Denver burlesque fans lined up for blocks surrounding the Fillmore Auditorium, on the evening of Thursday, July 20, for their chance to see the iconic queen of burlesque, Dita Von Teese. Her latest show, The Art of the Teese, made the Denver stop as part of the West Coast-leg of its tour. The show marked Von Teese’s first return to the Mile High City in over a decade and the first time she’s brought one of her own signature shows to Denver.
Von Teese is the queen of vintage glamour and her acts are world-renown for epitomizing the artful seduction of Hollywood’s golden-era of cinematic tease. Bedecked in jewels and rhinestones, Von Teese has helped pioneer the new burlesque revolution with epic acts showcasing her sultry talents set against dramatic vignettes and prop pieces. The Art of the Teese features Von Teese performing four of her most captivating acts alongside a cast of burlesque’s finest, innovative performers.
The curtain rose on the first act of the evening, Von Teese’s “Martini Glass,” which features a gigantic champagne glass stunningly decorated with over 150,000 Swarovski crystals. Assisted by her Vontourage – two male dancers, Alek Palinksi and Elio Martinez – Von Teese playfully stripped and seduced her way into the glass where she began to douse herself with a large cherry, adorably splashing her way into the hearts of the audience.
Throughout the evening, the audience was treated to three more of Von Teese’s signature acts. Showcasing stunning visuals through props and costuming, Von Teese captivated the Denver audience with her ability to transport them to a land where seduction and beauty reign supreme. Amidst a swathe of black and red feathers, Von Teese debuted an all-new ballet-themed act, “Swan Lake Striptease.” Bringing the old west to the new in her revamped “Rhinestone Cowgirl” act, she tantalizingly rode a mechanical bull covered in pink plush fabric with fully rhinestoned bull horns as a rain of silver confetti fell from the ceiling.
For the very first time outside of its debut at the Crazy Horse in Paris, The Art of the Teese featured Von Teese’s act, “Lazy.” This full act is not unlike a miniature Hollywood film from the bygone golden-age of glamour. “Lazy” features a lush living room set where Von Teese and her Vontourage lounge alluringly. Things began to heat up as Von Teese is assisted by Palinski and Martinez out of her gown and into a gorgeous feathered duster and then out of said duster.
One of the highlights of The Art of the Teese tour, is the opportunity to see two of neo-burlesque’s innovative performers revamp two of Von Teese’s iconic acts. One such act is, “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” which features Von Teese’s signature filigree heart prop created by the icon and her long-time collaborator, Catherine D’Lish in 2001.
Originally hailing from Dallas, Texas, Ginger Valentine brought her athletically-sensuous take to the eight-foot heart-shaped prop. Valentine slipped out of her vibrantly red panel skirt to ascend the prop and expertly tease her way from top to bottom.
New Yorker Dirty Martini, the revolutionary leader of neo-burlesque and body-positivity, took on Von Teese’s famous Swarovski crystallized carousel horse in her own Martini way. Strutting on stage trailing a full bustle skirt and looking like Marie Antoinette (if she were done up in high-definition and covered in rhinestones), Martini peeled off her gloves like a goddess in the spotlight. Her signature bump-and-grind harkened back to the glamour of 1950s burlesque with just the right amount of raunchy audaciousness as she twirled her tassels atop the carousel horse.
The Art of the Teese also featured Boylesque performer, Jett Adore, donning a Zorro-like bullfighter’s outfit as he twirled and teased his way down to a fully bejeweled codpiece. Discovered by Von Teese in Australia, performer Zelia Rose Charlestoned her way across the stage with her bananas Josephine Baker tribute in true Ziegfeld Follies style.
The jaw-dropping highlight of the evening was RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7 winner, Violet Chachki. Chachki’s breathtaking “Art Deco Striptease” featured the performer opulently decked out as an art deco goddess complete with cape and headdress. Chachki was electrifying as she peeled and revealed to Lana Del Rey’s song, “Art Deco.”
The Art of the Teese certainly offered up the crème de la crème of what burlesque has to offer. And how could it not? With a cast including the queen of burlesque, herself, Von Teese and a diversely skilled and entertaining lineup including: Chachki, Valentine, Martini, Rose, Palinski, Martinez and all topped off with the highly comedic skills of emcee, comedian and singer Jonny McGovern of YouTube channel, Hey Qween. The Art of the Teese has enjoyed such a successful run, that it has now been extended to several more cities and will run through September 15 as Von Teese and her cast tour America and Canada. Those who made it to the sold-out Denver stop will forever treasure the decadent one-night experience that was The Art of the Teese.
All photography by Candace Peterson. Go here to see our full gallery.