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Dita Von Teese Explains The Constantly Shifting Forms Of Burlesque

13 April 2016 | 3:15 pm | Liz Giuffre

"It's not about keeping people out, it's about letting people in, that's what I do."

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Dita Von Teese is the face, body and soul of the modern glamour movement. That's not to say that she's not inspired by older forms (clearly she is), but her approach to burlesque as a performance and art form draws new types of audiences to the form.

"My audience has definitely shifted. When I started out it was predominantly male, at the beginning in the '90s. And I had a lot of people who were fans of the corsetry and who had a sense of that highly stylised version of femininity. But over time I've noticed that the audience is shifting, and the fans of my show are people who are inspired by having a different type of role model," she explains during a rare stint at home before her next set of shows."The late '90s and early 2000s is when I noticed the changes. And now the audience is made up largely of women and their partners, a very diverse audience who embrace difference and glamour and a lot of colourful people who come through who want to dress up and be different and get a lot of pleasure out of being who they want to be."

"Now the audience is made up largely of women and their partners, a very diverse audience who embrace difference and glamour and a lot of colourful people who come through who want to dress up and be different."

Von Teese's new show, BurlesqueStrip, Strip, Hooray!, continues to play with the form and her position as a performer, reminding audiences that the classic form continues to move with those who make it.

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"You know, I don't really create like an alter ego or a persona on stage, I just do what I think is funny and playful and I want people to be able to relate to me. It's not about being a glamorous persona, it's about letting people see who I am. It's not like something I think about, it's not about keeping people out, it's about letting people in, that's what I do," Von Teese continues.

She's firmly committed to making adventurous art ("The moment that you're pleasing everyone is the moment that you're an epic failure in whatever it is you're trying to do ... if you're doing something that everyone likes then there's no risk and there's no glory"), but also happy exploring other modes. A recent online joy for fans between shows was her cameo for the Funny Or Die website in the short How To Be Sexy With Dita Von Teese. Serving as the outlet's resident "professional sexy coach", she is wonderfully straight-faced while doing otherwise unsexy things (think filing a tax return and wearing a Bluetooth headset).

"They approached me for a project and I said 'Of course I'd love to do something for Funny Or Die.' So they pitched the idea," she explains. "Personally I didn't think it was that funny, but people seemed to like it," she adds slyly. Is doing taxes in heels and a garter a regular occurrence for her, then? While she's been happy to reveal her beauty secrets in other places (including the book Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide To Eccentric Glamour), it's probably safe to assume there won't be an accounting section in the new show.