INTERVIEW: Missy Suicide, Founder of SuicideGirls

INTERVIEW BY: Sara Falco

Meet Missy Suicide, Founder of the SuicideGirls and Blackheart Burlesque! SuicideGirls is an online sex positive community celebrating “alternative pin-up girls.” Members can post a variety of content including photos, videos, fun facts, etc. and can connect with each other by commenting or DMing each other.  The site has blown up since its creation in 2001 and promotes interaction with fans. To further this interaction, Missy birthed the idea of Blackheart Burlesque, a traveling classic burlesque show with that SG flair. Lucky for Philly, SuicideGirls: Blackheart Burlesque will be performing at Underground Arts tonight, Saturday October 5th. Doors open at 8pm and the show is at 9pm so make sure to snag some tickets and prepare to be dazzled!

Sara Falco: What are the origins of the SuicideGirls? What is the significance of the name? What prompted its creation? 

Missy Suicide: Wow big questions, let me try to sum it up as succinctly as possible. SuicideGirls the name comes from a Chuck Palahnuik book and was used to describe the girls who hung out in Pioneer Square in Portland, OR (where the site was founded) The name signifies girls who commit “social suicide” by choosing not to fit in. I wanted to create a place that the women I knew and loved could be appreciated for being themselves and connect with each other. Where they could feel proud of their bodies and themselves, exactly as they are.

SF: How does SuicideGirls cater to different styles of being (race, body size, tattoos/body mods, background, or whether a woman fits into “societal norms”)? Does that include trans women as well? Is it limited to feminine presentation? What does it mean to be alternative?

MS: I bristle at the word alternative, in that it is just another classification system to adhere to. There is not a formula of x number of tattoos times y number of piercings divided by rainbow hair color = SuicideGirl.  SuicideGirls promotes individuality. SuicideGirls is about celebrating the female form, in all forms. We are always looking for more awesome ladies to join our ranks and help us redefine beauty.

SF: How has the way in which women are viewed changed the scope of how the organization functions? 

MS:   The definition of beauty and female confidence has definitely broadened in the past 18 years but there is still so much more of societies psyche to expand into.  

SF:   How have the goals of the organization changed over time? 

MS: The goals have always been the same, to show that confidence is the sexiest attribute a person can have and that everyone is uniquely beautiful and should celebrate their presence. 

SF: How was Blackheart Burlesque conceptualized? How involved are you? 

MS: The site takes classic pinup photos and puts a modern twist on them through our unique lens and we wanted to bring that spin to classic burlesque. I conceptualize the numbers and find the soundtrack; I also oversee the logistics of booking and staging a tour and the promotion and advertising. 

SF:   How is the show cast? 

MS: We hold auditions, around the country or in whatever international cities we are playing in. Dancers have to learn a choreography section. Then they are invited to rehearsals in LA when we are staging a tour. From there we assemble the troupe.

SF: BB is known to have whimsical nerdy themes (stormtrooper helmets, Donnie Darko mask, animal onesies, etc.); how are the themes, costumes, & choreography decided?

MS: I choose the themes that I think would be the coolest and try to find songs that match up.  Once we find a good theme and song then Liryc our insanely talented creative director choreographs the routine and Goose, Liryc and I find costumes and piece them together to bring the routines to life.   

SF: What is the general audience (female-nonbinary-male) and mood of the shows?

MS: Generally the audience tends to skew slightly more female but is pretty well mixed. 

SF: Where has the show traveled and how often does it tour?

MS: We have played 8 cross country US tours, Europe, Canada, South America. We tend to come through the states yearly but probably won’t do another US tour till Spring of 2021, so come see us 🙂

SF: Do you have any interesting anecdotes you’d like to share from being on the road?

MS: I was recently on tour in Denver and a girl came up to me and said “I want to be you, I want to work for you.” I replied  “Okay, what skills do you have to offer?” She looked dejected and said “Nothing really, I am just a server.” My heart broke for her, and I said, “I have only known you for three seconds but I would describe you as a bold, problem solver who is not afraid to go for what she wants.”  

She was a little drunk and embarrassed, I think, and she disappeared quickly afterward but that interaction stuck with me, I wish that everyone could see their unique skills and envision what they could be using them for instead of being mired in the insecurity of where they are. 

SF: What do you do when things don’t go as planned, whether it’s with the organization or the show?

MS: Stay Calm. Take a deep breath and assess the situation, and run through the possibilities to repair it. Select the best one.

Try no to get overwhelmed, we are capable of fixing all that we can and if there is no way to fix it, be honest about it and apologize for your part in it and try to find an alternative.   

SF: What haven’t you done yet that you’re dying to try?

MS:   I want to work on horror movies from a female perspective.

SF: What would you like to say to your fans? 

MS: Be confidently uniquely yourself, you are beautiful exactly as you are, and don’t let anyone make you feel less than the powerhouse that is you. I know this sounds like inspirational quotey hokum but if people feel good about themselves that is the first step in being an active part of the world.  It is a subversive act to love yourself.

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