Last Thursday night, I got to see my idol Dita Von Teese perform her show The Art of the Teese at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver. And not only that, I got to meet her afterwards! That evening still feels so surreal; even when I look at the picture of Dita and me, it’s like looking at a photo of someone else. It was an extraordinary evening, one I will never forget, but it was also bittersweet. More on that later.
I have to confess something: I still hadn’t picked what I was going to wear to the show until about five minutes before I had to leave my apartment! Originally I’d planned to wear my long-sleeved purple velvet dress from Glamour Bunny, along with violets in my hair from Shazam Pinup Hair Flowers, but it’s been so hot lately that I couldn’t go through with the long sleeves. Instead I opted for a design by Dita herself, a black silk velvet dress. I also wore a lingerie set from her line, the Her Sexellency longline bra, garter belt, and briefs. I also wore fully fashioned seamed stockings from What Katie Did, and the Shanghai Pearl Drop earrings from The Pink Collar Life. I also did my own hair and makeup, and I wore one of my favorite liquid lipsticks: Giorgio Armani Beauty Lip Maestro in 400. For my nails, I wanted to do a tribute to Dita’s classic half-moon manicure, with an extra glamorous twist: Swarovski crystals! Catherine from Kuan Nails is the absolute best.
Another thing I did last minute was write a quick letter to Dita to include with the gift I planned to give her: a vintage 1950s Mahana ceramic ballerina figurine. The week before I had come across two of them for sale (one on eBay and the other on Etsy), and I impulsively snapped them both up. I thought it was the perfect thing, I had read about Dita’s love for ballet before, and the figurine had perfect red lips, jet black hair, and porcelain skin, just like Dita herself. And look at those gold ballet slippers!
Alright, back to the actual show! The frustrating thing about the venue was that it was standing room only, besides VIP tables on either side of the room that had to be purchased. I was so disappointed that the show wasn’t at a beautiful venue like the Paramount Theatre downtown, with its red velvet seats and Art Deco details. I wanted to be as glamorous as possible, but I also knew I would be standing for hours, so I wore the most comfortable (and lowest) heels that I own. But I saw plenty of ladies wearing five and six inch stilettos, I can’t imagine how their feet felt at the end of the night! Standing also meant plenty of being jostled around, and having to avoid precariously held cups of beer. I generally don’t like these kinds of environments, the stress of being around crowds and drunk idiots has long since ruined my desire to attend concerts with general admission tickets. There were a few times during the show that I had to take a deep breath, ignore what was going on around me, and focus on the incredible performances onstage.
Taking photos and videos was strictly prohibited during the show, and it was so refreshing to watch a show without a sea of distracting phones up in the air. Dita did four performances: a revamping of her signature Martini Glass act, this time in a brand new champagne glass, her Lazy act (only ever performed at the Crazy Horse Paris until this tour), her Black Swan act (inspired by Swan Lake), and her Cowgirl act. It was so incredible to see her perform in her champagne glass in person, I’ll never forget it! I think my favorite act aesthetically was Lazy, what with all the glittering silver props and opulent costumes designed by Jenny Packham. Black Swan was mesmerizing. As far as I could tell (not being able to see her feet the whole time), she was en pointe nearly the entire performance! The Cowgirl act was a spectacular finale, nearly every prop and costume piece were completely covered in pink Swarovski crystals.
The rest of the performers were amazing too. I particularly loved Violet Chachki’s Erté inspired striptease, where she lip-synced to the Lana Del Rey song “Art Deco.” I couldn’t take my eyes off of her! Violet is my favorite contestant, and winner, from RuPaul’s Drag Race. She won Season 7, which was the first season I watched, and still my favorite. She’s the perfect addition to Dita’s show.
After the show, I went to the merch booth to get my wristband for the Meet & Greet, and to buy a few souvenirs. I ended up choosing two lapel pins, one of Dita’s adorable cat Aleister Von Teese (he even has his own Instagram account), and the other of Dita in her champagne glass. I also bought a print of Dita wearing Gypsy Rose Lee’s iconic silver gown, and I was so pleased that the woman at the merch booth was impressed that I knew about the dress.
