Suicide Girls: Blackheart Burlesque – Inked Punk Rock Pin-Ups Take Over Lodo!

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Suicide Girls in Repose (Photo: Suicide Girls Press)

Suicide Girls: Blackheart Burlesque – Inked Punk Rock Pin-Ups Take Over Lodo!

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Suicide Girls will take on Lodo Saturday night, October 19 (Photo: Suicide Girls Press)

Suicide Girls will take on Lodo Saturday night, October 19 (Photo: Suicide Girls Press)

Tomorrow night the Summit Music Hall in Lodo will host some of the most raucous, sensual, smart,  inked and shapely punk rock you’re likely to see anywhere. Suicide Girls – the “… online community that celebrates alternative beauty and indie culture,” will be presenting Suicide Girls: Blackheart Burlesque to an undoubtedly hip Denver crowd.  If  you don’t already have tickets, you might as well pack up the car and head for Salt Lake City for Sunday night’s show, or to Seattle for Tuesday’s – the Denver show has been sold out for a while. To get a taste of what you’ll be seeing on stage, take a gander at the slideshow below (WARNING: While none of the images are full-on NSFW, they’re damned close! Gaze accordingly – you’ve been warned…).

That tour created what the troupe claims is a community with “…tens of thousands of models who have submitted MILLIONS of photos  to [their] website hoping to earn official SuicideGirl status.”

When Suicide Girls put together their first burlesque tour in the early ‘aughts, they knew they were offering their audiences something new, refreshing and fun. They also knew they were putting something new, fresh and strong  on stage every night. This interpretation of  burlesque was based in the same vitriol and vehemence that spawned Punk Rock (yeah, with capitals!) in the mid-’70s, with a newfound venom and oodles of sexy defiance. What they may not have known was how deeply their desire to bring back to life the then-staid American Burlesque genre – lethargically kicking and screaming to the worn down tune of “The Stripper” – might affect the members of those audiences, and the power of the ripple effect the tour produced on the genre as a whole.

That tour created what the troupe claims is a community with “…tens of thousands of models who have submitted MILLIONS of photos  to [their] website hoping to earn official SuicideGirl status.” It popularized a community that “…carefully chooses the most unique, beautiful women from those submissions and invites them to join our sorority of badass bombshells and geek goddesses,” and gave all of those millions of people the 21st-century version of the circus that every kid, at one time or another, dreams desperately of running away with.

Missy Suicide  (Photo: Suicide Girls Press)

Missy Suicide (Photo: Suicide Girls Press)

This year’s tour – which started in Cleveland,OH on October 11 – stops in a different city nearly every night (consecutively and with very few nights off) until it wraps up the US leg in New Orleans on December 5. DenverThread had a chance to talk with Suicide Girls co-founder Missy Suicide about the new production, and a little about the mark the SG Community has made on pop culture. Read on to get a taste of the intelligent, enlightened world of the Blackheart Burlesque ….

 DenverThread: Tell us about the reasoning behind re-opening the Blackheart Burlesque after six years of quietly growing the Suicide Girls Community. Any chance this tour is a recruiting tool for erstwhile hidden – maybe unaware – future Suicide Girls to join the movement/army?


Missy Suicide: We did a mini book tour last spring for a book we put out called Hard Girls, Soft Light and even with just listing the book signings as Facebook events the word got around so quickly – and the turn out was so incredible -we were just blown away by the enthusiasm for seeing  and meeting the girls live in person. With 500-750 people showing up to have a few of the girls sign a book in a comic shop, we knew we had an opportunity to create a better experience than just a signing for our fans, and so we decided to re-imagine and re-create our Burlesque show from the ground up and put it back on tour.  We are always looking for new girls and the girls are passing out cards to recruit the lovely ladies who come to the shows.


DT: What’s the reaction been, overall, over the first portion of the tour?


MS: Really positive!  People have been posting pics to Instagram and really enjoying the show.  It is a lot of fun.
DT: Over the last decade or so, burlesque in general (as opposed to stripping and punk rock shows – which, on their own, certainly provide a service, but certainly not one as grounded and complete as Suicide Girls)  seems to have been enjoying a resurgence – which could be a result of the number of hip, indie tattooed kids reaching drinking age and attending. Thoughts?


MS: When we first put out our SuicideGirls Burlesque tour in 2003, we were the only people who were doing non-traditional, non-old fashioned burlesque on a large scale. We were excited to put on a sexy performance that didn’t involve feather boas and songs like “Hey Big Spender.” We wanted to use modern music and references to modern pop-culture but still put on a show in the spirit of old time burlesque. Now, ten years later, there are a lot more non-traditional burlesque acts around, and some of them are doing really fun and different kinds of shows. Devil’s Playground and their Star Wars Burlesque is a great example of just how diverse and non traditional the Burlesque scene has become.


Also – look at the spectacle performers like Lady Gaga put on at live shows. People have seen a lot and it’s much harder to show them something that really feels new and original.


We really had to take the spirit of pop-culture modern burlesque that we pioneered ten years ago and up the production values, sexiness and performances by a factor of ten. It’s the same kind of Burlesque show we used to do, but this time I think we have executed at a much higher level in almost every respect: dancer abilities, costumes, choreography, everything.


