Opulence, glamour, and sheer wish fulfilment are the ingredients that create Art of the Teese. Dita Von Teese’s burlesque show came to the London Palladium this year and I was lucky enough to see it on Monday, 12 November. For me, this show has been over a decade in the making. I first discovered Dita Von Teese while I was at my undergrad university, having a horrible time. Immersing myself in Dita’s Swarovski coated fantasy world was a kind of therapy. Years later, this therapy had its final, glorious session and we can pronounce this patient cured of at least some of her sadness.
Dita performs four acts, each one more sparkling than the last. Her instagram has some wonderful closeups of her costumes, but seeing them in the flesh, so to speak, is on another level. Thousands of crystals adorn every bit of the fabric, and at one point I wondered if electric lights had been sewn in as well, because I have never seen such fire and shimmer.
On the subject of flesh, yes, there is quite a bit on display, this is a strip show after all. But nipples and genitals are hidden away under even more sparkles, and the way parts of the body aren’t displayed is just as clever as the way parts are. Special mention here to the only solo male stripper (let’s not leave out the VonTourage), Jett Adore, whose Zorro inspired routine managed to be both hilarious and truly teasing. I’m not one for seeing penises waving about on stage, so I was a bit concerned during this act, but everything is kept, if not quite PG, then certainly not something that would give Granny a heart attack.
In fact, crudity is largely absent in Dita’s show. All the performers have signed some sort of glamour pledge, meaning the show celebrates the beauty of the female form. Yes, compère Jonny McGovern does encourage you to ogle, but also to remember how strong and confident these women are. McGovern serves as the leader of a feminist pep rally, managing to boost all the women in the audience without alienating the men.
Onto the acts themselves, and I’m sorry there aren’t photos but Dita strictly forbids them. Again, check out her instagram to get an idea of what to expect. What I can tell you is that none of the acts disappoint. Ginger Valentine had the hard task of following Dita, the audience was slow to respond but soon warmed up to her incredible splits, while balanced on a metal heart. I quickly realised I am not flexible enough to take up burlesque.
For the others, Zelia Rose brings Josephine Baker to life, while Gia Genevieve had a working bathtub/shower combo on stage with her. If I’m honest, the Diana Dors-esque beauty was a little upstaged by her set. But everyone is momentarily forgotten when Dirty Martini arrives on stage. I love Dirty Martini, every inch of her, and that’s a fair amount of inches to love. I’m not being cruel, Dirty lives for her plus-size power. Her strip was as exquisite as I’d been expecting, but her nipple tassel prowess was next level. Dirty takes part in a series of faster and wilder challenges and honestly, I had a word with my boobs after the show for being lazy. Tassel twirling can only be described as acrobatic and I think the Olympics is missing out not having it as a sport.
Back to Dita, and having seen her perform while lip-synching, then while on-pointe in a ballet, then while riding a mechanical bull, I think we can safely say that she deserves her crown as Queen of Burlesque. The control in her body and her timing is something else. Every movement adds to the story, even tiny hand gestures. And everything is glamorous and sexy, not sleazy. Dita Von Teese was well worth waiting over ten years for, and there is no one who embodies the Art of the Teese quite like she does.