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Inside the Suicide Girls’ ‘Geekology’ Book

Inside the Suicide Girls’ ‘Geekology’ Book:

If you’re the kind of person drawn to the photoshopped perfection that graces most magazine covers, the silicon-molded women that traditionally represents “beauty” to the mainstream, then you might not be familiar with Missy Suicide and her Suicide Girls. SuicideGirls.com is an alternative beauty site that honors women who’ve embraced tattoos and piercings by shooting them as classic pin-ups — baring their bodies in poses and settings where they feel most sexy. That confidence is a cornerstone of what make Suicide Girls special. This year has seen the release of a new art book, Suicide Girls: Geekology (which sold out during its San Diego Comic-Con debut) and with videos, comic books and a successful burlesque tour to their name, these gorgeous women are on the rise. Missy Suicide (real name Selena Mooney), who founded Suicide Girls in 2001, talked to us about mainstreaming the alternative, the geeky ladies she works with, and how public perception of nerdiness and her ladies has changed.

When did Suicide Girls go to Comic Con for the first time? What was it like?
The first one that we went, we were sharing a booth with Film Threat, and it was eight or 10 years ago. It was much different. We just had a tiny booth, and it was like all the other conventions. It was still much bigger than most of the conventions, but our presences was really small and limited. But we’ve been going for 10 years now, and we’ve had crazy breadth of experience at comic con. We did a panel the year that we put out comic book with IDW. We’ve had invites to crazy parties. The burlesque girls played many parties this year. We have presence at Petco Park as well as at the convention, the party scene and all that. I feel like we’ve gotten quite the experience — even from just going as fans to being invited to everything from the fans to being invited to the parties.

Do all the girls want to go with you to Comic-Con?
We ask the girls who’s interested in going. Girls from around the world want to go to Comic Con. Every year we take about 15-20 girls. Girls come from South America. They come from England. They come from all over just to hang out at our booth and experience it. Usually most conventions, it’s the local girls that go, but Comic Con is the big one every year that everyone is super psyched about.

geekology-cover

How have you seen the treatment of women who are expressing their love of something — whether it’s tattoos or cosplay — change since you started the Suicide Girls?
When we started, it was not very accepted at all. The idea of beauty was either these very blonde bombshell, Pamela Anderson silicon-enhanced bodies, or the waif-thin, blonde Kate Moss model. And I [thought], “Beauty comes in a wide range — not just that.” I thought that my friends were some of the most beautiful girls in the world, and I started taking pictures of them. And that message and that confidence that the girls projected struck a nerve. Our audience has grown significantly since then, and I think that mainstream media has caught onto that same messaging.

I feel like it’s also the fact that there are 500 channels on television and the internet puts the world at your fingertips. The possibility of finding things are endless, whether it’s puppy pictures or pictures of naked girls. So I feel like the girls with tattoos or who pursue the geekier pursuits. I feel like whatever their geeky pursuit is — whether it’s the Simpsons, Superman or Sailor Moon — whatever their geeky pursuit is, it gives a cultural touchpoint for people to identify with. I feel like back in the day, we had the M.A.S.H. finale and everybody watched it so it was an easy ice breaker. People could talk about “Oh did you see Radar…” And I feel like that is something we as a society are looking for a lot more, that ability to relate instantly. So when girls pursue geekier pursuits or they have a tattoo that people relate to, it becomes some sort of “Hey, feel free to come up and talk to me,” whether it’s a biker or a grandmother.

Do you find that SuicideGirls.com has to deal with much of “troll culture” as so many communities online do — especially anything alternative?
We’ve been a community site since 2001, so before Twitter, or Friendster, or Facebook, or MySpace. We started as a community site. The $4/month cost really keeps people respectful. If you’re paying for something, you value it. You don’t want to piss people off and lose that privilege.

Also I think that because of the outsider culture we appeal to, I feel like people really make friends. There are long-term relationships, and hundreds of couples who met on the site have gotten married, and dozens of babies have been born because their parents met on Suicide Girls, as well as countless friendships, bands, and business partners. Once they open themselves up on Suicide Girls and they meet someone in the Anime Group that shares their love of anime or whatnot, they don’t want to lose that opportunity. They feel connected to that community, and they’re not going to be rude or mean or leave spammy shitty comments all over.

Our community is really passionate. There are groups in every major city in the world, and they meet up. And if you ask any Suicide Girl what her favorite part of being a Suicide Girl is, it���s the other girls and friendships that they’ve been able to make. Once you join Suicide Girls, you have best friends in Argentina, the Ukraine, Portugal and Chicago and all over. And you can go visit and stay with. And girls do go on trips together. They have these amazing shoots where they’ll rent a house in some gorgeous location on AirBNB and spend a week shooting sets and hanging out and cooking dinner for each other and having the best slumber party ever. It’s a pretty unique sort of experience.

Missy Suicide

Missy Suicide

How did you approach getting Geekology off the ground? Did your models self-select? How many in your large community would you say identify as “geek”?
We sent out a questionnaire to a bunch of the different girls, and asked them a bunch of questions, and had them send back what their geeky interests were. And we went through and picked from there. The majority of the girls on the site have some sort of geeky tattoo or if they don’t have a geeky tattoo, they have a geeky pursuit. I’d say 90% of them.

(Suicide Girls: Geekology is available on SuicideGirls.com, and The Blackheart Burlesque fall tour starts October 14th.)


Rachael Berkey is a reader, writer, and curator of all things entertainment. She has written and created content for pop culture, entertainment, literary, and nonprofit websites for the last four years. She tweets at @bookoisseur

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