Who Are the Suicide Girls? Inside the Nude Pin-Up Community That Trolled Richard Prince

Meet the woman who beat the appropriation artist at his own game.

Selena Mooney aka Missy Suicide.
Photo: Suicide Girls.

Photo: Suicide Girls.

 

Yesterday the SuicideGirls, a Los Angeles-based alternative pin-up community, gave artist Richard Prince a taste of his own medicine by re-appropriating an image that he appropriated from their Instagram and sold through Gagosian for what has been estimated to be $90,000 (see Payback for Richard Prince as Models Re-appropriate Stolen Instagram Images and Sell Them for $90.

The story is not new, as Prince has been doing this for a while, much to the annoyance of critics (See Richard Prince Sucks) and more recently Paddy Johnson on Why Richard Prince Sucks, Again).

The SuicideGirls weren’t the first to react to Prince’s shady Instagram appropriation art. The model and cosmetics entrepreneur Doe Deere addressed the controversy via Instagram about having her image used without her permission (see Richard Prince Steals More Instagram Photographs and Sells Them for $100,000). However, the SuicideGirls are effectively beating Prince at his own game. Their canvases are currently on sale for $90 (which is approximately 99.9% off the Prince price). In fact, artnet News placed an order for one this afternoon.

But who are the SuicideGirls? The online community was founded in in Portland, Oregon, in 2001 by Selena Mooney (aka Missy Suicide) as “an alternative to the mainstream media’s obsession with the silicone enhanced Barbie dolls and the incredible shrinking starlets,” according to the website.

Selena Mooney aka Missy Suicide.

Selena Mooney aka Missy Suicide.

Unlike other pin-up sites, SuicideGirls emphasizes not just the enviable looks of their starlets (who tend to be young, curvaceous, and heavily tattooed), but on developing and emphasizing their personas. The message behind it all is that being brainy and being attractive are not mutually exclusive.

The Suicide Girls had their heyday in the early aughts thanks to the proliferation of online communities and an interest in the “alternative” lifestyle that the site represents. Somewhat ironically, it’s been the Prince extravaganza that has put them back on the map.

“While I understand the conversation that he’s trying to start, and that we’re all talking about copyright and art in the digital age, I feel like $90,000 is a crazy amount to spend,” Missy Suicide told artnet News yesterday (see Payback for Richard Prince as Models Re-appropriate Stolen Instagram Images and Sell Them for $90).

Photo: Suicide Girls.

Photo: Suicide Girls.

Missy engaged in a seven hour Reddit “Ask Me Anything” question and answer session yesterday, where she received some flak for many of her own business practices, including an alleged non-compete clause for featured models. Several questions were also posed regarding allegations that models are paid low wages, and that in the past, photographs have been sold by the company to other websites without the model’s permission. Missy did not respond to any questions mentioning these allegations.

She did, however, show off an impressive knowledge of art. When asked which artwork she would buy if money were no object, she responded, “If money is truly not an issue then I would have a whole James Turrell light installation installed in my house. But if we are going for something more portable that would actually fit in my house then a Man Ray or maybe something by Frida Kahlo or there is a [Amedeo] Modigliani painting called Young Woman of The People that I love a lot.”


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share

Article topics