Ari – Sean, I always have everyone do a standard introduction to kick these off, so give us a brief bio.
Sean – I’m old, I’ve been everywhere. Ok, so brief history of Sean in bod-mod. Started with Sadistic Sundays at the video bar in 1990, roughly. I think it was right after high school – I was eighteen. Was doing that for a little bit, was just a Sunday night show type thing, and then left town for a while doing the hippie soul searching whatever, did Ren Fairs for a summer just to get away. When I came back Allen Falkner had moved back to Dallas and he and I became friends. I was hanging out with Allen, helping him paint his first room in his first studio when he was just renting space from a furniture store. He rented a room from them which soon turned into a piercing empire. We hung out for another couple years there in Dallas where I helped him attempt his first suspension, which was fishing line and just a ton of piercings. It was absolutely horrible. It lasted like three seconds – the fishing line started to snag and pull through because it was so thin. We look at it now like what the hell were we thinking? But you experiment, you figure shit out. At that time Fakir wasn’t as willing to share the suspension information with Allen; he did later, so until then there was a lot of us just looking at videos and guessing. Continue reading “BSTA: Séan McManus”→
A mondo film (from the Italian word for “world”) is an exploitation documentary film, sometimes resembling a pseudo-documentary and usually depicting sensational topics, scenes, or situations.
On Saturday, August 2nd I’m going to be having a small birthday party at the Overground Cinema in Philadelphia where we’ll be screening some classic Body Modification films. I’m still finalizing the roster, which will include a mix of professional documentaries like Dances Sacred and Profane and the Marionette alongside some of the classic homemade footage you’ve seen on Sacred Debris.
We’ll be screening them on a full sized movie theater screen. And there will be popcorn. What more can you ask for! As a thank you, anyone who’s contributed to Sacred Debris in any way- through our donate button, with providing media players or content, etc is invited to come and join the fun. Just contact me for information!
Oh. I forgot. Month to date (July) we’ve had almost 7000 viewers here on the blog. It would seem that there’s people enjoying the content we publish- and if everyone who enjoyed an article donated $1 we could easily buy the hardware we need to add new (old) content. So. If you’re feeling generous- please hit the donate button on the right. Consider it a birthday present. Feeling appreciated for what we do goes a long way to keeping the site online.
In April of 2010 I found myself on a Southwest Airlines flight heading back to Philadelphia, hunched over my macbook and quickly editing this video from the Dallas Suscon for my then partner’s ‘Body Art and Modification’ class at SUNY Purchase. The class, taught by Doctor William Peace, explored historical and contemporary body modification practices and their place in society and culture. We shot the film on two starter level HD video cameras (and an iphone) and I edited it quickly in iMovie. Not exactly the best job, but… it earned her an A.
I’ve recut the film to remove the opening/closing titles which were class specific and to increase the resolution to 1080. The songs were put in to mute out some of the background dialogue.
Allen is currently working hard on what may be the last (in it’s present format) Dallas Suscon; for more information in this year’s event, which includes a performance by Fakir Musafar and CoRE, check out Suspension.org.
Cenobite Performance – Head Kavadi – The Orbit Room – Dallas TX – 1995
When Clive Barker was in town back in the early 90s he was doing a book signing right across the street from the shop I owned at the time- Obscurities in Dallas, Texas. I went over to meet him and show photos of some of the suspensions I had done; at the time I guess he’d never seen suspension before. So he referred to me as a living Cenobite. Of course I took it as a huge compliment and starting use the term in different things from websites, to internet handles, and of course the name of that performance.
The show was supposed to be an adaptation of a kavadi, but just for the head. It was in my early days and I was a lot more experimental back then. I knew very little about shows or even entertainment for that matter. There was really no end planned out for the show- it was just sort of stick shit in my face and it’s a show. I believe we were going to end it with a blackout, but it never happened. As I remember one of the crew was supposed to smash the lights with a hammer; but I guess there was a communication error.
You can see at one point I lean over. What you can’t see was a mouth full of saliva that I had been building during the performance. I leaned over, let it run out of my mouth and I expected the lights to go out. That never happened and everyone thought I was passing out.
As for pain, it was all virtually painless. The tiny needles in the eyebrows was really the worst part. The spears in the head actually felt more like a deep message. Some parts of the video are a little rough, but we decided to keep it intact for presentation.
Allen Falkner is an innovator in the Body Suspension community, a founding member of TSD: Traumatic Stress Discipline and a former Body Piercer from Dallas Texas. He has organized several Dallas Suscons as well as traveling globally to share his skills and to learn from others. He is an advisor to the newly formed ISA: International Suspension Alliance and operates FADE FAST, a laser tattoo removal business in Dallas.
When some folks host suspension events emphasis is often placed on how many suspension they can cram into a three day period. They pride themselves on pushing the envelope with what can be done with rigging and occasionally if not often devolve into one-upmanship, trying to see if you can hang from one 16g hook in your scrotum long enough to get a photo to post on their tumblr accounts*.
