Recently, WNWO News took some time to interview Bradde and Bethany of Mercury Suspensions at their studio Open Minded in Van Wert, OH. In their small town, they seem to be an exception to the negative reception many people feel from their local communities when it comes to modification and body suspension. Previously, they have been in the news for the support the city has shown them in opening their studio, and now they are being shown the same support with the suspensions they offer. We all know media can be a touchy thing to approach; often you have no real guarantee of what kind of spin they will put on the final presentation when it airs. It’s definitely wonderful to see two people who are such a great addition to our community being treated so well in the media. As opposed to it being presented as a shocking and scary practice, the video gives them a chance to explain what it is they do and answer some questions about it. I recently had the chance to ask Bradde and Bethany a few questions about their experiences with being so open and public about what they offer, and how they feel it might impact the legality of suspension as it becomes more and more visible to law makers. Although laws regarding suspension are pretty limited in the US, it is something that I think we will see more of as time goes by and the suspension community continues to grow. I honestly can’t say which side of the fence I am on; is it better to be proactive and put out there what you do so that you might have the chance to educate those making laws regarding suspension in the future or to remain under the radar and be forced to possibly have to play catch up when states begin to look more in depth at our craft? Either way, I am happy that if there are going to be faces in the spotlight representing what we do, it is two people who are not only fantastic individuals, but also skilled and responsible practitioners.
Misty: I have to admit that I have always been a little nervous about suspension being offered in studios. It may be the legislative work that I have been doing, but it seems like in the wrong hands it can open a door to states taking more of an interest in possibly banning it. Do you offer it as a service in your studio, or is it just something that you use your studio as a location for?
Bethany and Bradde: We’re in a small town, it’s a little slower foot traffic than some shops may be used to. So offering that here isn’t such a big deal. It is not a service we offer to the general public; for the most part we tend to do it after hours. Occasionally something might start earlier in the afternoon if we’re hosting a small get together. We would rather do suspension here than out in the woods. We’re in a well equipped shop to handle anything that can occur.
Misty: Open Minded has certainly seemed to have a considerably warmer welcome in your town than most studios receive. There has been so much good press and community support, and now this wonderful interview showing suspension as something more than just a ‘shock and awe’ spectacle. Do you feel that being as open about who you are and what you do has had an impact on that as opposed to treating it like a secret or something that is still underground?
Bethany and Bradde: To start off, two years ago the both of us spent a good portion of our time drawing up a business plan to present to our downtown economic development program. This program is designed to help better our downtown area. We proposed to them that we would offer a nice, clean, friendly environment that does tattoos and piercings. They were well aware that we also perform suspensions. Another thing you have to look at: look at most main street businesses in a lot of smaller towns. There’s nothing there. They are happy to have anybody there. Our whole economy is down, and any business is good business.
We don’t use suspension as a shock and awe event here. We relay it more as look, we’re bringing people to Van Wert, Ohio. Think of it Misty, have you ever heard of or said the words “Van Wert, Ohio” before? Our business plan worked. Van Wert happens to be located within 3 hours from most major cities in the midwest. That way 17 million+ people are a day trip away from coming in to do some suspensions. We’re not here to hide who we are or what we do. We’re not doing anything wrong or immoral, or unsafe. We’re living our lives like we want to
Misty: With how much this video has been shared by the news, city departments, and the public in your area, do you feel that you will eventually be in a position to have the Health Department looking into suspension more, and possibly looking to regulate it in the future?
Bethany and Bradde: Look at a lot of states that want to ban microdermals. The people that make the laws don’t know anything about it. Compare that now to our suspension interview with WNWO. We spoke in laymans terms so people weren’t as scared of it, and so they have a little bit more understanding of it. And we addressed the questions that everybody was curious about most. Suspension is going to be regulated with or without the video we made. We just hope it shed some light on some unknowing people and we home that they are a little more friendly towards it, even if it’s not their forte.
Misty: The city you are in, Van Wert, has a population of around 11,000. Does being in a small town have advantages for what you do? I would imagine that in an area where everyone knows each other, it’s somewhat easier for people to look at what their friends and neighbors are doing with an open mind (no pun intended) than in a huge city where it can be written off as ‘those crazy people that hang from hooks’ because there is no personal connection to those people.
Bethany and Bradde: The biggest advantage we have living in a small town is that the cost of living is very low, which allowed us to open up our business here for a very little amount of money and purchase the building that Open Minded is in. But since there is a small amount of people living here, there are very few people who are actually interested in suspension. To this day we have only suspended one local person.
We are still “those crazy people”, yet pretty much everybody accepts what we do and we don’t get a lot of negative response. We’re not trying to push this on to anybody. We just do what we want with our friends and we do it safe. Suspensions aren’t even a “subculture” here yet. Since it’s such a small town what is seen as taboo or weird, inappropriate, etc. in a lot of bigger cities hasn’t even registered here. Most people don’t even know what it is, and therefore have no negative feelings about it.
Misty: I think anyone who has met you both can agree that you are great people to have presenting suspension to those who don’t know about it. You are both very positive people who come across as well spoken adults rather than a couple of crazy kids doing something irresponsible. With this interview, did you guys discuss with the crew what you did or didn’t want to portray with suspension to keep it from being shown in a negative light, or was it simply a result of a news crew willing to actually listen and learn about who you were and show it without being biased?
Bethany and Bradde: As for going over what to do and not to do, we have a basic protocol we work off of. We were filmed for 5+ hours and had no say in what or how the article was going to be portrayed. We were not trying to hide anything since what we do is legal and safe. Also we didn’t have the questions beforehand, so we didn’t have the chance to “practice”. We weren’t worried about it because we were talking about something we have passion for. We’re glad you see us in that fashion. We really tried to make it look professional and not wild and crazy. Yes, there are certain situations where we try to make it look wild and crazy for suspensions, but there is a time and place for that. This was not an extremist thing, it was meant to be educational to people that don’t know.
Misty: Any advice for others in our community who are approached by the media about what they are doing?
Bradde and Bethany: Advice? Just be honest and remember you aren’t doing anything wrong or bad.
Thank you both for taking the time to answer these questions. It was great to get to discuss the news report with you, and I hope your studio continues to see the success and support it has so far.