Not since Gypsy Rose Lee has the art of burlesque looked so chic and tasteful until Dita Von Teese arrived on the scene more than 20 years ago. The performer’s notoriety, as well as fan base, has increased immensely over the years and the world is a more glittering place because of it.
The year 2018 will see Dita Von Teese, the queen of burlesque, and her “vontourage” setting out on a new tour, The Copper Coupe presented by Absolut Elyx. It kicks off in the U.S. this April, then Dita and her circle head out overseas in the fall with The Art of the Teese tour. Although she has headlined at the Crazy Horse Paris, this will be the first time Dita takes her full show across Europe.
Her first U.S. tour Strip, Strip, Horray! debuted in 2012. After a few years of performing this show at a variety of venues with overwhelming success, she then rolled out a new production in 2017, The Art of the Teese. Now she introduces a new spectacle with different acts, costumes and performers.
In celebration of this new tour, Dita Von Teese and The Copper Coupe, and to give you all a peek at what happens when the curtains are drawn, following is a review of Strip, Strip, Horray. There is no photography allowed during her shows, but I was lucky enough to score some photos with a few of the performers at the end. Enjoy!
Introducing the Queen of Burlesque
Dita Von Teese’s Strip, Strip, Hooray! tour had already traveled across the States for a year and she was returning to LA to perform at the House of Blues in June 2013. It was my third time seeing her live.
The show was introduced by MC Murray Hill, the entertaining and humorous host. As Hill’s high energy got the crowd enthused, everyone was waiting in anticipation for him to announce Von Teese. The red velvet curtains peeled back to reveal a woman dressed in a men’s black-tie suit (tailored for the female figure, of course) and top hat, playfully looking out at the audience. Dita began to sing “A Guy Who Takes His Time” and the crowd’s gaze didn’t wander for a second.
Dita slowly, and oh-so-lady-like, removed the pieces of the garment one at a time. She peeled off each layer, revealing more as she went along. What was hiding beneath the gentleman’s tux? A stunningly crafted black corset, and the garter belt and stockings to match — but she wasn’t finished yet. As the audience cheered and shouted “oohs,” she lost the fancy lingerie too. What was left was Dita showcasing her sparkling pasties and glittering panties. We all were mesmerized.
Von Teese’s shows are finely detailed and elaborate, from the sets to the costumes to the jazzy tunes accompanying her. Dita’s numbers are original and created by her. The performances pay homage to those early figures of burlesque, such as Lili St. Cyr and Sally Rand.
For the Rhinestone Cowgirl act, her western-inspired hat and outfit, down to the boots, were adorned with pink Swarovski crystals. Around her waist she carried two jewel-encrusted play guns and a belt full of, not bullets, but red lipsticks! The mechanical bull she straddled later in the performance was also completely covered in none other than Swarovski crystals. Talk about decadent!
In the Birds of Paradise number, she donned a brightly colored costume with a tropical touch. After her striptease, she picked up two elaborate fans made of radiantly colored feathers, big enough to cover her body, and did a seductive dance in ballet slippers. The music that accompanied her captured the island feel. Dita then walked toward a glittering gold steel bird cage and stepped in. Inside was a small perch that she set herself on, then proceeded to flip, spin, swing and twirl. Suddenly, a shower of water spouted out above Dita and the performer relished in her own little bird bath.
The closing act of her show was the Opium Den. Von Teese styled her mane in a tightly wound, high ponytail that fell past her derriere. There was smoke, performers dressed as geisha and a small bright red den in the middle of the stage with a lounging couch inside. She performed the seductive number to Japanese-inspired music. At the finale, paper mache flower petals rained down from the ceiling onto the stage and audience.
This is a small taste of what Dita brings to the table. Quality performances done tastefully, beautifully, and with the perfect amount of sensuality and elegance. To add to the diversity of her show, she includes other performers as well that carry out their acts in between her own. There were a few male burlesque performers, such as Prince Poppycock, first discovered on America’s Got Talent. Selene Luna, who is no more than three feet tall, rode on stage on her mini motorcycle. Burlesque performer Dirty Martini delivered an entertaining, classic striptease that put her sparkling tassels to work!
So much time goes into contriving these productions and the results are stunning. Plus, it’s wonderful what a diverse crowd her shows attract. The Strip, Strip, Hooray! tour has shown that Dita appeals to many kinds of individuals and is timeless.
Despite those that have commented that the performer objectifies the female image, the fact that her fan base consists of mainly women says otherwise. Each time I have attended one of her shows, I leave feeling empowered and a bit more cultured. If anything, Dita Von Teese advocates the right for all women and men to feel confident and sexy, not for someone else, but for themselves.
Visit the official website of Dita Von Teese for information on tour dates.