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Monday, May 5, 2008

Dita: What a Teese!

Last week, I went to bed with Dita Von Teese. No, really I did. And it wasn’t just any bed; it was a bed at the Ritz.

“Do you speak French?” I asked her at one point, looking deep past the girl’s Snow White veneer.

“Well, I took it in high school …” she started to say. “And I have” — she paused diva-liciously — “a French lover now.”

Figures. Just a few minutes together on this mattress, and already she’s thinking about other men.

The pin-up who made her name by splashing around in a monster martini glass, and also by taking Marilyn Manson for better or for worse — at least for about a year — had French, and lots of it, on her mind. French liqueur, that is. Which was, now that I mention it, what had led me to this dame of a hotel in this grande dame of a town at 50 Central Park West, to get a teaser from Von Teese about Cointreau. The living room was in shambles, which is how I ended up playing Barbara Walters in the boudoir.

“So, a blend of retro and modernity?” I interrogated, asking the hard questions, and doing what all press release-memorizing journalists do to keep the convo going. This is, after all, what I’d read in an official Cointreau write-up about their famous orange quaff, and about their latest and sexiest brand muse.

Dita told me that “a lot of spirit brands” had contacted her over the years — because, duh, she was “the girl in the martini glass.” But it never made sense until Cointreau, which she describes as “elegant” and “sophisticated” and, of course, French, which fits with the whole burlesque quelque chose.

Legs out and head on pillow, she also went on a little about her latest razzle-dazzle — this being the eve of a Cointreau-versial act she was unveiling the following night at a party. The elaborate costume, she said, weighs in at 70 pounds. Or, to put it another way, one Olsen Twin.

“Do you do carry-on?” I followed-up, only to get the response both you and I could have figured.

Getting deeper, I asked Dita — who looks up-close like a vintage-screen Hedy Lamarr, and was born Heather Sweet — “how long does it take to turn into Dita Von Teese?”

“I don’t have an alter ego,” the Michigan-born deity told me with feminine forbearance. “I have sides of me, of course, that I don’t present onstage, but when I walk onstage it’s always my goal to present a side of me.”

“So, there’s no Marilyn-Norma Jean thing going on?” I asked, sounding perhaps a bit too surprised.

No, she said. At which point, I wondered, if this was a mind-session more appropriate for a couch, not for a bed.

By the next night, gosh golly, Dita was not on a bed, nor on a couch, but back in a glass. Splashing around in her 70-pound get-up — it sparkled, and was tangerine-coloured — she did the stripper-next-door-thing with ease. Faster than you could say “Bottoms up!” she was down to very little except a necklace made of 350,000 Swarovski crystals. At one point, she took a cat-nap in her ’tini. At another, she wink-winked and sponged herself with a giant orange wedge.

Looking on? There was a wide wedge of notables, including Sex-pots like Jason Lewis, Baby Phats like Russell Simmons, fashiony scions like Dylan Lauren and a not-in-drag RuPaul! (Indeed, I never expected to be at a party where RuPaul was wearing four times as many clothes as the guest of honour!)

Did I mention that the non-alter-egoed burlesque dancer launched her own Teese drink — violet in shade, with a touch of ginger — at a synagogue in the city’s Lower East Side. Yes, a wonderful, decrepit synagogue!

Faster than you can say Bar Mitzvah, Dita’s tour of duty was done. Whether it’s a boudoir or a synagogue, she never does fail to make an impression, does she?

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