I first became aware of suspension in the early 90s. There was a bookstore in Silverlake called Amok Books and one of their bigger selling titles was a RE Search book called Modern Primitives that was published in 1989. This is where I learned about Fakir Musafar. (He has experimented on his own body with body modification techniques such as body piercing, tightlacing, scarification, tattooing, and suspension, and has documented, shared and taught others as part of his life’s work making him an underground icon in BDSM, kink and fetish communities. – Wikipedia) I was instantly intrigued by Fakir and his practices. I read as much as I could find on Fakir and quickly found myself at different happenings in Los Angeles. Art shows, both visual and performance, conventions, odd book store openings, fetish community gatherings… Whatever I could find. It was at this time I learned of Ron Athey and had the opportunity to meet him at one of his performances. (Athey’s work explores challenging subjects like the relationships between desire, sexuality, and traumatic experience. Many of his works include aspects of S&M in order to confront pre-conceived ideas about the body in relation to masculinity and religious iconography. – Wikipedia) These guys were both inspiring and fascinating to me through their penchant for performance and seemingly super human powers.
Fast forward to the early part of 2000. I was doing a show In Vegas to celebrate the opening of Mario Barth’s Tattoo shop. This is where I met my friend Steve Truitt, founder of Ascension Suspension. Steve travels around the world doing body modification and suspension. Steve hung a few performers, Stitch and Stigmata, during my set at the opening and I was once again re-introduced to this practice I had been so moved by years earlier. Steve, along with Victoria (Stitch) and Miss Crash became some of the people I would see around from time to time and ultimately become friends with. As for the set, nobody in the room could take their eyes off of these performers. The stage was adorned by two suspension artists hung from either side. The adrenaline and overall magic in the room was instantly elevated and I was once again hooked, so to speak. I had more fun interacting with the suspension artists than I can remember ever having on a stage. Of course, I was now thinking, “I wonder what that’s like? I wonder if I could do that.”
During some downtime I briefly had an online interview show called SpreadTV. This is where I met Matt Zane. Matt came on the show to discuss his band Society 1 and do some in house suspension for us. I was blown away with Matt’s ease and comfortability with the suspension. I would ask the obvious questions. “Does that hurt? What’s that feel like? Etc…” He laughed. “Dude, just try it!” I laughed too. “Uh huh… Yeah I’ll get right on that!” It was then I knew I would one day HAVE to. I am the kind of guy that once I realize that I am spooked by an idea, I have to walk through it. It would still, be years before I would.
A few years later Jane’s had a show at The Roxy. We wanted something special. I reached out to Steve Truitt and his team and we invited them to come and be a part of the show. Steve brought two performers, Miss Crash and Jane Jett. Again, hung from either side of the stage these two brought an electricity and level of danger to the show that one could taste in the audience… The twinge of iron from the blood of these women stained the tongues of everyone who witnessed the performance. Jane’s would go on to do a full world tour with two artists suspending at every show. We brought Steve, Miss Crash and the lovely Samar. On the stage, we all felt the magic and intensity as we collectively created a sound and a visual that was full of a physical, emotional and spiritual infusion. Crash and Samar would hang just about every night, switching between their backs and rib cages. They pushed their bodies to the limits and I am forever grateful to them. Some nights I wanted to shout at the crowd, “Do you have any idea what these two are putting their bodies through?” They would hang with such ease that I don’t really think that many observers were even aware of what was actually happening or what they were actually seeing. I was RIGHT THERE and it was difficult for me to even contemplate. I had to get up now.
I ran into Steve again in New York City. We met up at Sacred Tattoo to see our friend Damien Echols. Damien was tattooing me that day. I found myself surrounded by even more suspension artists. Starr Belew, Brian Decker, Steve… It was time. I turned to Steve at one point and without even thinking I said, “Hey man, would you hang me one of these days?” “Sure.” he said. (Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to be that simple… I may not have asked had I known it was!) In any event I was now locked in and committed. We found a date that worked for both of us and confirmed our appointment. We were to hang at magician, Rudy Coby’s loft in DTLA. I have to admit, I initially thought that my suspension would be a one time experiment to see if I could even go through with it. Like some kind of thrill seeking, bad ass thing… A mind over matter type of dare to myself and nothing more. I had heard of all the “spiritual” aspects to this craft, but I have never been much of a spiritual guy… At least not consistently. I pretty much felt this was something I needed to try and feel for myself. I mean, I had always been interested. With a small collection of friends and artists I set forth to pursue my goal.
The rest is difficult to explain. All I can say is that I got something out of the experience that transcends words. I had asked many artists in the past, “What’s that feel like?” I now understand the look I’d get as they searched for the right words to explain… Sometimes even a subtle look of annoyance as they knew they really couldn’t. For me, it was the following: Calm, spiritual, still, trust, love, passion, ecstasy, clarity, adrenaline, God, invigoration, vision, light and dark… Just to scratch the surface. Nothing bad ass, nothing daring, nothing experimental. Nothing of what I expected. So much more than I could have imagined. I have since gone up two more times and plan on more. I would like to thank those who have inspired me: Fakir, Ron, Steve, Stitch, Stigmata, Kyle, Crash, Samar, Marlo, Starr, Brian, Todd, Rudy, Chris, Heather, Ash, Jane, Rick, Dan, Riss, Matt… The list goes on and on.