Anchors Aweigh has been a group that I have loved since its formation in 2011; not only their beautiful work, but also the incredible individuals that make their team what it is. I have been fortunate enough to have suspended with them in their private sessions before, and there is something that is very personal and intimate about the experience they offer. It really can’t be placed on any one element, but rather is a combination of the love they have for their craft, their passion to create suspension as art, and most importantly, the feeling that you are in the hands of people who genuinely care about you and the experience you have while you are with them. The result can be seen in the images they capture of their suspendees in various states of emotional release, happiness, or peaceful bliss.
Anchors Aweigh has brought some of those moments together in their newly released photo book. Orb, the Captain of the Anchors Aweigh crew, took a moment to tell us about the focus of the team, the photos, and their book:
November was a busy month for the suspension community in the US. Along with the multiple DisGraceGivinG events taking place, it also marked the debut of Veneration; a magazine aimed toward the suspension and body modification communities. Their editor in chief, Rachel Dorothy, took some time to tell us more about the magazine, what you can expect in the first issue, and how to order.
Editor-in-Chief Rachel Dorothy:
“Veneration Magazine began as a dream among members of Skindicate Suspension in mid-2014. After much thought and planning, and after several adjustments to the staff running this show, I became the editor-in-chief of the project. Veneration was created in order to be a place for the heavier and more “taboo” arts to showcase their works, without fear of censorship or judgment. Obviously the magazine has a heavy emphasis on body suspension, and is going to be primarily focused on such, but we are looking forward to having performers of all genres in the magazine, including freakshow/sideshow acts, body modifiers, and other acts from across the globe. Speaking of which, Veneration is an internationally-available magazine. We hope to include several international parties in our upcoming issue, which is due for release in February 2015. Veneration is a quarterly magazine as of right now.”
On Tender Hooks, an in depth look at the incredible individuals that make up our suspension community, is the first feature film by director Kate Shenton. Along with documenting the experience of what we do and why, Kate took the leap herself to fully immerse herself in the subject and the film by being suspended. She took a bit of time to tell us about the film, her powerful experience with suspension, and her journey into our community. Be sure to check the film’s Facebook page for more information about where you can purchase the full length DVD.
When I first started filming On Tender Hooks I was a terribly squeamish person. I couldn’t handle more than a paper cut. One of the main reasons I wanted to make this film was because the community was such a world away from the life that I had lived. I come from an incredibly conservative background, and to say coming into the world of suspension was eye-opening would be an understatement. I never realized that I was a judgmental person until I was surrounded by people who are so easily judged. The first three questions I asked were the same as many people, ‘Is it a fetish? Is itself harming? Does it hurt?’
What drew me into suspension was not the hooks, nor the stretch skin. It was the people. That is always been at my motivation for making the film. There is no warmer atmosphere than when you go to a suspension event, nor is there anywhere more open-minded and accepting. In all honesty, the initial shock of seeing a suspension wears off very quickly, but what doesn’t wear off is the energy and love shown by the community. It was this that drew me deep into the world of suspension, and it was this that I wanted to capture in my film.
Of course once I decided to embark on making a feature documentary about human suspension, I knew I could not justify filming something in such intimate detail which I’ve not experienced myself. The possibility of undergoing a suspension was the most petrifying thing I could imagine. I am not someone who is very good with pain nor am I drawn to extreme experiences.
There is one moment that will always stick with me from my experience of suspending. It was not the been pierced through my skin or the natural high when finally up in the air. It was the moment when I was sitting on a chair crying, after failing to get up in the air twice. I’ve never felt so scared. The only thought I had in my head was that I wanted to be cut down from the ropes and to run a million miles away. The only thing that stopped me was knowing that I could not make this film if I did not go through with the experience. I don’t know where I got it from, but I found the strength to stand up from the chair and attempt to suspend. It was this attempt when I finally succeeded. Something came over me and I just stopped crying and stood up. It was a inner strength that I never knew I had.
There have been many moments in the process of making this film which I have had to remember that strength; Overcoming my fear of flying so that I could film abroad, approaching sales agents armed with nothing more than a bag full of DVDs, curling up into the fetus position as the film was about to screen for the first time. I have never personally felt that I am strong person but that experience, being pulled up into the air despite how scared I was, will always remind me that I’m a stronger person then I think I am.
This is why, when faced with writing this article, I think those three questions came into my head again. ‘Is it self harming? Is it a fetish? Does it hurt?’ So many times I’ve heard these questions from people, and yet I have never thought to ask why it’s always the same three so often. Assessing it now, I think it is because we live in such a judgmental society that restricts us from experiencing what is out there. We put it into a simple category which makes sense within a small world, when what we should be doing is looking so much deeper into the reasons why. No one does anything without a reason, and often the reasons behind the most extreme activities can be humble, honest, and something we can all associate with.
