Exclusive: Dita Von Teese 'Shocked' That Americans Think Burlesque Is So Taboo

Dita Von Teese is hands-down the most in-demand burlesque belle on the face of the earth – and even though she’s practically considered royalty across Europe thanks to her chic, choreographed dance/stripping routines, she can’t understand why so many in her native America still have so many reservations toward “burlesque” as an art form.

“I don’t mean to America bash, but it is interesting that burlesque is an American invention. Burlesque as we know it and the great burlesque that was prevalent in America in the 30’s and 40’s in big theaters with big stars that were in the movies and on TV and wrote books. It’s shocking to imagine it is now 75 years later and people are still saying 'I don’t get it, she’s a stripper,'” Von Teese told Tarts at the Samuel French bookshop in Studio City on Friday night where she was signing copies of her new flip-book “Dita Stripteese.”

“I don’t mind being called [that] because that is what I do, but I don’t understand why there is such a taboo attached to it. Basically what I do is like an actress that has nude scenes in a movie, it's part of the role and its part of what my show is. It’s not really any different. I think it’s just too easy for people to criticize.”

SLIDESHOW: The Lovely and Talented Dita Von Teese.

And while Teese said she’s had to overcome numerous critics since starting her shows in underground strip clubs in her early 20’s, these days most of her fans are actually female.

“When I first started doing what I do, a lot of my fans were men. A lot of them were comic book fans, Bettie Page fans and into that sort of thing. It is interesting the way it has shifted and the majority of my fans are women now. Probably 80 percent, but I can see why,” Teese explained. “I started thinking about that more over past several years why that is and I think a lot of women like to see another kind of sex symbol that doesn’t fit into the blonde, tanned, California beach babe beauty. I can never fit into that role so I think there are other women like me that say ‘no, me neither’ and there are things that make us feel good about ourselves. I don’t need to have a tan to feel sexy. It’s not like you have to have these things, a lot of women see what I do and the way that I portray sensuality is another version. It’s the opposite of all of that, you can put on red lipstick and put on black gloves and you can curl your hair and play dress-up. Then if you’re tired of it you can just get rid of it. It is not like you have to go to a tanning salon and do all these things to make yourself a certain way, it’s something you can try on and leave.”

Speaking of looks, here’s something we don’t hear everyday in Tinseltown:  Teese actually likes looking older!

“When I’m scrubbed clean people can’t even consider that I’m the same girl. I get a lot younger, everything thinks I’m about 23,” she added. “People say that don’t understand why I wear all that makeup because it makes me look so older but I never had the intention of looking younger. In fact I always wanted to be older than I was.”

So when does the 37-year-old starlet and ex-wife of Marilyn Manson feel the most fabulous?

“I feel sexy when I’m in love and with somebody that thinks I’m the best thing ever with or without all my hair and makeup, when I’m just totally myself,” Teese said. “I feel sexy when I’m having fun whether its on stage and having fun and I think its hilarious that I’m doing what I do or whether I’m with my friends and family that really know me. It’s all about your degree of confidence and how much fun you have in your life.”