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I cannot believe that SuicideGirls has been around for 15 years already, but here we are in 2017, and those are just the facts. The online community has hit the road to celebrate this big anniversary with its 60+ city Blackheart Burlesque, and the girls will be making stops in DC tomorrow night (5.12) at Howard Theatre, NYC Saturday night (5.13) at Music Hall of Williamsburg and Sunday night (5.14) at LPR, Baltimore next Tuesday (5.16) at Soundstage AND Chicago at Park West on 6.3. (PHEW!) I hopped on the phone for a quick chat with founder Missy Suicide (Selena Mooney) to talk about how the show’s been developed, what we can expect this year’s production (hint: Star Wars, Stranger Things, Westworld) and more, so internet-eavesdrop on our full conversation below and be sure to grab some tickets to see that winning combo of striptease ‘n pop culture IRL:

So this is a big tour; you’ve got 60+ cities on the books, and it seems like a real whirlwind. What’s the recovery process like day after day?

The schedule’s a bit grueling. The girls wake up in a new city, get to run errands or have breakfast together and whatnot, and then at 3 o’clock they do a run-through. Then they have a couple of hours until 7, and then it’s VIP hour, doors open at 8, DJ goes on at 8:30, opening act goes on at 9/9:30, and then the girls perform until 11. Bus call’s usually at midnight, and they get on the bus, go to sleep, wake up in a new city in the morning and start all over again.

That’s so crazy!

[Laughs] Yeah. So they wake up every day in a new town. It’s intense, but they’ve grown accustomed to it.

Well that’s good. And tell me about what goes into actually developing the show and choosing themes? I read that this time around there’ll be some tributes to Star Wars, Stranger Things, Westworld, etc.

We’ve been touring this pop culture version of the show for 4 years now, and the show is all new this time, but we’ve developed this system where we keep a list of about 200 pop culture influences, and anytime someone thinks of something interesting we add it to the list. After that, we have to try to find a song that matches, see if the choreography will work, think about costuming, and then we test it out in front of an audience to see how people react. There have been some numbers that didn’t go over so well, but there have been others that the audience goes crazy for, like the Stranger Things one, which has made the final cut. This winter we did a residency at a club here in LA, and so we were able to try out a bunch of new numbers and see how the audience would react. That was super helpful.

Is there anything that’s been especially over people’s heads?

Sometimes when we throw in more obscure things, like Donnie Darko or whatever, people are sort of like, “Oh, that’s sexy, but I don’t really get it.”

I guess that’s the benefit of a burlesque show; worst case scenario is they don’t get the reference, but they’ll still probably enjoy watching the performance.

Yeah, it’s fun to watch, and if it has an amazing song to it, then they’re bound to enjoy it either way.

Totally. Now, what can you tell me about the Le Poisson Rouge show? That one is supposed to be a little different from the others, right?

Yeah, so the LPR show is all seated, and I think it’s capped at about 300 people, so it’s a more intimate show. The club show that we did in LA was all standing, too, so we’re excited to see how this one translates to that more intimate, seated environment.

Awesome. God, it’s crazy that SuicideGirls has been around for 15 years already! I can’t believe that.

Crazy for you?! It’s crazy for me! [Laughs]

Right! Well, if you could go back in time to when you first started it, what kind of advice or foresight might you give yourself that you’ve learned along the way?

If I had a time machine like I was Doc Brown?

Yeah! (If only!)

(If only. If only I had his hair.) I’d say trust your gut and don’t let the haters get to you so much.

Solid advice, especially this year with this fucking crazy administration. I mean, clearly you guys helped pave the way for the increased body positivity that we’re seeing now, but when it feels like we stand to lose so much through bullshit legislation…I mean, do you notice a difference in the tone or vibe of SuicideGirls given all that? Or is it holding strong as kind of a refuge?

I feel like people are more active in the community and taking refuge in the community a bit more, because the world is such a scary fucking place right now. It’s terrifying. [Sighs] It’s kind of crazy right now, but I feel like people are bonding a little bit more. And when we first started SuicideGirls, we still kind of had the luxury of quantifying or separating styles of feminism, like, “Are you this style of feminist? Or are you this style of feminist?” And now I feel like we’re a little bit more inclusive. SuicideGirls definitely riled up some early feminist sentiments; when I said I was feminist, people would be like, “No you’re not! You have naked girls! This is not feminist!” Now I feel like we have an enemy that is so apparent that the infighting has been put aside a bit. It feels a little more inclusive and kumbaya.

Yeah, I agree. I guess that’s the one little bit of a silver lining to come out of all this. Alright, finally, what’s coming up apart from the tour that you’re stoked for?

There’s the tour, and there are projects we have in the works that are exciting, but after fifteen years I’ve learned that the things I’m most excited about often don’t work out, while other things come up that I had no idea would happen, and they turn out to be super awesome. We do have big things coming up, though!

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