Finding Inner Peace with Dita Von Teese [Episode #481]
This week’s topic is: Finding Inner Peace with Dita Von Teese
I am so excited to have a very special guest, Dita Von Teese, who is an American vedette, burlesque dancer, model, costume designer, entrepreneur, singer, and actress. Listen in as Dita shares how she practices ways to cope with the distractions of life, how to feel good in your body and ways to break out of vulnerability.
Feeling good in your body and practices to keep you feeling that goodness…
Ways to cope with feeling trapped or feeling behind and how to find peace…
Dita shares what she has personally learned from the distraction and business of life…
How Dita’s do-it-yourself attitude and self-reliance evolved…
Breaking out of vulnerability…
How to navigate living with a partner that is not vegan…
About Dita Von Teese
Taking audiences on a journey into fantasy and spectacle, Dita is renowned for her ornate sets and dazzling haute- couture performance costumes adorned with hundreds of thousands of Swarovski crystals. This “Burlesque Superheroine” (Vanity Fair) determines every aspect of her burlesque shows from the sets and costumes, to the music and lighting. She has also been celebrated for her distinct sense of style and remains on top of “Best Dressed” lists internationally.
Beyond her live performances, Dita has curated her brand across multiple platforms including her own lingerie line, fragrances, eyewear, gloves and stockings. In addition, Von Teese is the New York Times Best-Selling author of her highly accredited beauty book, “Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour.”
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Note: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate. This is due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
Kimberly: Hey Beauties. Welcome back to our Monday interview podcast. I am very excited for our guest today, Dita Von Teese, who is a dear friend of mine and a client. She’s also a burlesque dancer who has pretty much put burlesque as glamor on the map. She’s an entrepreneur, a singer, an actress, and a costume designer. What I really love about Dita is she’s done things her own way. She’s forged her own path. She’s been enormously successful and I really truly admire her. So I’m excited to pick her brain today.
Fan Of The Week
Kimberly: But before we get into that, let’s give a quick shout out to our fan of the week who is Llong20. And here she writes, “Kimberly does a great job with her episodes in guiding us to live a healthier lifestyle in mind, body, and spirit. I always feel informed and learn something new when I listen, and I absolutely love her holistic, natural, basic remedies for everyone to feel and look their best. Highly recommended.”
Share The Podcast& Write A Reviewon Itunes
Kimberly: Llong20, thank you so much for your review, for being part of our community. I’m very grateful for our connection. So thank you, thank you, thank you, so much, sending you a big virtual hug. Hope you’re cozy and safe wherever you happen to be, and Beauties, for your chance to also be shouted out as the fan of the week, for me to read your beautiful words, please take a moment out of your day, head over to iTunes, and leave us a review that could literally be one sentence long, but it’s just a great energetic way to support the show and give the love back. I thank you so much in advance already for doing that.
Kimberly: And while you’re over there, you can also subscribe to our show and that way you never miss out on a Monday interview podcast, such as this one, or our Thursday, Q and A podcasts, which come directly from you guys. They come from the community, they’re questions that most all of us share, have thought of, have wondered about. So it’s a great form of positivity and inspiration coming into your inbox every week.
Kimberly: All right, all that being said, let’s launch into our interview with the fantastic Dita Von Teese.
Interview with Dita Von Teese
Kimberly: Hi Dita, it’s so great to be back with you, I feel like it’s been a couple of years since you’ve been on the podcast around when your book, Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour, came out. Which went on to become a New York Times Bestseller. So congratulations on that.
Dita: [inaudible 00:00:26] thank you.
Kimberly: And I was so excited to be included in it. Remember, we did a section on nutrition which is exciting.
Dita: Yeah, it’s been a while now I guess. I would just remember having a flashback. I think our last time we did the podcast, we were sitting on my bedroom floor here.
Dita: [crosstalk 00:00:46] it was.
Kimberly: I loved it. And then the last time we saw each other was actually for one of your events which was beautiful, it was many women, yeah.
Dita: That was nice. I was really glad that you could be part of that. That was just kind of a little deep into the experience of doing talks and teaching and being vulnerable and showing up in morning with zero makeup and zero hairdo on and showing a room full of people, exactly how I put myself together. So that was really kind of … I had never done anything like that before. But it was really special and I hope I can do it again if we’re ever allowed be to in rooms, I’d help people again.
Kimberly: So, being away Dita, we have known each other for many years now, we’ve worked together, we’ve been friends for many years. And one of the things that I really love about your philosophy is really … it’s about confidence to me, it’s about connecting with yourself and this form of glamor that is unique to each person. When we were doing that event, we’re on this panel, we kept talking about how it’s this feeling. So, now we’re in this really unique situation where we’re all at home all day and there aren’t events to get dressed for necessarily and we’re not … is just the world is so different now.
Dita shares some of her practices on how to feel good within yourself and to keep feeling that goodness
Kimberly: So can you share some of the ways that you are … practices, things where you’re still working on feeling good within yourself, I mean glamor on a different form because we’re not going to see anybody else. But just that part of your philosophy which I always loved which is about how you feel within yourself. What are some of the things you’re doing to keep up that feeling goodness?
