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Suicide Girls Bring Their Burlesque To Phoenix

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Image by Melissa Corbin.
The Suicide Girls Bring The Latest Iteration of Blackheart Burlesque To Phoenix On April 15, Complete With Westworld-Themed Numbers And A Message Of Body Positivity

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By Stephanie Sparer
Modern Times Magazine

April 14, 2017 — Missy Suicide is sick and she says I sound a little like I’m underwater. It’s sort of embarrassing since I was just saying how all my male friends are really jealous of me right now because I get to interview her, the Willy Wonka of their sexual awakening back in 2001 when they had to wait a lonnng time for the internet to load, and I don’t want to have to repeat it.

It’s been 16 years since Selena Mooney (aka Missy Suicide) began the operation in pin-up style photography she named Suicide Girls after the ladies who ‘commit social suicide’ with their looks, or maybe a Chuck Palahniuk quote; it just depends what part of Wikipedia you believe.  

Today, Suicide Girls is a force to be reckoned with. The site receives 5 million unique visitors a month (51 percent female), according to suicidegirlspress.com, and its Blackheart Burlesque Show is setting off on a 60 city tour, its largest yet in its 15-year history.

We did the [burlesque] show from 2003-2007, and it was much more punk rock,” said Missy. “It was fun and it was a lot more messy than the current show.”

Messy means whipped cream and chocolate sauce, adding, “It wasn’t as tight [as the new show].”

With the likes of Dita von Teese and Lady Gaga making burlesque less punk rock and more glam and, dare we say, mainstream, Missy knew she needed to up the game. She says the new Blackheart Burlesque Show is much more grown up, sophisticated, and chock full of pop culture.

“[The whole thing] is pop culture themed,” she said. “A lot of [the dances] are TV-related because TV has become so good lately… Do you watch Westworld?” she asked. [Author’s note: of course I do.] “I’m really excited about our Westworld number. You know how they have those jazzy versions of like, “Black Hole Sun”? It’ll be like that. Sunny Suicide is doing a jazzy number and singing.”

We gush about TV and burlesque for a minute and even though she coughs periodically, Missy’s excitement is palpable and why shouldn’t it be? Missy Suicide created this world where she can have choreographed numbers based on favorite TV shows. What began as this alternative babe reality is becoming what’s in, what’s popular, and what people want right now. How many times have you done a double-take because you saw a model for fashion house Lanvin just covered in tattoos in this white-washed world?

You can probably thank Missy for that.

Even Taylor Swift ‘bestie’ Cara Delevingne graces the covers of Vogue not only wearing a very elaborate crown, but sporting her ink. Missy has started something huge and like how New York’s cronuts trickled across the Mason-Dixon line until every last L.A. bakery had something a white girl could snap for Instagram-likes, we’re now seeing women in every part of the world embracing their bodies no matter what size, color, piercing, or tattoo, and feeling empowered and free enough to say fuck it, we’re going live.  

Not everyone agrees of course. Of course, of course.

For every strong, independent woman who listens to Pussy Riot and wears a shirt that states “I can do anything you can do bleeding,” there’s some guy in Congress ready to pull the thread from her Pussy hat and walk away or some lady in Wisconsin who thinks ‘girls’ shouldn’t pose nude, that it’s “a slap in the face to feminism.”  

Missy sighed, this topic is probably brought up too regularly for her liking, but she attacks it with fervor, “I feel like it’s okay to embrace your body and to feel sexy. It’s okay that nerds are sexy. It’s okay to have fun and be silly and sexy.”

She goes on, “You have to be unapologetic in this political climate. It doesn’t matter. You have to be unapologetic yourself. Find your voice and express it without labels. I feel like our bodies are nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by and the more a girl feels beautiful about her body, the less insecure she is and it’s better to be a whole person than to try to fit into someone else’s definition.”

Suicide Girls has always had the main objective to be uniquely free to be well, uniquely free. Not so much a fetish, despite what allllll my ex-boyfriend’s think, as a place for women to be sexy because they want to be, to show other women it’s okay to rock their full arm sleeve tattoo, and to express themselves in a way that feels good and shows there’s more to women than just a sexy pout and a good recipe for pie.

Says Missy, “The Suicide Girls have always been about finding your unique place in the world and if you’re trying to fit into a box then you’re not being true to yourself. If I don’t fit into your definition of feminism that’s fine, but my personal definition is that it’s very important for women to embrace their bodies and be empowered by their bodies.”

As they say on the interwebs, “Same.”

The show’s third stop will be Phoenix on April 15. Crowd favorite Katherine Suicide is the emcee. Choreography is by Liryc Suicide, who Missy says has been with the show for four years now; keeping the girls in tight dance routines perfectly timed to punchy music. “We decided to mix cosplay with burlesque,” said Missy, describing every nerd-boy’s first, last, and maybe only fantasy. “The first number I came up with was a Planet of the Apes number, where I mixed up “The Simpson’s Planet of the Apes” opera with Disclosure’s When the Fire Starts to Burn. The girls come out with silver bikinis and monkey masks. It was like, yes! This! It just gelled,” she coughed. “It was kind of like a mad scientist and it was good.”

The girls go through a lot to get their place in the show. “We hold auditions and the burlesque show is rigorous,” said Missy, “It involves 6 to 8 weeks of rehearsal and choreography, so it’s pretty intense. We have 12 or 15 girls who are in the troupe, but only six go out at a time. It’s super themed out and it’s very well thought through.”

How could you expect anything less from a group of babes, as they call each other, who have already toured with the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Courtney Love?

“It’s pro,” Missy added.

It’s pro and it has some audience participation; think of the first couple rows like the wet zone at Sea World. But, like, before everyone hated Sea World.

“[The girls] feed off the audience energy and the more excited the crowd is, the more the show changes, but they feel the love from the audience and it helps the show. They have a mutual love fest...[The Blackheart Burlesque show is] a great way for the community to come together and have a great evening out face to face.” You know, instead of phone to phone.

The Suicide Girls Blackheart Burlesque show will come to the Valley on April 15 at the Pressroom, 441 W. Madison St., Phoenix. Tickets start at $20 and range all the way up to $240 for the Premium Sofa package.
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