Tale of a hook virgin - my facial pulling
I wrote this experience back in '04, but for some reason never submitted it. Upon re-reading it I see parts I'd totally rewrite today; it's terribly long, dry and detailed. However I hope it will be of interest to some, especially people who are just getting into this stuff.
I'm 25 years old, and first entered the world of body piercing about ten years ago. Due to a negative healing experience, though, my interest waned and was only renewed about two years ago, sparked by an encounter with a modified girl who later became my girlfriend, and mother of my child. My first piercing in seven years was a cute little tragus piercing, but my interest soon turned to heavier modifications. My next piercing was an 8mm dermal punched outer conch, and over the next year I've gotten another punched cartilage piercing and two scalpelled lobe piercings, in addition to three teflon rod implants in my arm.
After having read up on body suspension on BME, I was thrilled to discover that Oslo had its own suspension team. I first witnessed a body suspension at Wings of Desire's 2003 SusCon, and I was mightily impressed and intrigued by what I saw. Since then a desire to suspend myself has grown inside, mainly to test my limits and see if I can do it, but also due to the aesthetic, artistic and possibly spiritual / psychedelic aspect of it. But careful as I tend to be about new things, I decided to try a pulling first.
My chance to get a taste of hooks came this summer on Oslo SusCon 2004. For the longest time I resisted the idea of doing this in front of so many people, but about a month or so prior to the event, I made up my mind to face my fears and get it done.
I'd seen many pictures and read many experiences on the subject of pulling, many of them hugely inspiring, but for some reason none of the traditional ways appealed to me that much for a first time. I've always been an outsider, I've never one of those "cool guys", even among freaks, and I've always tended to do things my own way. In this vein I sought out alternate ways of going about this. I remembered reading about someone having done a forehead pulling at a BME BBQ or something like that, and from this an idea started to take shape. I thought to myself, "why not the face?" and suddenly I knew what I wanted to do.
At first I came up with the idea of a dual hook temple pulling, but as I started to touch and pinch my face around that area, I realized that the skin might be a little too tight for a comfortable and safe pulling. I then started to pinch my cheeks, and soon came to the conclusion that this was a much more viable area to pierce and pull from.
I spent a lot of time contemplating the possible down-sides to this kind of pulling. I thought about possible nerve damage and scarring. But in the end I decided to go for it; scars never bothered me much, I have a couple in my face already, and these would be on the side of my face, close to my hairline. Serious nerve damage beyond repair seemed unlikely if I listened to my body and didn't push harder than what I felt comfortable with.
So it was decided. This was going to happen. I started telling people about my planned pulling, and everyone seemed to get off on the idea. I started to really look forward to it, not only as a personal challenge but also as a social event, and a tingling feeling of anticipation grew inside me as the time of the SusCon drew closer.
Wings of Desire - Oslo SusCon 2004
And so the day had come. At 14:00 hours on friday the 13th of August, Wings of Desire opened the 3rd annual Oslo SusCon at Månefisken ("Moonfish" - Ocean sunfish), a fantastic venue located by the river, suitable for both indoors and outdoors activity. There were about 40 participants from eight different countries, and special guest Allen Falkner came all the way from Texas to talk and hang out with us. The mood was great, there were good vibes all around, and that magical sensation of fellowship that often arises in small underground groups was growing as people got to know each other and started to relax.
The day started with Håvve Fjell (Pain Solution and WoD) giving a general lecture on the history of body suspension and pulling in both ancient and modern times, including a most interesting piece on Stellarc. The all-to-modest Allen then gave a lecture on himself and recent suspension history, and at last Håvve and Allen did a crazy demonstration of the spinning beam, much to the delight of the other participants.
As pullings were scheduled for sunday, I had to endure another fascinating day of watching suspensions before my time came. We had great fun, saw a lot of cool suspensions, basic and advanced, and the general mood was very laid back and cosy. Nevertheless, a growing feeling of nervousness and anxiety made itself present throughout the weekend. I thought to myself, "what the hell have I gotten myself into," and I started to worry more and more about the pain I was going to experience, the pain I had hitherto only longed for.
