Missy Suicide is a cofounder of the SuicideGirls website, which combines alternative pin-up photography with social media interaction. The company's new burlesque show, Blackheart Burlesque, will be at Reno's Knitting Factory, 211 N. Virginia St., on Oct. 24 at 9 p.m. For tickets, call 323-5648 or visit re.knittingfactory.com.
The Blackheart Burlesque tour is coming here to Reno. What can you tell me about it?
The burlesque tour is coming to Reno. We're very, very excited. It's the first time we've put on a tour in six years. When we did the tour in the past, we were the only ones doing nontraditional, non-old-fashioned, old timey burlesque. So it was easy to bring something new and wow people. But now, in this day and age, there's so many nontradtional burlesque shows, like the Star Wars Burlesque and even Lady Gaga's crazy, over-the-top performances, so we really knew we had to up our game. So we hired an amazing choreographer and found girls that are just incredible dancers. And the costumes we had made by Junker, and they’re works of art unto themselves. So, we’re really excited to bring this tour out and wow everybody and increase everybody expectations for what they should expect from a burlesque show.
The SuicideGirls website started in 2001, right?
We’re actually relaunching the website ¡K and taking down the old site. We’re launching a whole new product. It’s completely responsive design. So that means it’ll scale to your computer and then your tablet and your phone seamlessly. So you can use it and update it on the go. And we’ve taken out all the superfluous jpeg design elements that took up bandwidth to load, and it’s going to load big, beautiful, high-resolution images. ¡K When we first launched the site, it was 12 years ago, and it was a different time. People just used their computer. It was a solitary desktop type of experience when you were logging on to a website. We launched as a community website before Myspace, before Friendster, before Facebook. The experience of having a place and a destination and a wallpaper to make you feel more at home when you were interacting with the community were important elements back then, but now everybody’s social experience is on their phone with them and on their tablet. The concept of social has proven to be successful, and become integral to everybody’s lives. It’s something that people access on the go all the time. We really wanted to create a product that wasn’t device-dependent, that was just about the content. We wanted to future-proof SuicideGirls so that this version will last the next 10 or 20 years.
Do you consider SuicideGirls pornography? Why or why not?
I don't. I think that it's pin-up. The nude female form is the most celebrated subject matter in all of art history. Our pictures are just nude. Each showcase has a model field about herself, which is kind of a rare concept in any photography. Most photography is about bringing the photographer's vision alive, where ours is about making sure that the model feels the showcase is about herself. The girls are being beautiful and being celebrated for being beautiful and sexy and individualistic. ¡K There's a line, I think. The images on SuicideGirls are artistic. Not that pornography can't be artistic.
I don't necessarily think of pornography as negative. I probably would consider SuicideGirls pornography, but I wouldn't say that's a bad thing.
I think everybody's line is different. I think Jerry Falwell's line would be like showing cleavage is too far. ¡K Larry Flynt definition is different¡ªthere would probably have to be animals involved. It is sort of a subjective thing, where the terminology is. It's like your definition of profane. I think that SuicideGirls is not profane. I think it's beautiful. And if you consider pornography beautiful, then it's not out of the question. But if you have a negative connation for the word, then¡ªI don't know. But I think if you're looking for pornography, then SuicideGirls is not going to satisfy you [laughs].
I like the attitide that if you think porn is a good thing, then maybe it is, but if you think it's a bad thing, then it's definitely not.
Exactly, but if you think it's a good thing, then you're probably looking for something more hardcore than SuicideGirls.
In 2001, the sort of body types that you were presenting, with a lot of tattoos and piercings and not traditional 36-24-36 body types, that was a lot more unusual then than now. Do you feel like it's a positive thing that's caught on on in different websites and mass media?
It's definitely a positive. ¡K I think the more people that embrace a variety of body types as being beautiful and celebrate our individuality as being beautiful is a win for everybody in the world [laughs]. If I was like, no, only people that really appreciate it! I would be the biggest hypocrite. I think it's been remarkable the way that the world has changed in the last 12 years to embrace girls of all different body types. There's still definitely a place for SuicideGirls and we have girls that still aren't celebrated in any sort of media¡ªgirls with lentigo [skin discolorations] or amputees or little people.
But when you say “SuicideGirl,” I picture a certain kind of woman: a Betty Page haircut with piercings and tattoos.
I think that SuicideGirls is about an attitude, and I think that it can applied more widely. I think the term SuicideGirls, to me at least, means somebody who is living their life not to fit a certain mold or a certain type¡ªoutspoken, confident and unabashedly themselves.