He kneels in front of his crowd, securing the two stainless steel fish hooks in his back to the pulley rigged to the ceiling. The music starts, loud and vibrant, and he is lifted to a standing position. He runs and kicks his feet off the ground until he is swinging back and forth through the air, suspended only by the flesh of his back as it stretches and bends over the hooks that hold him. To make his point, he picks up a man twice his own 160 lbs. and holds him off the ground in a bear hug, his skin resilient, holding the weight of them both. He swings by himself a few seconds more before he cuts himself loose, dropping to his feet again to the roar of the crowd.
For Russ Foxx, a Vancouver body art and modification artist, body suspension is a career, and a way of life. Not only is it a way for him to express himself, he said, it’s a means of helping others discover themselves through a unique and personal experience.
Body suspension originates from ancient Native American and Hindu cultures. Suspension experts who maintain www.suspension.org write that the practice has been going on for thousands of years as rites of passages, healing rituals and as a means of leaving the body and entering the spiritual realm. One notable Native American ritual is the Sundance ritual, in which the person is pierced through the chest and attached to a sacred tree. The person then pulls and dances until the piercing rips free.
Today, Foxx said, most people suspend to gain some sort of experience, whether it be to overcome fears, to gain a new level of understanding spiritually or just for the sheer endorphin release.
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