Dita: Well, it’s interesting because I think when all this kind of started, I had a lot of people reaching out to me, wanting me to do videos and be on camera and show people how glamorous and, “[crosstalk 00:02:59] I’m all the time at home. Can you do some content and give us a tour and show us what you’re wearing?” And I said, “You guys, I’m not doing that actually. Even though I can dye my own hair, I stopped coloring my hair, I stopped all my red nail polish, I just honestly felt like this is a moment for me to take a break and also have a real true break.” I mean that’s not say like, “Listen, right now I’m wearing a cute cotton dress from the 1950s and [crosstalk 00:03:41].”
Kimberly: I love it.
Dita: I am not wearing makeup. I just really wanted to take this time to work on other things that aren’t about the aesthetics of glamor. I mean that’s not say I’m not working on what I’m going to do when I’m out of this. But I just really felt I needed to breathe, I needed to get go and stop feeling obliged and it posed a little bit of a problem. Because I also don’t want to be … I felt a little bit like I wanted to take a step away from social media and reading [crosstalk 00:04:17] much.
Dita: I’m not in any rush to get on camera or show everybody my glamorous life at home. I don’t feel like it’s really the right tone right now. I just felt like gardening, and doing laundry and cleaning the floors, being outside with nature, looking at flowers, planting, reading, exercising, learning about how to adjust my life. So it just nice to have it been all very important to me. Although I’ve gotten a lot of pressure. Like, “Oh, we’re doing photo shoots from far.” I’m like, “I’m not doing any of that right now.”
Kimberly: I love that. Dita, it sounds so healing. I mean, when was the last time you took a break from makeup and photos and images? Which again, people expect from you. I feel like everybody wants more pictures of Dita and they want to see more of how to be like you and how to dress like you. So, it must feel really good.
Dita: Yeah, it does. I mean, I just feel like there’s a lot of things that in the last … I mean, for as long as I can remember actually, I’ve been running a million miles. I mean, I had taken four trips, three of them international trips back and forth, just in January and February alone.
Dita: So I have felt like I have spent most of my time away from home in the last decade or more and it’s kind of been like, “Okay, I’m going to take a minute, I’m going to enjoy my house. I’m going to learn about my house. How do I adjust the timers on the sprinklers? I’m going to do that myself.”
Kimberly: I love that.
Dita: [inaudible 00:06:09] all these things that I’m always asking somebody else to help me with. I’m kind of like, “I’m going to do it.” Actually this morning I woke up and said, “You know, maybe I can paint that room myself.” You know, painted a big room myself and I thought, “Maybe I can do that myself.” I’m just having a moment where I feel really good about taking a time out. I mean, that being said, I don’t want to lose sight of what I’ve always preached to people. You know as a glamor evangelist, I like to tell people, “Do what makes you feel good.” And that for some of us involved, it’s like putting on red lipstick even if you’re not leaving the house. And make no mistake, I’m doing that now and I’m doing that still. Before I go on a walk, even though I’m wearing a mask, I put-
Kimberly: I love it, lipstick on under there.
Dita: I know. It’s like there’s things that I’m still doing of course, but I’m really focusing on all this kind of hitting the reset button so that I am ready. I had to cancel my whole tour, my show tour that I have been preparing for almost two years to go. And I’ve invested a lot of time and a lot of my money into that tour. So I’ve been obviously disappointed about that, but just thinking of how can come back stronger and what else I can do to make it better and to be more prepared, to make sure my body feels more prepared, all of that.
Kimberly: I put a post on Instagram about letting your life unfold in perfect timing, which is something I feel … I struggle with all, you know, just work and my toddlers and in schools, so I’m not getting as far ahead. And my single friends are thinking, “Oh, I can’t meet somebody right now and I’m supposed to be doing this and doing that.” So when you have those moments where you feel, “Uh, this is so annoying, why does it have to be this way. I’m getting behind.” What are your thoughts you tell yourself? How do you sort of reconcile in your head?
Ways to cope with feeling trapped or feeling behind and how to find peace
Kimberly: Because it sounds like your really in a peaceful place right now with just being able to let go of everything. But letting go is such an intense complicated process, I’m sure you too have ups and downs with feeling trapped and feeling behind and feeling frustrated and then also feeling peaceful. So how do you deal with that?
Dita: I’ve been talking on the phone a few times to one of my friends named [Elona Roy Smithskin 00:08:59], she’s 100 years old. And I feel like when I talk to her, I kind of had this, oh my god, knowing women that are in their ’80s, ’90s, 100 years old, I really treasure my conversations with them and I always think what can … I got on the phone with her, I was kind of like, “What does she think of all this? Oh my god, oh my god.”
Dita: And she was sort of not concerned and what kept saying to me was … she was just like, “This is a great time for you.” She’s like, “I see you, I see how busy you are and how much you’re doing. You need to relax and sit back and take time for you, don’t worry. You’ve done all this work. You have built up all this [crosstalk 00:09:49]. You need to give yourself credit for what you’ve done and not beat yourself up for what you’re not doing right now. Stop for a minute.”
Dita: And I thought, “Yeah, I guess I never think of it that way.” Because we’re so used to having the pressure of like, “What are you going to do next? How are you going to make money next? What are you going to do?”
