Review of Burlesque, Fetish, and the Art of the Teese by Dita Von Teese

I am an aspiring Burlesque dancer. That’s right. Wipe that drool from your mouth. Why am I only aspiring and not shouting my new found passion from the rooftops yet, you ask?

There are far too many mediocre burlesque performers out there in Chicago. That’s why. So many girls just want to wear makeup and pretty lingerie and get attention by taking off their clothes, however, that is NOT burlesque.

Burlesque is an art form; there is just a lot more to it than clothing removal and a smile. The art of the striptease takes practice, and lots of it. It takes confidence and an awareness of oneself. It also, in my humble opinion, takes excellent training (shout out to the fantastic Michelle L’amour and her sexy burlesque dance training studio, Studio L’amour). But, to truly hone this art form and pay it its well-earned respect, it also requires lots and lots of research.

The research part is where Dita Von Teese’s lovely book, Burlesque, Fetish, and the Art of the Teese comes in.

The first half of the book is all about Burlesque and its history. Dita tells us stories of the founders of Burlesque and their battles with the conservative public and praise from the not-so-conservative hooligans. She also gives a mini-autobiography about her experiences with Burlesque and how she became the world-renowned performer she is today. Along with this very personable account, Dita gives little tidbits and suggestions for aspiring Burlesque dancers, like myself. She covers everything from 10 wardrobe items a Burlesquer shouldn’t be without to old vaudeville slang that is still used in the backstage Burlesque world.
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For those of you who don’t like, you know, words, there are an abundance of magnificent pictures to feast your eyes upon. Being a fairly large book (I’d guess about 9”x13” and about 2” thick), there are beautiful, full, pages and pages of Dita in her unique and outrageous costumes (some of which consist merely of rhinestone pasties and a hand to cover her naughty bits). The only unfortunate part is that, when some of her magnificent photos take up both pages, the center of the photo is in the seam of the book and it takes away from the entire image. This, fortunately, only happens a few times, however, and there is still plenty to look at.

The other half of the book (once it is physically flipped over, quite a creative design) is all about Fetish. Practically a mirror image of the Burlesque section, Dita (Ms. Teese, if you’re nasty, and we are because we’re talking about the Fetish section) explains the history of fetish and how it dates back far beyond what you’d expect it to! Going from Victorian England to Chinese foot binding to cavemen! She also calls herself a Fetish Goddess and fully encourages others to do the same. Her dialogue in this section is very frank and helps put the reader at ease about the taboo on the fetish world (she convinces us that everyday wear is truly fetish: stilettos, inspirations for runway designers, etc.). Also like the Burlesque section, Ms. Teese gives a mini-bio about her fetish journey and gives little tips for every fetishist. Again, this half of the book is richly loaded with beautiful pictures of Ms. Teese in various Fetish costumes and situations, some quite innocent and some downright nasty (of course I mean this in a good way)!

I would recommend this book for anyone who needs a little something to spice up that old coffee table. The photos truly are fantastic, artistic, and inspiring. And it is a fun and entertaining read that anyone would enjoy (whether or not they admit it is another thing).

All in all, because of Dita, I am one step closer to moving from “aspiring” to “true” Burlesquer. Don’t worry; I’ll keep blogging about my journey. But for anyone who wants to take a first important step, read Dita’s advice and take a dose of glamour.

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