This is what On Tender Hooks has taught me. I myself, personally, would never do a suspension again, but I would never take back the experience of doing it. By taking myself out of my comfort zone and out of the world I’ve been brought up in, I have learned so much more about myself and the experiences and people that are out there.
I never set out to make freakshow. I set out to make a film about a group of very ordinary people who do some truly extraordinary things. A group of people who have changed my perceptions on life and my understanding on myself. If my film manages to make someone feel a tiny little bit more open minded than they originally did that my job is complete.
I also still can’t handle paper cuts….
Thank you so much, Kate, for taking time to become a part of our community, for the incredible film, and for telling us a bit about your work.
When I found out that Fakir Musafar was going to attend LBP (Latin-American Body Piercing Association) 2014 in Mexico, I decided to attend the convention. Danny Yerna asked if I would like to teach a class. However, I felt that speaking about myself didn’t make sense.
So I asked myself, “Why are people involved in suspension? Why do I Suspend?” With this thought in my mind I asked a selection of people who run different types of suspensions to show how they use our art form for self-exploration. From the submissions by practitioners all over the world, I put together this collection of videos to present as the convention.
I am so glad that I did. The feedback was great.
With suscon events and suspension gatherings being mostly hosted in locations throughout Europe and the United States, there are still huge parts of our community that have limited access to the education and exchange of information that happens at these events. There is a certain amount of learning that only comes from the hands on experiences gained from working with other practitioners and comparing the differences in how we each approach suspensions, and these types of events offer that opportunity.
Luckily for those in the southwest Pacific, Skindependent Suspensions will be hosting the upcoming SusCon Australasia in Christchurch, New Zealand; the first of its kind in the area. Those of you not living near the New Zealand area will be happy to hear that it is taking place in January, the peak of New Zealand’s beautiful summer, making it a perfect getaway for the winter months we will be having in our part of the world. If that isn’t motivation enough to get to it, this event has been announced as a one time only event. This will be your only opportunity to attend it, ever.
Keep reading for more information about the event:
As Autumn begins here in the US, the leaves are changing color and there is a chill in the air. With fall comes some very important family events around the country. No, not spending Thanksgiving or Christmas with grandma; these events are about a family connected by much more than blood. We are talking about the Disgracegiving events taking place November 16th in locations spread around the country with the many teams that make up the DisGraceLanD family.
This past October 11th, central Londoners may have spotted some rather peculiar zombies among the usual undead horde at World Zombie Day. Rest assured, it was only members of State of Bliss going out for a leisurely stroll.
State of Bliss was featured on Hook Life back in April 2013 with an artfully executed coma conceptualized by Tam Smith. It is wonderful to see that they continue to be involved in all facets of suspending; whether it be private, guerrilla, or performance. Their past and recent participation in London’s World Zombie Day highlights their versatility and professionalism. After sending Tam a barrage of questions, he was gracious enough to let me in on some details of the event.
For many years, possibly decades, the concept of suspending inside of a gyroscope has been discussed within the suspension community. Until just recently, the idea had been dismissed as being too difficult, dangerous or physically impossible. Thankfully a group of visionaries came together at the 2014 Dallas Suscon to make this dream a reality.
Marlo Marquise is a full-time performer and flesh hook suspension artist. Marlo began her journey into modeling in high school when friends offered her work doing art projects. It was mainly just an artistic hobby for her from highschool and into College. Having a bachelors degree in Fine Arts, she has been taught virtually every medium of art.
“I became very fascinated with the basic of raw art and thought to myself, what what is the most raw tool I can create art with… my body.”
Six years ago she decided to make a “model” profile on Model Mayhem and got instant responses. Her first shoot was a week later with a very old-school fetish photographer who had shot many covers for lifestyle specialty magazine such as DDI. Eventually she was shooting constantly and it became less of a hobby and more of a job. The rest is history!
Flash forward to present day: Marlo is a very sought after performance artist who specializes in Sideshow Burlesque, Fire, Flesh Hook Suspension as well as other various “freakshow” oddities.
I have followed Marlo’s work for quite some time and a few months ago I decided to shoot her a quick message online and see if she’d be interested in chatting a bit about her work, her lifestyle and her crazy shenanigans. She blew me away by being totally on board. So below is an assortment of questions and answers about her work with modeling, her personal journey through flesh hook suspension and a bit other personal information about her. I wanted to share this piece to promote this amazing lady and all her work. She’s a constant inspiration to me, and I know there are a lot of girls out there who are always looking for positive role models who showcase beauty, sophistication and class with a side of raw, unabashed self love. For me, Marlo is an icon who displays all the aspects of a hardworking, independent, driven woman who loves what she does and doesn’t let anyone tell her she can or cannot do it. She showcases her passion on a global stage and is part of the fight to push past social barriers standing in the way of more people doing what they love. Please enjoy the following and show this fantastic lady some support and love.