Dita Von Sleeze and Borelesque

August 13, 2007 at 7:24 pm (anti-pornography, burlesque, dita von teese, eating disorders, feminisim, sex, sex industry, sex workers, Uncategorized, women)

Burlesque Sucks.

I hate burlesque shows. I don’t see them as being any different from going to a strip club.
They are really popular in the city where I live. A nightclub that I used to regularly attend has now incorporated a monthly burlesque show in its lineup of events. Needless to say, I no longer attend shows at this club.

Some women who perform in burlesque like to think that doing so empowers them. Yet, I don’t believe that performing on stage with tassles covering your nipples is very empowering.

Dita von Teese is often regarded as the world’s most successful burlesque performer and is idolized by many amateur burlesque performers. I find Dita von Teese to be a poor example of empowerment and an even worse modern day female role model. Looking at some of her comments made to reporters throughout the years I have to ask myself why is it women find her so appealing. How is it a woman with such antiquated ideas and hypocrisy is a bastion of female empowerment in our current times?

‘I like to cook old-fashioned, homely things, sometimes pot roasts,’ says Dita. ‘I like baking.’

And:

 ‘But all the models in the specialist magazines were tattooed, butch and scary and I thought: “Why isn’t anyone doing this in a glamorous way?”‘

TOP TABLE; styleCUISINE Simon Mills Joins Dita Von Teese at London’s Cafe De Paris
Newspaper article; The Daily Mail (London, England), October 31, 2005.

Many of the burlesque performers that I’ve seen in San Francisco are tattooed, many of them proclaim that they are performing in burlesque as a way to show that there is a different side to sexuality that Playboy, which Von Teese posed for the cover in 2002, and the likes would want you to see.
The popularity of the Suicide Girls is a testament to this ideology.
The Suicide Girls even host burlesque strip shows throughout the nation and many claim Dita von Teese as idols.
Are they aware that she has such a narrow view of their personal choices?
That she herself finds models that look scary, butch and tattooed as not being glamorous?

In the following statement Von Teese would like to have us believe that she has never suffered any abuses due to her being a burlesque performer. However, she also states that she always takes her boyfriend or a bodyguard with her.

Professional and businesslike, she says she never felt used or abused. ‘I would always take my boyfriend or a bodyguard with me.’
TOP TABLE; styleCUISINE Simon Mills Joins Dita Von Teese at London’s Cafe De Paris
Newspaper article; The Daily Mail (London, England), October 31, 2005

Does she mean that if she didn’t have a boyfriend or bodyguard with her she would be abused?
Why does she need a bodyguard?
What if your boyfriend is busy that day?
Why do you need anyone to go with you to your job?
This is empowering?

Dita von Teese even acknowledges that burlesque is another version of stripping in her comments to Stuart Husband at the Mail on Sunday:

‘Burlesque is just where stripping as we know it today has evolved to,’ she grins.

Dita Von Teese on posing for Playboy:

“Playboy is the second most-recognised symbol in the world after Coca-Cola,’ she says proudly. ‘It’s a Hollywood walk of fame for female bodies. Hugh Hefner [the legendary womanising publisher of Playboy] remembers all the old burlesque shows and comes to see me perform. It’s like being anointed.’ Anointed by the father of the Playboy empire she may be, but what do her own, now-divorced, parents think of what she does? ‘Mom is fine with it,’ she says. ‘My dad is a different story – he threw me out of the house when I was 16 because I worked in the lingerie store and wore black lace panties. But he loved that I was on the Playboy cover; suddenly I was his daughter again. In fact, everything changed after the Playboy cover. Before, people were scared of me, but suddenly what I did was validated.’
Miss Von Teese TAKES OFF
Newspaper article; The Mail on Sunday (London, England), March 12, 2006.

Posing nude is validation?

The part about her father really creeps me out. Playboy is of course so mainstream and fake that I would have to think that Von Teese would like to separate herself from ths type of publication in keeping with her “natural beauty” ethos. But, no, Playboy made her career.

Dita von Teese says only young people can be sexy:

‘I don’t want to see a 55-year-old woman in a thong,’ she shudders. ‘But I’ll be fine. I’ll become an impresario – round up some hot chicks, open a burlesque club, pass on my wisdom. Then I’ll move to Paris where they appreciate the sight of old women tottering to the corner store in full makeup.’
Miss Von Teese TAKES OFF
Newspaper article; The Mail on Sunday (London, England), March 12, 2006.

Essentially when she is washed up she will become a pimp and wear lots of makeup to hide how old and ugly she has become. I wonder if this will actually be the case for her. Considering her warped concept of natural beauty, I just can’t believe she will age gracefully and drop out of the public eye. However, I absolutely do believe that she will turn into a pornographer (if she hasn’t already) and pimp out new fresh meat to the masses. She is probably mortified that she can’t get royalties off the myriads of women who are “cashing” in on her burlesque revival without throwing back to her.

Dita von Teese likes natural beauty but not her own:

“It’s no secret that I had my breasts enlarged about 15 years ago, but I never lie about this. I just always wanted to be more voluptuous.
MY STYLE; Burlesque Dancer Dita Von Teese Reveals the Secrets of Her Vampish Retro Look LIFEstyle
Newspaper article; The Daily Mail (London, England), November 6, 2006.

People give her credit for being honest about it, but in her line of work, and with burlesque philosophy in general, she would have to be up front about her surgery. She wouldn’t want to be called a hypocrite. But I think she still can be called as such. Just because you admit you’re a hypocrite doesn’t make you any less of one. Perhaps if Von Teese wanted to be more voluptuous she would increase her 16” waist size (sometimes reported as a 17” waist) and then the rest of her proportionately. Curves are still curves regardless of how small your waist is, it’s all relative.

You can increase fat on your hips too Dita, it’s called eating. Less corsetry and other medically unsound practices should help with that.

Of course, a woman I know who performs in burlesque has told me that the women she works with deplore Dita von Teese because she represents the sell out factor in their genre of pornulation.
These women have removed the negative connotations from burlesque and created something entirely new from it. But, I have to wonder if this is entirely true.
Aren’t they just repackaging the same old product for the same old consumers?
The twist this time is that the people providing the product are claiming it as beneficial to them as opposed to a necessary means for survival in a patriarchal society.
I’m really not buying it though.
Do you think that these shows would be anywhere near as popular if the women were wearing clothing, and not exposing their breasts?
What if burlesque shows really did include women of all shapes, sizes, colour, race and so forth?

Look through galleries of online websites of burlesque shows and do the math. It’s still the same stuff as your local strip club. The only differences are a few strategically placed tassles and some kitschy humor. I say to these burlesque performers use your talents in dancing, singing, storytelling and keep your clothes on.

You may actually be surprised to find out that people will like what you do for your talent and not just your tits.

How will you know otherwise?

dita

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1 Comment

  1. K.A. said,

    Right on! People get confused because it’s a classier, more tasteful aesthetic than seedy, sleazy, cheesy, queasy-making strip clubs or porn. But even when aesthetics collide with degradation, it’s just a polished turd. Dressed-up misogyny is EMPOWERFULLLL! Any average idiot will fall for any marketing campaign, I swear.

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