By CINDY OLBERG
Since 2001, girls with tattoos, piercings, and crazy-coloured hair have been submitting photos to the sexy and renowned online community SuicideGirls in the hopes of earning official SuicideGirl status. Initially launched to celebrate and foster unconventionally beautiful girls who choose not to fit in, today, the SuicideGirls website gets five million unique views per month and 1,000 applications per week.
During the application process, candidates work with model coordinators, submit professional photos, interact with the community, and get feedback on their work. Once they’ve been selected, the best of the best are featured on the website.
SuicideGirls works hard to create opportunities for its models. And some are even invited to tour and perform with the Blackheart Burlesque show, choreographed by Manwe Sauls-Addison, the same artist who developed productions for Beyonce and Lady Gaga.
This Saturday, fans will have a chance to see some of the most beautiful and remarkable SuicideGirls up close and personal when the Blackheart Burlesque troupe comes to Mavericks with a program filled with stripteases and pop-culture references.
Missy Suicide is the founder and leader of SuicideGirls. She’s in charge of the goings on around the SuicideGirls business, and has watched it grow from the ground up. We talk with the Missy about how she gets these badass bombshells the recognition they deserve.
Where did the name SuicideGirls come from?
The name comes from a Chuck Palahniuk book. He’s talking about the girls that hang out in Pioneer Square and it seemed like a good catchall phrase to me — “the Suicide Girls,” as opposed to being alternative. They’re girls that chose to commit social suicide by choosing not to fit in.
When you first started SuicideGirls, did you expect it to grow to be as big as it is today?
No. When I first started it, it was almost 13 years ago and the landscape was much different. It was really something that people weren’t that into — sharing their lives online — which is hard to imagine these days. As well, there really weren’t any tattooed girls celebrated as being beautiful. So I thought maybe it would be popular in Portland and possibly Seattle.
What are you looking for when you look at applications?
Why you’re doing it. If you’re doing it because your boyfriend thinks it’s hot, that’s probably not a good reason to be naked on the internet forever. But, if you’re like, “I really want to express myself and I feel like I have so much to share with the community,” then, that’s a good reason to become a Suicide Girl.
What’s the program going to be like at the Blackheart Burlesque show?
The burlesque show is super fun, sexy, pop-culture ladened night full of pasties and gorilla masks. There are so many different numbers that are so fun and cool.
And, this is your second time touring the show?
Yeah, we toured … about six or seven years ago and it was an amazing time. We opened for Guns and Roses and Courtney Love and … just had a blast. And then, in the spring, we released our latest coffee table book, Hard Girls, Soft Light and we sent two girls on a book-signing tour of comic book shops. There were 500 to 750 people who were showing up to get two girls’ autographs, so we decided that the time was right to really put on the burlesque tour again.
Are you expecting a big turnout at the Ottawa show?
Yup! The first Ottawa show sold out, so we’ve got a second show. Ottawa’s going to be a big crowd. We’re very excited.
Suicide Girls. Saturday, April 12. 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. (the 10 p.m. show is sold out). Mavericks, 221 Rideau Street. $25 + service charge in advance. Tickets available at Vertigo Records.