Dita: I think it kind of meant a lot to me to hear that from her. And she said, “And also, why don’t you rest your body for a minute?” And I said, “[crosstalk 00:10:18].” Because I thought about all those airplanes and the high heeled shoes and all of these things and there’s a lot of things I’ve been meaning to deal with. I have a chronic pain issue that I’ve been ignoring for a long time. In fact, I was reading a little bit, I think you touch on that sort of thing in your last book, which I think is my favorite one, Recipes for your Perfectly Imperfect Life.
Kimberly: Yes. I’m so glad to hear that Dita.
Dita: There’s some interesting things that you’ve written in there that are really relative to what I’ve been thinking is relative to my pain issues. So I’ve been kind of trying to think about what I can do to set myself right and pay attention instead of just saying, “I’ll think about that later. I’ll do that later. I’ll deal with those emotions later.” I’m trying to [crosstalk 00:11:21] right now.
Kimberly: It’s such an interesting time because I feel that … Eckhart Tolle said that it’s almost like a forced retreat for everybody where all the distractions of life, they’re running around, the shopping, meeting people for brunch, it’s all been taken away. So in a way, it’s very confrontational for a lot of people to have to sit with their feelings and with their emotions and to also not be able to run away as much. A lot of us come up for me around that, Dita, just the feeling enough without having to do, do, do. So there’s this healing on that side.
Dita shares what she has personally learned from the distraction and business of life and the other side of when to say no
Kimberly: Can you share with us maybe somethings you’ve learned, one of this … I’d say distraction but the business of life has been taken away. I know it’s a really personal question. The more we share with each other, I feel the more healing takes place and people can look into their own lives. So if there’s anything you’d like to share that maybe you’ve learned or something that you were distracting away from or you didn’t want to feel or anything at all.
Dita: Yeah. I mean, I think the perfectionism is something I have to like [crosstalk 00:12:50] more and that’s always on my mind. Because when you start thinking about that, when you are always striving for perfection in whatever you do. Which I’ve always considered myself kind of someone who is always trying to … I’m very detailed oriented and I want everything to be perfect and I want everything to be right. You can do all that in your work and work with integrity.
Dita: But I’ve had to think more about forgiving myself, [crosstalk 00:13:23] when I’ve done something or said something, I notice how I speak to my body about what I like and don’t like about it. And I’ve tried to change my conversations in my head. Instead of saying something negative to myself in the mirror than trying to replace that with something positive. Like instead of being like, “I don’t like how my butt looks.” I’m going to say to myself, “Isn’t it great how my butt muscles allow me to walk with a strong stance.” I try to think of being grateful instead of being critical of myself. And then that also is about others too.
Kimberly: [crosstalk 00:14:02].
Dita: I learned that a long time ago actually. I’ve always enjoyed this … I have this thing that I loved to do where pretty much everyone I meet, I’d love to find that really beautiful thing in them. I think when we’re much younger, it took me a while to learn this. I probably wouldn’t have done it in my ’20s or whatever. But learning not to be judgemental or talk about people’s appearance in a negative way. It’s like all those things I feel like are really important not to do and not to engage with other people to do it, and try to diffuse it.
Kimberly: Do you feel like on the other side of this Dita? Because, just speaking frankly, you’re known for being such a … this external beauty with perfect hair and perfect makeup and a perfect body and perfect dancer. People do talk about your appearance. Do you feel like on the other side of this, what sounds like a really beautiful intense healing that you’ve been through, where you’re just like, “No, I don’t want to put out images, I don’t want to do that right now. I’m just going to be home, I’m going to be gardening and I’m going to live this really natural normal lifestyle.” What do you think is going to shift for you on the other side?
Dita: I mean, I feel like I’ve become … and not really related to what’s going on right now really, but something, the past few years, I felt like I used to be very … and my PR and all my people around me were like they would never let a picture get out of me without makeup on. And now I feel very like, “Here’s a picture of me without makeup on.” I have an app and I kind of look at it as a little club and I’m active on there more than here. But me without makeup and I don’t deliberately put out terrible pictures of myself. Here is something, you know?
Dita: I mean, I just feel like I’ve softened more to that. I used to be very old Hollywood about it, I wanted only the very best because I think I had … when I was younger, always this illusion of 1940s Hollywood. Because those are the only picture we saw where the beauty portraits and all that sort of thing. Until you really dig deeper and you start to see there were paparazzi pictures of Rita Hayworth with no makeup on coming off an airplane. We don’t see those unless you really dig deep. So I think I’ve just kind of softened a little bit [crosstalk 00:17:01] last 5 years, 10 years about not being afraid to show people who I am.
Kimberly: I love that.
Dita: [crosstalk 00:17:13] so much, not feeling like I need to only put out these big dramatic beautifully lit portraits with five hours of makeup.
Kimberly: It sounds wonderful. It sounds like a relaxing into yourself almost.
Dita: Yeah, I feel like it’s just kind of what I’ve always wanted to do, is empower other people to live their life the way that I do, which has always been like a do-it-yourself-type thing. That’s what my whole book, The Beauty Mark Book was about. It was like 400 pages of like, “Here’s how I do my hair and my makeup, if you’re interested, you can … here’s all my secrets.” But it’s very decisive and so I feel like I also want to continue that and tell people. Like, “You don’t have to be dressed up while you’re doing this isolation, if you want to and you get pleasure out of it and it makes you feel better, you should.”
