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Dita Von Teese: The Modern Day Queen of Burlesque

Often referred to as the “Queen of Burlesque,” Dita Von Teese was born as Heather Renee Sweet on September 28, 1972 in Rochester, Michigan. She was the middle daughter, and her father worked at a company that made graphite, while her mother worked as a manicurist. Von Teese’s retro style and fascination with 1940s cinema began at a young age. Her mother was quite a fan of Golden-era movies and starlets, and would buy vintage clothing for her daughter to dress up in.


Dita Von Teese, photo courtesy of

As a child, like many girls, Heather Renee Sweet aspired to be a ballerina. She was enrolled in ballet classes, and at age thirteen she danced a solo for a local ballet company. Although she didn’t become a ballerina, she still holds a knack for it. Von Teese often incorporates ballet moves into her burlesque routines.

She began performing in a local strip club when she was eighteen years old, and by 1991, Heather Renee Sweet had become Dita Von Teese. She reportedly chose this name because it sounded very “old Hollywood.” Since she found many of the dancer’s outfits and routines very ordinary and boring, Von Teese began creating her own vintage-inspired outfits for her shows.

Around the same time that she started working as a stripper, Von Teese also started to experiment with glamour modeling. Her retro pictures made her unique, and eventually set her apart from all of the other models.

Since her career began, Von Teese has appeared in numerous magazines, such as Bizarre, Marquis, Vanity Fair, Cliche, Vogue, and of course, Playboy. In 1999 and 2001, she appeared in Playboy, and in 2002, she graced the cover.

Von Teese was used as the cover art on the German metal band, Atrocity’s 2008 album, Werk 80 II. She has also appeared in and danced in a number musical artist’s videos. One such artist happened to be Marilyn Manson to whom she later wed in 2005. By 2006, she had filed for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences; it was rumored that his partying and other women were just too much for the beautiful burlesque star.

Although she has done many things in her career, Dita Von Teese is mostly known for her burlesque shows. Her shows include a variety of outfits and props, and her signature show features a giant martini glass. In 2006, her book, “Burlesque and the Art of Teese / Fetish and the Art of Teese,” was published by HarperCollins. This book is really two books in one – one side features burlesque art and the other features fetish art.

Dita Von Teese truly is the modern day “Queen of Burlesque.” With her racy, yet artfully done shows, she has become an advocate of self expression, and has spurred the revival of the beautiful, seductive art form known as burlesque.

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One response to “Dita Von Teese: The Modern Day Queen of Burlesque”

  1. […] still endeavors to be more naughty than sleazy. It is all about attitude, extravagance, and wit. As Dita Von Teese, one of the leading ladies of the Burlesque Revival, explains, “What you leave on is as […]

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