, many thought it would never return to fashion but that has since changed thanks to the International Queen of Burlesque — Dita Von Teese.

The queen returns to Hous­ton on Saturday, June 9, with an all-new show — Dita Von Teese and the Copper Coupe tour, in partnership with luxu­ry vodka Absolut Elyx. The spectacle will be held at the Revention Music Center (520 Texas Ave.) in downtown Houston. Tickets to the 18-and-older show are $35- $103 and can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com.

The tour will feature stun­ning new acts inspired by Absolut Elyx with special guest performers including Gia Genevieve, Dirty Martini, Ginger Valentine, Jett Adore, Zelia Rose and more.

The new show will be infused with glimmering cop­per elements throughout, inspired by Absolut Elyx and its unique copper distilling process for the luxury vodka. The grand finale act will fea­ture the new “Copper Coupe,” part of her stunning signature cocktail glass act with a new giant shimmering copper fili­gree cocktail coupe adorned with Swarovski crystal.

See Dita appear in a giant-sized seashell on stage with 1,200 pearl balloons that float from the sky. Dita dances with a six-foot bubble pearl, a mod­ern tribute to Sally Rand’s iconic 1930s era bubble dance. The costume, created by Brit­ish designer Jenny Packham, sparkles with thousands of hand-placed Swarovski crys­tals and pearls. The shoes are a fetishistic masterpiece created by made Von Teese the con­summate performer in modern burlesque, captivating the imagination and transporting audiences worldwide.

The Examiner was granted an exclusive interview with the iconic Von Teese, who spoke about her career, new show and what’s next.

Did you ever think you would be in the center of the burlesque revolution?

I guess I never imagined that it was grow to what it has. It’s an interesting evolution from when I first started. I was doing little burlesque shows in small clubs with a lot of male fans plus fans who were nos­talgic for Betty Page and Gyp­sy Rose Lee. I never expected it to unfold the way it has and have this amazing purpose and meaning behind it. It has inspired other women to embrace their sensuality and have fun with it. That’s the thing that’s incredible to me is that I’ve gotten to experience it all. To have this big female following makes it even more purposeful.

How do you manage to stay so disciplined?

I think a lot about cause and effect. I notice I feel good when I eat more healthy as opposed to feeling terrible when eating more sugar or drinking more caffeine. After exercising, I feel so much bet­ter and have a better day with more energy. I stopped fussing about things like weight and measuring and have become more grateful instead of telling myself that I hate that part of my body. I try to turn my negative thoughts into some­thing really positive.

What inspires Dita Von Teese?

I am always inspired by pushing the envelope. Bur­lesque has become so huge. Early on, I didn’t have much to reference except for pic­tures of burlesque stars of the Hol­lywood movies. I have a really great creative partner in Cath­erine D’Lish, who helps me conceptualize many of the shows and makes the most extravagant costumes. Her costumes are constantly refer­enced and she just moves on to the next biggest and best thing. That’s what we do we one up ourselves every single time and we’ve been doing that for the past 20 years.

I know your love for vin­tage taxidermy as well as cars. What is your favorite car at the moment?

I have a few. The love of vintage automobiles started in my early 20s. I love the fact I can buy them and drive them and they keep their value. It’s been a great investment for me. Right now I have a beauti­ful black 1940 Cadillac LaSal­le convertible, which I’ve had for a long time. I have a 1953 Cadillac Fleetwood and I just bought a car that I am very excited about — 1956 Woodill Wildfire. It’s a rare sports con­vertible, and we are giving it a big makeover. I hope to have that on the road this summer.

How did the partnership with Absolut Elyx come about?

I have a friend that said, ‘Gosh you are in a giant mar­tini glass, why don’t you part­ner with a spirit brand?’ I get offers all the time, but it just has to be right. People often slap their logos on everything and it’s very important to part­ner with someone with the same kind of mindset you have. Absolut Elyx, not only do they have glamorous stun­ning imagery, they are also famous for beautiful copper objects like bar tools, glasses, so I found it fascinating. Thought it fit. Ideal partner­ship. I’m not trying to sell people booze; we are just try­ing to make beautiful new show. It’s a variety burlesque show. I like to follow the for­mat of my other touring shows, but with new visuals and new acts.

Tell me about all the new songs in this show.

I’ve always loved produc­ing my own music at my shows. There is a very small amount of vintage burlesque music out there. There is new burlesque music, but it’s with synths. There’s nothing like a big, brassy, rich strip tease with an orchestra playing. It’s one of my biggest expenses in producing a show, but I love being able to do songs that stand out in people’s minds. I was friends with Amy Wine­house, Prince and George Michael, as well as they are my favorite artists. So I thought it would be interesting to do a Big Band strip tease tribute to their music. I am thinking about releasing some of it on vinyl later.

What’s next for Dita Von Teese?

I am working on another book — a style guide. I want to produce more shows for other performers, as well. I would like to do small scale, more intimate shows where people can see the costumes up close.


Chad Cooper is the editor of the Southeast Texas Entertainment Guide. Email: cooper [at] theexaminer [dot] com