Dita Von Teese — The Queen of Burlesque (#379)

Photo by Cosimo Buccolieri

“You can be a juicy ripe peach, and there will still be someone who doesn’t like peaches.” — Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese (@DitaVonTeese) is the biggest name in burlesque in the world since Gypsy Rose Lee and is credited with bringing the art form back into the spotlight. She is renowned for her iconic martini glass act and dazzling haute-couture striptease costumes adorned with hundreds of thousands of Swarovski crystals. This “Burlesque Superheroine” (Vanity Fair) is the performer of choice at high-profile events for designers such as Marc Jacobs, Christian Louboutin, Louis Vuitton, Chopard, and Cartier. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour and has a namesake lingerie collection available internationally at prominent retailers. You can join Dita on one of her upcoming tour dates in 2019 and 2020 or at her “Weekend of Glamour” event on August 24th and 25th.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Castbox, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#379: Dita Von Teese — The Queen of Burlesque

Want to hear an episode with another artist who makes her own rules? Listen to my conversation with Amanda Palmer in which we discuss books, trauma and grief, crowdfunding, understanding the role of pain, and much more. (Stream below or right-click here to download):

#368: Amanda Palmer on Creativity, Pain, and Art

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


  • Connect with Dita Von Teese:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


  • What is haute couture? [04:30]
  • Dita fondly reminisces about the classic cars she’s collected, refurbished, and flipped over the years. [05:27]
  • What other vintage things does Dita collect as a self-proclaimed “maximalist,” and how did this hobby begin? [09:51]
  • From where did the stage name “Dita Von Teese” accidentally originate? [11:53]
  • How did Dita go from aspiring ballerina to modern-day burlesque breakthrough — reviving an art form that had mostly died out in the 1950s? [15:25]
  • At what point did Dita realize this was a niche that she could fill full time and quit her day job? [21:22]
  • Growing up as the shy and introverted Heather Sweet from Michigan, how did Dita find her voice as a performer and spokesperson? What changed? [29:09]
  • Dita talks about getting kicked out of her father’s house at age 16, going to live with her mother, and where she got the capacity to deal calmly with this passage from her life. [33:38]
  • Why we should embrace the shortcomings and flaws that make us uniquely us. [39:01]
  • On Madonna and Mae West as ahead-of-their-time influences. [45:09]
  • Clearing up something from the rumor mill: Does Dita employ the use of stylists, or does she do everything herself? [52:56]
  • Why does Dita famously arrive four or five hours early to prepare for performances? [54:41]
  • New behaviors or beliefs that have had a positive impact on Dita’s life. [58:47]
  • How meditation, massage, and — believe it or not — going to the dentist help Dita focus and work out her best ideas. [1:00:58]
  • If Dita could give advice to a younger version of herself, what would the advice be, and at what age would she direct it? What advice does she think her 10-year-older self might offer her now? [1:04:31]
  • We discuss our attitudes about children: to have or not to have? And a bonus sure to upset a parent or two listening: are pets just as good? [1:07:01]
  • Wise advice Dita has gotten from older friends. [1:15:52]
  • At what age should a woman stop wearing clothes that show off her skin? Dita weighs in on the surprising blend of sexism and ageism being promoted by people in the fashion industry who should know better — and why she sees it as her duty to carry on, regardless. [1:18:24]
  • Final thoughts and touring/event plans for the immediate future. [1:21:24]


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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21 Replies to “Dita Von Teese — The Queen of Burlesque (#379)”

  1. She talks about initially being impatient with meditating, but realized that after 5 minutes, she dove deep. So true.

  2. Holy cow, this episode is amazing. Dita, you smashed it, you sex godess! I can literally hear Tim’s voice change to match your sexy purr. If you listen closely you can hear Tim drooling 😂😂

  3. Wanted to say thanks for the Amazon gift card. Not sure where else to do it. I appreciate it. Pretty Cool.

  4. amzing interview and dita is very inspirational and the fact that you had her on the show just proves how broad based and wide ranging this show is…ceers tim…amazing content again…

