Interview: Missy Suicide of SuicideGirls on Touring and Empowerment


By A.D. AMOROSI

When photographer Selena Mooney, aka "Missy Suicide," started the SuicideGirls community-based website dedicated to pin-up shots of tattooed women of all shapes, sizes, and colors in 2001, she couldn’t have known that she was starting a revolution. Sixteen years later, the SuicideGirls site is still a gathering place for empowered women. To coincide with their site, the SuicideGirls Blackheart Burlesque Tour brings the tattooed love goddess experience to the live stage. Missy Suicide phoned from an airport in New York to give us the lowdown.

A.D. Amorosi: You’re going on 16 years of the website and 14 years of the first live show. Are you surprised that this many years later we’re still discussing the potency of what you do?
Missy Suicide: That is a big question. What’s really funny is that before I first started SuicideGirls, I had not had a job that I was able to keep for very long, so to still be doing this 16 years later is a foreign concept. I do think that our message still holds true, and that the more I work on SuicideGirls, the more I am passionate for it. People connect to our goals in ways that I never could have imagined. It’s amazing that it is so transformative.

A.D.: What is the funniest thing you recall about the first tour with Guns N’ Roses?
Missy: I remember being super nervous to go out on tour with them because of who they were, despite that Appetite for Destruction was the first album I ever bought. The first night we went out with them, Eagles of Death Metal was on the bill. I think we were both pretty rough. Axl Rose came on stage an hour late and dissed the ‘piece of shits of Death Metal.’ He was not happy with them. Naturally, I thought he might not be happy with us, too, but we were cool though, and he never said anything else. At least we ended up staying, for at least two or three more months. It was a crazy tour.

A.D.: As you have been doing this for nearly 20 years, what do you do as a troupe to maintain an outsider edge?
Missy:  I feel as if I am a better and stronger version of myself. I have a very clear memory of who I was when we started. Meeting women and hearing their stories face-to-face only makes the message of SuicideGirls more urgent. That’s the edge.

A.D.: Do you ever feel as if the SuicideGirls ideals have been co-opted in the mainstream?
Missy: To speak to that point, I don’t know if mainstream society has co-opted SuicideGirls. I do think that what has happened is that the world has gotten smaller due to the impact and reach of social media and the internet. It is easier for us to see one another now. In the old days, if you were an outsider in a small town, you were alone and judged until you got out. Now, all the small towns in the world can connect to one another and no one has to be alone. I still get people from cities big and small telling me how much SuicideGirls meant to them.

A.D.: How has the criteria for SuicideGirl membership changed since your start?
Missy: The criteria are the same, but now I get 50,000 applications a month from women all over the world – so many hopefuls. I think that alone tells you how much progress we’ve made from me just taking photographs of tattooed women that I knew in Portland. Now, it’s every continent and country.

A.D.: Manwe Sauls-Addison was your choreographer for the longest time, but now Lyric Suicide is leading that charge from within the ranks. What is that like?
Missy: We love everything Manwe does. He’s choreographing the Magic Mike show in Vegas, so Lyric stepped up and she is amazing.

A.D.: How did the addition of cos play change the act?
Missy: Burlesque may not be the cultural touch point in which people enter our experience. We added elements of cos play so to put people at ease. There are also more pop cultural references in the new show.

A.D.: So, Blackheart Burlesque is laced with pop cultural references. I’m just curious, does that mean Game of Thrones or Manchester by the Sea?
Missy: Maybe (laughs). I don’t want to say too much, but that we spent a lot of the last year watching so much great television – from The Leftovers to Stranger Things – so we’ve been really inspired. You’ll see.

SuicideGirls' Blackheart Burlesque tour will stop in Philadelphia, PA on Wednesday, May 17, 9 PM at Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden Street, $25.00 - $110.00, utphilly.com). For additional dates and more info visit SuicideGirls.com

Photo courtesy of Miller PR

Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2017