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Dita Von Teese: 'Vegas is the Obvious Choice'

Dita Von Teese wearing a sparkly silver and teal costume
Dita Von Teese

The queen of burlesque talks about her showgirl tribute at the Horseshoe

Like most artists who play the Las Vegas Strip, burlesque queen Dita Von Teese sat in the audience first. “Jubilee! was the show that I always came to see,” she says. “I never got tired of those feathers and rhinestones and the Bob Mackie/Pete Menefee costumes. And I loved the camp of it all — sinking the Titanic on stage every night.”

Since then, Von Teese has gone from solo star to headliner, impresario, and entrepreneur, selling out theaters all over the world with her lavish burlesque revues. Meanwhile, Jubilee! closed in 2016 after 35 years. The artist and her inspiration reunite in Dita Las Vegas: A Jubilant Revue opening at the Horseshoe in October. Von Teese has created a new show in the original show’s space and using some of its costumes. She says she’s not trying to redo Jubilee! but she is paying homage to it, incorporating its plumes and spangles into both her classic routines and some new numbers. She talked with Desert Companion about how the show fits into her career’s evolution. A lightly edited excerpt follows.

What’s it like to stay in one theater instead of being on the road?
I love touring. I do the Opéra Garnier in Monte Carlo, the London Palladium, the Folies Bergère in Paris, the most beautiful theaters in the world. I travel with a semi-truck full of gear: I insist we have the best showbiz lighting money can buy, I bring my own curtains, I bring pyrotechnics. But I’d think, “It would be great to build something bigger. But in order to do that, I have to stay in one place.” Vegas is the obvious choice. I’m really excited about the possibilities of what I can do when we don’t have to pack the show up every night.

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How is this show different from what people may think of as a typical showgirl or burlesque show?
There’s a very decisive point of difference between the showgirl world and my world. Some of my favorite performers are not your typical showgirl/pinup girl types, and I’ve always wanted to have as many men in the show performing striptease as women. We did auditions in Vegas and Los Angeles, but the majority of the cast is from Las Vegas. I was really thrilled at the talent I saw here: Originally, I thought I might have to bring in L.A. people, but there are amazing performers in Las Vegas.

The costumes from Jubilee! are extraordinary. What is it like working with these pieces?
Honestly, when I walked into the costume room for the first time — and the second time, and maybe the third time — I was really emotional. I realized how fortunate I am to have this opportunity, and I’m so respectful of the history of Jubilee! — everything that was done there. I have an archivist from Jubilee! working with us and to educate me about all the costumes. I’ve dug deep into the history of the creation of this show. … And that’s kind of one of my driving forces — people should see (these costumes) because there is nowhere else in the world that you’re going to see something like that anymore.

How do you think audiences will react to Dita Las Vegas?
My die-hard fans will lose their minds but, as I say about everything I do, whether it’s my lingerie line or my perfume, I just want to make a great product that you want, whether you know me or have never heard of me. My goal is to make a show that’s not about me; it’s about the biggest, best, most beautiful burlesque show in the whole world.

Dita Las Vegas: A Jubilant Revue opens Oct. 5 at the Jubilee Theater. Tickets start at $59. More information is at