SuicideGirls bring “Blackheart Burlesque” tour to Varsity Theater

The SuicideGirls’ newest burlesque show aims to make you laugh ‘til you’re horny.

The

SuicideGirls

The “Blackheart Burlesque” tour combines cultural spoofs and sex appeal.

Joe Kellen

SuicideGirls like “Doctor Who” too, you know.

Their touring “Blackheart Burlesque” show, which hits Minneapolis on Friday, will feature a full-on “Who” costume and a flurry of other surprises.

SuicideGirls is an alternative pin-up website created by Sean Suhl and Selena Mooney (aka Missy Suicide).  It hosts more than half a million photos from girls across the country. Any prospective pin-up can submit photos, but not everyone is chosen to be a SuicideGirl.

“We like to think of the SuicideGirls as sexy self-expression,” Missy Suicide said.

The website has gotten into trouble in the past over its tolerance for darker and more violent images. With a name like SuicideGirls, it’s not hard to assume their material has overtones of edginess and BDSM (Bondage, Dominance, Sadism and Masochism, though definitions vary).

 While some models have used these tactics to subvert the traditional pin-up photo, this aesthetic isn’t representative of all their work.

“I actually think we’re the opposite of that,” Mooney said of the BDSM label. “SuicideGirls are about allowing the girls to set the scene and promote how they feel sexy about themselves. It’s not about the photographer or anyone else’s vision.”

Mooney said this idea extends to their burlesque show. The event, consisting of six solo performances and some group routines, is designed to highlight their personalities. Their vivacious showcase contains everything from extensive piercings, tattoos and badassery to “Whovian” pop culture references.

Their dance-heavy style differs from classic burlesque. The SuicideGirls focus more on complex footwork and employ their darker sides to give “Blackheart Burlesque” a twist of macabre fun.

The playful performance is never meant to objectify. If anything, its goal is to wow audiences with acrobatic dance and subsequently endear them to the girls with humor and tongue-in-cheek attitudes.

“It’ll be hard for anyone to go and not laugh at least once and not find themselves saying, ‘Wow, that was really, really hot,’” Mooney said.

The Twin Cities have a thriving burlesque scene already, and while the SuicideGirls are only staying for an evening, they seem to fit in with the locals.

Red Austere, a burgeoning burlesque star in Minneapolis, said she hasn’t been significantly exposed to the group but had seen snippets of their work.

“I think they’re bringing a wider knowledge to burlesque; they’ll bring a whole different audience than the people who come to our burlesque shows,” she said.

Austere considers herself to be part of the body-positive movement at the heart of the Twin Cities’ burlesque community. For her, the art form is much more than raw sexuality.

“It’s about being unafraid to go out there and be exactly who you are,” she said. “A great burlesque number will make the audience forget where they are for a moment.”

Austere hopes to see more alternative burlesque hit the Twin Cities. She said that she loves the traditional performances but that the unique styles used by groups like the SuicideGirls benefit the scene.

And for those who come to these performances expecting a custom-tailored peepshow — Missy Suicide doesn’t sweat ’em.

“There’s always gonna be haters,” she said. “You just have to do what you love.”

 

What: Blackheart Burlesque
When: 9 p.m., Friday
Where: Varsity Theater, 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis
Cost: $23-25
Ages: 18+