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Some of her more famous dances have involved a carousel horse, a giant powder compact, a filigree heart and a clawfoot bathtub with a working shower head. Her feather fan dance, inspired by burlesque dancer Sally Rand, featured the world's largest feather fans, now on display in Hollywood's Museum of Sex.
Also in 2006, Von Teese appeared on an episode of America's Next Top Model (cycle 7) doing a workshop to teach the contestants about sexiness by means of burlesque dancing and posing.
In college, Von Teese studied historic costuming and aspired to work as a stylist for films.
She is a trained costume designer, often designing (and copyrighting) her photo shoots herself.
The act placed 20th out of 25 participants in the final round of the contest.
Von Teese achieved some level of recognition in the fetish world as a tightlacer.In her early years, she appeared in fetish-related, soft-core pornographic movies, such as Romancing Sara, Matter of Trust (in which she is billed under her real name of Heather Sweet), and also in two Andrew Blake hard-core fetish films, Pin Ups 2 and Decadence.In recent years, she has appeared in more mainstream features, such as the 2005 short film, The Death of Salvador Dali, written by Delaney Bishop, which won best screenplay and best cinematography at SXSW, Raindance Film Festival, and Mill Valley Film Festival, and won Best Actress at Beverly Hills Film Festival.Her mother was a fan of old, Golden Age-era Hollywood films, and from her Von Teese developed a fascination with the actresses of that day, especially Betty Grable.She was classically trained as a ballet dancer from an early age, and danced solo at age 13 for a local ballet company.
She has campaigned on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and has appeared in their ads.