Then it was time to get in line for the Meet & Greet. I felt silly with my big bag, which held the ceramic ballerina, and I clutched my new print of Dita separately. The woman at the merch booth had told me that Dita would sign it to me. As it knew it would, the waiting felt like forever, especially when I realized that I was fourth from the end of the line. The line wound around a corner backstage and down a hall, and then into another room, so it was hard to tell how many people were ahead of me. At one point, a tall figure in black skinny jeans and a hoodie walked swiftly down the hallway and out the back door of the theater. As she passed me, I saw the full face of makeup beneath the hood, it was Violet Chachki! I wish I’d been able to say hello or get a picture with her, but the hood seemed like a tip-off that she didn’t want to be approached. It was such a cool moment though! As I got closer to the door leading into the Meet & Greet, I saw we were also given a tour poster which Dita would sign. It was tough deciding whether I wanted her to sign it to my real name or my pinup name, but I ended up choosing my real name.
Finally I made it into the room, and there was Dita! I still couldn’t believe that she was right there, just across the room from me. She sparkled, quite literally! My hands were shaking. Her assistant, who was taking the photos, noticed that I was wearing a Dita designed dress, and that my bra was her design as well (one of my favorite things about that dress is the low cut neckline that allows for a pretty bra to peek out).
“You’re just a walking billboard for us!” he told me. “We should keep you around.”
“Yes please!” I said.
I waited as the two people in front of me took their pictures, and briefly chatted with Dita as she signed their posters. And then, it was time. I handed my camera over, and joined Dita on the chaise lounge (a prop from her Lazy act). I couldn’t believe it! There she was, with her arm around me, and mine around her tiny waist. I tried to focus on taking a good picture, but everything felt so surreal.
We stood up and went to the little table where Dita began to sign my poster and print. I realized I still hadn’t said anything at this point, and I was running out of time! As she signed, I saw Dita notice the pink padded envelope containing the ballerina.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“Oh! It’s a gift. Um, if that’s ok.” I started to unwrap it. “It’s vintage from the 1950s. I thought you would like it. Um there’s a letter for you in there too.”
“I thought I had all the ballerina figurines, but I don’t have that one. I found so many antiques shopping this week, I had to mail an entire box full of them home!”
“Oh wow! I saw that you went to the Botanic Gardens too, isn’t it beautiful there? I love the Japanese garden.”
“Yes, and I loved seeing all the little squirrels and bunnies, they were so friendly and would just come right up to you!”
I laughed, “Yes! They definitely aren’t scared of people.”
She smiled at me, and put her arms out. We hugged, and I had a chance to really see how beautiful she was in person. That moment makes me think of when Satine is introduced in Moulin Rouge as the “Sparkling Diamond.” Dita sparkled, inside and out.
“Thank you so much,” I said.
“Thank you for dressing up to come see me.” She smiled, and then it was over.
As I waited outside for my ride, a couple of very drunk people approached me.
“Were you a performer in the show?” the man asked.
“No, but I’m flattered that you think so!”
“Well you have that look!” he said, and I could smell the alcohol on his breath. “Do you do burlesque?”
“No, I’m a pinup model.”
“Oh, well you should!” he slurred.
“And you’ve got that porcelain skin,” his friend added.
“Thanks!” I said.
“No really, you need to! Just do it, go for it. You’ve got the look. And with that rack!” I looked down and laughed, it had been such a bizarre, magical night that I didn’t even mind. “Are you waiting for an Uber too?” he asked.
“No,” I said, “my dad offered to be my Uber driver tonight.”
“Oh that’s so CUTE!”
My new friends were quite excited when my dad pulled up a few minutes later. “Oh is that him? Can we say hi? HI DAD!” they shouted. I got into the car and waved goodbye, a perfect end to a strange and wonderful evening.
I’ve discovered that meeting your idol is such a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, you’re creating this incredible memory. But on the other, you realize that this person you’ve spent idolizing for years, that means so much to you, didn’t even realize you exist until this moment. And there’s no way you could explain to that person how much their art means to you, not in those precious few minutes. Also, you certainly don’t want to fangirl too much and freak them out! I felt this same way after I met Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. There was so much I wanted to tell each of them, and no way to express it all. I hope the letter I included with Dita’s gift was able to explain how much it meant to me to meet her. I hope this wasn’t the last time our paths cross, and I would love to see her show again.
Dita, thank you! You are truly a star, the biggest and brightest of them all. I hope that one day I have a little of your sparkle.