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Unexpected first suspension

A few weeks ago, I met a very attractive girl named Ashley at a club in Detroit.  She seemed nice the few times that we had talked on the phone, and so we met up at the club again.  We had been talking and hanging out for two weeks when she offered an unusual proposition;  she asked me to stay with her for the weekend, and on Sunday attend her very first suspension.  "You're crazy." I said, "You mean to tell me you're going to hang yourself from hooks?"  Not that this concept was alien to me or that I had never considered the idea myself, I had heard of the Sundance rituals of the Lakota Indians and thought that the practice must open some door of perception...  I just never thought I would come this close to it.  I thought that this girl might be crazy.

She told me she was eighteen years old, which is not very old at all.  And yet here she is talking about having her back pierced with hooks so that she can be lifted off the ground by them.  I wondered if she even considered the danger of the situation.  Did the people involved with this have any idea what they were doing?  The danger and mystique of the situation began to grip and intrigue me.  I have got to see this. I thought.  "I won't do it myself, but I'll go watch."  I said.

The weekend finally came around and I took a bus to Detroit, then downriver to Lincoln Park.  Ashley and her friend Sabrina picked me up at the bus station, and we went to the club that night.  By this time, I had met Frank.  Frank is a friend of Ashley's as well as our ride to "The Virgin Sacrifice" hosted by "ihung" in Ann Arbor, where Ashley was scheduled for her first suspension.  So later this night, we drop Sabrina off, and Frank, Ashley and I returned to Ashley's place to get some rest for tomorrow's festivities.

The next day, we finally got up and around by noon or so.  Frank drove Ashley and me to Big Boy for "breakfast".  We got some food in us then went to Ann Arbor.  The place we were looking for was called Lucky Monkey Tattoos, which we found pretty easily.  Now with full stomachs and an eager sadistic anticipation gnawing at us, we awaited the sight of Ashley hanging from hooks.  We entered the surprisingly small tattoo shop which was two doors down from a familiar diner.  This is not what I was expecting I thought.

I came into this expecting for some reason to see a large convention of pinheads and yahoos of every freaky variety gathering in some kind of hall or massive building.  I guess I really don't know what I anticipated at all, but this was not it.  The place smelled sterile, as most tattoo shops and doctor's offices do.  The scent of rubbing alcohol was in the air and in the front, by the window, a girl was being tattooed.  A guy with stretched lobes stopped us at the door and asked us why we had come here.  "Are you here for the Virgin Sacrifice?" they asked.  "It's back there."  He pointed us to the back of the shop.

We walked to the back of the place and entered a room with a black and white checkered tile floor.  The smell of sweat was in the air mixing with the alcohol and bleach.  The crowd was small... maybe fifteen people were sitting in the room watching as one of the gentlemen from ihung was attaching a pulley apparatus to the ceiling.  One eager first timer with camouflage pants and a green and blonde Mohawk stepped up to be the first sacrifice of the evening.  His hooks were placed, and up he went... what astounded me was that he did not just hang... once up in the air he began to kick his legs and swing around as if he felt no pain at all.

After this and others, my friend Ashley was to go through with her first suspension.  But by the time she got to filling out her paperwork, I had started asking people about their experiences and trying to compare the pain to anything I could relate to.  At this point I had had my nostril pierced on two occasions, my tongue pierced once, and both my nipples as well (twice on the right), so I opted to ask another guy who had his nipples pierced which hurt more, the piercing or the hooks in his back.  I was really getting way too curious already, when he said "Nipple piercing hurts way more."  I was in... I began to fill out my paperwork with Ashley, all the while thinking I'm insane, what am I doing?!

I watched Ashley go up and have a few minutes of fun, I then retired to the back room to have my hooks put in.  I was rubbed down with something I assume was antiseptic like alcohol after little blue marks were inked on my back and between my shoulders.  I lay down on the table, took in a deep breath and exhaled hard as the first two hooks were pushed through simultaneously by two different people.  It indeed was less painful than a nipple piercing, and was similarly followed by a moderate endorphin rush.  After this first set, I breathed deep and exhaled again for the other two.  Just as I thought the worst part was over, I realized how psychologically opposed I was to the idea of my body hanging from hooks... the entirety of my organism quivered in fear.  I was so deeply metabolically disturbed by the impending experience that my physiology had already been affected before I had even had my hooks tied to the pulley apparatus.  Sweat poured from my armpits to my palms, my le gs shook incessantly, my awareness became acute as my lower brain shifted to fight or flight automaton.

My hooks were tied on to the pulley, the tension adjusted to my liking so as to distribute equal pressure to all four hooks.  Then, I asked for a glucose tablet to raise my blood sugar and prevent any fainting, and drank a swig of water.  An ihung assistant held my hands and walked me backwards a few steps, then forward, then back again as the pulley was raised and I began to walk on my tip toes... then I felt my back burn for a moment.  This is going to really hurt!  I caught myself thinking, before I realized I'm already swinging in the air and this feels so incredible it's beyond words!  I was up and swinging.  I let go of my guide's hands as every pore in my body opened up at once and my head exploded with an endorphin surge that tickled every neuron in my brain and tingling every nerve attached to my spinal cord.  I felt overwhelming pain and pleasure blend and mix together into a stupendously beautiful kaleidoscopic mantra of sensations.  At this point I knew that I wou ld want to try this again, but for now I wanted to focus on my current space-time location.  The moment was setting me free.

I began to settle into my newfound position.  I even accepted a couple pushes.  My hands became cold and tingly, so I started to move my arms and hands to promote circulation of blood.  I started to become more comfortable with the hooks all moving in different directions as I swung from the pulley and occasionally twisted the rope by moving side to side and in circles.  Once this was decently familiar territory I began to get my legs into it more and really push myself around.  I kicked around and had a few pictures taken of me, which I smiled and posed for.  I spent somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes suspended before I realized the tension of my outmost right hook was pretty high compared with the others and causing some discomfort.  At this point, I reluctantly requested to slowly be let down to floor.

As my feet landed, my body suddenly felt light, it then felt as if heavy ballast were placed upon my shoulders.  I was escorted to a table where my hooks were removed, I was again disinfected with an antiseptic back massage during which air pockets that had developed under my skin while suspended were pushed out the holes in my back left by the hooks.  They were not able to release all the air, so some pockets which they called "rice crispies" were left.  I was told they were harmless, but may cause some discomfort for a few days before they were worked out naturally.

I was a bit exhausted, yet very excited and proud of myself for overcoming fear for the sake of exploring my body's threshold of pain.  I had widened my narrow spectrum of experience, and as a result learned more about myself.  I found it to be far less of a physically painful ordeal, and more of a psychological expedition.  I have no regrets and indeed am eager for an opportunity to be suspended again.

It's now been almost a week since my first suspension.  My back was sore for the first two days, and I suppose still is... but by now it's less sore and just itching where the skin is being tensed around the healing hook marks.  The worst part of the first day or two was the soreness and bizarre feeling of air pockets under my skin, however many participants that evening did not have to deal with this complication as I did.  Really, I just felt pretty chipper and confidant the next few days.  I think that endorphin kick lasts a few days.  I must say I had a good time with suspension and would personally recommend the gentlemen and ladies of ihung if anyone else out there is interested in suspension and pulling.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 Oct. 2003
in Ritual

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Artist: ihung
Studio: Lucky+Monkey+Tattoos
Location: Ann+Arbor%2C+MI

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