Moments before the shoot, we caught up with cover girl Dita Von Teese to find out what the burlesque queen/author/fashion-"It"-girl has been up to, and how she plans to ring in the new year. Here's a hint: If you're invited to her place Monday night, you might want to bring a cream pie.
You just got back from vacationing in Egypt. What was that like?
It was great. I spent a week on Christian Louboutin's houseboat and we took a trip down the Nile. It was a glamorous, fabulous sightseeing trip.
Did you dress the way you usually do?
I was nervous being in a Muslim country, so I bought a djellaba -- one of those long dresses. I didn't think I should be showing so much cleavage, and my vintage '50s dresses weren't really cutting it in Luxor. This was the first time I felt I needed to adapt my look.
Did you see anything that would inspire one of your shows?
Definitely, but the trick is to make a show that's Egyptian-themed but not cheesy. I'm trying to figure out how it can be done without feeling like a Disney version of "Cleopatra."
You're always so put together; how long does it take?
If I'm going to the grocery store I just put my hair in a bun, do a sweep of powder, the red lips, add some sunglasses, ballet flats and maybe a comfortable vintage day dress. I have a theory that the day you don't bother is the day you run into your ex-boyfriend or your ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend.
Are you working this New Year's Eve?
It's an obvious choice for people to book me in my giant Champagne glass or the martini glass, but I usually prefer to take that night off. This is my third year off.
What are your plans?
I haven't decided yet; I'll probably decide at the last moment.
Do you prefer to go out or stay in?
I like intimate parties where I can let loose without worrying about anybody reporting on it because I really like to get wild. Otherwise I prefer to stay in.
What was your most memorable New Year's Eve?
Last year I invited all my closest friends over to my new house in Hollywood that I had just moved into, and I went to Marie Callender's and bought every cream pie that they had -- about $500 worth -- coconut cream, lemon meringue, and we all paired up and took pies in the face from our best friends. But first we made outfits out of trash bags. So we had a fashion show with trash bag clothing creations, you picked your favorite song and you took a pie in the face from your best friend. A lot of people said it was the best party they'd ever been to. And there was pie on the ceilings. I still think I see little bits of whipped cream from time to time.
You brought along your favorite corset for the photo shoot. Why is it so special?
It's made by Mr. Pearl; he's the most elusive couturier in the world for corsets -- he only makes a couple a year and won't just see anyone. He made a very special corset to go under my wedding gown [Von Teese was briefly married to rocker Marilyn Manson], and it reminds me of the special time I spent with Mr. Pearl. I had 12 fittings, and I had to fly to Paris for each fitting, and I have very fond memories of drinking violet-scented Champagne in his atelier down this dark, narrow, crooked street near Notre Dame cathedral.
You mentioned a new house. What's it like?
I moved in on Christmas Eve of last year. I was excited to be moving out on my own and not having to answer to anyone's design style -- or lack of design style. So my house is a Craftsman with lots of wood. I've done the living room and dining room authentic Art Deco -- lots of rich, deep, teal-colored velvets. It's like the colors of a peacock, which was actually my inspiration. And my bedroom is modeled after a Jean Harlow film, so it's in ice-blue satin, the walls are lined in silver satin and the ceiling is all gathered fabric with an enormous chandelier.
Have you thought about pursuing acting?
I was approached to make a film with Martha Fiennes -- the Fiennes brothers' sister -- there's a script about what really happened to Mata Hari, and they want me to play Mata Hari. It's not my dream to become an actress but it is a dream to make a period film where I am playing a character that is close to my heart -- a famous showgirl, so I'm excited about that. It probably won't start filming for about a year.
Your past shows have included a Champagne glass, a martini glass and a glass of absinthe. What's next -- dancing in a huge beer stein?
I've had lots of drunken conversations with my girlfriend who works on shows with me, and believe me, there are all kinds of ridiculous things we could do. There's a sake glass and I could dress like a geisha, or a margarita glass and I could do a topless Mexican hat dance. Think about it!
Do you have a New Years resolution?
I think I want to be more eccentric. Whenever I see these really eccentric women like Isabella Blow who dare to be different, I think there's more I could do. I sometimes think I'm playing it safe compared to the women who came before me and I need to be less inhibited in what I wear when I go out. I want to kick it up a notch -- like going to the grocery store in a ball gown.
Dita Von Teese premiered her latest burlesque show, "Be Cointreauversial," in London on Dec. 13. It's being adapted for North America.