Written by Stephie Von Hutter Thomas, with contributions from attendees and practitioners of the The Midwest Suspension Connections 1st Annual Hooker Harvest:
After working several events together, it became clear to the members of Mercury Suspension, Urban Rituals, and C.A.T. Flesh Suspension that there was something special about their group dynamic. Not only did everyone love working together, they worked together well and without inflated egos, infighting or competition. They were just a group of friends who love body modification, share a passion for suspension, mutual respect and a desire to learn from others. It seems that they discovered what they have come to see as true teamwork. Working together has never been seen as a chore and things just seemed to “flow” naturally no matter the situation.
When close friend Mathew Borsa humorously stated that the group should call themselves “The Midwest Suspension Connection” the idea stuck. These three suspension teams, varying in experience levels, decided to embrace the concept and begin what most would define as a “suspension collaboration” or “co-op”. This concept basically entails the three teams working together as often as possible in order to promote learning, build experience and pool resources. Anytime one team found themselves invited to host or participate in an event the natural inclination is to call the other teams to invite them along for the ride.
Each team involved is still operating separately however they fully intend to continue working collaboratively as often as possible. The idea is that by working together often, each team will learn to follow the same protocols and become familiar with each practitioner’s approach and equipment. This creates the ability to jump in and work together without difficulty in any situation, be it a local meet or major event.
“Hooker Harvest” was an idea brought to the table by Stephie Von Hutter Thomas (C.A.T.) which was inspired by the Disgracegiving event hosted by the DHS crew. Being a practitioner in training, Stephie knew that she would need the help of her Midwest Suspension Connection family to pull off the event. Mercury and Urban Rituals were happy to get on board and the planning began. Bradde Hamman of Mercury Suspension agreed to host the event at his studio, Open Minded, in Van Wert, Ohio. With Urban Rituals hailing from Michigan and C.A.T. coming from Northeast Ohio, Van Wert was a middle ground. It was a full house with attendees traveling from as far as Harrisburg PA enjoying the festivities. Food was aplenty as everyone brought something to contribute and attendees/practitioners were welcomed to stay the night/weekend thanks to Bradde’s hospitality and giant building space. Other practitioners/teams such as iHung, Escape, iwascured, Jared Anderson, and Kenny Hughes showed up to lend a hand and partake in the good times.
Suspensions were done for minimal fees with much of the proceeds being donated to the I.S.A.. Teams also donated items such as t-shirts, gift certificates and the like to be raffled off and split between the hosting teams to re-coop out of pocket expenses. Overall this event was a huge success, especially considering it was put together in less than 3 weeks. Roughly 20 suspensions were completed and everyone left with a smile on their face. The event raised $340 for the I.S.A.. The group intends to make this an annual event occurring in November each year with proceeds being donated to a cause they believe in.
Comments/Quotes from some of the practitioners and attendees:
Kim Seilhamer Moses, Harrisburg PA, Attendee/Volunteer
After securing my hotel room and entering my destination into the GPS, I embarked on a solo 10 hour journey with NO idea on what to expect other than meeting up with some great friends and observing my very first “suspension” weekend. When I arrived, Stephie Von Hutter Thomas was just about to begin her suspension. What I experienced from that moment forward was nothing less than intense energy and emotion. Watching them overcome their own personal obstacles and listening to their victories resonated deep inside of me. The gathering was filled with laughter, tears, struggles and triumph. I headed home after a rather sleepless weekend with a heart and head full of incredible memories and my body still trembling from the magic of the “Hooker Harvest”.
I love having everyone come in learn from each other and work so flawlessly together. To have 6 + groups here at my shop was truly a compliment & to see all the people suspend was just an amazing experience. Different events that people have been doing for thee last few years and getting groups together have really brought this community close and made us all better, Which is one reason we wanted to help out the ISA. I believe that it will bring the whole community together even more.
To have so many people come together and jell for a good cause, how could you not want to do it over and over. There will definitely be more Hooker Harvests in the future. Being able to work with and learn from others in the community is what we need to go forward. I don’t care how long you have been “hooking” there is still something to learn from different points of view. Not to forget about the first time and repeat suspendees that got to experience the love of our beautiful community. I smile every time I think of that weekend.
Stephie Von Hutter Thomas
Hooker Harvest was a blast and went off without a hitch! I absolutely love working with Mercury and Urban Rituals and think of them like my family. I was thrilled to see a lot of other community friends show up to support what we were trying to do and the amount of love in the building was indescribable. Part of my love of suspension is that feeling of community and that sense of bonding that comes with working with your peers. It truly moves me and I can’t wait for our next collaborative effort! I am forever grateful and indebted to the attendees because their support was what made it all happen. I have so much love for them all. The ability to raise money to donate to the I.S.A., a cause I am passionate about, was very important to me. There is so much beauty and friendships to be gained within the suspension community that seeing it legitimized and protected should be a goal for all of us.
First annual hooker harvest, was an excellent opportunity to get together with our hook family. To learn from each other, while raising funds for a great cause.
Dennis SpankyDoom Eymer
Working with that many teams at once in a small area could be a tense experience when egos and personalities clash but there wasn’t a single ounce of that during the Hooker Harvest. I was very glad and fortunate to work around and with all that came. We need more of that in this community. Good food, good people, and good times were had. I look forward to the next event!
Thank you so much Stephie, and congratulations to everyone on the success of this event!