Suicide Girls Burlesque Tour

Porn Studies

Charlotte Observer, 10/27/06 - Whether you view the Suicide Girls as a feminist take on alternative erotica or just more porn, one thing is certain: These tattooed and pierced beauties have become the Playmates of the new millennium.

Several of these women -- among the many featured on the pinup and lifestyle site at www.suicidegirls.com -- will stop at Amos' Southend tonight as part of the Suicide Girls Burlesque Tour.

And this isn't your average striptease.

Yes, there are plenty of topless women; but instead of mindless pole-dancing, the Suicide Girls' rock 'n' roll routines include hula-hooping and a contortionist.

"It's definitely campy, with props and outfits -- almost like a play," said Myrtle Beach-based Scott Smallin, who photographs Southeastern Suicide Girls for the site.

More than 1,200 girls from around the world, including the Carolinas, are featured on the site. These may not be Hugh Hefner's Girls Next Door, but they could realistically be the punk or goth girl down the block.Smallin's 20-year-old girlfriend, who works at a health food store, goes by the online tag of Elly.

"A lot of the girls are very confident women. For me, it was like a coming out," she said of becoming a Suicide Girl. "It's not hardcore porn. It's pinup art."

A full membership to the Web site is $12 a month or $48 a year. In addition to the naked pictures, you also get access to member profiles and message boards.

"Because you have a journal and they encourage you to sell and display your art and promote bands you're in, you're allowed to have more personality," Elly said of comparisons to Playboy and Penthouse. "I don't know if respectable is the right word, but they see more ... than just your body."

Members join for different reasons. Elly, who is neither tattooed nor pierced, was attracted to the site's style, which is evocative of pinup models from the '40s and '50s. Lennon Murphy, 24, who is touring with Aerosmith and Motley Crue, uses the site to promote her music. Jessica, a 19-year-old Charlotte-based entertainer, became a fan after seeing an ad in Cosmopolitan magazine five years ago.

"I wasn't of age (then). I decided recently that I was mature enough to do it," said Jessica, who recently had her first session with Smallin and will adopt the online name Stevie when her photos are officially posted.

Watching the DVD of the first Burlesque Tour inspired her to do the shoot.

"I've been in love with the DVD. I would absolutely love to get on the Burlesque Tour," she said.

Most of the current performers are based in California, and Jessica hasn't spoken with anyone about auditioning yet. Elly, on the other hand, isn't as interested in the Suicide Girls' modern take on burlesque.

"The classic burlesque shows with garter belts and the whole get-up -- that was pretty awesome," she said. "The tour might be fun if I had more friends (doing it). A lot of girls on the West Coast are friends and can do things together. But in the South, there just aren't many of us."

More ...

Suicide Girls Porn Redefines Feminism

The Daily Tar Heel, 10/4/05 - I came within a patent leather inch of being naked on the Internet.

Call it art or artifice, power or pornography. But a rose by any other name would still shed its petals.

Forget the oiled tangles of silicon and vapid stares, the airbrushed affectations of lust and the dimpled green flesh of night-vision cameras.

In a fringe industry increasingly open to barely-B-cups and tattoo-riddled skin, the Playboy bunny is a dying breed — and the feminists are burning more than their bras.

At the root of it all is SuicideGirls.com, a site that, as musician Dave Grohl put it, “completely tears down that Pamela Anderson image.”

Photographed professionally in various stages of undress, the women are students, artists and even executives, stripping down to flaunted imperfection. It’s what Mae West would have done if she’d had pink hair and pierced nipples.

More interesting than the panorama of body art, however, is that most of the Suicide Girls offer themselves up with little concern for money or men. The $300 payment per photo set is a paltry sum, and the site caters unapologetically to a female aesthetic. Add a booming online community and a strict requirement for artistic merit, and you have a revolution in a garter belt.

The decades-old feminist ideal, however, would cringe at such an appraisal. Our generation of young women grew up in Gloria Steinem’s well-covered bosom, believing, as she said, “Pornography is the instruction. Rape is the practice.”

But for all my dog-eared stacks of Ms. magazine, I reserve the right to be taken seriously in a vinyl corset.

This is not about validation, vindication or voracity. It’s not about satisfying a need to be desired, and it’s not about fitting into an over-commercialized avant-garde mold.

