The 5-Minute Interview: Dita von Teese, Burlesque artiste

'The truth is that I'm a very ordinary blonde girl from Michigan'

Dita Von Teese, 34, is credited with bringing burlesque to the mainstream. She will be performing throughout London over the next few months, including this weekend at Erotica 2006 at Olympia.

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be ...

Putting on lipstick. I have various meetings around the city [London] today and I am also choosing a hat to wear after a gig I'm doing at Koko in Camden.

I wish people would take more notice of ...

Good manners. They're forgotten in America. I think it's bad manners to stand around in public with ripped jeans and your hair in a mess, holding a Starbucks.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was ...

Success. I am pleased by it. I have been performing burlesque since 1990. I thought it would remain underground and specialised. I wanted to be a ballerina.

A common misperception of me is ...

That I can't possibly be shy and do what I do. You have confidence about certain things and not about others.

On fantasy ...

I feel I've lived out a lot of my sexual fantasies and the ones I haven't are better left as fantasy and shouldn't be revealed. I have always been interested in fetishes. Why is one person turned on by a woman's bare foot and another is turned on by a nice rear end? In my opinion the female form is very visually appealing. I am not a lesbian but I think that there is something about the way a woman's body is made.

The stripping industry is ...

Just made up of girls trying to make a living and that's all I'm trying to do. I don't put myself above them. I used to work alongside strippers and pole dancers. In fact I miss it.

On feminism ...

We all have things that make us feel degraded and other things that make us feel empowered and that's what's great about the world. To be a feminist you should just be what you want to be.

I am not a politician but ...

You see I steer away from political conversation as much as possible. I'd rather talk about feathers and rhinestones. I don't like to start conversations that make people upset.

I'm good at...

Creating an illusion of glamour and mystery and fantasy. The truth is that I am very ordinary blonde girl from Michigan.

I'm very bad at...

Singing and maths.

The ideal night out is ...

To go out to dinner with my husband [Marilyn Manson] and meet friends for a cocktail afterwardsand be home by 2am. I like a little bit of everything.

In moments of weakness I ...

Spend lots of money on frivolous things like a handbag or a new coat.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this:

When things get you down, make the best of your own life rather than worrying about what everyone else thinks.

Sara Newman

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