Thursday, November 6, 2014

My First Body Suspension - Halloween Night, 2014

My Halloweens have been, for the most, part consistent: when I was young, I trick or treated. When I got older, I started Haunting. This year, on Halloween Night, I did something very different, something I had never done before, something many would label insane, idiotic, horrifying, masochistic, grisly, and pointless, while others would describe it as powerful, beautiful, a rite of passage, spiritual, artistic, and brave: I did my first body suspension.

Body suspension, for those not in the know, is the art of suspending the human body via piercings through the flesh. When most people hear about body suspension they either picture this:

"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"
Or this:

But it actually has it's origins in ancient rites of passage, such as the ceremonies practiced by the Mandan tribe along the banks of the Mississippi. The art saw a rival starting in the 1970s and 1980s, via the Modern Primitive movement started by Fakir Musafar, picking up popularity as the decades wore on. Now you can see body suspension performed anywhere from tattoo conventions to rock concerts to even some haunted attractions such as the Haunted Hoochie in Columbus, OH, or the late great House of Shock in New Orleans, LA.

Which brings me to how I decided to do body suspension. I had been aware of it for a quite a few years, but I never thought of it as something I would ever do. Truth be told, I thought it was completely freaky. The came Halloween 2013, and a performance by the Carnival of Curiosity and Chaos at Sacred Ink, the tattoo shop which owns the magazine I'm employed by. I was blown away by the whole thing, and was really impressed by the sheer spectacle of it. A few months later, having landed a job at Obscure Ink Magazine, I was one of those sent to attend the Baltimore Tattoo Convention, where I saw even more performances of body suspension, including one by internationally renowned burlesque performer and sideshow artist Marlo Marquise. After leaving the convention, I was struck with a profound sense of wonderment. This was something that I was starting to find extremely fascinating, though I still never thought I would try for myself. Some time went by, and I was informed by Sean Hughes (my boss, owner of Sacred Ink and Obscure Ink) that Marlo would be performing at this years annual Halloween party, along with Steve Truitt of Ascension Body Mod, widely regarded as one of if not the best suspension piercer in the industry, having toured the world with bands such as Jane's Addiction and acting as Dave Navarro's personal piercer; Steve would be offering suspensions to the public, I was told. It was around then that something my mind just snapped and said "Where do I sign up?"

To be honest, for me 2014 has been a year of pushing my personal limits. I'm slowly losing the shyness that has plagued me most of my life, and I'm achieving a lot of personal firsts: starting college, getting a proper job as a professional writer, going on my first date, travelling further from home than I ever have... this was a year of accomplishments. I believe that in life you need to be willing to push yourself to your limits, if for no other reason to know what your limits are. I knew what I was undertaking was something pretty extreme, something most people would never do, which really just made it more appealing. I wanted to see if I could actually do this. I  told myself that after all the emotional agony I've gone through, and all the dangerous, horrible situations I've encountered that threatened my freedom, my sanity, and my life, that if I was able to face all of those and come stronger on the other side, that I could I do this. And so began the countdown.

I originally thought the suspension was to happen on November 1st, the night of the party, but Steve thought it would be better, since this my first time doing suspension, if I did this one without a huge crowd around me. So my suspension was rescheduled for Halloween Night; appropriate, in retrospect. I was surprisingly calm leading up the big night. Even on Halloween itself, I wasn't worried or nervous. That all changed when Steve and Marlo arrived at the shop. I chatted with them for a while, making polite, albeit nervous, conversation, all while a cold sweat built on my forehead.

This was about to happen. But I'd said I was going to do it, and I refused to back out now.

I went into the piercing booth, where I removed my shirt and Steve began marking my back, finding the right spot to put the hooks in. After finding the right spots, I lay down on the piercing table. Steve instructed me to take a deep breath, and on the exhale he pierced me the first hook. I won't lie, it did hurt, but not nearly as much as you'd think. In fact, it was pretty easy. Still, it was, to use the technical term, a Fuck You Piercing:

Me, just after the hooks were put in.
After resting for a while, allowing the pain from the piercing to wear off, I got up, drank some water, and went to the rig installed for suspensions, where Steve was waiting to hook me up to the rig. Once I was attached, Sean put on some music for me to help get psyched up ("Pussy Liquor", by Rob Zombie), Marlo took me by the hands, and it began. I slowly began to walk back and forth, while Steve began to pull up on the ropes. At that point, I was in more physical pain than I had ever been in before. I felt like I was being torn apart, and that the hooks would rip through my skin at any moment. I began to panic just a bit, and I was starting to think I wouldn't be able to do it. Sean and Marlo gave me a quick pep talk, and there were shouts of support and "You can do it!" from the rest of the crew at the shop. I nodded, my head, took a deep breath, and gritted my teeth. It was now or never. With that, Steve hoisted me up, and I let loose a long, agonized scream. I had done it.

The suspension begins.
Marlo walks me through the suspension.
My friends cheered, and it dawned on me that I was now two feet off the ground. After hanging in the air for a while, Steve let me down, and I was led back to the piercing booth where the hooks were removed and my wounds cleaned. I got dressed, took a sigh of relief. It was over. I had done it, I didn't think I could, but I did. I had done what many would not, could not, and found myself stronger because. I also learned a new respect for the art of suspension, and the guts it takes to do this sort of thing. Would I do it again? Yes I would.

“Blood!...Blood!... That's a good thing! A ghost who bleeds is less dangerous!” About to have the hooks removed.
The Unholy Two: Me and Steve the following night.
Special thanks to Steve for doing the suspension, to Sean and Marlo for pep-talking me through the most intense part of the suspension, and to everyone who showed their support by being there. You guys were awesome! And now, without any further ado, here is the video of my suspension:


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Damian, I winced throughout that video, but damn, was that awesome. Congratulations! It's an amazing feat that you just conquered. Onward and upward!!

  3. Yowser - you are one tough fella.

    1. LOL, thanks Lady M. I've been hearing that a lot lately.

  4. Probably, objectively, a bad idea; you know, risk of infection, etcetera. But hey, different hooks for different spooks, amirite?!

    Glad you enjoyed the experience, heh heh.

    1. Mantan, I can assure you every precaution was taken against ANY sort of infection. Steve is immensely professional, as are the folks at Sacred Ink. All equipment used was completely sterilized, and the wounds were cleaned and dressed properly afterwards.

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