More Teese if you please

She may be taking her kit off but Dita Von Teese does it with class. Glamour is what it's all about for this gal. Jayne Dawson meets the world's most famous stripper

Think Snow White gone bad and you've more or less got Dita Von Teese. Raven hair, alabaster skin, red pouty lips, she's the Disney cartoon version come to life – except for the tight corset. And the spiky heels. And the taking her clothes off in public.

Dita looks like Snow White but the girl from Rochester, that's Rochester, Michigan, USA, acts nothing like.

She is, not to put too fine a point on it, probably the most famous stripper on the planet.

But not just any old stripping, mind. Dita, real name Heather Sweet, has, as she puts it herself, put the tease back into strip.

She takes off her clothes with old-fashioned class and her act, which she performed at the Harvey Nichols 10th birthday party in Leeds this week, is in demand at all the very hippest of occasions.

Dita, who is married to outrageous American rocker Marilyn Manson, does striptease with style – and that's vintage style.

You won't catch Dita dancing round a pole to the unsubtle strains of Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?, or gyrating inches away from her audience, lap-dancing style. Glamour is what it's all about for this gal.

Her inspiration is 1930s and 40s Hollywood films and her performances, which she calls burlesque, are a thing of beauty. She may be taking her kit off, but she's doing it with class. Glamour is what it is all about for this gal.


The result is that Dita, 34, has been taken up by the fashion pack and her vampish look is now a designer's favourite.

She said: "Glamour is something you can create, it isn't about age, shape or size. You don't have to be pretty to have it, anyone can create it."

And Dita is a tiny powerhouse of glamour with her 32-22-33 figure, and she is a woman who is never off duty and never wears jeans.

Off stage when we meet her slender figure is encased in a formal fitted wool dress and matching jacket by Moschino and her feet are encased in killer heels by Christian Louboutinn, famous for his red-soled shoes.

Last year she married Marilyn Manson after meeting him in 2001 – she took him a bottle of absinthe for his birthday after he asked her to dance in one of his videos. They wed in Ireland where Dita wore a purple gown by Vivienne Westwood.

But on stage it's all crystal-encrusted corsets and fully-fashioned stockings. Dita's stage props are of the old Hollywood kind, which is where she now lives with her husband.

Her various shows can involve giant powder puffs, huge feather fans, clawfoot bathtubs and, most famously of all, a giant champagne glass.

The champagne glass is filled with warm water and bubble bath before Dita makes her entrance – she's not too fussed which type as long as it doesn't have an overwhelming scent – and by the end of the act Dita's amazingly lovely, rinky-dink form is in the glass and she's splashing about sexily in a great impersonation of a 40s film star taking a bath.

(In case you're wondering, sparkly nipple tassels and matching thong remain in place throughout!)

Before the clothes come off, Dita models some amazing outfits. In Leeds she was wearing her newest corset –and frothy skirt. It cost 16,000, was hand-beaded and then covered in Swarovski crystals.

But the outfits were a little different when her career began in a local strip club when she was 19. Dita was disappointed with all the other acts on offer and, since she was also studying costume design at college and had a mother who was obsessed with old films, she added vintage style to her act, and a star was eventually born.

Now, Dita's tiny waist cinches down to sixteen-and-a-half inches, the size of a man's neck – in her corsets, but there is nothing tiny about her performance fee which varies between 15 to 25,000 dollars.

And after years of being considered too sexual for mainstream modelling, Dita, is now sizzling hot, a fashion icon adored by designers like Marc Jacobs and with a new teenage fanbase since her marriage to Marilyn Manson.

She said: "A lot of money goes into props and costumes but I have been known to do shows for free if it's a group of real fan, it depends."

Those fans include a vast number of women.

"It was set up as a pin-up site with men in mind, it wasn't geared towards women so that has been a surprise, but I think stylish women like what I do, they like the glamour, particularly in Britain. In America the beauty ideal is a blonde, tanned woman, but in Britain there is a different aesthetic. I've introduced a lot of women here to stockings and red lipstick, I like that."