Dita Von Teese likes a little drama. Whether it's standing up against the wall getting shaved by a straight-edged razor, or tattooing a pink bunny on an ex's leg, Dita's a bit of a freak. (Although she won't express it with body art or modification.)
Dita Von Teese appreciates tattoos but declares she'll never get one. At one time she begged for a star on her cheek, and instead opted for a single inked beauty mark tattoo.
So unless you count the signature marking that's defined the pin-up beauty's iconic look, the only art Dita wears is that of seduction.
Getting ready to launch her Burlesque: Strip Strip Hooray tour across the world while fronting her very own cosmetic collection for ArtDeco, the best dressed pin-up hangs up her G-strings for just a minute to talk sexy (tattoos that is).
"I guess the ideal is Cary Grant covered in tattoos." Dita Von Teese
Did the beauty mark tattoo on your left cheek start your transformation from Heather to Dita?
I can't say that "moment" started a transformation because I was already performing striptease shows and posing with the name Dita. I was wearing my hair in a short jet-black Louise Brooks style haircut at the time and I had been drawing the beauty mark on with eyeliner.
One night I dropped into a tattoo shop in Orange County and asked one of the guys to tattoo it on. I actually asked him to make it a tiny star or a heart but he told me there was no way he was putting a star or heart on my face.
I also remember him making me stand up against a wall while he carefully shaved off the baby hairs on my cheek with a straight-edged razor. He didn't have to do that, apparently, but I can appreciate the drama of it.
Since you represent the golden era of women from the 1940s and 50s do you believe tattoos and body piercings would take away from your elegance?
I think that it's a nice twist on retro style, and I also think it's an individual choice. For me personally, I never wanted to have tattoos because I prefer the look of clean skin for myself, and I really don't like how tattoos look onstage.
If a burlesque dancer was very specific about creating good lighting design for her tattoos it would look nice, but I don't think many dancers consider this, and therefore the tattoos usually look muddled and no one can see what they are.
I don't think tattoos or piercings are a deciding factor in "elegance" for anyone, but for me I can't imagine having tattoos. I would never get one. The only time I considered any other tattooing was in the early 90s, and I wanted seams tattooed on the backs of my legs, but then I realized I would forever be trying to line up the tattooed seams with the stocking seams, which sounds like a nightmare.
The nationwide Burlesque: Strip Strip Hooray tour will hopefully inspire women to:
We have a really nice cast of diverse beauties, so I hope they will be inspired to bring a bit of the spirit of burlesque into their own lives, and hopefully be able to relate to one of us.
Are you a freak? Why do the freaks and body modification communities have your back?
I guess I've always been a little bit different, by choice. I'm an ordinary blonde girl from a farming town in Michigan and I did my best to break away from that and be more eccentric by having fun with my style.
I guess I've toned down in some ways over the years, you know, I don't do some of the things I used to do, because after experimenting early on, I know myself better and I know what's for me and what's not. But it seems to me I have supporters from many walks of life, from the fetishists who followed my career from the early 90s, the pin-up fans, the rockabillies, the burlesque fans, and of course, the gays.
What's nice is that it's not just one type of person that comes to my shows, the group is diverse. I'm not saying all of the above love me, because of course, I have plenty of critics from all walks of life too. But I would say I have really great fans, the best. What I really love is that over the past two decades of my career, there was a big shift from a predominantly male audience to a female audience, which is really amazing and says something about the liberation of taboos.
Coolest tattoo design for a guy:
Ah, well I admit I am a sucker for neck tattoos. I guess I've dated about four guys with neck tattoos. I also think it's also very chic for a man to have a tattoo of his children if he has any, and obviously tattoos that are beautiful and mean something are very important.
Are you attracted to heavily tattooed or modified men or do you like ‘em Cary Grant style?
I've been known to like both. I tend to like them heavily tattooed or with nothing. I can't really remember ever having sex with someone with a weird random tattoo, especially not a lame uncool random tattoo. I can proudly say that. I guess the ideal is Cary Grant covered in tattoos.
What’s your favorite seductive song
Juliette Greco "Strip Tease". The lyrics are amazing.
The perfect Dita Von Teese pin-up tattoo (for your fans of course) would look like what?
Well, I guess it just needs to be accurate and well-done. I've seen some very nice ones, we have a gallery of them on my website.It's really a tribute that astonishes me. I've seen some really bad ones too. Please, please please don't get bad tattoo art or me or of anyone!
Speaking of bad tattoos, I dated a tattooist once who let me tattoo a big pink bunny rabbit on his calf about seven inches tall. It was fun! He sat there smoking a cigar in an antique barber's chair. It was about 15 years ago, but he still has that pink bunny tattoo.
Do you have a favorite pin-up icon?
I love the art of John Willie. His women are what made me want to pose for fetish photos, I wanted to bring the look of his women to life.
Do you have any intimate body piercings?
No, I'm terrified of that, not just because of the pain, but because I would spend a fortune on diamond body jewelry.
Does stripping provide you a sense of empowerment?
Being a woman in control of my career and being able to do the only thing I'm good at makes me feel empowered, yes. But the actual stripping part, that's probably not what it is. It's the creation of the acts, the ability to make a living with something I love, that's what it is. It's nothing to do with the nudity. I'm not an exhibitionist.
Will Dita Von Teese ever be a mother?
I don't know, but I hope so. I sort of wish I'd done it early on. But anyway, here I am, wondering where the time went, and working hard to get my show Strip Strip Hooray! on a world tour so I can relax and hang up the g-strings.
Speak like a lady or swear like a sailor?
A little bit of both. I can talk a long streak in the bedroom and I love to swear, but it's easy for me to turn on the "lady-language" when it's required. I never need to get bleeped out on radio or TV shows and I know when to reel my language in.