There’s always been that old saying that you should never meet your hero but if given the chance, many of us will try to despite the warning. For me, the person I had always wanted to meet was Dita Von Teese. Very cliche for a pinup girl I know but she was always that icon that seemed quite out of reach until the day it happened. For those that have asked me what she’s like, this is your chance to hear the whole story.
In 2015, I was only a baby pinup at this stage owning only one true vintage dress but the passion was there and I was still learning. I had just handed in my Masters degree and decided to travel from Dublin to America to kill time whilst I waited for my graduation. I planned to meet up with my dad in California as being freshly retired, a vacation was in order. I was in LA and found my first vintage dress which I still treasure to this day; I purchased it from The Way We Wore which is a store I knew Dita frequents and it fit me like a dream and I still treasure it today. You may have seen it many times on my social media or from photoshoots. I had been in LA for nearly two weeks so I decided it was time to move on to Vegas so I booked a ticket on the overnight bus for the next day. Great, ticket booked now to scroll on Facebook; that’s when I saw it. Dita just posted saying she was doing a meet and greet at Comikaze TOMORROW! I think I screamed at my laptop as though it had just turned into a massive spider! I phoned the bus company and had them move my ticket time to the latest service for tomorrow and bought a ticket to Comikazie.
Suddenly I was nervous; I had no pinup hair skills, homemade hair curlers (yep, these babies), only one vintage dress and shoes that did not match. I also decided a week before to dye the ends of my hair with purple henna so that was still a thing. Ugh, not the way I wanted to meet her but there was nothing I could do. So I curled my hair and went to sleep beyond excited. I had a game plan for the next morning, I knew that Dita was starting her meet and greet at around 2pm, if I lined up at 1, I would be done really quick and leave the convention straight after going back to the hotel to pack, check out and catch an uber to the bus port by 5pm ready for the 6pm departure. Do-able!
I was nervous, my hair was flat and desperately needed to be cut, I had no petticoat or proper accessories, but I did have a pair of nice shoes in my dad’s backpack which I planned on changing into right before I was to meet her. I don’t know if the saying is true that people judge you by your shoes but I wasn’t taking a chance. As planned, I got to the line just before 1 and was about 5th in line. My dad could see I was nervous as I wouldn’t stop fidgeting so he told me to go buy myself a drink. The line was massive and by the time I tried to enter back into the convention centre, there was an issue with my wristband so I had to go get a new one (another long line) and then wait in another queue to re-enter the convention. I finally waddled back to the Dita booth and realised SHE WAS THERE! EARLY! AND I WAS NEXT!
My dad snatched the drink out of my hand, thrusted the photo I bought for her to sign and the next thing I knew it was my turn; and I absolutely panicked. I handed her the photo and then… nothing. I was frozen. My idol, was right infront of me, smiling at me and greeting me and I couldn’t get a single word out. Not even a hello! She asked what name I would like the photo made out to and I didn’t know how to answer. I had forgotten my name! No joke, my brain was blank so I turned to my Dad who had to whisper my own name back at me. Yeah… that really happened. My Dad then whispered, “say something to her!” and it was then I had realised I just stood there like a complete muppet and was staring at her. Oh god! I then blurted out, “Hello! I love you! I think you’re amazing and you inspried me to become a pinup”. She very nicely complimented my dress and reached out for a hug. The entire time in my head I just kept thinking “dont vomit one her! please stop shaking!”. It was finally time to get my photo taken with her and I looked more stunned than anything. Finally, she gave me another hug, wished me all the best and I walked away.
And queue anxiety attack.
