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NorCal SusCon

I got a bit nervous when I saw NorCal SusCon up on the BME Events page. I'd been looking to do my first suspension, and seeing this as an opportunity to get that done, I began my usual routine of trying to talk myself out of it. "San Jose," I thought to myself. "Let's wait for a SoCal SusCon."

One month later I'd made my deposit (for my own suspension) and was packing my bags.

I'd never been to an event like this (or any BME meet, for that matter), so I wasn't entirely certain what to expect. I'd also never done a suspension or seen one performed. It would be a weekend of firsts.

I reached Pierce Ink at 2:00ish on Saturday (Jan 20, 2007). The girl at the counter motioned towards the back and I went through the doors to find a spacious white room with a floor-to-ceiling curtain at one end and about thirty people in folding chairs sitting along one of the walls. Message tables to the right, two pulley and rope rigs in the middle.

A group of people was gathered at the table, signing forms. The first suspension was not yet under way, so the room lacked focus.

I was checked in, hand stamped, and released into the room. Noticing my name at the top of the list, I did the best I could to prepare myself for my own suspension.

And then that happened.

Before I went up, I was a bit trepidatious about the number of spectators. Afterwards, I was thankful for them. The sense of community was tangible. Every moment was shared. While it went unexpressed, you could tell that each of us was with the other. Hopes and anticipations built as each new suspendee went up. We would applaud as toes touched air, breathe a sigh of relief when feet met floor again. Though not up ourselves, we'd smile when someone first kicked off a pillar or was pushed into a wide swinging arc.

The first few hours were given mainly to suiciders (Jewel's Sideshow, Sploik, Whitespace, malicevext, val, jessihippiegirl). But each was given its share of attention and none considered more or less important than another.

A few hours in Corporate Whore was taken from his folding chair and brought to the piercing tables. On the board next to his name was written, "coma to resurrection," and I think it's fair to say we were all looking forward to witnessing that.

The anticipation built as the preparation time drew on. green.plasticjen was prepared for her suicide and was being hooked up as CW (still lying on the table) was carried out and placed under the second rig.

The ropes were drawn, skin stretched. The song that had been playing ended and it was utterly silent as CW and gpj got into the air, virtually simultaneously. We collectively exhaled and burst into applause just as a new song came on. It's one of those moments that I hope to keep with me for a long time.

After hanging in a coma for a while, CW cut his legs free and stayed in a resurrection pose for some time. I determined then that I want to try as many suspension positions as I can.

People began to get restless. There was much coming and going. I was a bit disappointed in myself for not hanging for longer, so I inquired about trying another suspension. Possible, but not probable (never materialized, alas).

The later hours were given to the experienced suspendees who were trying more preparation-intensive suspensions. Cyril did an angel, flying through the air.

Paul was next. He was attempting a two-point chest. He took his time preparing. Very slowly he was lifted, first picking up one leg and then the other. Moments after getting both feet up, he was yelling "down!" The left hook had torn his skin and suddenly the room was in a flurry. He was rushed to a table and all of the practitioners gathered around to stop the bleeding and shut the wound.

The rest of us fell silent, powerless to do anything besides watch. Time stretched on. Most people left the side of the table until only a couple were left to put the bandages on.

Though it was only around 8:00 PM, we were all pretty beat. Allen Falkner called it a night and said we'd reconvene the next day.

I got back to Pierce Ink at about 1:30 on Sunday, a friend in tow. People were still getting in. Some looked like they'd been out a bit late the night before. The first suspension of the day was a coma. The suspendee (didn't catch a name, sorry) opted to have all eight hooks thrown at once. The practitioners all gathered around her table. "One. Two. Three. Pierce." The groan she let out was almost chilling.

The suspension went well and afterwards my friend and I opted to step out for a bite to eat. She (coma) ended up being the final attendant of the morning, so the rest of the day was given to the practitioners and staff. We got back to find Tyler Durden bleeding from his knee. I was a bit upset to have missed the action, as a knee is what I want(ed) to try next. Gaylin and lili gave suicides a go.
And if I end up forgetting anyone else - sorry! The weekend was a bit overwhelming, and I've tried to piece it together from memory. I know I'm missing some practitioners and suspenders, not to mention the people who came out to watch and give support. I've tried to track down as many iam-ers as I could, but I know I'm missing some. For the record, Erik Dakota handled much of the piercing, chandler helped on rigging, Sicklove, Marcelo Rodrigues, and Daddy took a ton of pictures (they provided most of the pictures seen here - used with permission).

Sunday wasn't as organized as Saturday, so the day went slower. There were long passages of set-up and preparation interrupted by short bursts of excitement.

The spinning beam was hooked up and Sque3z ran up to me to see how much I weighed and if I'd want to try it. My back was still sore from my suicide the day before, so I sadly had to opt out. He grabbed CW (he of the coma to resurrection) as his partner instead.

I'm still a bit sad that I couldn't do it, because in my eyes, the spinning beam looks to be one of the most fun things a human being can do with his/her body. It's definitely now near the top of my list of things to do.

After that, the two single rigs were set up next to each other and there were attempts at side-by-side suicide (emeraldfirefly had a rather emotional one) and knee suspensions. Meanwhile Joy Rumore and Evan did the spinning beam.

Early evening was setting in and we were supposed to get out of there when the shop closed at 7:00 PM.

In one corner, something preparation-intensive was being set up. The last thing up on the white board was Allen and MUTE-ONE on the spinning beam. You gotta figure that's going to be something special.

They got ready and impressed us with their pre-beam preparations (part of which involved hooking up to the two side-by-side rigs and pulling themselves up for preliminary suicides).

The weekend taught me lots of things. Suspension can be spiritual. It can be a personal journey. It can be an event, an artform, a personal test. It can be fun. But it can also be the basis for a new spectator sport. Allen and MUTE-ONE on the spinning beam was something to witness. It was violent and funny, equal parts ballet and wrestling match. Bodies flew over heads, legs kicked the ground and thrashed in the air. At one point they picked up Cere and Jason. It was a great highlight to the already incredible weekend.

They finished up, leaving one suspension left. Already past seven, the crews packed their equipment as (another name I sadly didn't catch - let's call her R2S) was set up for her resurrection into suicide. We all gathered around, sharing these last few moments before we went our separate ways again.

R2S finally got off the ground. She stayed resurrected for a while, then was handed the cutter. She cut her torso free, dropping into the suicide position (a move which was cushioned by the bungee cords set up specifically for her suspension). She bounced around her corner of the room, like a toddler in one of those swinging chairs that hang from door frames.

And then it was done. The SusCon was finished and the gathering ended. (You can find more pictures under the Ritual Events section here, but they're already a few pages back, so you'll need at least an Extreme2 membership [which you can very easily purchase or receive by submitting your own pictures or experiences].)

I won't speak for anyone else in this, but it was one of the most remarkable weekends of my life (topped off by my car and my self breaking down in Paso Robles during the drive home, but that's a whole 'nother story), and I'm proud to be the member of a community that would make this possible.


submitted by: LotN
on: 07 March 2007
in Culture

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Artist: various
Studio: Pierce+Ink
Location: San+Jose%2C+California

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