Sometimes a story changes just by telling it.
Last week, hours after the Boston Phoenix cover story “The Naked Sorority” was published, the moderator of the SGBoston message board and SuicideGirl “Kera” were kicked off the site by SuicideGirls.com management.
In the story, Dan Wherren, who appeared on the Phoenix cover wearing an SG logo and who has been the moderator of SGBoston (a regional SuicideGirls group with 220 members) for two years, expressed ambivalence about the site’s management and the allegations of everything from misogyny to censorship, mismanagement to manipulation. “I’m sure that 90 percent of what’s out there that’s negative is true,” Wherren told me. “But even though I don’t believe in PepsiCo and CocaCola, I still buy their products.”
Co-founder “Missy Suicide” (a/k/a Selena Mooney) elaborated on the site’s decision to delete Wherren immediately after the story was published by posting to the SGBoston message board. “As SuicideGirls or Regional Group Owners we ask you to represent the site to the outside world and the larger community. If you choose to represent us to the press by saying, ‘90% of the negative stuff you read is true’ you shouldnt [sic] be surprised to learn we ask you not to represent us anymore . . . You can choose to see this as censorship but I see it as trying to keep a happy and positive atmosphere on the site . . .”
Kera, a 25-year-old SuicideGirl studying at UMass Boston and whose photo was also prominently placed in last week’s article, immediately contested. “[I]’m really bothered by this,” she wrote in a message-board thread, and then added, “[I]sn’t one of the things that’s negative that’s being said about the site is that there is an authoritarian regime running it who doesn’t allow people to disagree with them publicly for fear of being removed from the site? i never believed that really. . . . but now . . .”
Suddenly Kera’s voice disappeared from the site too, her journal entries deleted, her name grayed out (showing her to be a nonmember). Her nude photo sets remained, however.
A handful of SuicideGirls’ journals reﬂected the group ﬁssure. “Palo” left her off-site e-contact information “if I disappear for some reason.”
Wherren writes in a press release, “I stand behind that statement. The only thing I might wish to change is the percentage. SuicideGirls is a purely corporate entity. It is the Microsoft of the Alt-Erotica industry,” he says. “The only positive aspect of SG is that it . . . draws a loyal community of members. That is what I enjoyed about the website, that is what I was interviewed about. The heart of SG is its membership and models.”
“I’m not deceived anymore — my eyes are opened,” says Kera, reached by phone this past Tuesday. “It doesn’t change the ideals that I believe in — the ideals that the site professes are worthwhile — but I now understand that the site does not even come close to living up to those ideals.”