However, this was something I'd thought about and wanted for a long time, and I couldn't bail out. I was becoming rather anxious, but I never saw quitting as an option. I'd been telling people about my plans for a month, moreover I had longed for this moment and wouldn't be able to look myself in the eye if I didn't at least try. And after all, how bad could it be? I'd seen people undergo the most gruesome of tortures with smiles on their faces throughout the weekend, this couldn't be so bad. Worst case scenario, I'd give in to the pain and stop the session. There's no shame in that.
And so, the day had come. I didn't get much sleep the night before, but regardless I felt awake and alert when I arrived at Månefisken. I watched people being pierced in their elbows, chests and backs, and everyone seemed to enjoy the experience of pulling outside in the sunlight. But soon there weren't any piercees left to distract my attention, and the seriousness of the situation crept in and started weighing me down.
I sat down in the bottom of a stairway leading up from the piercing room and had a chat with Allen, who told me about the possible dangers of doing this pulling. He told me that sometimes, if skin was pulled too hard, the skin layers would separate, causing disfiguring scars. "So don't do anything too extreme," he said. Christiane informed him that I'd never had a hook in me before, so going too extreme seemed unlikely. I agreed. The idea of a tug of war using hooks penetrating my skin seemed extreme enough. "Cool," he said, and I started to prepare my mind for what awaited me.
I asked Christiane if I could have her and Håvve pierce me. I didn't doubt any of the other piercers' abilities, but as I've gotten to know and trust these two great people over the last year, I really wanted them to be a part of my experience. They both wanted to be a part of this too, so that wasn't a problem. I bundled my hair in a pony tail and hopped up on the table. Christiane started pinching my chins, and when I felt comfortable with a certain area, she marked the desired piercing spots with a sterile marker. I was soon all tagged and ready to go, and laid down on the table.
A lot of people started gathering around the piercing table. I guess a facial pulling isn't something you see every day, and even though I'm usually not comfortable with being around so many people, I didn't mind this at all. I knew these were all good people with a profound interest in suspension and pulling, and I knew they'd enjoy seeing this.
Christiane and Håvve applied needles to my chins, and I prepared for the pain that awaited. Christiane asked me if I was ready, and while I was still nervous, I guessed I was as ready as I'd ever be, so I gave them the go-ahead. Christiane guided me through the obligatory deep breath, and upon exhaling, two needles pierced my cheeks. A second later, the first pair of hooks was in place.
I guess I was so over-prepared for the piercing that I effectively blocked out any sharp pain. Of course there was pain, but it didn't really hurt. Håvve and Christiane prepared the second pair of hooks, and the procedure was repeated. Still no hellish world of pain. I asked for permission to sit up, and Håvve replied that "sure, if you're not dizzy or anything, go for it."
So I sat up, jumped off the table and went over to a mirror to inspect my freshly pierced face. It was a most amusing sight. I walked around for a bit watching other people pull against each other, but I soon felt ready for my own ordeal. I was intrigued by the idea of pulling against someone, but not knowing how I'd handle the experience, I decided to start out with a solo pulling against a bridge foundation just outside of Månefisken.
Tug of war
Chrisitane attached thin, black climbing ropes to my hooks, and we walked outside to get me hooked up. I took my stance by the bridge foundation, and most of the other participants gathered around as I started to pull on my ropes to get a feeling of the hooks. It didn't seem so bad, the pain was nothing like the sharp uncomfortable pain I had prepared for, although there was a strong sensation of pressure on my skin that I'd never felt before. Christiane fastened my ropes to a metal rod, and I took a step forward to tighten the ropes. When they felt tight enough, I started leaning forward carefully, slowly moving my feet backwards, leaning progressively forwards, inch by inch.
I was standing on an elevated concrete base, and the ropes were a little too long for me to be able to lean forward over the edge comfortably. So Christiane did some minor adjustments, and I was free to explore this new sensation without restrictions. I moved my feet further and further back, and soon I was leaning heavily forward, kept in place only by four hooks in my face. This was a most surreal situation to find myself in.
I felt more and more comfortable tugging on the ropes, and I soon felt ready for something more. I said that I was ready to pull against someone, and asked if anyone felt up for it. Christiane had her elbows pierced, and told me she was ready for me. She unfastened the ropes from the bridge foundation and hooked us up. She took her stance behind me, facing my back, and I stepped forward to tighten the ropes once again. I then started to lean forward, worrying a little about her ability to hold back (and me from falling). That feeling quickly subsided though, I could feel her being in control, so I started pulling harder.
