Dita Von Teese is getting the documentary treatment.
Filming for a feature doc about the Queen of Burlesque is underway with director Tiffany Bartok (Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story) at the helm and a team that includes producers Jayce Bartok and Jesse Scolaro and executive producers Matthew Felker, Ryan Kempe and Stephen Fitzgibbon.
The plan is to cover her humble beginnings, born as Heather Sweet in West Branch, Michigan, to becoming pop culture’s most famous striptease artist. Von Teese is participating and will accompany filmmakers to her hometown where they will sit down with members of her family, many of whom will be seen for the first time. They’ll also have access to her inner circle, an entire archive of rare, never-before-seen footage as well and her upcoming Glamonatrix Tour.
The news comes as the 50-year-old performer is having a moment, courtesy of a role in Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling and a buzzy scene in Taylor Swift’s “Bejeweled” music video off her Midnights album.
Says Bartok: “After just one conversation with Dita, I fell head over heels with her strength, vulnerability and grace and wanted to explore every aspect of her life and bring what was discovered to others in order to inspire audiences.”
Felker, who directed the forthcoming Baywatch documentary through his company Antisocial Hero, traces the origins of the project back about a decade when he met Von Teese at a party for fashion designer Marc Jacobs.
“I was standing in ear shot of her conversation and thought she was so witty and interesting. I introduced myself and we became fast friends. Shortly after I went to Paris with her and her close friends to witness her performance at the Crazy Horse. It was there that I got my first glimpse of her extraordinary and anything but traditional life,” he explains to THR, adding that the seed of an idea grew over the years. “As the streaming era grew the documentary space, and my own involvement in documentary grew, we thought now is the time.”
After seeing Bartok’s Aucoin doc, produced by partner Jayce Bartok through their Vinyl Foote Prods., he felt they’d found the right collaborators, along with Scolaro and Visit Films’ Ryan Kempe who helped kickstart filming through their female-driven documentary and feature incubator, Pretty Ideas. The filmmakers are eyeing a fall 2023 release in partnership with Visit Films.
A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.