What is Body Suspension?
Sterile hooks are pierced through big chunks of skin to lift a person off the ground.
Captain Howdy swings for his body suspensions on stage from hooks pierced in his upper back. But that’s for money. His dream of relaxing after work as a window cleaner is to ‘hang out’ on hooks in his garden.
How safe is it?
It sounds more brutal than it is. Most piercers are highly experienced body modification and suspension artists, rigging masters with an intimate knowledge of how much the skin can take.
Generally, skin can take quite a lot – basically, it’s leather – and if it rips, it rips so slowly that there is enough time to bring the person down safely. During the years of filming with Captain Howdy and his crew I haven’t seen any skin ripping – even so I’ve heard stories.
How does it work?
The most common suspension is the so-called ‘suicide suspension’ with two or four hooks in the upper back.
The piercing itself can be extremely painful, particularly the second one, when the body knows what to expect – but despite the pain, the suspension is for many an overwhelming, highly emotional and most of all happy experience.
Once they let go, and loose the ground under their feet, the body is so shocked by this experience that it releases a complex cocktail of drugs including endorphins and adrenaline.
How does a body suspension feel?
Suspension rituals have been practiced for thousands of years, for example as a rite of passage among the Native Americans or as an act of devotion in South-East Asia.
Wyatt Marshall has written an excellent article about body suspension in The Atlantic, The Therapeutic Experience of Being Suspended by Your Skin.
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