Episode 9: Nixon Suicide, "The Suicide Girls Phenomenon 101" Episode 1 of 2

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Join us as Beth delves into the world of the Suicide Girls with Nixon Suicide, an early member of the community and organization. The Suicide Girls are an online community, Burlesque show, and Magazine celebrating alternative sexuality and now have over twelve hundred models from fifty-six countries and over a million unique visitors a week. So what is everyone so turned on about? In this informative episode, Beth and Nixon talk about art, sexuality, creativity, and self-expression and how these come together in the world of the suicide girls. The medium is photography, the turn on is explosive individual expression, journal sections, and chat boards. These are not airbrushed models from playboy with a few lines from the models about basic interests. These are real women, often modeling in completely original and handmade costumes, unique make-up and piercings, and expressing the fullness of their being on multiple levels. This is the divine and the human, the beautiful and gritty. You will come away with a new sense of possibilities and perhaps a sense of your own potential freedom of expression waiting to be tapped into!

Transcript

Nixon Suicide, “The Suicide Girls Phenomenon 101” Episode 1 of 2

Intro
This program brought to you by personallifemedia.com is suitable for mature audiences only and may contain explicit sexual information.

This is Part 1 of a 2-part program.

Beth Crittenden: Hello, and welcome to “A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews”, here from One Taste Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco.  I’m your host, Beth Crittenden, on Personal Life Media, and you are joining us for our “Suicide Girls” episode.  I’m here with Nixon Suicide.  Welcome, Nixon.

Nixon Suicide: Hello.  Thanks for having me.

Beth Crittenden: And the Suicide Girls are here at One Taste tonight to put on their performance like none we’ve ever seen before.  We’re totally looking forward to it, and on today’s episode we’re actually going to fill you in on this cultural phenomenon of ‘alternative porn’.  So, Nixon has been with Suicide Girls for five years now.  The website www.SuicideGirls.com, was founded about six years ago in Portland, and we’re going to hear more of the history of this incredible organization as we go forward.  But not only is Nixon a model on the site; she also works with the Suicide Girls burlesque troupe.  And the Suicide Girls, for those of you who don’t know, are an online community based around pinup style photography, of more ‘alternative’ women.  This is definitely not your standard fare, in terms of appreciating women and their sensuality and their beauty.  There are also newswires, chat groups, and regional groups that have actually organized to meet in person around Suicide Girls, and I have to tell you, every time someone heard that Suicide Girls were coming to One Taste, they just got this radiant look on their face, like, “Oh!  When is it?!  I have to be there!”

Nixon Suicide: That’s exciting.

Beth Crittenden: Oh yeah, so you’re finally here.

Beth Crittenden: Join us today on “A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews, as Nixon Suicide from www.SuicideGirls.com talks about this amazing business, that has millions of users now and has women in over 50 countries who… there are no requirements to go on the site, other than being over 18 years of age.  Women of any body shape, any persuasion, any skin tone, are welcome to express their beauty and their raw sexuality, however they want to.  And also, we will talk with Nixon about the whole objectification issue, and she has a great answer for embracing sexuality without making that the only one aspect that we can focus on in a person.  Expand your mind and expand your turn-on with this episode.

Beth Crittenden: So, there’s a lot going on with Suicide Girls.  Why don’t we just go ahead and jump right into who you are and what you do.

Nixon Suicide: Okay.  I’m Nixon Suicide.  I’ve been with the site for several years now, so I’ve watched it grow.  When I first came on in Portland we had under a hundred girls on the site.  Now there are over 1200 models, in 56 countries at last count, but that’s probably more since last time I looked.  We have over a million unique visitors a week on the site.  We’ve branched out into burlesque, movies, television, and all sorts… We’re considering doing a comic book.  We just launched a magazine.  We just launched a Japanese language version of the site.  So all sorts of stuff; we’re everywhere.

Beth Crittenden: How big is your staff?

Nixon Suicide: Ya know… they fit in a fairly small office [laughs].

Beth Crittenden: In Los Angeles?

Nixon Suicide: In Los Angeles, yeah, yeah.  There’s… I can try to think… I think there’s probably twenty or so full-time people working the computers and answering the phones.

Beth Crittenden: Nice.  And how do you choose who gets to be a Suicide Girl?

