SuicideGirls. Picture: Supplied

When SuicideGirls began in 2001 as an online community for women with tattoos and piercings to catalogue images of themselves, it didn't take long for the concept to shift from alternative culture to mainstream awareness.

Started by friends Selena Mooney (also known as Missy Suicide) and Sean Suhl in Portland, Oregon, the saucy images connected like-minded women who didn't subscribe to the beauty rules within fashion's glossy pages. Instead, they united over their individuality. With more than five million fans on Facebook and more than a million visits to their site every week, SuicideGirls has fast become a cultural phenomenon.

The movement inspired a burlesque dance troupe of the same name and SuicideGirls toured the world, taking their cheeky dance moves from the US to Europe and beyond. They've shared stages with Courtney Love and Guns N' Roses and return to Australia to kick off a world tour.

Known as the Blackheart Burlesque, the dancers thrive on a tongue-in-cheek humour and mix raw erotica with striptease, taking art sleaze to rock'n'roll's loudest corners.

"We never anticipated it to become the success it did," Mooney says. "When we first did this burlesque show there weren't as many people doing it.

"It was very fringe and underground. Now you see a lot of non-traditional burlesque around - even Lady Gaga is doing it. We had to up our game this time."

The Blackheart Burlesque has teamed with choreographer Manwe Sauls-Addison (Madonna, Beyonce), who creates a pop tribute through burlesque - think Star Wars meets Avengers and Pulp Fiction combined with Rocky Horror.

"The girls incorporate pop culture with modern music and art references," Mooney says. "It falls into one amazing show and even features an Australian girl. We honour everything from Planet of the Apes to video games."

The West Australian

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