Dita Von Teese brings contemporary burlesque show to Las Vegas

Updated July 8, 2017 - 5:36 pm

It’s a typo for the ages.

A misfire on a keyboard resulted in the creation of the biggest star in burlesque: Dita Von Teese.

The name is great, especially for a striptease artist. But make no mistake, the name “Teese” was intially printed in error. The artist, whose real name is Heather Sweet, had chosen a singular stage name, “Dita,” when booked for a Playboy magazine photo shoot. The publication asked for her surname to run on the cover.

“So I went to the white pages and came across the name ‘Treese,’ and asked them, ‘What about Dita Von Treese’ ” recalls Von Teese, performing Monday night in “Art of the Tease” at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay. “But when the magazine came out, it was ‘Von Teese,’ and I thought, ‘That works.’ It was all a happy accident.”

The 2002 shoot was the breakout moment for Von Teese, who has grown into burlesque’s most famous contemporary figure and bankable star. The onetime fetish and lingerie model (specializing in corsets, with her 22-inch waist) regularly sells out tour stops across the country and internationally.



A post shared by Dita Von Teese (@ditavonteese) on


Von Teese is the culture’s style and fashion trendsetter, inspiring such pop stars as Katy Perry (her winged eyeliner from a few years ago, as an example), and her performance fees can run more than $200,000.

But Von Teese is a phenomenon expressly in the burlesque world. She does not own the high measure of fame as, say, a pop star like Perry or any figure who has starred in a reality show or appeared on a mainstream fashion magazine. As she jokes, “I can still shop in the produce section and not be bothered. I don’t have to have security around me all the time.”

Otherwise, Von Teese says she is not particularly interested in fame.



A post shared by Dita Von Teese (@ditavonteese) on


“In this day and age, there really are a lot of false people who will go after mainstream fame, who will say anything and be scandalous just to get mainstream fame,” she says. “For me, I’ve got to work to get my audience. I need to be real.”

As her industry’s leading spokeswoman, Von Teese remains protective of the “burlesque” title, knowing that the term can be affixed to productions or films that don’t fit the classic description. She also is neverr fully nude onstage, thanks to artfully arranged tassels and other elegant ornamentation.



A post shared by Dita Von Teese (@ditavonteese) on


“Classic striptease is done in a grand and dramatic fashion,” she says. “The acts build in a thoughtful way. It’s not just a woman singing ‘Fever’ and taking her clothes off with no point or thought.”

Von Teese sashayed into the debate about the 2010 film “Burlesque,” co-starring Cher and Christina Aguilera, which she says “had no burlesque in it.”

“They were saying, ‘This isn’t like the stripper burlesque that Dita Von Teese does,’ ” she says, fairly spitting out the words. “Really? Well, this is not burlesque, and when you’re not doing the type of burlesque that Gypsy Rose Lee did (beginning in the 1930s), then don’t bring me into it. You can’t talk (crap) on me when I’m working to preserve real burlesque.”

Von Teese’s striptease history on the Strip includes a pair of appearances at Crazy Horse Paris at MGM Grand in 2007 and again in 2010. Her rendition of “Lazy,” from her Crazy Horse appearances, is to be featured at House of Blues. She’ll be joined by well-known burlesque strip-tease performer Dirty Martini (a regular in Melody Sweets’ solo shows in Las Vegas) and Ginger Lee Valentine (who aptly performs inside a giant red heart). Her emcee, the man she found on YouTube and host of the “Hey Qween” podcast, is Jonny McGovern, aka The Gay Pimp.



A post shared by Dita Von Teese (@ditavonteese) on


“I have a serious crush on Jonny,” Von Teese says. McGovern steps into the role so ably performed by Von Teese’s former host and burlesque favorite Murray Hill.

Von Teese is also performing a new martini-glass number, and features a team of male backing dancers. “They take off my clothes and shoes,” she says. “It’s all very interesting, trust me.”

The show is her latest effort to re-invent herself in a 17-year stage career. Her long-term objective?

“I don’t look ahead too much. My big goals? To do great work, evolve and change. I just want to bring my own brand of burlesque and be as sexy as possible,” Von Teese says. “This is very much something I do out of love, not to be famous. I would never do it for that reason.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas art exhibit
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas gallery exhibit
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with blooming jasmine tea
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with jasmine tea
Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like