Allen Falkner and his team do things a little differently. This year’s DALLAS Suscon features a class schedule that could rival the annual APP Conference in Vegas. Bedside manner, gender roles in the suspension community, how music choices tie in with ritual, invaluable technique classes that cover everything from basic/advanced knot tying to suturing should the situation call for it. There are also classes by Paul King and Fakir Musfar that promise to justify the price of admission.
Consider a piece of body jewelry.
Not some piece of mass produced low quality mall kiosk belly button ring with vibrating dolphin charm, but a beautiful handmade piece of wearable art made by an artisan company that takes pride in producing the finest jewelry available. Each piece takes time to be realized, created and quality checked before it moves to the next step in the chain- the folks who pack it up with care and send it to you knowing that you’re sitting around your mailbox counting the seconds until it arrives.
It’s a process with a lot of moving parts that works well in harmony and leaves both ends of the transaction happy.
Consider Sacred Debris.
Today is our one month anniversary. In that time, we’ve had almost 10,000 visitors. The most popular post for unique page views was Evolution of a Subculture: ModCon, the most traffic from a referring link was from Luis Garcia’s tumblr and we’ve had contributions from myself, Allen Falkner, Ron Garza and Luna Duran. During our first month I think we’ve managed to set a tone for what you can expect in the coming weeks.
As readers, you folks have left 214 comments on the 21 posts we’ve created. One of my main worries in starting a new project (with SPCOnline and Scarwars.net under my belt) was that it would be a one sided thing. Our team (which is mostly me right now) doing all of the work and having nothing to show for it in the end. I’ve been pleased to see that level of interaction- of community- with the Sacred Debris project. It may seem to be an afterthought, but discussing the articles really does make a difference. It shows us that the content is being read and appreciated, that there’s a market for something as incredibly niche as Body Modification history. The reblogs on tumblr, twitter and Facebook are also incredibly helpful in bringing visibility to what we’re doing, so keep that up. We’re going to be doing random contests for comments and reblogs- tshirts, original photographs from the SPC archive, posters- so there’s going to be some fun stuff coming (starting tonight with the ‘Do you remember your first PA’ contest) so stay tuned.
That brings us to the little button beneath this post. DONATE. Both sides- reader and editors- working together.
We’re never going to do a ‘hard sell’ on donations; this is not a paid site (our PG rated videos come with google ads and we may accept paid ads from reputable shops/jewelry in the future, but there will never be a fee to view content) but the site does cost money to create and maintain. At the moment, our server space and bandwidth is being donated but we have no escrow account if that were to ever change. Given the explicit content of our site we can’t run on WordPress.com’s servers, so should we lose our server we lose our site.
Then there’s the hardware.
To date, most of the videos I’ve added- of Body Modification icons like Jack Yount, Ed Fenster and Til of Cardiff- has been content I’ve previously captured for other projects- videos that were sitting on DVDrs unedited. Capturing new content means needing storage space. Capturing an hour long video (such as Sailor Sid’s Guide to Safe Piercing) at full resolution for archival clocks in somewhere around 30-60gb depending on the settings. When they’re uploaded they’re considerably smaller, but to preserve these tapes for future generations requires storage- more storage than I have.
We also need to purchase- or arrange donations- for a variety of media players including mini-dv and 8mm, as well as negative scanners for old analog 35mm print archival.
Last but certainly not least is time. With my current setup, adding a 10 minute video to Sacred Debris takes as much as ten hours to get online. Sorting the tapes that are often unlabeled. Scanning them from start to finish to make sure that all the content on the tape is accounted for. Importing it into my macbook. Cleaning up or removing audio, editing it down into a usable movie when then has to render and get uploaded before I sit down to write the article that accompanies it.
As a reader, you then sit down, watch a five-ten minute video, possibly leave a comment, share on social media and wait for the next update.
My hope is that the folks who care about this kind of content will want to see the project continue and will throw a few bucks into the hat to keep it going. If every viewer who checked us out in the first month would have dropped $1 into the pot- we’d have a workable budget for years to come.
So. I’m asking you folks for a little help.
The donation button is here in this entry as well as on the sidebar of the main site. If you see an update you really love and think it’s worth a buck or two… please feel free. Trust me, every little bit helps.
Thank you all so much for a great first month, and here’s hoping for more where that came from!
In 1998, Keith Alexander 1 organized an after party for the release of Dee Snider’s Strangeland 2 at NYC’s Webster Hall. Called Night of 1000 Scars, Keith arranged for a variety of performances including a 3 person ‘human mobile’ style suspension by Dallas collective TSD (Traumatic Stress Discipline) 3 to tie in with the film’s theme of ritual body art.
Due to a technical error, the beams were rigged too low allowing the suspendees (Allen Falkner, Xeon and Pat Tidwell) to be able to make contact with the floor while spinning, unintentionally creating the spinning beam suspension. Other performers that night included Essie and Spidergod5, who went on to become The Lizardman who had this to say about the event:
In alot of ways, this event was a pivotal point in the current era of my life – it was after this event that I cemented my decision to leave my doctoral program and devote myself entirely to performing as both my career and way of life. This was also where I first met and became friends with TSD. – Erik Sprague
While the film ultimately had very little long term impact (Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 6%) Night of 1000 Scars remains a turning point in the visibility of suspension in the traditional media as well as creating one of it’s most loved styles.