Dita: I feel like there have been maybe two days in the last … what is it. Are we going on like five weeks or six weeks? I don’t know even know.
Kimberly: Yes, I know it’s blurring together.
Dita: Yeah, maybe twice I’ve put on eyeliner and lipstick and done my hair and I make a point to wash my hair every week and put my hot rollers in so that I have volume in my hair. So I’m not doing nothing. But I think it’s really just like telling people, “Do what makes you feel good. There’s no rules, if you want to wear a ball gown while you’re cleaning your kitchen, you can. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to.” I think it’s just like [crosstalk 00:19:03] playful moment, I think where it is what you want it to be.
Dita: I mean, I think it’s difficult. I’m not sharing a lot on social media because I feel like people don’t really … we’re all dealing with different setbacks because of this. Some of us much more dramatic than others. And I just feel like telling people what my problems are, I’m not that comfortable doing that. Because whenever I think of that, I think, “Listen, there’s people that are dealing with so many other things right now and whether it’s related to coronavirus or isn’t.” You know?
Dita: Just yesterday, remember Mari Winsor from the book, also. She’s like-
Dita: She was just taken off life support last night-
Kimberly: Sorry to hear that.
Dita: … in her long battle with ALS. And so it kind of puts it into perspective there too. And we’re all dealing with different kinds of emotions right now and I feel I don’t really like to complain about anything that this … how this situation, this pandemic is affecting me or my business and we all are having our own different kind of issues. There’s a quick judgment to be like, “Well, that’s nothing compared to this.” You know?
Kimberly: All right. Why do we have to keep judging and complaining?
Dita: Yeah, like a constant judging thing going on and it makes my head spin.
Kimberly: So Dita, one thing I’ve always felt with you is this strength and this clarity and you know, “I’m doing my own thing.” I love hearing it now, just very clear, not putting out pictures right now, but it’s just what I feel. I mean, burlesque has always been around, but you pioneered this whole … Vanity Fair’s called you this Burlesque superheroine. You created this whole category of glamor and burlesque, and being on these best-dressed list. You just created this whole thing that was yourself, there was no predecessor, there was nothing to kind of model. But you just came from your own, you know, “I am going to do this.”
Kimberly: And I do feel that in your book, it’s saying, “Hey, I’m sharing with you what I’ve done.” But it’s say unapologetic and it’s also saying, “This is what I feel and if you like it great, if you don’t that’s okay too.” So you’re not writing to please other people, you’re not creating this to please other people. And so many women especially … not especially, but in my community, we get a lot of questions about confidence, we get a lot of questions about connecting with yourself and feeling that voice. So is this something that … I know it’s a hard question.
How Dita’s do-it-yourself attitude and self-reliance evolved
Kimberly: But is it something that you feel you were brought up with from your parents, from your mother, gave you that confidence? Is it something that you developed along the way? This whole do-it-yourself attitude, there’s this self-reliance, and you know Ralph Waldo Emerson talked about that rooting into yourself. Where do you think that came from? And how have you been able to maintain that being in the public eye and having this pressure on wanting to look a certain way? But then you just kind of keep evolving and doing what you want to do.
Dita: Yes, I think-
Kimberly: It can’t be easy.
Dita: It’s definitely been learned, I grew up in a farming town in Michigan and I was painfully very shy not just kind of awkward. I wanted to be a ballerina, I was never that good at it. So I kind of like little by little created this whole mythology of self, if that makes sense. I started wearing vintage clothes because I couldn’t afford the cool designer clothes that my friends in school had. And I discovered red lipstick and I was like, “Wow, I feel like I look like a movie star.”
Dita: So all these little stepping stones that took me to confidence. And then I’d say later in life when I had an actual career doing this, I was certainly put into the limelight, the spotlight shined on what I was doing with burlesque and striptease by fashion magazines and I felt I had to have live up to what any accolades, or good things people were saying about what I was doing. When I started realizing I had a lot more female followers than men which at the start of my career when I was 18 to like 30, I had a lot men. I was a playboy model, I was still a pinup girl with black hair, pale skin and red lips.
Dita: I was definitely under the male gaze for the most part with regard to my shows and with the playboy association. But I realized when I wrote a book about why I loved these pinup, why I looked to the 1940s and ’50s to develop a signature style that made me feel powerful and gave me kind of a voice. Does that make sense?
Dita: Made me feel like I could walk into a room and even if I didn’t feel like at that time I could speaK with confidence, I could still walk in with confidence and feel strong. So, the aesthetics helped me do that. And then as time went on, I found myself in different positions where I felt like I wanted to use my voice too. And I think another pivotal moment for me, I was M.A.C Viva Glam spokesperson, so I worked M.A.C AIDS Fund in their fundraiser for Viva Glam which is a lipstick where they give 100% of the selling price to the M.A.C AIDS Fund and they’ve raised like $500 million with [crosstalk 00:25:53] a lipstick.
