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Oct 2011 17

By Nicole Powers

“Pity is my least favorite four-letter word.”
– Amanda Palmer

The fiercely individual Madonna once observed that “life is a mystery” and “everyone must stand alone.” But for some that is tragically not possible. Conjoined twins Evelyn and Evelyn Neville (a.k.a. Evelyn Evelyn) are two such people; their uninvited union – and the uniqueness of their in many ways non-individual state – being both a blessing and a curse.

To say Evelyn Evelyn have had a tough upbringing would be a gross understatement. The pair lost their mother 12 minutes after their traumatic birth, and their early life took a nosedive from there. The girls’ father fell victim to an unlikely chainsaw accident shortly after their mother’s untimely demise, and thus the orphaned twins were left with only each other to rely on as they made their way in this all too cruel world.

Extended stints trapped in a chicken coup and held hostage by a child pornography ring meant the girls were robbed of anything approaching a normal childhood –– if that was ever a possibility given their Siamese status. However, after joining a circus and meeting some similarly conjoined pachyderms, Evelyn Evelyn got an inkling that their bond –– far from being a burden –– was something truly beautiful and special.

Having experienced relentless teasing and taunts for much of their life, the Neville sisters’ world was changed radically by the advent of social media. While in a dead end job filling out sweepstakes applications on behalf of an unappreciative motel proprietor, the duo practiced the songs they once performed with the circus and set up a profile on MySpace to showcase them. Unburdened by physical limitations and prejudices online, their music caught the attention of many, including singer, songwriter, and all round entertainer extraordinaire Amanda Palmer.

Inspired by their songs and by their struggle, Amanda recruited renowned folk musician Jason Webley to help with the project. Produced by Palmer and Webley, Evelyn Evelyn released their debut EP, “Elephant Elephant,” in 2007. Their heartfelt rendition of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” –– which served as the B-side of the vinyl edition –– brought them initial success and critical acclaim. A self-titled album followed in 2010, as did numerous sold out live dates.

Having recently returned from a triumphant stint at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival –– and with respect having firmly replaced ridicule –– Evelyn Evelyn embark on the next chapter in their lives with the release of a graphic novel based on their story. Written by Palmer and Webley, and illustrated by Cynthia von Buhler, it’s naturally being released in two parts (via Dark Horse Comics Inc.). Having not only redefined beauty, but what it means to be an individual, SuicideGirls caught up with Palmer to talk about Evelyn Evelyn.

For this interview SG’s editor, Nicole Powers, recruited her own twin siblings, Brenda Day and Samantha May. Though not conjoined, Brenda and Samantha do everything together and feel as if emotionally they are. They are therefore especially excited that Palmer and Webley are unleashing the power of multiples though their production work, and are exploring what it means to be an individual when you’re also one half of a whole. The following is a transcript of their online conversation…

Read our exclusive interview with Amanda Palmer on SuicideGirls.com.

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