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What do Star Wars, Suicide Girls and an art form that got its start in Victorian England have in common? A lot, it turns out.

If the idea of sexy Stormtroopers slowly peeling off layers of armor and underthings appeals to you, then you may want to check out the Blackheart Burlesque tour, which sets its sights on Turner Hall Ballroom on June 6.

Part of a 60-city US tour beginning in San Diego on April 13 and ending in Los Angeles on June 24, the performance features numbers that blend contemporary pop culture references – from Sailor Moon to Stranger Things – with an old school burlesque sensibility.

The tour is the brainchild of Suicide Girls founder Missy Suicide. A community-based website that features erotic, pin-up inspired photography sets and user-curated content, Suicide Girls has become a champion of an alt beauty aesthetic since its founding more than a decade ago. And Missy Suicide sees the Blackheart Burlesque tour as a natural extension of her work with the site. We spoke with her about both.

Missy Suicide

Missy Suicide; photo courtesy of Suicide Girls

Can you tell us a little about the Suicide Girls origin story?

I started Suicide Girls in the summer of 2001 to showcase beautiful girls who didn’t fit into any mainstream version of what beauty was – there weren’t a variety of beauty standards at the time.

When I first started I was doing everything myself. Now, girls from all over the world are involved and have formed a really strong bond.

Do you see the Blackheart Burlesque as a natural extension of the Suicide Girls site? Why did you decide to branch out into burlesque?

The site offers a modern take on classic pin-up photography, and the burlesque tour does the same thing ­– it puts a contemporary twist on classic burlesque.

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Some people think burlesque can be empowering. Others think it’s demeaning. What do you say to detractors?

They should come see a show. It’s not like being at a strip club. Everyone has fun. It’s sexy, it’s silly – burlesque has a sense of humor. And the girls are confident. They’re performing for themselves. 

A Blackheart Burlesque number

A Blackheart Burlesque number; photo courtesy of Suicide Girls

Is there a typical audience member? What kind of person does the show appeal to?

A lot of people associate Suicide Girls with tattoos and piercings. But all types come to the show – a 63-year-old man in a wheelchair came to a show because he said he was inspired by the girls’ confidence – and more than half of the audience members are women. So it’s a pretty female-centric crowd.

The show has been touring for more than a month now. How has it been received so far?

So far, it’s been great. All of the audiences have been super enthusiastic. The girls feed of their energy, and vice versa.

What should we expect to see at the June 6 performance?

I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but you should expect a fun, sexy show with lots of audience participation. Everyone should find something they can relate to at the show.

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