Dita: So I was working for them for two years and I had to give speeches and I’ve never done anything like that before. But I was like, “I’m going to learn to do this. I’m going to learn how to make it fun.” I am terrified and I go up there and I give these speeches all over the world. And I was terrified but I did once, one of these first speeches, I faltered big time. And I said into the microphone, I said something like, “Can I start again you guys? Mind if I just-“
Kimberly: I love it.
Dita: Then they were like, “Yay, yeah, please start again.” And I did it. And I just realized when you make your mistakes, people usually will find it … it kind of connects them to you, because we all make mistakes especially like that. And if you kind of just go, like, “I need to start over.” Then everyone has a laugh and they’re like, “You better.” And then they like your [inaudible 00:26:55] better. So I went through this process of learning how to overcome shyness and find my confidence and also knowing that confidence is like the weather. Some days it’s good, some days it’s not. Some days my confidence is high, sometimes it’s not. And you just start noticing what gives you confidence, even with the people you surround yourself with.
Dita: Who are the people I surround myself with that make me feel good and I make them feel good and they bring out the best in me? Try to control the circumstances. So whether it is wearing a red lipstick or wearing [inaudible 00:27:37] or wearing your hair blue, what makes you feel good? And trying to notice what those things are and controlling the circumstances as best you can. So for me the circumstances are, when I go on stage the lights are going to be pink because it’s flattering and it’s pretty and it’s glamorous and other worldly or whatever.
Dita: There is so much of that you can do in you real life too. Yeah, I always think about that. I just think you can’t always feel confident but you can notice what those things are that make you feel that way and try to stand up for yourself and keep those circumstances the way you want them to be.
Kimberly: I love the idea, that’s so practical. I always say things like that when people ask me about food cravings or not feeling good. You know, “What was the trigger? What changed before? How are you trying to shift your mood?” And it’s really great to hear from someone like yourself saying confidence comes and goes. Because it’s easy again to look at social media, to look at someone and say, “Oh, they get it. They’re always strong, they’re always confident.” But as humans, and especially as women, we are vulnerable and we fluctuate and there are so many different cycles of things. And-
Dita: Your vulnerability is part of your strength. [crosstalk 00:29:04] do you know the writer Paulo Coelho?
Kimberly: Yes of course.
Dita: So, I spent a lot of time with him at one point in my career for a few years. I was living in Paris and I would see him, I was his date to a few events and stuff, just like friends. But he made me realize a lot of stuff about what I do and what made it special to watch. And they were not the things like, showing my vulnerability on stage is very important part of what makes an interesting performance.
Dita: And I feel like if you start thinking about who were the … for me I think about a lot of the artists that I really love. And they’re kind of like people that are communicators and they show who they really are and it feels very authentic and maybe they’re not even technically the very best, but there is something that attracts me to them with this invisible heart strings that go to them.
Dita: I feel like I have something in common with them. Like me, as a failed ballet dancer who wasn’t good enough or a girl who wasn’t tall enough to be a model and wasn’t really pretty enough to be a model, and kind of going against all these things and still making it in my own way. Like a burlesque star, what are the chances? How did the ballerina turn into burlesque star? Well, because I couldn’t [inaudible 00:30:42] good enough, you know. And all those things are part of what led me to do that which I’m grateful to have had these “shortcomings,” otherwise I wouldn’t have done what I did.
Dita: And I’m proud that there is a big burlesque movement and that I’m part of it in a way. So I think sometime you forget your vulnerability is such an important part of finding strength.
Kimberly: Yes. And I would say, Dita, that the last book that you love and I think it’s my best book too, it took me a while to feel okay, being vulnerable, I mean that’s my fifth book and the first time I ever admitted that I had eating disorders, that I was bulimic in high school and it felt good to talk about it. It’s probably one of the reasons I was drawn to initially helping people with food, I mean now the lifestyles expanded so much, there is a lot of spiritual parts and meditation now.
Kimberly: But the food part was because I was trying to heal myself and again, I think, oh, especially as women we just want to feel liked, we want the guys to like us, we want to be perfect, we want to have this image. But there is that strength in vulnerability. We’re starting to hear about that more and more. But it took me a while to feel the courage to do that and I live hearing about your story, your path to vulnerability as well. Because now I feel knowing for a while, you feel the most grounded, you also feel the most real and vulnerable and the most beautiful I have ever felt you, like unfolding.
Dita: Thank you. Yeah, I mean even when I was 30 years old, I’d have journalists going, “What are you going to do when you become older and you will not be able to do what you do?” And I always speak with a weird accent when I do that, because I always have this moment … there was a moment when I was in Germany or somewhere, Austria, and the journalist is like, he actually said, he goes, “What will you do when you are old and ugly and no longer interesting to people?”
Kimberly: Oh my gosh.
Dita: “What will you do for your job?” So I always speak in that accent because I will never forget it. And the first thing I said was like, “You wouldn’t ask me that if I were a man first of all, right” And I just felt like, everyone is setting you up. I was only 30, I was just like, “Oh god.” I’m 47 now and it made me really think about how we’re being set up to decline or fail or lose, they build you up to watch you fall.
Dita: And I just thought like, “Well, wait, why do I have to be … I can become better I think.” I still feel that way every time. I have almost retired five times and I kind of just said, “What if I become better?” And when I say better I think, the way you think and your intellect and your knowledge and your wisdom and all of these things are part of what makes you better at no matter what you’re doing, whether you’re a singer.
