Hanging By Your Skin

The first time I was hooked and rigged to hang from my skin was in the back of a West Side piercing shop, which is now closed. I’ve done it 10 times since 2001. I never got the same high with drugs or alcohol. It feels natural - the endorphins kick in.
Cleveland Magazine: Like an out-of-body experience?

Bobby: At first, when you are actually suspended, you do feel tingly.

CM: Like pins and needles?

Bobby: More pleasurable.

CM: Why do it?

Bobby: I say, why not. I got interested in piercing and this sort of came along with it. I knew the right people, and when the opportunity came up, I took advantage of it.
The Preparty I don’t drink the night before. If you are dehydrated, you’ll bleed more. Although we have bled on purpose before — you just take aspirin to get it going. It’s for the crowd.

Anyway, I take the preparation seriously. I take in plenty of fluids and don’t skip meals the day before. I usually drink Gatorade. It’s like conditioning. When you’re hanging, your body can go into shock if you don’t feel strong.

The Hook There are different sorts of suspension. I’ve only done a suicide, which is vertical. I feel like I have a lot of freedom thatway. To do it, six hooks are inserted in your back between your shoulder blades about 1/2 inch deep into the skin. A needle goes in first; the hook follows. It feels like a piercing, but more intense. The back is the shell of your body - it is tough. It can take six hooks and recover. When you’re suspended, your skin pulls but it doesn’t hurt - it looks like rubber, actually. I still have the hook from my first time.

The Hesitation A lot of hanging is mind over matter. It’s mental. When your hooks are in and you are rigged for suspension, the hardest part is letting yourself leave the ground. You get to the point where you are on your tippy-toes and you have to just let yourself get pulled up.

The Show We refer to ourselves as Induction - there are eight of us. During shows, a friend told me I look like a mosh pit in midair. I thrash my arms, swing like crazy - a lot of movement. I really like to fly.

The Crowd The EMS usually comes to shows, but it’s not for us, it’s for the audience. During my first show, 10 people in the crowd keeled over. That was at Metropolis five years ago. We do shows at the Big, Bad, Fetish Ball and Organ Grinder’s Ball. We always have spotters - someone we trust. You discuss a signal in case you get to a point where you feel like you’re going to lose it. I’ve never gotten there.

- as told to Kristen Hampshire

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