Esquire UK

By Anna David

Marilyn Manson’s wife has been called many things, but a tease she is not. The Orange County, California-raised model-dancer-actress-entertainer started doing burlesque long before it became the trend du jour, and she’s not afraid to get full frontal. “I hear people who are trying to do burlesque say, ‘Well, we won’t take off our clothes because that’s not classy,’ and I think that’s offensive and disrespectful to stars from the past like Gypsy Rose Lee,” Von Teese (nee Heather Sweet) says. “I’m trying to set the record straight about what burlesque is: it’s not just about a style or a look. It’s about stripping.” To which we have little to add, besides “Amen.”

Dita by numbers:

Age she started taking ballet lessons: 4

Age she knew the names Hedy Lamarr, Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth: 10

Age she decided she wanted to be photographed looking like a Thirties pin-up star: 18

Size of Plexiglas Martini glass she performs in her signature routine: 3 ft wide, 4 ft tall

Estimated number of times she’s appeared in Playboy’s Book of Lingerie: 30

Year she appeared on the cover of Playboy: 2002

Estimated number of images of her on her website, 30,000

Amount she gets paid to perform: $25,000-$100,000, depending on the event

Length of performance: roughly 20 minutes (two numbers, 10 minutes apiece)

Amount she has spent on costumes so far this year: $150,000

Amount she charges for her used nylon stockings: $50

4 Things Dita Is Not

An exhibitionist: “No one has seen me out at a party having had too much to drink showing my boobs or butt. I’m not that wild kind of girl. I’m uncomfortable wearing a miniskirt. It’s about what’s appropriate where.”

A fashion designer: “I’d like to do lingerie or reproduction vintage clothes, but I don’t want to call myself a fashion designer. I think it’s insulting to all these fashion designers in the world. I don’t get it when somebody has this great fashion line but meanwhile they’re wearing Dior. I wouldn’t want to do it unless I was like, ‘I love my clothes more than anyone else’s in the world.’”

One half of a cutesy Hollywood couple: We [Manson and I] go out of our way to not make plans to work together. We don’t want to be like a Sonny and Cher or Nick and Jessica. He [Manson] is directing a movie right now [Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll, with Tilda Swinton] but I’m not going, ‘Where’s my part?’”

Always a glamour queen: “I feel more comfortable in a Fifties slip with a couple of holes in it and a stain down the front than in a pair of sweatpants with ‘University of Whatever’ on them. People misunderstood for a long time, thinking I wouldn’t be caught dead looking terrible. I definitely have been caught looking terrible – just not in public.”