What got you into hook suspension?
I remember seeing pictures of suspensions in the mid 90’s as I was going through my piercing apprenticeship. I was immediately intrigued. However, being from Omaha, it wasn’t something I ever thought I’d be able to actually do myself and, like a lot of people, assumed there was no way I’d be able to get through it if I did. Fast forward to 2004 and that all changed. The shop I was working for at the time was doing a grand-opening party for a new location and after plans started to come together , I heard there was going to be someone there doing suspensions and I jumped all over the chance. So I suspended 4pt suicide with 8g Mustads. And just like I’ve seen happen time and time again, I was immediately sure that this was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to me. I remember walking back inside after coming down and just a blur of people congratulating me and friends/family standing there shaking their heads, and just feeling………, fuck, I don’t know how to say it to this day. Basically, “FUCK everything else, this is the most REAL thing I have ever done” One thing worth mentioning is, my brother Pat (my business partner in all things MECCA) was there for me the entire day. He was there keeping me calm before I took my hooks, walking me out to the stage, never leaving my side until he had to, but still right there for me to look at and right back at my side after coming down. I realized a lot that day and our relationship has never been stronger.
It was on that walk inside that I KNEW that I had to share this gift I’d been given was something that I had to share and tirelessly sought out education to become a practitioner. In 2004 this was not nearly as easy as it is today. After almost three years of searching I applied for and was approved for attendance to The Art of Human Suspension Seminar that was presented by Professional Piercing Information Systems (PPIS) and was taught by Allen Falkner, Erik Dakota and Jared Anderson. Upon completion of the 4 day course and attending the subsequent NorCal SusCon, I returned to Omaha and started the ball rolling on what would become HOOKED Suspension Team.
Are you part of a team?
I am the Founder and Director of HOOKED Suspension Team out of Omaha, NE. I am the host of MECCA SusCon with my partner (my brother Pat) in HOOKED Entertainment, LLC. I am an Executive Director of DisGraceLanD Entertainment. I am an extended member of CoRE. I would consider myself an “honorary” member of multiple other suspension teams. I am also on the workgroup tasked with the formation of the International Suspension Alliance (ISA)
What is your role?
As director I have found myself struggling with my role actually. When I started HOOKED, it was me and one other person, Monte. About once every two months, when we could talk someone into it, we throw hooks together, I would tie the rig, rig the person in and then run rope while coaching them, while Monte did bio and helped coach. I was involved in every aspect. That quickly grew out of our control, until I had to set regular meet dates and get some more help. Now HOOKED has 20+ members and we suspend 7-10+ people a day at our monthly meets. I have such an amazing team that one of my favorite things to do is to sit back and watch them do their jobs. But I do still enjoy throwing hooks and rigging and step in when needed. I find this bittersweet. I LOVE to watch my team work. They are so good at what they do and so passionate about it. I am more proud of them than almost anything else I have ever done. But watching them do their work means I get relegated to a more supervisory role and sometimes I long to just be worker bee. It’s not really a horrible problem to have, I know.
Tell me about your favorite suspension position?
To do myself, I would have to say my knees were my favorite to this day, although I was convinced that I was tearing and came down pretty much right away. My favorite to facilitate is a toss-up between a resurrection, which I feel is the single most aesthetically pleasing of all positions, and I first time suicide suspension. While I never dictate to a potential suspendee what they should try for their first time, I feel like a suicide is the best choice because of the freedom of movement that the position allows.
Nothing is better than watching that transformation from a normal human to someone who has flown. If you have never witnessed the change, watch a person’s eyes when they suspend for the first time. Something happens in their eyes at that exact moment that they “get it” that cannot be described, only witnessed.
Tell me about something you have struggled with?
With my weight, I have struggled with being comfortable on hooks. I have suspended multiple times and have never (even that first time) felt like I couldn’t have done more or stayed up longer. This is something that, more than anything, has made me change some lifelong habits and try to get myself into better shape.
What do you enjoy about hook suspending?
I enjoy the release of energy. A lot of the suspension I have done have come at a point in my life when I was overwhelmed with negative energy. I have found no better way to “wipe the slate clean” and expel that negative bullshit than suspending. Above and FAR beyond that, I have met and become lifelong friends with some of the most amazing people to ever walk this earth. I find it an honor to call myself a member of the suspension community. I have taken a lot from it and it is my goal to give it all back tenfold.
The second added benefit is the travel. I have been to more places on this earth through suspension, than I probably ever would have. I have been all over the United States, took my first trips to Ney York City, Dallas and San Francisco all through suspension. I have traveled abroad to Oslo for SusCon. If anyone ever gets the chance to make it over for that one, I highly recommend it. I will also get to take my first trip to New Zealand for Autralasia SusCon 2015, something I am greatly looking forward to.
The last thing I wanna say about this is, suspension has changed my life. But not only in a way that some of you may feel. It has made me a better person on a lot of levels. Suspension, being a part of this community, and the people I have met have forever changed and inspired my life. I have fought through social anxiety and an irrational fear of public speaking. I have opened myself up to new people. I have gained the respect of people who I looked up to and am proud to call them my friend. I have brought something amazing to some of the best people alive. And in my eyes, in doing so, have made my little corner of the world a better place to be.
Tell me about some of your suspensions.
Well, as I mentioned, I have a hard time suspending. I have done multiple suicide suspensions, knees, crucifix and a chair.
All have meant something or been for a reason. Some reasons bigger than others. I have suspended to help with the loss of a sibling. I have suspended to celebrate the life of a fallen comrade. I have suspended just to feel better or to mark an occasion. Every time changed me and every time made me better.
What are some of your future goals?
My future goals are to continue on with this whole thing. To continue to travel, to facilitate, to fly, to be a better man and a better friend and to give back as much as I can by helping to teach the next generation. To share this beauty with the love of my life. To continue to follow my dreams and help fulfill the dreams of those that can no longer do that for themselves. To make Spliff proud. To make MECCA one of the best suspension events ever held. To cultivate new friendships and solidify existing ones. To get the ISA launched and hopefully see it become the amazing thing we have envisioned. If I may, I would like to throw out a few names of people I feel have helped me on this journey. I couldn’t have done this without any of you.
Arwen “Spliff” Rosa
Kevin Bright (Buddha)
Everyone that was ever a member of HOOKED
Anyone who’s suspension I had any part in facilitating. YOU, above all, are why I do this and you all have changed my life
I know I have to be forgetting a lot of people who feel they should be on this list. Truth be told, I could have made this list 10 pages long. There isn’t a single person I have met through suspension that didn’t help me in some way. I love all of you and appreciate everything you have done.