A few questions with Dita Von Teese

The original guest star of ‘Crazy Horse Paris’ is ready to turn on Las Vegas

Dita Von Teese performs with the cast of ‘Crazy Horse Paris.’

You're known for your glamorous look. Do you ever put on sweatpants and a ponytail and just relax?

I do relax; I just don't relax by wearing jeans and sweatpants. I have lots of robes and pajamas, and usually if you dropped in on me, I don't wear a full face of makeup. ... But it's not like I come home and go, "Wow, I really wish I had some sweatpants to put on right now." I don't relate that to comfort. I'd rather put on a cashmere robe.

Much like your career, Las Vegas is a city based on sexual temptation and allure. Do you enjoy visiting?

I've always loved coming there, and I have to say my favorite times coming to Vegas were my first times coming to Vegas – back in the old days in the early '90s when Vegas was a much different place. It was sort of sexier and you had all the old hotels that were sort of set in the '60s still before they had all the renovations. My fondest memories are back in those days when it was sort of like a Hunter S. Thompson novel to come to Vegas. I definitely had some moments like that in Las Vegas. It's not that Vegas anymore.


Dita Von Teese at Crazy Horse Paris
MGM Grand, 891-7777.
April 1-7, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. (dark April 6), $75.

How did you come up with the name Dita Von Teese?

I was working in a strip club in Orange County, California when I was 19 years old and I had just seen a silent film with an actress with the first name Dita. I actually posed for Playboy in the mid '90s and they told me I had to use a last name. I was with some friends and I was just looking in the phonebook for names and I remember saying, "Let's look under Von." I found the name Von Treese. The magazine came out and, of course, I went to the newsstand and was really excited and I opened it up and it said Dita Von Teese. I've often been accused of having a really contrived, ridiculous name, but that's the honest truth right there. It was a typo.

Does anyone still call you by your birth name?

My family, but not really anyone else. My family and my boyfriend maybe. ... A quick way to be offensive is to roll up on me and start calling me Heather when you don't even know me. ... It's like a privacy thing for me. There's always that small part of me that I retain for my closest family and friends.

You've managed yourself financially very well. Do you have any advice for people who are struggling financially?

I think the best advice I ever got, which I followed since I was working the strip club, I always had this rule for myself that I saved 10 percent of what I made no matter what. I set aside that money, and that became a big chunk of money. I invested little bits in silly mutual funds, and it added up to quite a lot. I still have money to show for that way of thinking.

You split your time between Paris and LA. Are you fluent in French?

I go to French class every morning for about three hours, but I'm nowhere near fluent and I'm pretty sure I never will be. I speak the French of maybe a three- or four-year-old child. I learned a new phrase that one of my friends who lives here taught me that seemed to make it a little bit better. The phrase is – it's a very famous French saying – but it's "Je parle le français comme une vache espagnole," which means I speak French like a Spanish cow. What I lack in my French language skills I make up for in style. That counts for something in Paris.

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