Dita: Talent is not rare, talent is not rare at all. You can see that when you watch any of these shows of people with talent, it’s very common in that. But what is uncommon is people that have something to back it up and have thought of the ways to cleverly parley it into something that makes people go, “Well, I need to know more about that.” When I think about that, I have never been able to sing but I made an album. I think more and more we’re looking for people that can communicate, have some to say, have something to share and are willing to say like, “I am not very good at this and so maybe you can do it too.”
Dita: For every person that has told me I’m not good enough or I’m not pretty enough or I’m not this or somebody is better, better looking, prettier, the better body or better dancer, it’s like I’m just here to be the one that says, “You can still do it against the odds if you really believe in it.” [inaudible 00:35:25] to share.
Breaking out of vulnerability
Kimberly: So what would you say Dita, where vulnerability, I’m hearing a lot … You say the word share a lot, which I think is important. You definitely get that vibe where you want to share with other women and other people, you’re not withholding, you’re not creating this competitive atmosphere, but it’s very communal. It’s very sharing, there’s vulnerability. How else do you think you’ve been able to … as you were saying break out of that? “Oh, yeah, everybody has talent. There is a lot of beautiful people.” How and why do you think so many people want to hear from you?
Dita: Well, I think I came from a side of things where I thought, when you think of the word role model, I’m a extremely unlikely role model. Because I did a lot of things that just came from my heart. I said, “Oh, I became famous for making bondage photos.” Stop taking things that are risky or taboo and kind of showing it in different lights. So, what I think I have always tried to share, is that I am not trying to be Ms. Perfect, I’ve kind of have been like, “Hey, I think these things are interesting.”
Dita: My eye was caught by vintage erotica and pinup and I kind of thought, “I like that. I find it interesting. I know it’s taboo, striptease, I know it’s taboo. Strippers, is a negative connotation with strippers.” And I wanted to bring that to light and make it to kind of release the taboo as best I can. And that’s mostly kind of a self-indulgence, but I know I’m not the only one that feels that way. I know I’m not the only one that doesn’t want to apologize for my sexuality or for indulging in things or wanting to … I just feel like we’re in a world full of different types of role models.
Dita: We need all types because we all have different feelings and we all have different ideals and the ultimate definition of being a feminist at this point, is you can’t judge other people for what they think right for their lives. So, I don’t want to sit here and I never really sit here and say, “I’m a role model,” because I cringe at myself saying something like that. But I’ve become kind of an unlikely role model I think because I’m authentic about it. I say, “This is what I’ve always liked, if you like it too, come along with me-“
Dita: … way. That’s why we’re doing burlesque shows allover the world for audiences of 2,500 people, I mean I was supposed to be in the UK doing five nights at the London Palladium and that’s in a 2,000-person theater every night. And it’s actually filled with women that are wearing the red lipstick in their pretty outfits and they have their hair in curls. I am really proud to have created that kind of atmosphere where it’s celebratory of glamor and sensuality and indulgence and decadence in a way that’s not hurting anyone.
Dita: A lot of people don’t understand that, like if somebody is listening and they’ve never seen … maybe they saw a burlesque show or they think they know or they’re not sure. They like, “Isn’t she a stripper?” Your mind will be changed if you find yourself in one of these rooms if we ever do have these shows again.
Kimberly: Well, Dita, when I went to your show, it was powerful, I had never been to a burlesque show, I was very new to it all. And this was here in LA, it was at the House of Blues, it was your show. I had these feelings. It didn’t feel like it was for us, I felt like it was for you in a weird way, if that makes sense. It just felt like you were empowering, you were strong and you were just sharing how you feel empowered. It’s so hard to explain, like you said the feeling of being there, but I did notice it was pretty much all women, and wanting to have that feeling of confidence.
Kimberly: And the thing that keeps echoing in your work is we’re trying to figure out what people would buy or what they liked and then trying to figure a way to sell it. You are just so authentically, “Hey, this is what I like. And I’m going to share that. And the people that are going to find it, because they like it too are going to find out, I don’t have push to buy anything.”
Dita: Yeah, it’s just been something that I’ve been doing since I turned 18 and now my touring show is … there is just as many male performers in it as female. And so there is different representations of beauty that are present. I am not sure if you remember Dirty Martini, who I always make jokes about, Dirty Martini. I’m like, “Dirty Martini, if you get one more standing ovation in the middle of the show.”
Kimberly: Hey, is she the host of the show?
Dita: No, Dirty Martini is one of my favorite burlesque stars in the whole world. She’s in New York, I have known her for a very long time and she has this incredible strength, she comes from ballet too, but she’s voluptuous. I’m trying to remember [crosstalk 00:41:30]-.
Kimberly: Yes, red hair, does she kind of red hair?
Dita: 44 … No, she is platinum blonde, zafty, beautiful, strong body and just-
Kimberly: [inaudible 00:41:41].
Dita: … tassel twirler, extraordinaire and she is really just such a beloved burlesque figure and historian and she brings the house down, shakes the room every single time. And I just love building a show that isn’t just about me. I like producing these shows, and casting these shows, and thinking of people that are changing and evolving burlesques, it shouldn’t be a pinup girl show.