Nixon Suicide: There’s an application process.  We’re always looking for new Suicide Girls.  All you have to do is email the site and tell them you’re interested.  There are no requirements other than that you be over the age of 18.  There’s no maximum on how old you can be.  There’s no size requirement.  You don’t need to have tattoos, not have tattoos, have piercings or not have piercings.  It’s mostly based on attitude, how you carry yourself, if you’re comfortable in front of the camera, and if the site feels like you’re doing it for the right reasons, then they’ll pretty much accept you.

Beth Crittenden: What do you consider the ‘right reasons’?

Nixon Suicide: Generally, the right reasons are because you are really interested in expressing your own sexuality, because you’re interested in getting to know other people through the site, getting to know the other girls.  Wrong reasons would be to upset your parents, to upset your boyfriend… But we have people that… we even have people who have done it as part of their women’s studies courses, which I find sort of an interesting reason to do it.

Beth Crittenden: Yeah.  And so what would you say is the mission of the site?

Nixon Suicide: It’s funny because the site started basically as an outlet for one person, for Missy to take her photography to a larger audience.  But so it sort of evolved over time, from something that didn’t necessarily have a mission, to what I think has just become a way for women who were very much at the edges of the popular conception of beauty, to express the fact that they are beautiful, and they are intelligent, and they have extremely strong personalities behind all of that and have a way to present that to the world.

Beth Crittenden: And how is it presented beyond the photography?  How would a user know that the woman is intelligent and all the things you described?

Nixon Suicide: That’s been one of the wonders of the site, and of the Internet.  From the very beginning, there’ve been several things, first of all starting with the photography.  Through Suicide Girls, we have never used makeup artists or stylists.  The girls have always designed all of their own costuming, makeup, how the shoots were allowed to present themselves however they want as far as how much skin they’re willing to show.  We have some models who don’t even show their nipples.  We have some models that are completely comfortable laying it all on the line.  So that’s sort of the first level.  Beyond that each model has a journal that she can express either to everyone; we have public journals; we have friends-only, members-only journals as well.  There are lots of ways to profile for her, to let you know what she’s reading, what she’s listening to, what she’s doing for a living, so it’s become one of the most fun things, and the other thing is the models are very, very active on the message boards and the chat boards.  They submit to the newswire; they are definitely part of the community.  They’re very comfortable coming out and interacting with members, so you do get much more sense of personality with the models on Suicide Girls than you did in the old days through, say you know, Playboy, where you got three lines about, “My interests include riding horses and playing tennis.”  You get to hear us bitch and complain and whine.  You get to hear us go crazy over politics.  You get to hear us review books.  It’s definitely different than the way it used to be done.

Beth Crittenden: Do people use it as kind of a dating service?

Nixon Suicide: Absolutely!  We’ve kind of been trying lately to keep tabs on how many marriages have occurred through Suicide Girls.  Well, the site, the membership of the site, the paying members, has held fairly steadily since the beginning, at just over 50% women.  So there has definitely been a lot of interaction and we of course also have a decent number of gay and lesbian and transgender members as well, so yeah we’ve seen a lot of dating go on.

Beth Crittenden: What’s the gender breakdown; how many male members, versus female?

Nixon Suicide: It’s been generally a little… 51%, 52% female, the rest male.  The models of course are all female.  We do also have male models; we have ‘Suicide Boys’, but they don’t get paid, because we found out a long time ago that they didn’t seem to want it, so we just sort of let them take their section and run with it, but they actually have it to the point now where their photography is on par with the women’s photography, and they’re doing some really interesting things with their part of the site.

Beth Crittenden: Like what?

Nixon Suicide: A lot of boy-on-boy shoots, which we did not expect in the beginning, and just some really, really creative visions of male sexuality, because that’s another area that’s been very limited in photography, and how male photos… the gay community has done a pretty good job with… they’ve produced some amazing erotic art.  The ‘Playgirl’ magazines of the world have produced some incredibly bad photography over the years, so it’s been interesting to see if you just let the guys run with it themselves what they come up with.

[break]
Listen to “A Taste of Sex: Erotic Poetry Reading”, a companion program to “Life in an Orgasm-Based Community”.  It’s open mic night at One Taste San Francisco.  , a weekly audio program on PersonalLifeMedia.com.

Beth Crittenden: What tends to catch your eye about really good photography?

Nixon Suicide: Beth, we have so many different photographers working for the site, so some can catch my eye in different ways.  Personally, I’m drawn to really dramatic photos.  Dramatic lighting, high color saturation, but also to photos that have something to say other than what’s obvious.  I like a sense of humor in a photo.  I like references to other things, and I also like when a photo can sort of stand either on its own or with the other photos that are in the set, as a storyline, or as just purely a piece of art.

