*Trigger warning* There are images of people being suspended by hooks, if you have a sensitivity to this please be advised before scrolling down - the Fetish.com Editor
 

Body modification is nothing new to the human race, but what about suspension? We asked MadameZ to take a peek into the history books and chat with current practitioners to learn just what all this hanging around is about.

 

Hanging Around on My Skin..

Body modification as a concept has been around for a long, long time. Even though elaborate, visible tattoos, and piercings of almost any part of the body, now seem commonplace, there are still extremes to be found, if you know where to look. One of the more advanced-level kink practice that still has the ability to startle even the more jaded is skin suspension. This is a matter of lifting a person off the ground by means of sterile metal hooks inserted into the skin and attached to ropes or cords, which are in turn attached to a frame or pulley of some kind.

The origins of the practice are vague, with conflicting accounts to be found, but it appears to have been practiced in many different countries over many centuries. There’s some evidence of a ritual called Okapi, practiced by the Mandan tribe of Native Americans, and the Sun Dance rituals of Plains tribes also featured skin hooks and piercings, as does the Thaipusam festival for Tamil Hindus, among others.

Body suspension seems to have grown in popularity among fetish fans and other thrill-seekers after the publication of the notorious Modern Primitives book at the end of the 1980s.  People undergoing hook suspension also tends to be one of the features of Burning Man and other alternative-culture events.

body modification
Get high... on endorphins

There’s certainly a substantial community who enjoy the practice – a Guardian feature on body suspension, published in 2013, listed rock guitarist Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction) as a fan. Enthusiasts talk of reaching a transcendent state while hanging in suspension though it is, apparently, a different experience if the suspendee is doing it as part of a performance and not as part of a ritual – or a private kink session.

I spoke to Scott, who first tried skin hooks at a session conducted by Fakir Musafa around ten years ago. Musafa is widely regarded as the founder of modern primitivism and has done a great deal of work on body modification, piercings, hook pulls and the rest. Scott told me the event was ‘very tribal and ritualistic’, with a drum circle taking place as well as facial piercing and skin hooks.

There is a massive endorphin rush which comes with doing this and a feeling of plugging into something very primal. According to Scott, the last few moments before his first suspension were intense and nerve-wracking and he felt close to backing out, he says 'it’s a case of just, take a deep breath and the next thing you know, you are flying!'

 

piercing suspension
Preparation for suspension

 

Interested in trying it for yourself? Here are some tips -

Do it as part of a group, at least when you are starting out. This is very, very definitely not something you should just have a go at on a whim, by yourself. As with all of the more intense kinks, there is a lot of technical skill involved. Body suspension as part of a group ritual also gives you the necessary support and encouragement to take that leap into the unknown.

Don’t be afraid of pain. OK, if you are someone who hates pain and doesn’t experience that switch over from pain to ecstasy, this sort of thing is probably not for you, though I am informed that body suspension pain is not a problem.

'Pain, being an involuntary response, the fact that you have chosen this experience means that what you are feeling is not pain.' - Fakir Musafa

‘Health and safety’ is paramount. Body suspension hooks are usually shark hooks with the barbs filed off - there are kink suppliers who sell all the necessary stuff. There are more elaborate devices available, though these can be expensive. You will need the usual sterile gloves, antiseptics and sharps disposal gear.

Skin is first pierced with a hollow needle and the hooks inserted afterwards. There are various positions for suspension, but the exact placing of the hooks depends on the person being suspended – those who suspend others need a good knowledge of anatomy.

Aftercare: there is a specific part of aftercare which skin suspension fans refer to as ‘Rice Krispies’. When the hooks are removed, air bubbles will have formed beneath the skin which needs to be massaged out – apparently, this makes a sound similar to the famous breakfast cereal. Other than that, all that is needed is a sterile dressing over the wounds, and healing takes no more than a few days.

Overall, if approached sensibly, suspension would appear to be no more dangerous than many other kink activities. Viewing some footage of suspendees may also show you that, as with all the best high-intensity fun, there is room for a special type of silliness as well as profoundly altered states. There is also a lot to be said for finding out just how much the human body is capable of enduring – and enjoying.

 

Got your own experiences of flying high? Wanna share your stories or exchange tips? Head over to the forum and let everyone know about it!

 

Images from Flickr Creative Commons user deejayqueue & Wiki Commons


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