Career suicide at the Blind Tiger

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Sunny Suicide titillates the audience during a marijuana-themed burlesque routine to Tove Lo's "Gotta Stay High (All the Time)." (photo by Lauren Barber)

by Lauren Barber

“Growing up as an adolescent with a disability, no one ever talked to me about sex and that’s always the number one question when I meet somebody is, ‘Can you have sex?’” said Ananda Bennett, 28, of Greensboro.

Bennett, who showed up front and center for the the SuicideGirls Blackheart Burlesque performance at the Blind Tiger in Greensboro on May 11, is quadriplegic.

“It’s always been very taboo to talk about having a disability and sex, but these days it’s not quite as taboo,” she added. “There aren’t many disabled people in porn and I’m a very sexual person. It’s liberating to me that there’s a place that I can go where people appreciate me. I really like that they accept all kinds of people. I feel like I fit in there. For a long time, I didn’t have friends, so it’s a very cool space.”

Find out more about the SuicideGirls at suicidegirls.com.

At the Tiger, for two-and-a-half hours this handful of women performed more than a dozen routines, sensually shaking and slapping their athletic, tattooed and sometimes cellulite-padded skin.

SuicideGirls emerged more than 15 years ago as a platform to support pin-up girls who subvert beauty norms: Heavily tattooed and pierced with dyed hair, they don’t care what you think of their bodies. The founders derived the name from the idea that women commit social suicide when they work in sex-related industries and experiment with body modification. They describe SuicideGirls as an “art-sleaze phenomenon,” offering a self-defined alternative to mainstream contemporary pornography. These women celebrate their outcast status and redefine standard conceptions of beauty.

In one instance, garbed as Frank the Bunny from Donnie Darko, Kathleen Suicide managed to seduce the audience to the soundtrack of Gary Jules’ “Mad World” in an act of performative genius. Not 30 seconds after donning the sinister bunny head, Kathleen ricocheted water from her bare chest into the crowd.

Previews suggested that the show would be riddled with pop-culture references, and set after set the performances delivered.

Among nods to cultural classics like Star Wars and Ghostbusters were lesser-known cult classics like A Clockwork Orange. During Liryc’s individual routine, video-game protagonist Zelda, from the Legend of Zelda, made a salacious appearance.

Audience member Sachiko Harding, 29, of Greensboro relished the opportunity to experience an ultimate fan fantasy.

“Nerds historically-speaking were not looked at as sexy. In the Revenge of the Nerds days, to be smart was not cool and certainly was not hot,” she said.

“Them spinning it by presenting that culture or the cult culture of the nerds and the freaks and the weirdos… in such an overtly sexual fashion is a super-hot and striking dichotomy.”

The troupe didn’t disappoint hardcore Disney devotees either. After a routine set to a dubstep-y remix of the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” Sunny Suicide slowed the pace as she sang an adult version of The Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World,” employing props like handcuffs and a pink dildo.

A reading comprehension test for third graders served as an unexpected prop later in the evening when Peneloppe invited a diffident man with wire-rim glasses and three degrees to the stage and teased him — as well as the audience — with an enticing routine. The bit required him to read to quietly and keep his hands on the sheet of paper. When the MC tested him on his comprehension after her tantalizing performance, no one was surprised to learn he could only make it through the second paragraph.

Welcoming a young couple to the stage, Liryc taught the five steps to a classic lap dance and encouraged a playful competition between the lovers. to everyone’s delight, highlighting the SuicideGirls’ philosophy that confidence is the most essential element of erotica.