Body Suspension: A Cultural Adaptation

By Rene Thompson, Editor in Chief | Photo Provided by Steve Truitt


Body Suspension is a practice that dates back thousands of years in cultures throughout the world in areas such as India, the Middle East, and North America.

In India these prac­tices had been performed as far back as 5,000 years ago, and according to are still practiced today in Hindu religion, as well as in some Native American rituals.

Suspension has been called a number of things by many cultures, such as the Oh-kee-pa (or Okipa) by the Mandan Native American tribe as depicted in the 1970 film “A Man Called Horse,” and is also part of the Sundance ritual performed by some of the Sioux Native American tribe.

The Hindu festival rituals of Thaipusam and Chidi Mari in India use forms of suspension and piercing, still celebrated every year, mostly by Savite Hindus, according to

Suspension has also had a sort of cultural adaptation in the modern western world, and is now being performed by a growing sub-culture of piercing and body modifi­cation enthusiasts all over since the 1980s.

Suspension is also used in different ways now, including perfor­mance art with shows such as those done by piercer, Steve Truitt of Ascension Body Modification at 3600 Central Ave SE, who has performed countless sus­pension shows, and who also got to work with Jane’s Addiction on their tours in 2011 and in 2013, where he had people hanging off hooks from the rafters at concert venues throughout the world, he said.

Truitt said he has been piercing profession­ally since 1995 and is a member of the Association of Professional Piercers, and not only pierces and suspends people, but also performs an array of other body modifications at his studio, where he has been perfecting his art with sus­pension since 2000.

“I couldn’t even guess at how many people I’ve hung over the years. We have done hundreds of shows, and thousands of private suspensions, and been to many suspension related events all over the world,” he said.

Truitt said that people get suspended for all sorts of different reasons, and that there is no one reason why people get themselves suspended; some do it for spiritual reasons, as a rite of passage, others just for the thrill of it or to test one’s limits.

“It’s a personal thing for everyone who does it,” he said.

According to suspension has two main ways of “rigging” people to sterile hooks, which are either dynamic or static.

“Dynamic rigging uses ropes, or something similar, and one long piece is used to connect the sus­pender to the apparatus. In static rigging, each hook is attached to the apparatus separately and is usually rigged to a tree, ceiling, or scaffolding, using pulleys or a winch.”

Truitt said that modern suspension is very different from the suspension rituals other cultures have done for thousands of years.

“Some (people) are into the cultural aspect, some are into perfor­mance or artistic state­ment,” he said.

Truitt said that he no longer gets himself suspended unless it is for a big show or movie, and now mostly does shows with his girlfriend, Marlo Marquise, who is a model and professional performer of suspension.

“I love suspending other people though, especially someone doing it for their first time. I enjoy doing something for people that helps them feel good about themselves,” Truitt said.

When asked about how he reacts to people that are close-minded to extreme body modification, Truitt said that everyone is dif­ferent and “to each their own,” in addition he said he would not waste time trying to explain some­thing like suspension to someone who was very close-minded and against it in the first place.

“I also wouldn’t waste my time dealing with people who discriminate against anyone because of their appearance or any other reason,” he said.

Truitt said that he has been to many countries doing suspension shows, and that everyone has dif­ferent protocols and ways they do things in various places, but overall sus­pension is pretty similar world-wide, he said.

“I love traveling, so I feel very lucky to get to do something I love and to travel around doing it,” Truitt said.

Truitt said when he went back on tour with Jane’s Addiction in 2013 on the “Rockstar Uproar Tour” he suspended local people at shows wanting the experience through­out the country.

“Working with them has been one of the most fun experiences of my life. Dave Navarro loves suspension and wanted this to happen, so we could work with sus­pension teams all over the world and bring this amazing art form to all kinds of people,” he said.

For more informa­tion on suspension, go to ascensionsuspension. com, ascensionbody­ or

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