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Goth Web site models see nothing wrong with this picture

In spite of the provocative name, the women on SuicideGirls.com are not about to kill themselves. They're having too much fun showing off their latest tattoos, navel rings, hair colors and street-influenced fashions.

'We don't mean anything sinister by the name,' said Missy, the site's photographer, who also poses for occasional pictures. 'It's just one that was still available.'

Missy and Spooky operate the site out of a large, airy flat on Northwest 23rd Avenue. Their apartment building is squeezed between the upscale boutiques and endless coffee shops along Portland's version of Rodeo Drive.

Dozens of women have stripped and posed for pictures in their living room, shower and a small nook no larger than a closet.

Veronica and her roommate, Mia, dropped by the apartment one recent sunny afternoon for a photo shoot. Veronica had posed for the site before, having learned about it from a friend. Mia wanted to showcase the colorful tattoo spread across her back.

After peeling off their matching SuicideGirls.com sweatshirts, Veronica and Mia struck several poses together on a couch as Missy took pictures with her digital camera. When Missy showed them the pictures, Veronica and Mia giggled at how they looked. They could have been sharing stories about first kisses and blind dates.

Mia casually explained that she didn't feel exploited or embarrassed by the photographs.

'I got my tongue pierced and my first tattoo on my 18th birthday,' she said. 'I did this (modeling) so I can remember how my tattoos looked after I've grown old and wrinkly.'

Ñ Jim Redden