I went completely white, faint, dizzy and nauseous. Thank goodness for the soda I had purchased because I had something sweet to sip on but I couldn’t stop shaking. I had blown it. I had all that time to talk to her and I said nothing of interest. My dad thought it was hilarious but felt bad when he realised I was overtaken by anxiety but that’s just it. For a long time I had known about Dita; I had seen her videos, talked about her and was an avid fan and follower of her. In my head I had an idea of who she was in real life but I had only ever seen her in a safe way; a photo, video or illustration. When I finally got the chance to meet her, it was a shock and very sureal. Now I know she’s just a normal person and in my mind she is this flawless being, but in that moment I was unable to stop panicking. I wanted to be so perfect and someone she would not embarrassed to be seen with and instead I just stared at her quite awkwardly.
Meeting Dita Von Teese was still a pivotal moment in my pinup journey. From that day on, I tried really hard to polish my craft and get better slowly over time. With most skills, they get better the more you practice so looking back now, I am better at my hair and my makeup. I have a better way of styling my outfits and have figured out that pinup is what you make it. Oh and if you’re wondering, I did make it to the bus on time and got to Vegas very late that night.
Since that first meeting, I have been lucky enough to meet Dita a few more times. The next time I met her was after her performance in Perth for the ‘Strip Strip Hooray’ show. My dad had bought the meet and greet package so I could “give it another go” and not go white as a sheet. I was still nervous as I waited in line but this time I could properly speak to her and hold a conversation. She loved my outfit and my shoes and even thanked me for dressing up! I think what made this interaction even more wonderful is that I got to see her perform which is always a blessing on the eyeballs. Dita is known for her sultry stare but when dancing, she has this huge beautiful smile which just shows how much fun she is having and how much her performance brings her joy. This meeting was one of my favourites and my dad was very proud I didn’t freak out like the first time.
A week later, I was in Sydney when Dita was doing a meet and greet at Wheels and Dollbaby to celebrate the release of her new violet cardigan. It felt a little silly meeting her again a week later but I mean I was there … she was there … why not? I was a lot more relaxed that time and thought it more amusing that her bodyguard recognised me. He was confused as to why I was suddenly in Sydney but he is actually such a lovely guy. We chatted so much that none of us realised Dita was standing there trying to get our attention so we could continue with the meet and greet. Ooops.
The last time I met Dita was after her Perth performance of ‘The Art of Teese’. I felt really pretty that day and was inspired by Hedy Lamar with the white and silver dress and star crown. To complete my outfit, I wore a brooch previously owned by Dita herself. It’s actually my favourite vintage brooch of all time and I keep it safe, clean and locked up at all times. When I met Dita that night, she saw my brooch and said, “Oh my gosh, I had that brooch but I just sold it …” she then looked at me and I think my expression gave it away. “Yes! I bought it off you and I treasure it so much”. She laughed and said “I have the matching earrings so in a way, we will always be sisters!”. DID ANYONE GET THAT IN WRITING?! Dita just called me her sister, yep, life is complete, I have been on cloud 9 ever since.
I thought I’d ask her a question that had been heavy on my mind around this time. I asked “what do you do when no one believes in you? How do you keep going?”. She answered by saying, “don’t worry about anyone else or what they say. I’m a failed ballerina and still dance on stage, I can’t sing and have two records out, I can’t write and I have multiple books. Just find someone who does believe in you and keep going”. It warmed my heart and sometimes when I’m starting to self doubt, I think about what she said and it gives me a little boost.
There it is my friends, my story of meeting Dita Von Teese. She’s a really beautiful person, makes you feel special and doesn’t rush you on. She is very softly spoken, kind and I didn’t quite realise how much taller than her I am (I did a little squat in some photos). It was such a joy to meet my idol and I still look up to her. I have seen her perform onstage three times and trust me, if I lived in America where she does more shows, I would see more. I still read her books, look to her for inspiration and ideas and love everything she does.
If you are looking to meet Dita or another one of your idols, I hope this gives you a little more insight into such an experience. My first meeting wasn’t the greatest (I didn’t even have time to change my shoes) but I did it and still have a wonderful memory. I have anxiety which makes me sometimes freeze up when I don’t want to but it just makes for a more interesting story. Go and meet your idols!
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way.