I knew hook suspension was a “thing” but I had only seen it in b-list horror movies depicted as something horrible and deadly. I guess the images from Horsemen were just burned so deep into my head that every time I heard something about suspension I wanted to hide. So when I was in the local hookah shop and my friend Bandaid (Josh Saxon) asked me to come watch his suspension team, Ritual Flesh Suspension Team, the following night for their New Year’s Eve party I started throwing out every excuse as to why I shouldn’t be there including, “I’ll barf! Do you want barf in your back holes?” He won the argument and I agreed to check it out. NYE came and there I stood among other curious minds and supporters of this practice I knew so little about. When I watched the first girl leave the ground the energy in the room was overwhelming in the best possible way. It was at that moment that I began to fall in love with hook suspension. While 24 hours earlier I was horrified by the idea, all it took for me to change everything I felt was seeing suspension in person, seeing someone overcome their fear, overcome the pain of leaving the ground and what they’ve always known. I left that night knowing that I needed to experience that rush. I deserved to experience that. I have this body and although I knew I was strong I needed to test my strength, and so on February 2nd, I did just that.

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While I have only begun my journey with suspension this year I was invited to be a performer for Ritual Flesh Suspension Team this summer. It was a wonderful surprise!

My favorite suspension position that I have done is the pinup. It was an extremely comfortable position from start to finish. I loved that it forced me to give up control. I wasn’t able to ‘climb’ my way up as I did with the suicide position or push myself off the table as I did with the venus rising. I had actually told my team leader, Zuni, and our rigger, Bandaid, that I wanted little to no say in how quickly I got off the ground so long as they did it quickly. I trusted them and it all turned out beautifully. I felt very graceful and feminine during the entire suspension.

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Until my suspension at Willow’s event in Eau Claire, the Flesh Hook Suspension Spectacle, I would get extremely nervous suspending in front of people. I struggled with getting off the ground when I could see people so I always chose to face away from the crowd and focus only on whoever was coaching me through the experience. That was all fine and dandy until I realized just how many people were going to be at this event. I decided the only way I was going to overcome my fear is to just give myself completely to my teammates and trust that they take care of me. Allowing myself to focus solely on myself and the sensations I was feeling is what helped me overcome my anxiety.

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I enjoy the challenge that suspension brings me. I love that I’m able to overcome such an intense sensation and find bliss in it. I look forward to my string of “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” to the team once I’m off the ground. When I suspend it’s like I’m hitting the “reset button” on everything. Now that I’m a part of Ritual Flesh I’ve had the opportunity to coach someone through their first suspension. I look forward to that opportunity just as much as, if not more than, I look forward to my own suspensions. Being able to be the support for someone through such a life changing experience is beautiful. Coaching is one of my absolute favorite things about suspension because I feel like I’m giving back to the community.

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In preparation for my first flesh suspension I spent my days doing nothing but researching the practice. I watched documentary after documentary, read endless articles and surfed the web like it was my job. Although nothing could prepare me for the mental and emotional obstacle course I would soon encounter, my researched helped keep me calm and stable up to the date of my suspension. My first suspension is a bit of a blur because the happy chemicals took over and I felt similar to when I’m in subspace. I would get so caught up in the rush and my emotions. All that was in the world was me and my hooks in that moment. Nothing made sense but somehow everything was clear to me.

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I could never forget that the first person I saw when I spun around to face the crowd was my ma. She was sitting on the floor right in front of me, hands covering her mouth the way she does when she’s hiding a huge smile, and she spit out, “Peanut, you’re so tough!” I couldn’t help my laugh! There I was, hanging from hooks in a room full of strangers, having just overcome the most intense physical and mental challenge of my life thus far, and my ma still called me Peanut.

My goals with suspension are already works in progress. I want to learn as much as possible about the practice and help my team continue growing. I also want to see regulations be put in place to ensure that people are suspending safely and that practitioners all have certification (CPR, BBP) as well as extensive training in all aspects of hook suspension. The fact that people are attempting suspensions without training is terrifying and I personally would like to see legal action be taken against those who are not trained.

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Contact information:

Carley Cotner

https://www.facebook.com/carley.cotner

Ritual Flesh Suspension Team

https://www.facebook.com/RitualFlesh

http://ritualflesh.com/blog/