Beth Crittenden: Thank you.  I want to ask you a personal question if that’s all right.

Nixon Suicide: Sure.

Beth Crittenden: So, when you walk through the Center, there’s like this ripple of excitement, and you clearly look like a Suicide Girl, or someone who is expressing herself really clearly.  The dark hair, your piercings, your makeup is just impeccable.  Did you play with that before you came to Suicide Girls?    Or like how has your image morphed in your five years?

Nixon Suicide: I definitely came to Suicide Girls with a fairly complete vision of myself.  I’m a little older than a lot of the girls on the site, so I came to Suicide Girls when I was like 27, so I’d had plenty of time to sort of develop me as a person.  And prior to Suicide Girls I had done other modeling, and I had been a dancer, a stripper, I’d done some burlesque for many, many years.  And I’d been hanging out in San Francisco, in the various scenes around here for a long, long time too.  So I think I was pretty much set.

Beth Crittenden: How has your work with them affected your sexuality?

Nixon Suicide: I think that I was fairly comfortable coming to Suicide Girls, but it has given me a chance to interact with a lot of people who I normally wouldn’t have interacted with.  The girls on the site have some things generally in common that gives us an ability to get along beautifully with each other, but we all come from sort of different backgrounds, and I have spent a lot of time on the burlesque tour, so I’ve ended up living with a lot of these girls for months, and months, and months at a time.  And I think that I have learned more from some of the other models on the site about sexuality and about different ways of expressing it and viewing it than I would have learned absolutely if I’d just stayed within my own group of close friends that have views similar to my own.

Beth Crittenden: What’s it like to go on the burlesque tours?

Nixon Suicide: It’s different every time!  I’ve had absolutely hands-down some of the craziest most fun experiences of my life on the burlesque tours.  It’s also been incredibly hard work, and it does mean sort of putting your life down and walking away from it for four to six months at a time, pretty regularly.  But at the same time, I’ve been, you know… I finally made it to Australia; I’ve been to the UK several times in the last year.  I’ve been all over Canada and the US over and over again.  This past year I traveled with Guns & Roses; I traveled with Sebastian Bach.  We went on tour with Mooney Suzuki, so just have met so many incredible people and had so many adventures that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Beth Crittenden: Nice.  What’s a specific one, where you were just like, “Oh my God!  I can’t believe this is my life,”?

Nixon Suicide: I think that the grand moment of that, we did a big festival, a big metal festival in the UK, called “Download”.  And it’s a two-day festival; we were only there for one performance, so it was sort of, we were in the middle of a tour.  Since we basically did a show in Texas, drove to an airport, got on an airplane, flew to the UK, you have that ridiculous long flight so we’re completely jet-lagged and addle-brained, and got off the plane, ate breakfast and they drove us to the fairgrounds.  So we’re in total shell shock, get there, there’s an actual press gamut which I’ve never seen before in my life; there’s like 50 different people taking pictures; they shuffle us into a room for interviews.  We’re in the middle of an interview sort of like this, and the guy says, “What is it at Download Festival that you really, really want to see most?  What is it you don’t want to miss?”  And the girl who was doing the interview with me, and I both were immediately like, “Iggy Pop.  We don’t want to miss Iggy Pop.”  And the guy says, “Well he’s on stage right now.”  We burst out of the interview at a full run, completely jet-lagged and crazy, and ran the length of the fairground, got to the back, and Iggy Pop is on stage, and we’re at the back of the crowd, these two little tiny girls and just kind of looked at each other.  We hit the back of the crowd just as Iggy Pop says, “I need some people on stage.”  We were like sheepdogs.  We actually went up and over the entire crowd.  I lost her in the crowd, made it across peoples’ heads to the stage, stepped on stage, looked over and Cicely was coming out of the crowd beside me; it was just like, “Oh my God!”  Did we really just run on that much adrenaline?

Beth Crittenden: [laughs] That’s a Suicide Girl for ya.  That was awesome.

Nixon Suicide: We got onstage with Iggy Pop with no planning; it was great.

Beth Crittenden: That’s great.  And so that’s the kind of ‘on the road’ experience.  And you also mentioned before that there are regional groups, so people can kind of follow from their home base.  What’s that organization?  What’s that like?