Dita: It’s not a girlie show. I want people to leave feeling inspired and they saw someone with maybe a skin color like theirs, a body like theirs, maybe they saw a man do a striptease, they saw someone trans performing. It’s very important to me to not just make it my show and make it about the show overall and how people feel when they see a show like this.
Dita: And I think that’s why there is such a big female and LGBTQ audiences definitely. Most of the men there are … I get this all the time, I’ll get letters or emails always around touring time from men that say, “You know, my wife wanted to come to the show, so I bought her tickets, I had no idea what I was getting into.” And then they go on to talk about how it’s like being in that room and celebrating beauty and eroticism in many forms has pulled some kind of meaning.
Dita: And I mean, listen, it’s nothing new, create some kind of erotica that’s geared toward women, that’s kind of what I did. But I did it because I just love it. I always had this fantasy about being in showbiz and being a ballerina, being on stage and wearing pretty costumes and makeup.
Kimberly: You’ve just done it in your own way.
Dita: I correlate it into striptease. I always loved musicals from the 1940s and I thought, “What if that was a striptease?” It’s just kind of where my head went, I started working in a strip club when I was 19 years old, 18, 19 years old. And so it’s kind of how it started was I was a pinup girl, kind of famously carrying on the legacy of Bettie Page and then I was working a strip club and it kind of all came together where it turned into a burlesque show.
Kimberly: I love it. It’s so amazing Dita. And I have to tell you, I’m just sitting here, sitting back, I cannot wait until we’re on the other side of this and I come to your next show. I love that feeling, back to this feeling confident and there is a feeling sometimes that you really have to get from a live performance. Obviously, we talked about this. I love your book, I love all these things. So just you know Dita, you’re awesome, I could talk to you all day. Thank you so much for coming to our [inaudible 00:44:49] podcast.
Dita: Well, I’m glad I’m on here. Oh, I know, I wanted to ask you something.
Dita: I was like, “Oh, I’m going to ask Kimberly this.” I was going to ask you about any or relationships, and maybe this is other people want to know about this too. But I think I understand your partner is not vegan and how do you-
Dita: … especially now when we’re all eating the same meals and we’re all trying to … how do you reconcile that, you know? Because I have the same kind of thing where I live with someone who is not … he enjoys the meals I make from him, from your cookbook and everything. But, it’s just like something I was like,” How does Kimberly do this?”
How to navigate living with a partner that is not vegan
Kimberly: So there’s a very practical solution to this which I know that everybody has access to. So first of all, when we started dating and I said, “Hey, that was just to get me. Wasn’t it?” For the first three months, he was vegan and everybody was like, “Oh, wow, he is turned.” He was this big CrossFit carnivore guy. But he’s gone to hybrid, right? But the practical solution Dita I was so lucky, is that we bought this house a few months ago and it has a guest house.
Kimberly: So, the main house, we are completely vegan. We eat here together. He will eat what I cook and he loves it, and we make smoothies and we do everything in this house. If he is going to eat meat, it’s over in the other house.
Dita: Very [crosstalk 00:46:28].
Kimberly: And he has a smoker over there. I’m not trying to create these rules, but he is like, “Out of respect for you, I’m going to keep the meat over there.” Now, we’re lucky to have that situation, it’s like his office and his guest house over there. Otherwise, I don’t know because I haven’t been [inaudible 00:46:49].
Dita: Well, [crosstalk 00:46:50] answer, I mean that’s really what I was looking for. I think we have a good compromise, but I just love that. I have a barbecue outside, so-
Kimberly: Yeah exactly. I don’t think it’s all or nothing, I have really softened in this way because I have dated yogis and I have been with vegans and I have never felt the kind of connection I feel with John. Whereas, you have met him Dita, he looks very different, his body from his neck down is completely covered in tattoos, he has different interests and he loved motorcycles, all that stuff, but yet, we’re so connected, so it’s that seeing below the surface and feeling the heart connection.
Kimberly: And so because of that, if we’re in a restaurant and he orders his steak and I’m going to get a bunch of vegetables, I am not with him because I expect him to be exactly like me. And while I am very passionate about environmental and health and yogic reasons for being plant-based, I think people have to come to what feels good to them in their own time and he’s certainly largely plant-based. But you can’t make somebody be what they’re not, that’s part of love. Real love I think is accepting people where they are.
Dita: And that’s one thing I always loved about you when I met you is … and I should tell your listeners. I am not vegan but I am I’d say 80% plant-based. And so you remember we had that conversation too where I was like, “I’m not ready to give up eggs or I might go have sushi.” So I just wanted to say that less anyone think, “This model, vegan,” because I’m definitely not. No, but it’s not like … I love vegetables. But yeah, I’ve been always trying to find a compromise, living with a meat-eater. He compromises too. I think it’s just coming to compromise then, but I wanted to know how it is for you, that’s all.
Kimberly: Yeah exactly. I think when you really love somebody and you are with them for that, you soften in a lot of ways. Like you were talking about softening, I mean things that used to bug me. Like, “Oh, you peed on the seat again.” Sometimes he leaves his clothes, I’m like, “Where do you think they’re going to go? Why don’t you just put them in the hamper?” But there is all these other strengths and all these other amazing … the connection is so strong.