  5. I was kinda shocked by this interview. Dita is free to do and express herself as she pleases. Her initial interest in lingerie to working in a store to having her own brand was interesting to hear, but I was dubious of how she is empowering women. When she mentioned the playboy mansion and being on the cover of Playboy, I was really rolling my eyes, but I listened to her whole interview. Did Tim ask her the questions at the end he usually asks guests? What would you put on a billboard etc or did I miss that? When men or women are titillated by strippers, strip tease, nude pole dancers, I always wonder if they’d be proud if their wives, sisters, or daughters were performing? Would they take their friends to go see them at a club? Look that’s my daughter up there! Isn’t she talented! Would Tim encourage his girlfriend to strip on stage and think it was hot? I looked up one of Dita’s performances as I was not familiar with her burlesque. I guess I’m not her target audience as the pace was boring, and in the end, to see her swiveling around in a huge cocktail glass, WTF? If you want to see strength AND sexy, Serena Williams is someone to watch perform.

  6. Tim thank you for inviting Dita to talk. I found so much here for myself. I am glad you opened up the question about children. It’s something I am pondering myself. This interview helped me in so many ways. I enjoy your work and I am grateful you keep doing it 🙏🏻. Thanks a lot.

  7. Thank you for this great interview. What I admire about Dita Von Teese is that she is a very astute entrepreneur. Her passion and authenticity has enabled her to create a business empire that is very reflective of whom she is as a person.

  8. Not so good. I don’t think she came across as epic; not exactly in the realm of Ana Miuro-Ko. (And we heard you drooling mentally over Ana’s mind. She clearly moved you, as did so many others) Dita was interesting, not always consistent in her revelations, more like someone for The View. But the bar is very high after your hundreds of other interviews, which always teach by example and leave you reaching higher with your own earth avatar. I shut it off half way through, which is rare. But thank you.

  9. Hey Tim, your interview with Dita was great. She is a true ‘woman of beauty’. Her anxiety about it and near retirement several years ago only makes her more attractive….fine wine!

  10. Great interview, didn’t know much about her before the show but she was really inspiring. And her voice is sooo charming.

    One thing missing in the show notes is the brand of that mushroom tea she mentioned ..asking for a friend..

  11. It did not seem that you have asked really crucial questions.

    How did you choose this line of work?

    How does it feel to be this exposed?

    How do you overcome stereotipes in judgement of what you do vs what you are?

    Looking forward to your next interview with Dita

  12. Tim, RE: “Don’t Shoot the Dog” and progressive animal training with humans, Amy Sutherland wrote that book. It’s called “What Shamu Taught Me about Life, Love, and Marriage.” [Moderator: Amazon link removed due to policies, but thank you.]

  13. I must admit I was very cynical about this particular podcast, but it ended up being one of my favorites. Dita is an original and had lots of interesting and thoughtful things to say. She seemed very genuine.

  14. Tim, I’d meant to jot a comment on listening. The breadth of where you lead down rabbit holes of curiosity – and perspectives on life and the art of living – is quite marvellous!

  15. My favorite part of this episode was being exposed to an expert in an unexpected way. I had never heard of her and knew nothing about that world. I loved it so much it made me take immediate action! I signed up for the Weekend of Glamour and attended this past weekend – flew from Austin to LA – only attended the first day but it was so interesting and filled with practical glamour and lifestyle tips. Dita is so down to earth and actually presents herself in a very open an understated and classy way, she almost shy, and it was ovvious she wanted to share herself in this special way and was putting herself out there in a way that she was a bit uncomfortable and nervous about because she said so. She is so authentic and that really came through in all the sessions she did all day long. It was such a fun day and I enjoyed meeting women who admire her and have followed her for years. I had a moment with her and told her I heard your interview and she “Oh I was so nervous. What did You think?” I told her I thought she came off well and it was very interesting and Is the reason I came to the event and she said “ Oh I think he is so sexy”. Thought that might make your day!

  16. Hi Tim,

    In your conversation with Dita you mentioned the book “Don’t shoot the dog” again in the context of parenting. As a new parent myself, I’ve been inspired by the work of Alison Gopnik, Janet Lansbury and Myla Kabat-Zinn which reframes the role of a parent in ways that I’ve found to be much less stressful and ultimately more gratifying. Best of luck deciding if becoming a parent is for you or not. Thanks for all your work,


  17. Awesome episode (as usual). So many insights. I just had to share: When I was a kid, Mae West lived just a few blocks away in the Ravenswood Apartments, in L.A. She had the penthouse. I only saw her a few times but what impressed me was 1) how she carried herself, and 2) she was always accompanied by a muscleman! All long ago.