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She was an ambassador/spokesmodel for HIV/AIDS awareness when she was selected (along with Eve, Deborah Harry, and Lisa Marie Presley) for MAC Cosmetics' Viva Glam VI campaign (a collection of lipsticks and lipgloss where 100% of the proceeds are for worldwide AIDS charities and to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS).
Von Teese has appeared in Vanity Fair, Vogue, Elle, and international issues of nearly every fashion magazine.
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 stated in 2007, "I don't understand why women feel the need to go into acting as soon as they become famous ...
But I suppose if the part were aesthetically correct, then maybe I could consider it." In January 2011, Von Teese guest-starred in the CBS police procedural drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, in which her friend Eric Szmanda stars, in the episode "A Kiss Before Frying".
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.
She starred in the feature film Saint Francis in 2007.
She is a trained costume designer, often designing (and copyrighting) her photo shoots herself.
Von Teese has performed in adult and mainstream films.
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 as Heather Sweet, and also in two Andrew Blake hard-core fetish films, Pin Ups 2 and Decadence.
She has campaigned on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and has appeared in their ads.
She participated at the PETA's campaign "Animal Birth Control (ABC)." In spite of this, Von Teese states that she never uses a stylist.