As many of us were preparing for the Association of Professional Piercers’ annual conference in Las Vegas, something wonderful was happening there which very few people knew about. Nick Whipple, after much planning and preparation, was performing what would end up being (to the best of my knowledge) a new record for body suspension. He was suspended for 7 hours, starting with a kneeling position inspired by the comic book villain Carnage. With the help of Dissected Art Suspension Crew, Swingshift Sideshow, and Bill Robinson of Inktoxication Tattoo, Nick went through three transitions that ended with him cutting himself down completely.The suspension was originally planned to last 12 hours, but it was cut short due to safety concerns by the teams involved. Although being in the air for 7 hours is an incredibly impressive amount time, it was never his goal to beat anyone else or to compete with others. For Nick, this suspension was all about pushing himself to reach a personal goal. He was nice enough to take the time to answer a few questions about his suspension and tell us a little more about his experience with it.
It seems like you took the time to really prep for this to prepare yourself physically and mentally. How long have you been planning this suspension? Have you ever performed a long suspension like this where endurance is an issue?
Well, I started planning it directly after my last one on 4/28/11, and I did this past one on 6/2/11, so about a month of intense preparation. Yes, the last one I did was my longest, and it was for 1 hour. That was my 4th suspension and being with new friends I wanted to make it as special for them as it was for me, so I included my first cutaway, which was a double cut from the 2 point in my chest to the 4 point in my back to the floor. Endurance was a major issue in trying to cope with the mild shock waves I was feeling.
What was it you were hoping to take away from the experience? I know that is a hard question to answer, and if it was just for the experience itself then that is fine. You don’t have to go any more in depth than you like about it.
Every time I do a suspension, I try to push my body and mind a little further. I try to get a better understanding of how my body works, a familiarity with chemical releases in my brain, and the way my brain interprets certain electrical impulses. Don’t get me wrong, I love going crazy on the rig, and getting out all of my aggression just as much as my fellow practitioners, but I also appreciate long term suspension for the meditative state I find myself in as well. It truly is an indescribable feeling.
Stepping away from a suspension (as Lukas mentioned, it was cut shorter than you planned) can be incredibly hard for some people, even if the reason is safety. I think it says so much about all of you that the decision was made to be safe and call it a night as opposed to sticking it out and risking mistakes. Was that possibility discussed beforehand with you, or did you trust them to make the best decision, and leave that more up to those facilitating the suspension?
We didn’t really discuss it until after I was already in the air. We started about 5 hours late due to video conversion issues from the previous days recordings, so I knew it might become a factor. I really didn’t mind, disappointed a little, but I always know that there will be a next time, and 7 hours is a major jump on my 5th suspension from my longest of only 1 hour, so I can’t complain. I trust my team’s judgment just as much as they trust mine. If they’re tired, I’m tired and we all call it a night.
I know some experiences can take a bit to fully sink in. Now that you have had time to reflect on it, how was it? Do you feel like you accomplished what you set out to do?
It was absolutely amazing!! I have a far better understanding of how the body functions in certain states, and an even better control over the chemicals in my brain as well. Plus, I would say, clearer thinking and focus. So, I guess the answer to your question is yes. I did accomplish what I set out to do.
I want to make sure it’s clear that nothing about this suspension was intended to be a challenge for others, or a way of setting a time to try and beat. Although I’m fully confident that Nick will reach his goal of 12 hours if he chooses to pursue it, I’m sure that he will do it for himself and not because of where the bar might be set by anyone else.
If you would like to read more about what went into preparing for this suspension or a more detailed description of the events that took place that weekend, please feel free to check out what Lukas Larson of Dissected Art had to say about it here. Thank you guys for sharing this wonderful suspension with us. It’s good to know that everyone involved walked away with such a positive experience from it.