Denial That Satisfies

If burlesque queen, diamond aficionado, and bondage enthusiast Dita Von Teese hadn’t already existed, the web’s fetish-mining hive mind may have had to invent her. Though she’s appeared in the vanilla pages of Playboy, it’s her corset-constricted photo shoots for fetish art mags such as Bizarrethat provide the grist for late-night Google Image searches and innumerable “Fetish X Fuck Yeah” Tumblrs. So it’s counterintuitive that Von Teese’s real claim to pin-up fame — her extravagant and decadent burlesque shows — must be experienced IRL. With elaborate performances that put the tease back into striptease, she is a field researcher of the outer limits of desire, exploring how anticipation and impulse coexist in volatile symbiosis. In her 2006 book Burlesque and the Art of the Teese/Fetish and the Art of the Teese, which surveyed the age-old burlesque traditions she helped revive, Von Teese wrote about this singular fascination: “I entice my audience, bringing their minds closer and closer to sex and then — as a good temptress must — snatching it away.” The decadent cabarets of Paris and Berlin that she evokes in her burlesque shows are long gone, their alluring excess largely confined to bedrooms, private parties, and server farms. Von Teese provides audiences a rare opportunity to luxuriate in their redolent air of forestalled desire.
Mon., May 21, 7 p.m., 2012

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