Nixon Suicide: Well each area, depending on the size of the area, for example San Francisco has its own regional group and in fact East Bay has its own regional group, because there’s enough people in both of those areas that they can get together for beers whenever they want to.  I mentioned to you earlier, and I’ll mention again that San Francisco runs the annual Suicide Girls Prom Party, which is coming up in about a month, which is huge and crazy.  In smaller places, when you’re out in ‘fly-over’ states you may have, the regional group may be half a state or a whole state.  But it’s just a way for people who are only used to seeing themselves on the Internet to get together, hang out, connect, and the thing that I found most interesting about that as a model when I first joined the site, and everybody was like, “Oh yeah!” at the time it was in Portland, “come out to SGPDX, hang out with us, have a beer,” and I’m like, “Do I get a bodyguard?  What? I’m going to go hang out with people who’ve seen me naked?”  Well a couple of the models just told me to suck it up and do it, and I have never had a problem.  The members are incredible; some of them have been my best friends.  I have had, you know, one of them from LA just came up and stayed at my house recently.  I have… I would not have been able to predict the way that the members and the models interact on this site, because we are all peers.  There’s no real delineation, other than some people have to pay and some don’t, but everybody hangs out and has a really good time, and everybody is incredibly respectful.

Beth Crittenden: Nice.  What are some aspects of Suicide Girls that maybe they’re humming along fine just now but when they first came out you maybe got a reaction of, “How can you do that?”

Nixon Suicide: Oh!  We’ve got not… and every few months it seems like we hit something, and it’s, “What in the world is going on here?”  I think that especially in the very beginning, gosh it just seems like we ran into so many problems, everything from technical problems… I mean there was a time when we took down the Suicide Girls website because one of the girls was drying her hair in the office.  It was such… technical difficulties we were starting with.  So it’s been all sorts of things, you know when we didn’t think we would get the burlesque troupe off the ground at all; we didn’t have the money for gas, much less to do a show or buy a costume.  We were taping things together, literally.  So there’ve been all sorts of things, but we have slowly made our way through it to being, you know almost a running business at this point, I hear.

Beth Crittenden: [laughs] So you mean like you’re doing all right?

Nixon Suicide: I think for a bunch of punk kids with, you know, strange attitudes; I think we’re doing okay.

Beth Crittenden: And what’s on the horizon for Suicide Girls?

Nixon Suicide: What is on the horizon for Suicide Girls?  The magazine just launched; a second book is in production, a second coffee table book.  That’s going to be much bigger and shinier and prettier than the last one.  I hear it’s the size of a phone book.  What else is on the horizon?  The Japanese language site I think is the thing everybody is most excited about, because that is our first full foreign-language site, and its going to bring in so many people that didn’t have access before.  And personally I’m very, very excited about a little, you know, Japanese Lolita girls.

Beth Crittenden: Very nice.  Congratulations.

Nixon Suicide: Yeah.  Also I really want to go to Japan!

Beth Crittenden: Hear that?  Japan, Nixon is coming.  So, we’re going to actually take a short break now to support our sponsors here on Personal Life Media, but this has been your host of “A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews”, Beth Crittenden, coming to you from One Taste Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco, here with Nixon Suicide.  You’ve heard what the business is and when we come back from the break you’ll hear about some of the politics involved.  We’re going to really get in there, so please join us after the break.

So this has been “A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews”.  I’m your host, Beth Crittenden, on Personal Life Media.  At One Taste Urban Retreat Center we do teach the practice of orgasmic meditation, and it is basically unconditional freedom, is freedom in all conditions.  And part of the way we do that is by feeling every part of the experience, which includes inviting a wide array of guests into our space here.  We welcome anyone who wants to teach or further their discussion, anything on sexuality, sensuality, relationship, purpose, consciousness, all of those wonderful things, to come join the conversation.  You can learn more at www.OneTasteSF.com. You can either visit in person or hook up with us online.  So for text and transcripts of this show, please visit www.PersonalLifeMedia.com, and visit “A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews”.  You can also email us questions and feedback at [email protected]. Thanks so much for listening to this episode and please do check out our other shows.  We have “A Taste of Sex”; that is our main show that focuses on the community.  You get the philosophy, the gossip, the interviews, the whole nine yards of what it means to live in a 50-person strong sensual community.  We also have a show for our twice-monthly erotic open mic night, where people read their poetry and their journals and sometimes dance, and then we play the music on the radio show.  It’s very delicious.  So join us for any of those, and thanks again for listening to the show.

This concludes Part 1.  The interview will be continued in the next episode of this show.

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