Alternative agency ‘Suicide Girls’ is redefining glamour modelling

The only rule is nudity

 

From a small office of a dozen staff in a corner of Los Angeles, 35-year-old Selena Mooney runs a renegade modelling company aiming to redefine nudes.

Started in 2001, Suicide Girls, which began “just to see hot punk rock girls naked” now has 3,500 models on every continent including Antartica, and will be coming to the UK on a massive burlesque tour across London and Glasgow next month.

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Founder Selena, better known as Missy Suicide, explains she started the company to see “a different type of girl” celebrated and represented.

She says: “I thought that the girls that i knew were the most beautiful girls in the world – girls with piercings and tattoos and girls who lived life by the beat of their own drummer instead of cookie cutter blonde beauties that were being celebrated in mainstream media.

“I thought the girls that I knew deserved a place to be themselves and be celebrated for being such.”

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Founder Missy

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Missy started the company taking photos of her friends herself, and since then it’s become a globally famous brand, hosting conventions, tours and producing seven Suicide Girl movies. The models come from all walks of life and many are students who perform alongside their degree.

“Some of the girls are college students. A lot of models are college/uni students, girls who are are pursuing other things. We’ve had girls start out with us when they were in school and now they’re doctors, lawyers. We have a lot of girls who are in school currently.”

Missy says her company wants to “redefine beautiful”. She explained: “Girls have different looks and different things they want to add to the conversation, and I think that’s why they apply to be part of it.”

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But the project is more than just a modelling company — Missy says Suicide Girls is all about “feminism and female empowerment”, and has none of the competitive elements she sees in beauty pageants and mainstream modelling.

“If you ask a Suicide Girl what her favourite part of being a Suicide Girl is, she’s gonna say the friendships she’s made. The girls see each other a lot. They do conventions and shoot fests where they’ll plan lovely holidays in Spain or Brazil or Oz where they’ll all rent an Air Bnb and come together to cook, hang out, shoot photosets, get to know each other and have a great holiday.

“As women, when I was growing up I didn’t really have a lot of female friends. There was a certain element of competitiveness, but with Suicide Girl we’re celebrated for our unique individuality. It provides a space for the women to really feel supported and have friendships, and there’s no cattiness there. Like everybody just appreciated everybody else for their uniqueness – there’s no competition.”

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Applying is simple — girls can sign up online where “model co-ordinators” will walk them through their first photoset. After the photoset is approved it’s shown on the member review portion of the site, where others can pass comment on your photos.

Missy says the process is mostly supportive: “The other girls can say things like “You’re so pretty but you look so scared in your set” or whatever they think.”

From there the best sets get chosen to be featured on the homepage, where they can become an official Suicide Girl. Although the sets must include nudity, outside of that the themes — which are designed “to explore how each girl feels sexiest about herself” — are open and each model can choose how she wants to perform.

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Despite the mammoth success of the project over the past 14 years, its founder has no plans to branch out to modelling for more than one gender. Missy says: “There’s still enough to tackle with feminism and female politics and redefining female beauty that we haven’t finished with girls yet.

“Maybe one day in like 120 years or so we’ll look at recruiting Suicide Guys – once everything is equal. Or women take over.”

 

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