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The naked sorority

Never mind its tough-girl alt-porn feminism: SuicideGirls has already moved on to a new generation
By CAMILLE DODERO  |  May 8, 2006

SENATOR SUICIDE: UMass Boston lit major and Student Senate president Kera.”Palo Suicide” stands behind a tripod, adjusting her digital camera. The subject posed before her, a 20-year-old dark beauty with dyed-black hair and pencil-thin eyebrows, vamps gloomily in a sleeveless black dress and Pink Fishnets. Click. That’s Lexie. Click. She shifts in a wooden chair and crosses her legs. Click. Uncrosses them. Click.

“Look miserable,” quietly commands Palo, who’s a junior at Boston University.

“There’s not much you can do with a chair,” Lexie observes with a sly grin. A utilitarian piece of BU-dorm furniture isn’t much of a prop, but it’s especially dull for someone who’s been photographed nude canoodling with an inflatable shark, a plush teddy bear tied to a headboard, and a Japanese-lantern-style orb. Click.

Palo and Lexie are SuicideGirls. That means they’re one of 1043 tattooed, pierced, and naked women who post photos, daily journals, and message-board comments on — the five-year-old alt-porn site that claims to log one million unique visitors a week and has generated national burlesque tours, girlie T-shirts, zip-up hoodies, hot-pink panties, belt buckles, necklaces, an HBO special, a DVD release, and a hardcover coffee-table book. It also means that Palo and Lexie didn’t ditch the site during the great SuicideGirl exodus, the highly publicized departure of more than 40 disgusted models who virtually walked off the site last fall, publicly accusing management (specifically SuicideGirls co-founder Sean Suhl, a/k/a Spooky) of everything from misogyny to neo-conservatism, exploitation to censorship. It further means they’re not daunted by allegations that the site’s DIY aesthetic is completely contrived (former model “Molly Crabapple” told the New York Press last fall that “SuicideGirls is the Wal-Mart of alt-porn”) or that its sex-positive pro-feminist slant was a ruse (other ex-SGs contend that although “Missy Suicide,” a/k/a Selena Mooney, is the site’s public face, she’s actually a puppet for Suhl). And they’re not worried about the fate of their nude photo sets, which, by contract, belong to for virtual eternity: the 210 SGs who have left the site so far are lumped together as “archived girls,” although their journal entries have been deleted.

Roller Derby girls may have already knocked down SuicideGirls as the most visible tough-girl, inked-lady archetype in the pop-cultural pantheon, but Missy Suicide stands by SG’s post–Bettie Page pinup paradigm of “confident women who’re not afraid to express themselves.” Still, she acknowledges, SG has its limitations. “I’ve never claimed that the site would be the end-all-be-all feminist site for everyone out there. But I get e-mails all the time from people who feel better about themselves and their bodies because of the work the models on SuicideGirls do.” Besides, says Missy, last fall’s hullabaloo was “ridiculously blown out of proportion.”

Unlike many of the SG defectors, Lexie, Palo, and other young women who have joined the site more recently seem to agree. “My idea was never that it’s an ultra-feminist site,” says 21-year-old Palo, whose first photo set went up in May 2005, making her something of a second-wave SuicideGirl. “I’m all for equal rights, but I don’t need to be naked on the Internet to get those equal rights.”

With porn a strong mainstream presence in national life, it seems almost inevitable that a not-quite-underground erotic counterculture would emerge. But the genius of SG is that they make their models appear accessible. So while they visually exist in a surreal world of well-lit, conceptually unified, realistically flattering fantasy images, they also read your e-mails, post comments to your messageboards, and exist in your town.

That’s maybe the best way to understand SuicideGirls’s success. If you consider eros a no-no and define pornography as smut hostile to women, then SuicideGirls will do no more than win your censure. But the site’s claimed one-million unique visitors a week find something more layered than five-minute Internet pleasure. SuicideGirls is cultural manna: it offers real women with real attitude within an authentic context. And for the 1000-plus women of the site (who have multiplied each year since 2001), the site provides the appeal of sisterly community, says Lexie, of like-minded young women who pair pseudonyms with the last name Suicide, in a gesture of family bonding. “Fame . . . wasn’t exactly what I was aiming for, I just wanted to be a part of the growing community.” What began mostly with cute, naked, tattooed girls posing alone in their bedrooms has invariably turned into something of an international subculture.

“We’re not girly girls and we don’t have a lot of female friends,” says Bailey Maxwell, a Dorchester resident who’s been a SuicideGirl for four years. “To have this network of girls to be friends with is amazing. I’ve met some of my best friends on the site. It’s like a naked sorority.”

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  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Dan Wherren , Missy Suicide , Harvard University ,  More more >
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The naked sorority
This is one of the most BS, fluff promotional pieces I've read on SG. It doesn't even address some of the new issues that have come up, such as the fact that SG is selling off Archived girls photos and their PRIVATE information (2257 information, which includes their ID's, addreses etc) To anyone that has 500 at, and the promised these girls that they would never, ever do that. Yet they continue to deny that they are involved in it, despite hard, cold proof. // //
By photo_slave on 04/28/2006 at 1:03:04
The naked sorority
It's also interesting to note that Dan Wherren was Banned from Suicidegirls for his comment "90% of what you hear is probably true" And Kera Was placed in the Archive for disagreeing with the ban.....
By ProjectWARBEAST on 05/02/2006 at 1:38:27
The naked sorority
Seems like a pretty well written article to me ... I quite like SG personally ..
By No Filter: The Book on 05/09/2006 at 10:55:46
The naked sorority
I go to school with one of the girls interviewed in this article and we've been in a couple of the same classes. I can say objectively that she's one of the most vapid, self-absorbed people I've ever met. If you browse through the blog entries of other SG models, it's obvious that 80% of the site's girls are just as bad. SG is one of the most depressing things I've ever seen. The neverending stream of drooling fanboys praising these girls only serves to inflate the already massive egos of a group of people whose only accomplishment in life is posing naked on the Internet. And the guys who buy stuff off of the girls' Amazon wishlists - it's tantamount to paying a prostitute and then, instead of having sex, watching her take your money and spend it on another star tattoo. I'm not talking about every SG - I'm sure at least some of them are productive members of society - and I have nothing against porn, but anything that encourages this kind of self-centered and overly dramatic behavior can't be good. About the article: it's interesting to hear the motivation behind these girls' decision to model, but I would've liked to hear more about the negative press that SG's founders have been trying to quash.
By bigriff on 05/11/2006 at 10:29:31
The naked sorority
Hey, bigriff, you must've missed the follow-up: //
By Look around on 05/17/2006 at 4:21:07
The naked sorority
Wish I'd seen bigriff's comments last spring. Perhaps we know each other, but I also have gone to school with an SG. Actually two SGs. And they're both of higher than average intelligence. Their SG blogs may or may not reflect their real attitudes towards life, but calling them vapid and self-absorbed is unfair in any case. I'm sure each SG has a different reason for doing what she's doing, and while I may not agree with the choice, it is a choice the vast majority of them are making for quite rational reasons--whether they're doing it for money, or art, or their version of feminism, or just to get laid more. Also, everyone does what they do at least partially for ego gratification; so accusing them of that as being their primary motivation is a red herring to say the least.
By Cap'n on 11/20/2006 at 3:05:00
The naked sorority
Im on my way up this Weekend to Check your Place out. Travis Grillo & Eric Grillo may show up with me. Been a while since I first hurd about you guys Very Interested to Meet You Guys
By Carignan 81 on 02/13/2007 at 1:13:49
The naked sorority
By tom on 06/09/2007 at 9:23:19

election special
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