A look back from guest writer Heather Cherry
July 2004 – We wanted to do a suspension where it would be peaceful and quiet, so the location seemed ideal, a deserted sandbar a half mile out in the ocean. We took some friends of ours who were very interested in experiencing a suspension. But what started out as a personal experience for the four of us – myself, Gus Diamond, Marilyn Mena and Samantha Hughes – became a public spectacle for those who are ignorant of the facts to slander and misunderstand our purpose.
There is a serenity in this art form. For me, suspensions are about mind over matter and a deep spirituality. I focus inward and then slowly work into pulling myself. Its a gentle stretch, slow, and then you feel some slight stinging and then your back just gets warm. Its not horribly painful. It looks much worse than it is. I really mean that. It is a wonderful euphoric feeling to be floating, you can clear your mind and at times you find your own personal utopia. It is a deep insightful look into your soul and feeling the environment around you. This is all about conquering fear and inner strength.
Gus and I moved to Florida about a year ago. He had a suspension group called Suspended Animation and owned Paragon Piercing in Hawaii. He had done many suspensions throughout the US, and I had done my first in Hawaii shortly before we moved. Gus loves the aesthetic aspect of suspensions and was always on the lookout for that great photo op. The backdrop of the ocean seemed ideal.
Marilyn went up first and became overwhelmed, passed out and we brought her down. Gus went up, to show Marilyn and Sam how it was done. Marilyn gathered herself together and went back up like a champ. Afterward, I went up, and that’s when the Coast Guard arrived. I became nervous as I was just about to lift off as they pulled up beside us not 20 feet away.
“What should I do?” I said to Gus.
“Honey, if we are going to jail, we are already going, make it worth your while,” he replied. So up I went, I swung around, waved to them. They looked at each other in confusion and waved back, looking a bit unsure how to proceed. For the next 20 minutes, I was swinging and running on water, while they video taped us and made calls trying to figure out what to do with us.
After I came down, Samantha got ready to go up, and a parade of boats began to appear. First the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission came speeding up, calling out “EMS is on its way,” then Islamorda paramedics showed up, as well as the Monroe County Sheriffs Dept. Gus told them we were all doing fine, “Just enjoying the afternoon.”
They finally left and the small crowd that had gathered began to disperse as they realized we would not get arrested. Its amazing how hateful some people can be of things they don’t understand. There were a few people who showed up who applauded our efforts, but most were yelling comments like, “I hope you guys enjoy killing yourself!”
Afterward we unhooked, cleaned the area down, secured our sharps and biohazard bag and relaxed in the water. Upon getting ready to leave, though, the Coast Guard reappeared and boarded our boat to ensure none of us were minors and that every piece of required material was on the boat. In seeing that registration and safety gear were in order and there was nothing they could fine us or arrest us for, we were set free. We thought it was over, but we couldn’t have been more wrong.
Approximately a week later, our story hit Reuters. Shannon (Glider) owner of BMEZINE.COM contacted us to let us know we were on CNN, MSNBC, and that the Colin Quinn show “Tough Crowd” was interested in our story. There were many articles that found its way to us from the UK to Australia. We were even a topic on the Howard Stern show. The amazing thing is that in each article, we grew younger. First we started off as young people, then teens, then youth, when if fact the ages of our group ranged from 21 to 38 years old.
Yahoo news groups had a field day on the topic of our suspension, stating things like we were nazis who shouldn’t be allowed to procreate, and obviously could have no political opinion because we were too unintelligent to be able to hold a thought process of that degree. Thankfully there were other BME members who defended us and our (the modified community) way of life and thought processes.
There are many professional groups across the United States that do public suspensions and organize private ones as well. The groups I have seen perform whether it be for private or public, have always used the utmost care in sterilization, aseptic techniques and sanitation. I can sincerely say that there is great care that goes into the preparation for this act to reduce the chances of infection or other serious complications.
People want to focus on the blood, gore,and shock value. But they fail to see beyond that. This type of spiritual search has been going on for hundreds of years in different cultures all over the world. Unfortunately the media does a nice job of spinning this sort of event.