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AMERICAN GOtH: SuicideGirls.com Reveals More Than Skin

AMERICAN GOtH: SuicideGirls.com Reveals More Than Skin

Missy and Spooky, boss and grunt at SuicideGirls.com, aren't relying on the stability of the now-seismic World Wide Web to see their pretty girl site through the hard times.

"We are no more confident in our success than anyone in the Internet business right now, which is tentatively confident," Spooky says, "but we realize there are some risks and it's, you know, it's a very difficult and dangerous market to be making money in right now."

Missy adds, "Even if you make money initially, there's no guarantee that it'll sustain itself."

What the duo count on, then, is difference: The young women featured on the site aren't garden-variety porn girls; and the content itself is more about real connection, journaling, and sticking around to appreciate growth and change than the typical, static wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am offered by most picture/postings dot-coms.

"What we've done," Spooky explains, "is we're going to try to do content that's distinctive and different from other stuff that's out there on the Web; and we're going to try to keep our costs down to a Spartan, Spartan minimum." Achieving this requires paring down.

"We run our site and live out of a single space," he says. "We have our costs at an absolute minimum; it is just the two of us and the girls who model for us. We do all the tech work, we do all the design, we do all the pictures, we do all the photography."

Up until the publication of this article, news of the site spread by word-of-mouth - (potential) models are often the best mouthpieces. "We get a lot of models," Spooky says. "I think we have such great girls. And we're very, very choosey and very picky in finding girls. Missy and I probably interview 20 girls for every girl we pick. And we go out, you know. We go out to clubs, we go out to bars - "

"Now that we have the site up," Missy interjects, "we're starting to get some submissions online from our 'model' link on our site; most of the time we find them. And the other girls have been really great in referring their friends; we have one girl that goes out and whenever she goes to a club she passes out our card."

"All the girls go out to Goth clubs and they go out to raves and they pass out our card," continues Spooky. "I would say 90 percent of the girls we shoot have never shot for anyone before."

This makes for a marriage between the alternative and amateur oeuvres that SuicideGirls.com is banking on. "I think it makes the shoots go pretty well," says Missy, "because we're getting [the girls'] first, fresh experience. We get more natural poses, because once girls have been modeling for a long time they get to, like, a set number of 25 different poses they'll do for the camera... and that's about it. Our girls tend to be a bit more natural because they've never done it before."

Spooky adds, "So far, none of our girls have shown much interest in posing for anyone else even after they shoot for us, because - hopefully - we're going to be able to do a couple of shoots a month with these girls. We really like them, they're friends of ours, they keep journals on our site - it's about personalities."

As far as the journaling aspect goes, the duo is engaged in tapping into Gen Y's Real World sensibility, utilizing the Aughts timber-of-the-times power-combo of anonymity and full disclosure to their advantage.

"We're building an online community as well as a local community." Missy explains. "The girls actually do hang out; we'll have movie night and they come over and watch Friends and stuff.

"There's also the blogging community," she continues. "It's kind of the young, early-20s/mid-20s crowd that is into porn and erotica, but there's nobody [in the adult material available] that they would really be attracted to - you know, the cookie-cutter type girls - they want a little something more."

Explaining the "blog" phenomenon, Spooky says, "There's a whole community of people who keep online Web journals, at livejournal.com or blogger.com; and we're kind of a 'dirty' live journal. We're just like these sites where people keep journals, except with us, you can see these girls in various stages of undress."

Which makes an interesting point about the SuicideGirls.com target audience. "I think who I was targeting with the site was... me," Spooky admits. "Most adult sites don't really do anything for me. It's not that I don't - you know, there's something to be said about a beautiful woman with long blond hair and big breasts and a tiny waist; and there's something to be said about the other Goth sites that are out there. But they are a little S-and-M oriented, and they do the vampire thing and they have the blood and they're very horrific; and that's not always the kind of Goth girl I like. I always liked those cute little Goth girls going to the clubs, or all cramped together at a coffee shop on a Thursday night. And that's kind of the vibe we went for, were these real alternative-y, cutie Goth/raver/indie rock/punk girls."

Missy says, "It's a lot more female-friendly, too; actually - "

"- 35 percent," Spooky chimes in.

"- 35 percent of our members are female," Missy says. "Because it's not threatening, you know; there is something more - with the journaling and stuff, it allows for more fantasy, for more - "

"- you get to know the girls," Spooky concludes. "That's the other thing I found with adult sites not doing anything for me; sure, you see these girls sticking something somewhere, or... [our] girls keep these journals, and you can see what's going on in their lives, you can send e-mails to them, and the girls respond to the e-mails."

Will they really reply?

"Some of them I have to prod more than others," Missy says. "Some girls just write, like, fanatically."

"Well, now these girls have an audience," Spooky adds. "We're giving these girls an audience. And they're bringing them in with their pictures, but they're probably holding on to them with what they write."

Missy sums up, "I think that what gets the girls to write more than anything else is when people write them e-mails, because then they see that somebody's actually reading [their writing], and it makes them want to post more. But some of the girls I do have to call and say, 'Hey, what's going on with you? Let's do a journal entry.'"

Since this kind of personal touch is serving as part of what makes Suicidegirls.com different, it's not surprising that Spooky and Missy have an alternative m.o. when approaching potential site content. At clubs or bars, Spooky says, "Missy or I will go up and give them a card and say, 'Hey, you know, you're a very attractive girl, we do this site; go take a look at our site, if you like it and you're interested in keeping an online journal and maybe posing for some photographs, let us know.' And we've told them that. We've told girls, 'Look, you don't necessarily have to pose for pictures.' If we find a great girl, who really wants to keep an online journal who's really interesting, our site is just as much about getting to know these 'suicide girls' - these sort of raver-Gothic-alternative girls - as it is seeing them naked. We're not opposed to having a girl on the site who doesn't take pictures; Missy, for instance, is on the site, keeps a journal, and we don't have any pictures of her."

In the works at SuicideGirls.com are plans for cross-promotion. "What we'd really like to do," says Spooky, "is start doing a lot of cross-promotion with other sites we think are great. Off the bat, there's a site called raverporn.net - it's great. They're a great site; we really like them, we're doing some cross-promotion with them. We're looking for other sites that are sort of alternative-y, either adult sites or non-adult sites, that we can start doing some promotions with. Banner trades, posting our pictures on other sites and letting them post on ours - "

"We also write about them in the main journal," Missy adds. "In my journal, I write about sites I go to and sites I think are cool; so it's not just a banner exchange, it's actually integrated into our content."

"We can offer really great opportunities for people who have sites that are more amateurish," Spooky says, "single girl sites, for instance, are a big [genre] for us to do cross-promotion with; you know, cam-girl sites - especially when they're alternative girls - "

"Message boards," Missy adds, "and other people's live journals, and live journal communities - certainly multi-user live journal communities where people are avid about checking and reading; joint communities. We're trying to get those people interested."

"We're currently working on sponsoring a fashion show," Spooky says. "Our hope is to get some Suicide Girls to model [designs that] we've already got from a clothing designer who wants to do it with us."

Ultimately, Spooky says, the SuicideGirls.com appeal is that "Everything on our site is true and real; and we're really dedicated to that. I don't think we're too similar to reality television - you know, where you sort of eavesdrop on all these people's lives - but I think we're the closest thing to it, in terms of getting to intimately know the girls you're looking at pictures of."

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