DT: It seems pretty obvious (to me, anyway) that Suicide Girls – both the movement and the individuals – is likely largely responsible for the resurgence of club-level burlesque over that period of time, starting with its start in 2001. Would you agree? Are you happy to take credit for that development (of course, considering the power and influence the whole concept/group/community has had on all of us)?


MS: I do believe that we helped to pioneer punk rock burlesque but we haven’t been on tour in 6 years – and there have certainly been lots of other people that have been working hard to keep it going while we have been at home.   I hope that people are blown away by the show that they see today.  I hope as we have gotten older and more mature as a company our main evolution has been in upping our game every year. I think we learn how to do what we do better, we listen carefully to our large audience and take what they say into consideration and improve the quality and artistry of what we produce. I hope that people who came to our show 6 years ago see that and people who are seeing it for the first time just enjoy a great show.


DT: I’ve long been impressed by the punk rock aspect of suicide girls, which, as a distinguishing characteristic, seems to put this show into a different arena altogether than either old-time burlesque, ink culture or punk rock – but the mix of all of them have certainly changed each individual phenomena – and all of them for the better. What do you think?


MS: Thanks!  We wanted to create a show that our audience would want to see.  A show that included a variety of music and pop culture references,  embodied the sexy spirit of the girls on the site and would exude the confidence of the women who call themselves Suicide Girls.  It is an eclectic mashup for sure but we hope that it works and that people enjoy the show.  We think we have created the right mix to make one hell of a good night.  We hope you agree.


DT: An underlying theme behind the Suicide Girls is the concept that this community is a haven for real women (and men?), away from the often overwhelming pressure to meet some sort of idealized “American Beauty,” and to embrace one’s natural beauty. Its continued popularity and consistent growth attests to the power of that message. How much of that growth and influence do you attribute to SG’s existence itself, and how much is a coincidental convergence with some natural. generational (and, some might say, inevitable) improvement in self-esteem  – if only in reaction to the overwhelming resistance to – and repudiation of – that bullshit ideal?


MS: I think Suicide Girls is a place that celebrates a wide range of beauty.  In 2001, we started Suicide Girls we built it as a community for alternative culture people to discover each other, have discussions and post and look at photos of alternative pin-up girls. And in the 12 years since we launched, we have had hundreds of thousands of people post tens of millions of comments and millions of photos on our website. Over the years we have made 6 movies for Showtime, 3 books, a magazine, a series of comics and countless other creative endeavors, all of which have contributed to our place in pop culture.  It’s been an amazing adventure.  I am not sure how much of our popularity can be attributed to the fact that we do exist vs. the improved self esteem of the youth of today.  It’s kind of a chicken and egg type of question.


DT: Is there – in your opinion/observation/experience – any truth to what I just pointed out above (that self-esteem in upcoming generationals is improving overall), or do you find even more reason to sound even more alarm (is Miley a product more than a symptom?)? In other words, does the future look bright, or bleak, for the younger, heavily inked and (seemingly) more jaded kids of today?



MS: I think for sure growing up in the internet age has allowed this generation both access to an incredibly diverse amount of information and a thicker skin to cyber haters – because of all the anti bullying campaigns and simply growing accustomed to the trolls. The more diverse the population the harder it is to narrowly define beauty or desirable characteristics.  Since pretty much the whole world has access to the internet and we all carry it around in our pockets now, it is really hard to live in a super categorized John Hughes real world anymore.   I think the internet has been a win for self esteem and more informed people all around.

DT:  How receptive is the Suicide Girls community to likeminded folks that want to “runaway and join the SG circus?” Any advice for the hopeful youth as far as getting to be one?


MS: Do it! 🙂  Have confidence, persistence and apply:  http://suicidegirls.com/model/


The SuicideGirls are the most bad ass sorority of awesome women in the world!  They are constantly having shootfests around the world where girls hang out, meet up and shoot photo sets. The girls pretty universally will tell you that they have gained confidence met some of their best friends through the site.


Anyone who is interested in applying should submit an application to http://suicidegirls.com/model/  One of our model coordinators will help them navigate the process of shooting a set and figuring out all the paperwork.  Once a set is submitted our members take it from there and if the set is well received the girl will become an SG.  If your first set isn’t accepted, keep trying!  SuicideGirls don’t give up so easily.


DT: What’s your tour mix for this leg of the tour?


MS: We made a handy playlist from the show here:  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?feature=edit_ok&list=PL-FC-XO5Mm6Jhv_KBpf-UjdT_IVp00aOn



The Denver version of the Blackheart Burlesque is sold-out, but that shouldn’t prevent you from seeking out some of these badass inked punk rock women online. Check out their Pinterest page, for a start (is is just me, or does the fact Suicide Girls has their own Pinterest seem just the right kind of iconoclastic?)! If you’re not at work, you can also go to the Suicide Girls Tumblr (this one – not surprisingly – is DEFINITELY NSFW!).

If you have tickets to tomorrow’s show, we hope you’re ready. Here’s the slideshow:

 

 


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