(Portland, Oregon) Flash! Young women seen naked on porn site claim male web site owner exploited and lied to them and when they complained he told them to hit the road. “Pimp” apparently even refused to return negatives and continues to use their photos to make big money.
I know it’s hard to believe in this day and age that young women would willingly let themselves get into such circumstances, but that’s just what happened to a number of young hip and progressive young women who posed on the site and built their life style around the extremely popular internet “alternative” porn site know as “Suicide Girls". The site was considered alternative because of it unique woman friendly reputation. No bimbo boob job blonds here. Just the angst-ridden young stealthy, toned, pierced and tattooed maidens having a little rebellious erotic fun and getting paid for it. Who am I to judge? Yes I had a membership at the site and got some cheap thrills out of leering at the young babes photos from time to time from the safety of my home-based computer. Well I’m an “artist” for God sake! I was looking for new material and SG inspired me Okay!
The site features 75,000 photos of nearly 800 attractive young women, who in most cases represented alternative life styles like “Punk, Alternative Rock or Goth”. It also takes the phrase “nice tattoo” to new heights. The site was getting over 300,000 hits per week in 2003 according a newspaper article in the Portland, Oregon based Willamette Week at that time. The article talked glowingly about the phenomenon and the success of the Portland, based Suicide Girls website. You’d think that in two years the popularity of the site has only skyrocketed. Especially after Playboy, Spin, Revolver, Gear and the New Yorker magazines did stories on the site’s femme fatal uniqueness at one time or the other. Identifying it as a mix of the “mainstreaming of punk rock and pornography”. Many of the women appeared in erotic “lesbian couple” or group photo “sets” of photos or videos. But more often the photo sets featured the young women hipsters alone in various states of artistic or provocative nude play-acting. Most of the women were artistically and tastefully tattooed from breast to buttocks or head to toe. The buzz on the website was that it was run by a woman, who identifies herself publicly only as 26 year old “Missy”. Real name Selena Mooney. She ran the website for the benefit of women like her and the site specifically was run so young women who felt comfortable being erotically posed as naked exhibitionists could make money showing off on the internet and be able to do so in a supportive and sometimes female erotica friendly atmosphere. In fact the site promoted the image of a “Suicide Girl’s Army” involved in a substantial part of the creation of the public ambiance of the website. The actual owner of the site is a man. known as “Spooky” on the site and who’s real name is apparently Sean Suhl, a 29-year-old Hampshire College dropout who moved in early 2001 to Portland from Los Angeles, where he had worked designing websites for entertainment companies like HBO. Other site partners allegedly include Steve Simitzis and his wife Olivia Ball, programmers for the site, and Peter Luttrell of 3jane.com, where Suhl is the VP of Creative Services. Suhl with Missy acting as front woman pushed the image of female empowerment of young beautiful women embracing their nubile sexuality. Lets face it; today this type of hedonistic behavior is widely accepted by many young adults women and men as being totally acceptable. The image was great for business because it made potential and actual users of the site feel less concerned about potential exploitation of these young women. I certainly thought it was more pro woman when I visited the site. The presentations were done with an edgy, artistic and tasteful style. In fact many women at the site “blogged” on their individual SG based home pages about feeling empowered and being totally comfortable about showing off their bodies and being part of the ever widening “SG” scene. Some of the more popular girls even built followings and enjoyed a small taste of “rock star” type notoriety generated by the site.
The girls were apparently paid about $300 for each “photo set”, This plus whatever they could glean from participating in such things as “best of suicide girls” DVD’s, that are sold on the site, and the scene that was happen around the popularity of it all. Parties and rock shows. Trips out of town for personal appearances and promotions trips were apparently also offered by management to the more popular girls who were regularly filling the site with fresh content and going along with what management had in mind. So, apparently it is socially acceptable and hip these days to openly act like a “slut” if you’re so inclined. In fact some of these girls identify with the rebelliousness, freedom and going contrary to what’s expected of them by modern society. Can you say I’m “cool and hip” and beautiful and I’m a real “bad girl” a couple of times right here please.
But lately it seems that all hell has broken loose in the Suicide Girl’s World. Many of the most popular women on the sight have bail out. By some accounts 150 to 200 “models” have left the site in the last two years. 30 models have apparently left the site in the month of September alone according to information gathered from blogs I’ve read and written by “SG’s” who have departed. The women complain of poor pay or at the very least feeling exploited when they see the owners making large sums of money with the site and such things as Suicide Girls touring “burlesque shows” and the DVD sales. Complaints about the site reformatting and continuing to show photos of the women who’ve left have caused bad feelings. Shul has apparently threatened legal action against models who have gone public or blogged about grievances with the site or the general way they feel they were treated when working at SG. The main complaint seems to be that the site is not the feminist bastion of left wing liberated punk rock star empowered women it promoted media image purports it to be. Shul’s personal politics are also apparently at odds with those of most of the women. There are a number of stories of verbal abuse by Shul’s. Or Shul trying to control the personal content produced by girls on their own web pages. One ex-model known as “Dia” details an episode in her blog of Shul telling her and another girl that he thought the models were “all a bunch whores”! Not exactly what a young woman who considers herself to be a feminist likes to hear, I would venture to guess.
It seems that the problem the site is having with the models is that it projects one image to the public and there is an entirely different image that exist in reality, and that Shul is alleged to have somewhat of a tyrannical management style when dealing with the models. At least according to a number of former model’s blogs and other news sources I’ve seen like Wired News. Ms. Mooney the company spokesman denies there is a real problem and indicates it just a small number young somewhat wide-eyed and disgruntled former employees “trying to make trouble”. I’m sure that most of these young and idealistic girls feel foolish and cheated when they consider the large amounts of revenue the site and SG related enterprises have generate mostly at their expense. They only got some of the crumbs from the table when they were really the stars of the show and the reason for the site’s success. The shabby personal treatment they allegedly received from Shul apparently exacerbated the problems at SG. It may of all been a fairy tale. But, once again as so often happens in the “sex business” women end up exploited with men basically making all the money. Porn is worst then crack perhaps. But it all seemed okay with the SG girls because they seemed like they were having fun and were definitely in control of how they portrayed their rebellious life styles. The former models are now calling for SG subscribers to boycott the site and apparently taking steps to somehow create a website similar to SG that really does have the best interest of the women at heart. Better pay and freedom for all and lots more tattoos I hope. I hope they really do get the money and power and control they thought Suicide Girls would bring them.
But, I can hear your Mother now young lady. “What were you girls thinking for Christ sake”? Dad must have been, abusive, missing or dysfunction because otherwise he would of warned his daughter to be leery of people who ask you if you like to sign some sort of contract. Then get you naked to take photos for what really amounts only to about a third of month’s rent money. Then they pretend they really respect you when they really don’t. Use other exploited and underpaid women to make you feel at ease and then when they’re done with you call you a “whore” and send you packing.
- Statistics say pornography it’s a $57 billion dollar a year business worldwide
- 4.2 million websites or about 12% of the total sites on the entire Internet are porn sites
- Porn revenue is larger than all combined revenues of all professional football, baseball and basketball franchises.
- 25% of total search engine requests are porn-related