Kimberly: But I think that if you asked me 5, 10 years ago, “Oh would you marry a non-vegan?” I probably would say, “No, it’s such a big part of my lifestyle.” But now I’ve come so much into self-acceptance which helps me accept other people more. And not with somebody just because of how they eat. He respects my point of view, he loves it, he loves our food, but sometimes he is going to eat eggs, sometimes he is going to eat fish or whatever. And I’m okay with that because I love him.
Dita: Yeah, that’s good.
Kimberly: Oh, Dita, on the other side of this, A, I cannot wait to go to a show, B, you and I will have to have dinner together. You will have to come-
Dita: [crosstalk 00:50:16] lighter meals all the time and I think a lot from your cook books, your books lately especially. But I really get excited about when I get invited over to your place for dinner, so hopefully will get to do that again.
Kimberly: Oh yes. Hey Dita, can you share some of your favorite Solluna Beauty Detox recipes are from the books, I’m sure everybody would love to know some of your favs.
Dita: Lately I’m really into your Eggless Frittata, the one with the garbanzo bean flour, because it’s just so easy. And also my meat-loving boyfriend loves that one also.
Dita: Yeah. [inaudible 00:51:03] a lot, I’m trying to think of what else that my [crosstalk 00:51:06]-
Kimberly: [crosstalk 00:51:06] your smoothie.
Dita: Yeah, it’s been a little bit harder, because it’s hard to keep produce in the house because I have only been to the grocery store twice during this lockdown. And actually as soon as I run out of greens is when I’m like “I’ve got to get over there.” I made your roasted brussel sprouts recipe recently which was super good with that. It’s like a tahini sauce.
Dita: I always love all your sauces and things. Oh and I like your roasted … the red pepper. You have like a red peppers-
Dita: I think you made that for me the first time I came to your house for dinner, that’s in another one of your older books I think though.
Kimberly: Yes. I think that’s from Beauty Detox Foods, but do you remember Dita when you went on that tour and I would send food to every city so it was waiting for you.
Dita: Oh, yeah. You know what I remember so vividly is when I was just starting a tour in New York and the hurricane hit and I had just all this food from you, but it was all … I didn’t have a refrigerator and it all went bad because the hurricane hit and all the power went out and everything and I was like, “Oh, I got to eat all this food.”
Kimberly: I know [crosstalk 00:52:31].
Dita: I hate wasting food. Yeah, I was actually just like, “Oh, I should ask Kimberly, I need the Kimberly’s lighter meal delivery service right about now.”
Kimberly: Oh, well, thank you so much Dita. (silence). Yeah, I’m staying here, kind of leaning back. I am almost 37 weeks pregnant, so I’ve got quite a big belly right now. And yeah, it’s interesting, it’s a good time to be pregnant I think. Life is slow, or we’re home a lot, we’re bonding, so there’s a lot of positives right now I think.
Dita: Yeah. It’s actually one thing that popped into my head was, people would always ask me if I ever thought of having a baby. And I kind of would look at them and think, “Gosh, I’ve kind of devoted my life to touring and doing all this. When would I have had time to take the time to do something like that?” Thinking, “When will I have the time of not being on tour and not working for a year and a half?” Then I said, “Oh, gosh, this was the time, isn’t it?”
Kimberly: Yeah, it’s one of those things sometimes. I don’t think everybody needs to go through the parenting experience, I think life is about growth and I think it’s been … I learned a lot from having my first son and now we’re having another baby boy. But growth comes in all forms, in all ways. And you certainly had a lot of growth and a lot of just amazing experience in your life Dita.
Dita: Yeah. And also just to say like, when people do ask me about why I didn’t have a baby, it’s not really just about time. There’s a zillion different reasons and I think I never want to shame anybody for not doing it or doing it or whatever, it’s very very personal. And so I didn’t mean to make light of like, “When would I have time? There’s a lot of reasons.
Dita: You know how it is.
Kimberly: Of course. It’s such a big decision and there’s a lot of things around it. So I totally hear you. And I have a lot of friends that have consciously chosen not to have kids, and friends with kids. So I see all sides of it.
Dita: I feel like you used to be one of those people if I’m not mistaken.
Kimberly: I wasn’t like, “Oh my God I can’t wait to have kids.” I didn’t really think about it until I got pregnant, you know? And yeah, I didn’t, I was very happy with my life. So I wasn’t looking for it as like a way to become happy or to fulfill myself. And I love being a mom, but I also think that I would have been happy too either way. But I do love … he is just such a light, I do love my son so much almost to the point where it’s hard to imagine loving the second one as much as my first.
Kimberly: Dita I was never one of those not one of those people that was like, “Oh, I can’t wait to be this and that and have all these kids.” So I wasn’t thinking about the future that much. I think I was happy where I was.
Dita: Well, very exciting that you are having another little boy and I can’t wait to meet him.
Kimberly: Thank you my love, thank you so much. And Beauties be sure to check out all of Dita’s information about her upcoming shows, her products, everything she has at dita.net. We will link to it in the show notes, we will be back here Thursday for our next Q&A community podcast, till then take great care, sending you lots of love, be safe, be cozy and see you guys soon.