Thursday 26 April 2007
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Educating Dita


Last Updated: 12:01am BST 22/04/2007
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It was also around this time that Von Teese met Manson. A long-time fan of her work and a member of her website, the famed shock-rocker initially approached Von Teese by inviting her to dance in one of his videos. Although she refused, the two stayed in contact. In 2001 Von Teese arrived at Manson's 32nd birthday party with a bottle of absinthe, and that, as they say, was that.

By 2005 the pair were engaged and happily nested in a secluded mansion in the San Fernando Valley, where they lived surrounded by Manson's collections of Nazi uniforms, a foetus in a jar named Ludwig and a taxidermied baboon sitting on a rock with an erection. 'I had all the faith in the world in our relationship for the seven years we were together. I loved him very much, and when I married him I completely believed it would be forever.' She pauses. 'But that's not what happened.'

So what did happen? The afternoon I meet Von Teese at the Chateau, she drops some hints. There is a lot of talk about her new digs in Hollywood (complete with a silver-satin upholstered bedroom designed to look like 'an enormous jewel box') and how nice it is to have 'some peace and quiet for a change'. There is the comment about how she wasn't able to have any of her things around her at her old house, and the even odder aside: 'I basically lived with Mommie Dearest for six years,' a comment on which she wouldn't be drawn. But the picture remains hazy until Von Teese calls from Seoul.

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Manson, she says down the line, has a party lifestyle that she found impossible to live with. 'It was difficult, because I was trying to get him help for his problems, and eventually I realised that he didn't want help. I wasn't supportive about his partying or his relationship with another girl, and as much as I loved him I wasn't going to be part of that.' After the wedding the relationship went into sharp decline, according to Von Teese. 'Everything went downhill after we got married. I started working a lot to escape my home life.' Manson, she says, lapsed into depression.

There was also an alleged infidelity. Indeed, in his Rolling Stone interview, Manson dropped a lot of hints about having a new relationship. His new album, he said, 'was clearly written to seduce somebody'. He attributes his musical revival to a close friend's gesture of devotion. 'She picked up a butcher's knife and said, "Here, you can stab me,"' he says. 'When someone was willing to drown with me, I really didn't want to drown any more.'

The interview clearly cut Von Teese to the quick. 'He says how depressed he was. I get the impression he thinks I was unsupportive,' she says. 'But the truth is I wasn't supportive of his lifestyle, and someone else came along who was.' Von Teese issued Manson an ultimatum, and, she says sadly, 'It didn't work. Instead, it made me the enemy.' She decided to move out on Christmas Eve, essentially empty-handed. 'I left with nothing. I knew that there was an inappropriate relationship going on in it, and I didn't want any part of it around to remind me. I didn't want that sofa. I didn't want that bed. I didn't want the knife you read about in the article.'

I ask her how things are going for her now. She pauses and then says, 'You know, I read a lot of biographies and autobiographies, so I know I'm not the only person who's gone through something like this. Millions of people have gone through this; millions of people go through it every day. I know I'm not alone. I know I'm going to be OK. I'm having fun focusing on my work and decorating my house and reconnecting with old friends.'

Recently, Von Teese has allowed herself to be set up on several blind dates by friends. 'I figure I have a better chance being introduced to somebody through a friend than I do meeting someone in a bar or on the internet,' she says. And though she 'isn't ready for another relationship yet', she is hopeful. 'I know I'll fall in love again.' She laughs a sad, bright little laugh. 'And I know that I loved him [Manson] enough to try and help.'

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