Dita Von Teese is the epitome of old world glamour. Her red lips, her winged eyes, her jet black, perfectly rolled hair (she dyes her naturally blonde hair herself, every two weeks, at home) have inspired a thousand copycats.

She’s credited with bringing burlesque dancing back into style, and her over-the-top performances are etched in history. No, literally – the feathers from her feather fan dance (and the largest in the world) are on display in Hollywood‘s Museum of Sex.

Her new tour, The Art of the Teese, is coming to Australia early next year, and bringing with her the most diverse and inclusive cast yet.

Dita has been performing since the early 90s, when there was barely two dozen names in burlesque.

“I remember the first magazine article was coming out, and they would profile the twenty burlesque dancers – in the world! The twenty of us, in the world!” she told PEDESTRIAN.TV. “It’s obviously much different from that now.”

These days, burlesque is everywhere: in your performance halls, on your Instagram feed, tucked into your exercise routine. It’s also one of the most inclusive and diverse types of performance, paving the way for different body types to be celebrated in other areas.

Dita reckons it’s moved towards a more body positive, inclusive world for the same reasons she started performing in the first place. “I felt like I didn’t have many role models of beauty and sensuality that I could relate to. I couldn’t relate to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model or Cindy Crawford or other kind of natural look that was so popular when I was growing up in my teens. And so, that’s one reason I looked to the past. I saw all the glamour of the creation of beauty, and that intrigued me a lot, and gave me inspiration that I could do the same.”

She didn’t necessarily set out to cast her most inclusive performance yet, but found that those performers who she was drawn to were the ones who didn’t fit the aesthetic mould.

“I found that some of the strongest performers were not people that fit into the pretty little pin-up girl stereotype. I found the strongest performers were people that were sort of, you know, the super strong personalities with incredible performance ideas and they were the most fascinating and intriguing, and the ones that could hold their own on stage the most. Then I put the show together and I found that so many people were inspired to see different people on stage.

“What felt really inspiring to me was hearing from audience members saying how inspired they were to see different body shapes represented, and diversity and beauty and age and ethnicity, and that was really important to people who felt like they wanted to see that they could also be sexy, they could see somebody representing that maybe looks a little bit like they do. It became a mission statement for me to tour with a show like that.”

Accompanying her to Australia are international burlesque goddess Dirty Martini, star Ginger Valentine performing one of Dita’s most beloved acts, and the “no-panster romancer” Jett Adore, as well as Australia’s own Miss Burlesque Australia of 2014, Zelia Rose.

It hasn’t always been this inclusive. In fact, it hasn’t always been this populated. Back when Dita first started making a name for herself, and media first started running articles on this new, underground trend, they called up the same handful of burlesque dancers who existed.

“I remember the first magazine article was coming out, and they would profile the twenty burlesque dancers – in the world! The twenty of us, in the world!” she says. “It’s obviously much different from that now.”

She thinks part of the reason burlesque has moved into the mainstream is third wave and intersectional feminism. “We’re just positioned in a moment where being feminists doesn’t mean there are rules,” she says. “We respect each other’s ideals of what it is to be a feminist, and the different definitions of it. I think this is another type of feminist movement where women are inspired by other women, and they feel empowered, and can express themselves with their sensuality and not be apologising for it.”

Cheers (out of a Swarovski crystal-encrusted martini glass) to that.

 

Dita Von Teese will be gracing Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Brisbane early next year. Get your hands on tickets here.