"Come on now, pull forward," I heard Christiane say, and I slowly started to pull her forward. I now felt increasing resistance to my pull, in turn making me pull harder and harder. Everyone was standing around watching, but I could just as well have been alone with Christiane. All external sounds and impressions were blocked out, it was just me, my hooks, my skin, my boiling blood and Christiane holding me back.
There still seemed to be lots of resistance left, so I kept pulling harder. It all culminated in me marching forward in a military fashion, really pushing as hard as I could, leaning forward in what felt like a 45 degree angle. I never felt the pain and pressure on my skin limiting the force of the pull, I would have pushed harder if I could. It was the most fantastically absurd experience I'd ever gone through, with the possible exception of some acid trips many years ago. I mean, ok, acid is crazy, but this was fucking real. There was nothing truly spiritual about it though, it felt more like a warm, primitive trance-like outburst of primal brutality, all in the name of good fun (if that makes any sense).
Eventually Christiane informed me that she'd had enough. I stood up, and as soon as the pressure was off the hooks, I was filled with strange emotions of sometimes nearly orgastic proportions. It was kind of like the feeling after getting a new mod, only many times stronger. I was high from the endorphins and adrenaline of course, but there was also a great feeling of accomplishment present, much like that of having overcome some great obstacle or difficult task. Christiane seemed happy about the pulling as well, and in a moment of thoughtlessness I made a move to hug her, only to realize I still had four bloody hooks in my face, resulting in an outburst of laughter instead.
I then hooked up to another couple who were doing elbow pullings, but I soon decided that I'd had enough. This had far exceeded my expectations. I'd had my peak, and now I was happy about it being over.
While overflowing with emotions, endorphins, adrenaline and boiling blood, I gradually noticed a profound calm which would stay with me for a long time.
As I walked inside to get unhooked and cleaned up, people were congratulating me and seemed to really share my joy of it all. I was then informed that at the most, I had been pulling against four people. "What the hell, four people??" - I then learned that yes, as I'd been pulling Christiane forward with increasing force, people grabbed her and held her back to uphold the resistance. I'd been pulling so hard that four people couldn't hold me back. Holy fuck.
Before entering the aftercare section I shared a few words with Allen, who told me he he'd never seen or heard about a facial pulling before. This was surprising, I'd never seen or heard about one either, but I figured Allen would have. He also told me he was very impressed, and coming from the main man of suspension the last 12 years, that meant a lot to me.
I laid down on a table and surrendered my skin to Camilla (former piercer at Pinpoint) and Allen. There was no air trapped in my skin whatsoever, but the upper piercings close to my temple area continued bleeding a little bit, so they spent some time wiping blood off my face. Soon though, I was all patched up and ready to go. Noticing my reflection in the mirror, I couldn't help laughing at my ridiculous appearance, with big bandages covering half my face.
I then spent the rest of the day kicking back, watching suspensions (including an awesome 18 point crucifix by Richard), and later that evening the whole thing was over. What a weekend it had been, what an experience I'd endured. I felt strangely empowered by the whole thing, feeling I could take on the world.
I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before the pulling, and I didn't go to sleep before the next morning. After having slept through most of the following day, I took a shower and removed the bandages. Upon examining my face in the mirror, I was amazed by how little swelling there was (to my knowledge there was none, and my parents didn't notice anything either when I visited them later that evening), and to my relief the dots from the piercings were small, round, nice and neat. It looks like I'll walk away from this with minimal visual scarring.
So, a week has passed, and I've gotten some distance between myself and the experience. Would I do it again? Hell yes. Would I do anything different? Hell no. This whole thing went so much better than I'd ever imagined. It was a wholly positive experience, and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes the idea, unless they're touchy about small facial scars.
Finally I'd like to apologize to the people who actually made it all the way through, for the length of this text. I don't know what I'd leave out though, I hope I didn't bore you too much.
PS. It's now 2008, and I can see no scarring whatsoever.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 31 Jan. 2008