Dita Von Teese is an international icon in the burlesque and fashion world, known for her forties style, retro quirk and milky white complexion. “Opium Den” is her lovechild, and the final act in her infamous performance. It’s truly a spectacle – the stage is covered in red, paper Chinese lanterns, a bed of pillows, pipe smoke and Dita intimately dressed in a robe by Catherine D’Lish and Michael Schmidt (encrusted with more than 70 lbs of Swarovski crystals!). Continue…
An Interview with Fetish Phenomenon Dita Von Teese
October 19, 2006
Being successful in the alternative modeling industry takes more than just a pretty face; just ask Dita Von Teese. In her lengthy career as the world’s preeminent fetish icon, Dita has done more than just take a few stunning photos. Managing her self-made career for years, Dita cemented her reputation as a rising star in the alternative modeling world by networking with photographers and clothing designers, using the tools of self-promotion to her best advantage, and retaining the copyright to her photos as often as possible. Her career flourished due to both her unique persona and her inherent professionalism. In short order, Dita became retro fetish’s most recognizable face, appearing on magazine covers and at major fetish events such as the Skin Two Rubber Ball. While her more recent relationship with rocker Marilyn Manson and appearance in Playboy’s 2002 Christmas issue vaulted her into the mainstream for the first time, she is by no means an overnight success. In this article, Dita offers Wicked Talent members her insights on getting started in the alternative modeling industry, building a career, and staying safe.
Beatriz of Ordinary-Light has kindly sent me some photographs of the exhibition I reported on a few weeks ago! If you have an interest in photography in general (vintage photography especially) I recommend browsing the ordinary-light website. They’re also on wordpress and flickr.
Body to Body: London-based vintage photography dealer ORDINARY-LIGHT’s Body to Body: Dita Von Teese meets The Priapic Photographer previewed with an open reception on May 14th from 6-9 pm. The public viewing was held in conjunction with HotShoe Gallery’s Romanian Pavilion opening. Body to Body includes a selection of photographs of burlesque sensation Dita Von Teese by Chas Ray Krider displayed alongside the erotic photographic works of Frederic Fontenoy. Fontenoy’s autoerotic photographs explore surrealist motifs within the erotic genre. Krider’s images of Von Teese are vintage c-prints and many of the photographs are published in Krider’s book Motel Fetish. Fontenoy’s images included in Body to Body are available in an edition.
Performance photos of Dita Von Teese are featured in the recently released book SHOW by Henry Horenstein. These works are on display at Chic Gallery (NYC) until May 30. On May 27, there will also be a Horenstein book signing at firehouse13 (Providence, Rhode Island). The event will include live burlesque (not Dita) and a film screening.
The photographs in Show were made recently, from 2001 to 2009, and document the rise of the burgeoning neo-burlesque movement, now popular worldwide. It’s modern performers are young, but the world it covers is old-time in spirit, a random mix of burlesque, drag, sideshow, and fetish. No doubt the movement will play out its run at some point, and I hope Show will help in some small way to preserve and celebrate it’s existence.
In 2001, I wandered into the Shim-Sham Club in New Orleans, and caught the first annual Tease-O-Rama event Little did I know then that this was a watershed moment for the neo-burlesque movement – in a sense, where it all began I shot a few roles of film, including pictures of the legendary Dita Von Teese and Catherine D’Lish, and started going to shows and shooting casually One thing led to another, as so often happens in photography, and Show was born.
To me, modern burlesque performers embody so many traits of true artists. They are creative and driven and determined to serve up their vision of the world in song, dance, humor and narrative. They like being different from everyone else in fact, they wear that difference with pride. Their style and method of delivery make burlesque popular art – not so much for the elite Art in America crowd. But that doesn’t make it any less artful. Living on the margins, the best of today’s burlesque artists have a signature vision, strong in message and execution. To paraphrase folksinger Mayne Smith, “You might not like their style, boys, but you will know who they are.”