john wayne stevens

A suspension is the act of suspending a human body from hooks that have been put through body piercings. These piercings are temporary and are performed just prior to the actual suspension.

Multiple hooks are usually located around the shoulders, upper arm, and back, as well as around the knees (depending on the position in which the body is to be suspended). Finding the proper hook placement and number requires an understanding of human anatomy and physiology, as well as the durability of the individual’s skin. If the number of hooks are too few, the suspended individual’s skin will be unable to withstand the body’s weight and will rip.

Suspensions are sometimes used for meditation to gain a higher level of spiritual fulfillment or awareness. It can also be used as entertainment or as performance art. Acrobatic actions may be performed, most commonly during a ‘suicide suspension (vertical suspension with hooks in the upper back and shoulders, so named because it looks as if the person has been hanged). Historically, suspension rituals were performed by the Mandan tribe, located along the banks of the Missouri River. The O-Kee-Pa suspension, is named after the Native American rite; it is also a vertical suspension, but hooked from the upper chest.

Modern day suspensions are closely related to the artwork of performance artists that use their own bodies as canvases. Roland Loomis was an artist who specialized in suspension and piercing performance pieces, also starting the Modern Primitivism movement, people in developed nations who engage in body modification rituals and practices in homage to rite of passage practices in ‘primitive cultures.’ Allen Falkner, sometimes called the father of modern suspension, also helped to bring suspensions to people who weren’t spiritual, as well as a plethora of different and unique suspensions types.

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