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February 5, 2002
Interview with Spooky at
SuicideGirls.com

AIL: Initially, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. What is Portland like in February?

Spooky: Wet, cold and depressing. Imagine a place without sun, a place where nothing ever gets dry, where you are continually slightly damp and shivering. It's like living on Venus in a Ray Bradbury short story. It's gloomy and sad and miserable. Thank god for Tivo and naked goth girls.

AIL: A goth/punk/rave girl site is very unique idea. Did inspiration really come in Pioneer Square in Portland as it says on the site?

Spooky: Jack Kerouac once said, everything I write is true, because I believe in what I saw. Now we distribute pictures of a naked goth and punk girls, we don't write great american novels, but I think the idea caries over. Everything on our site is true, because we want it to be true.

AIL:When you decided to do the site, did either of you have any experience in web design?

Spooky: Missy had done photoshop work for years. Literally. She sat in front of photoshop for ten hours a day everyday for over half a decade. To missy, digital photography, from setting up lights to compressing to .jpg format comes as naturally as breathing. I had done a lot of web usability work, human interface stuff, the psychology of the usability of the web.

That's what we each respectively used to do.

AIL: Did the first version of your site look anything like your original idea?

Spooky:

Startlingly so, in fact. Missy and I sat down and sketched out the whole site on pen and paper before we started building it and the first version of the site was almost exactly what we had drawn the first day we conceived of the site. Now that site has changed a lot since the first version, because we are constantly revising the site to better suit how the people use the site. We constantly, methodically review the logs and try to revise the site to make it easier and easier to comprehend and use.

AIL: How difficult was it to create the first site and how long did it take you?

Spooky:

Building the entire first version of the site took: 16 packs of camel lights 1 php programmer 2 Photoshop Junkies (Missy & I) 1 HTML programmer 1 copy of BBEDIT 13 pots of coffee 9 episodes of The Daily Show 5 separate chinese food delivery orders 1 linux/apache wiz 218 minutes on hold with network solutions 5 days of grueling frustration

AIL: SG doesn't really seem to fit into a particular category as far as sites go. Do you consider it to be an adult site or something else?

Spooky:

I honestly don't know what our site is. It's an online community. It's a place to see sexual images of young goth and punk chicks. It's a place to read girls' diaries. It's a place to check out cool design stuff. It's just what it is, and I worry a lot more about if people like the site, then what the site is. Does that make any sense?

AIL: I was surprised to read that 65% of your paying members are women. Was this a total surprise to you and why do you think there is so much interest from women?

Spooky:

I think Women are often discounted as an audience for online sites. We treat the girls on the site with respect, and the models on the site like it so much that they hang out on our site a lot. I think this puts women at ease, they don't feel like we're exploiting the girls on the site, so they feel more comfortable with enjoying the site themselves. But I could be wrong. Maybe women enjoy the site because a lot of the girls on the site are bisexual.

AIL: You recently redesigned the site. What motivated you to make the change?

Spooky:

We wanted to add some new features and we had to redesign the look and layout of the site to make room for the new stuff we'll slowly be rolling out over the next 6 months. The site will never be done, never be complete, and we wanted the design to be more extendable, easier to add new components of the site too.

AIL: Your membership price is $10 a month, which is extremely low compared to most sites on the net. Why did you go with this price?

Spooky:

You have to be pretty fucking stupid to create an online site that is targeted to punk rock and goth people between the ages of 18 - 30. For the most part these folks don't have a lot of disposable income, and probably don't have as high a percentage of computer ownership as, let's say, business executives between the ages of 35 - 50. So we quickly realized we created a site for people who couldn't really afford to access it. Charging $10 instead of $30 is sort of our compromise.

AIL: Unlike many pay sites, you don't have an affiliate program. Why?

Spooky:

I consider the site to be a little oasis in the world of online porn. No pop-ups. No banner ads. No affiliate programs. No scams. No tricks. No site tours, hidden member areas or preview area. You come to the site, you can use it for free, and if you want to see the images and movies, you just join and those will be unlocked. But you know exactly what you'll be getting if you sign up. I have found that a lot of online adult sites are about the up-sell and the traffic scams, and if that¹s making people money, then good for them. I just wanted SG to be something a little more like a local Coffee shop or Punk rock club. Cheap, easy and simple.

AIL: What was the purpose of making your site interactive and do you find that many of your members take advantage of the boards and email opportunities?

Spooky:

The interactive part of the site is really not for everyone. I would guess that only about 1% of the paying members use this functionality, and it probably costs us about 50% of our bandwidth bill. So from a business sense, it's been a total and utter failure. However, Missy and I love the community aspect, we love hearing from our members, and I guess we're taking the business loss as a trade for us enjoying what we do more.

AIL: How do you motivate the girls to respond to emails and keep writing journals?

Spooky:

We don't. The girls who want to write in their journals or answer their emails do, the girls who don't want to don't. We never prod the girls to do any of the community stuff if they don't want to.

AIL: How many people are in the SG Army and how active is it?

Spooky:

Maybe 500 people. It's not very active. It probably could be if I would get off my ass and try to motivate the troops more often, but we've just been a little understaffed and overworked and I've sort of let that area of the site take the backseat to some other stuff we're working on.

AIL:Have you seen SG stickers anywhere surprising? Any plans to create a page showcasing pictures of SG stickers in interesting places?

Spooky: I saw an SG sticker on the back of a Vespa parked downtown in portland. That was cool. I would love to start an SG sticker gallery, I think that's a great idea.

AIL: As the owners of a site, what do you enjoy dealing with the most and the least?

Spooky:

The Most: I like dealing with the girls. I've met some truly unique people with some amazing stories about their life.

The Least: The password sharing. It seems like our site gets hacked every day, and I have to turn off a bunch of passwords. I really hate that people have no moral issue with sharing passwords with all their friends or posting them to password sites.

AIL: Any plans for a SuicideBoys site so people can see what the hell Spooky looks like?

Spooky:

I'll tell you what I look like. Imagine a white Al Sharpton with horrible teeth, a limp and some disfiguring facial scars and now imagine his pudgy, less attractive, slightly unsanitary younger brother. That's me. Now do you really want to see that naked?

AIL: Has anyone kicked up the $250,000 to run an SG ad on Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Spooky: No, but a girl from wichita, kansas offered to bake me peanut butter chocolate chip cookies naked if I came out to visit her. We're currently negotiating my beverage options should I decide to accept her proposition.

AIL: Any curses or closing words of inspiration you would like to give our readers?

Spooky: My favorite curse is the often overlooked jerkpants, missys pet name for me. So I will leave you with that.

AIL: Thanks!





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