It’s about breaking boundaries. The female form has for centuries encapsulated sin, temptation and immorality. Unapologetic nudity has too long denoted impurity, and impurity in turn has marked bare flesh as damaged goods. So the final feminist frontier could be the reclamation of our own territory.

The commercial pornography industry, legal squabbles aside, has been ineffective and inaccurate in its portrayal of women. Its horrific amalgamations of breast implants and Botox stands in stark contrast to reality even though technology has turned the plasticine lies into standard components of the adolescent male hard drive.

Thus emerges a generation that might never see the allure of a soft stomach or the aphrodisiac of laugh lines.

So vehement is the feminist denouncement of pornography that we’ve forgotten that sexism, not sex, degrades women. Condemning tasteless porn makes a fantastically self-righteous noise but does nothing to actually combat the problem. Instead, our best defense might be our collective skin, in all its scarred, rumpled, cellulite-addled glory.

Pornography itself did not spring from Hugh Hefner’s loins but from the feverish minds of 17th-century Europeans at the cusp of the Enlightenment.

The period’s greater emphasis on the value of science led to a fascination with the human libido, and early works of erotica focused on female narrators who were the intellectual and sexual equals of men.

Degradation and misogyny are far more modern issues, at least in their current prevalence.

Unfortunately, the anti-porn backlash has infused perception of the female form with more sin than sensuality. The stigma of bare breasts remains a foreign concept to me; I was raised by a woman who wore T-shirts silk-screened with nude art prints to drop me off at the mall.

And when I see pornographic paranoia escalating to such a level that even nursing women are herded behind closed doors, I can’t help but think that exhibitionism is preferable to embarrassment.

As for me, my Suicide Girls membership has been languishing for quite some time, waiting for the right balance between the creative and the carnal. This is an equation that needs to be solved on a far greater scale than my own corner of cyberspace, however, and until women can stop balking at their own reflections, the women’s rights movement cannot realize its true strength.

There is a beauty and an innocence in the expression of unadorned femininity, with skin baring battle scars rather than plastic surgery scars and eyes reflecting far more tenacity than timidity. Beneath the debate and the confusion there is an emerging grace, a brocade of proud flesh, multihued, tattooed, unencumbered and unashamed.

And this, Ms. Steinem, is what a feminist looks like.

Also ... 

Suicide Girls Get Censored

The Western Courier, 10/4/05 - Is that art or just plain obscenity? That is the question on a number of individual's minds following the latest development in the Bush administration's "war on pornography."

Yes folks, that is right, the Bush administration has once again managed to eek its way into my life. This time it somehow managed to do it electronically.

I am a member of the "porn" site Suicide Girls. And while the site does contain nude images of women (and men, on Suicide Boys) I personally do not feel that any of the images are distasteful or obscene in any way. Therefore, I choose to refer to the site as artistic rather than pornographic. Obviously, there are those who differ with me on this point, but I believe that this fact only makes my argument against censorship stronger.

Quite recently the site has removed certain images and photosets, replacing them with a statement regarding compliance with the Bush administration and U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' war on porn. Specifically targeted were photosets containing images of "blood" and/or "bondage," or as Suicide Girls spokesperson Missy Suicide said, "Anything that could be construed as sadistic or masochistic."

My question is: where does one draw the line between art and obscenity? And who has the right to decide where that line is drawn for myself? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is Gonzales and others in power on Capitol Hill and in the White House.

Now don't get me wrong, I understand their argument: individuals that should not be viewing these images, e.g. children might catch a glimpse of a naked woman covered in fake blood and be scarred for life. Fortunately, however, Suicide Girls is a pay site and one must pay with a credit card to become a member before he or she can view any of the photosets, and one must be 18 or have the permission of his or her parents or guardians to obtain a credit card. Thusly, a minor should not be seeing any of these images unless he or she manages to log into the site under the account of an adult.

Furthermore, why is it that the government is censoring "pornography" for children while still allowing minors to view extreme violence on television and in motion pictures (e.g. World Wrestling Entertainment, any Arnold Schwarzenegger movie)? It all seems a little hypocritical to me.

Essentially, I believe that it is the business of parents and/or guardians to monitor the Internet habits of their children, not the federal government. I feel that as an adult, I should be given the right to draw that line for myself. Our government already makes enough decisions for me, what I can and cannot look at should not be one of them. To decide for yourself, please check out www.suicidegirls.com.

See suicidegirls.com.

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