By Brian Baker
There’s no hesitation in Dita Von Teese’s voice when responds to a question she’s obviously been asked before: How does she get into the huge martini glass? The burlesque vedette will issue a modest laugh, and respond, “I’d like to tell you, I do a big backflip, but I don’t.” No, it’s actually a little three-step, Swarovski crystal staircase that’s hied off stage once her performance begins.
It’s all part of the behind the scenes moments that happen for her production, The Art of the Teese, and it’s set to roll into Toronto on February 11.
Bringing the show north of the border is a big deal, Von Teese said, over the phone from Los Angeles. The Art is not her first sojourn to Toronto. A year ago, she appeared in Toronto for Northbound Leather’s 26th anniversary.
“I am really excited for people to see the show that I produce, and I tour with, on the big scale of things,” she says. “I’m glad that I got to perform earlier (in 2016), doing the little things, and I’m really excited for people to see my life’s work.”
Snow—or the lack thereof in Toronto, these days—does not bother her. She’s the product of a Michigan upbringing. So, the chill of winter on exposed skin is no matter; neither are tropical depressions.
“We were in New York when the hurricane hit,” she recalls, of the infamous Sandy that paid the Big Apple a visit. “We have experience with the weather and with our whole production shutting down.”
Von Teese has crafted a glamourous show, featuring various props (the aforementioned martini glass), dancers, music and choreography. She’s also performing a new number she did in Paris, France at the Crazy Horse cabaret seven years ago.
Her stage presence harkens back to the Golden Era of Hollywood, of which she’s a fan. That blend of Hedy Lamarr, Liz Taylor, and Vivien Leigh exudes from her on stage. This year about 75 percent of the show is new, with the other 25 percent being a “best of.”
Valentine’s, she says, is always a great time for couples to take in the show, as well as a girls night out. “It’s a fun sexy night. There’s comedy, and of course the striptease, but it’s a striptease that’s gender fluid,” she admits. “We have just as many men in the show as girls. It’s not just a bunch of pretty pin-up girls.”
The glitz and glamour is a labour of love, often leaving Von Teese to break even. “These are absolutely show-stopping acts. You will be exhausted by the end of the night because there isn’t a lull where you want to go to the bathroom,” she says, a smile in her voice. “It’s vastly different than any other burlesque show in the world.”