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”→
Mark is one of those piercers who I’d heard about for so long, and had been so curious about, but information always seemed relatively scarce. His years at Gauntlet are some of the most interesting times in our history, and he sat at the helm of both San Fransisco and New York studios, helping train and work alongside some of the most notable piercers in history. One of only five people ever bestowed the title of Master Piercer, his passion and humility brought him to the top of the piercing world in the early and mid 90s. Mark is an incredible person with a rich history in our community, and even decades after he’s left he is someone we need to respect, to remember, and to admire. Reading about someone and talking to them is like night and day; talking with Mark was one of the most humbling experiences in my career. I am thrilled to be able to share this. Continue reading “BSTA: Mark Seitchik”→
When Blake Perlingieri opened the original NOMAD location in San Francisco in the Summer of 1993 it became the go-to shop for large gauge tribal inspired body piercing. The shop’s aesthetic- from it’s decor, organic jewelry options and young piercers and the experimental work they were doing- was an explosive 180° from the established piercing culture that came before it and along with Blake’s early appearances in Body Play helped refine the Modern Primitive look.
I met Star as the tattooed lady at a San Mateo carnival 10-in-1 show back in 1975. She was also the magician’s girl in the sword box. We connected then and were friends for some 15 years afterward. We did a few shows together and also took pictures in my garage studio with my bed of nails. Stars was a “biker’s girl” and later moved to Florida. I pierced her genitals and she appears in early Gauntlet photo shoots. ~ Fakir Musafar
My buddy Scott recently discovered a few vintage photos of Fakir Musafar and his friend Star in the collection of Bob Hanson and was kind enough to send them over to Sacred Debris.
Star appeared on the cover of the inaugural color issue of PFIQ 1 photographed by Fakir.
PFIQ #15. The previous fourteen issues featured illustrated cover art, primarily by Bud Larsen. Issue #15 also contained a tribute to Ethel Granger by Fakir and an article on Carl Carroll who’s bisected penis appeared in Modern Primitives. ↩
I’ve been sitting on this post for weeks; every now and then I’d go into my drafts queue and tinker with it a little bit here and there, adding new photos or blurbs from suspension practitioners that were influenced by the film but never quite finished it up. Earlier this morning, iconic photographer, anthropologist and counterculture icon Charles Gatewood- the subject of the film- passed away. Dances has taken on a life of it’s own in the suspension community but ultimately is a documentary on Gatewood’s photography and is a great snapshot of one of the most important photoanthopologists of our time. We’ve screened it several times at the Overground Cinema in Philadelphia, with each screening converting a new fan. Rest in Peace, Charles- and thank you.
Charles Gatewood, November 8th 1942-April 28th 2016.
Canadian speculative science fiction author William Gibson first introduced me to the term ‘Nodal Points’ in his 1996 novel IDORU; the book’s protagonist Colin Laney sifts through vast amounts of data looking for points of particular relevance 1 and since I’ve always wanted to be a protagonist in a cyberpunk novel I tend to use the term quite often here on SD when talking about particularly influential moments in body modification history.
For the hook suspension community, the 1985 release of Dan and Mark Jury’s Dances Sacred and Profane was one such point. A documentary on photoanthropologist Charles Gatewood, who’s Forbidden Photographs would go on to help define the Modern Primitives era of the late 1980s/early 1990s body modification scene, DS&P has gained a cult following thanks to it’s admittedly brief footage of Fakir Musafar and Jim Ward performing their interpretation of a Sun Dance ritual and Fakir’s chest suspension from a cottonwood tree.
Thirty years after it’s initial release, Dances, which was retitled Bizarre Rituals by Gorgon Video 2 in 1985 when it was release on home video, has become a classic, influencing the pioneers of the modern hook suspension revival.
I saw Dances Sacred and Profane for the first time after I had already been into suspension for some years; somebody shared a link to it online, after the second Dallas SusCon I attended in 2010. After watching it I gained a different perspective, and appreciation for not just the history of modification, but also body suspension as ritual. I suddenly felt a certain reverence for suspension, and wanted to revisit its history with this new point of view. I have always been drawn more to the artistic and technical aspects of the form, and am heavily driven by the urban roots by which I was introduced to it. With Gatewood’s coverage of all the intersecting scenes, and the climactic, crazy, deep tissue chest suspension at the end, I had the realization that ritual and art were co-dependent, and that understanding suspension’s place in other environments would be the only logical way to make progress towards something unique with this medium. I guess nobody had ever explained suspension to me in that context before. It was either science and art, as with Stelarc’s body of work; ritualistic, as with Fakir’s approach; or purely recreational, which defines the majority of the modern state of body suspension. After DSP, the consideration was there that all of these things were somewhat co-dependent, and make for a more wholesome experience. In short, DSP was the trigger for my fascination with just how far we can go with our minds and bodies, with suspension as the carrier. It made me approach suspension with more reverence, respect, and patience. I would not want to insult those that came before us. – Orb Ism, Anchors Aweigh
I started my piercing apprenticeship in the spring of 1994 and soon after read Modern Primitives, which led me to Dances Sacred and Profane. To put it lightly, I was overwhelmingly intrigued. But being from a smaller city in the midwest, where simply having a few facial piercings was enough to get you publicly ridiculed, I remember thinking that would probably be something I only ever got to read about. But the imagery and the ritual and the way the flesh looked being stretched and used to lift the human body were things that stayed with me. Fast forward to 2004 and I finally got my chance to swing from hooks. There was no ritual, no tree, no epic scenery, just me and some friends and some hooks. It was at that point that intrigue turned into a drving passion, to not only do it again, but to share it with others. In 2014 this all culminated with me getting to work with Fakir at a performance during Dallas SusCon 2014. Suspension has been nothing short of life-changing for me. Being a part of the suspension community has made me the man I am today. And I owe it all to seeing this amazing film- Mike Coons, HOOKED
In 2004 the film was released on DVD by the Jury Brothers under the title Dances, Sacred and Profane Redux. This new digital version included footage of Fakir and Mark Jury reconnecting ten years after the completion of the film.
A nodal point is also a photographic term: noun, Optics. 1. either of two points on the axis of a lens or other optical system, determined by extending an incident oblique ray and the corresponding refracted ray to the axis for the pair of rays that are parallel outside the optical system. Also called node.- Source Dictionary.com↩
Gorgon Video is a film production and distribution company focusing on the subgenre of extreme horror and “dark documentaries” based in the United States and Spain. The company is best known for the film Devil Doll (1964) and the Faces of Death series.- Source: Wikipedia. ↩
Another APP Conference and Expo has come and gone; after a long week in Vegas my Wife and I are finally home and trying to collect our thoughts about all of the good, the bad and the ugly that is the APP experience.
This being the 20th Anniversary of the APP there was an amazing focus on history this year with Fakir Musafar, Jim Ward, Blake Perlingieri and Paul King offering comprehensive presentations on the history of the western body piercing movement and guest docents offering interactive walkthroughs of the APP 20th Anniversary timeline exhibit.
I volunteered in the Mentor program, helping acclimate a group of first year attendees to the chaos of Conference and was able to introduce my Wife to some of my oldest friends. A few snags and slags aside, we had a great time.
One of the highlights for me was the ELDERLORE class hosted by Blake Perlingieri- It was absolutely not what I was expecting with Blake going with a stream of consciousness presentation filled with saltiness and some great old school bitching.
I recorded a short excerpt of Blake discussing the roots of freehand piercing technique. It was shot on a cellphone, so the quality is so-so, but it gives you a hint of the zingers Blake was unleashing. As someone who does their best to provide literally one of a kind content to SD readers without much feedback I could absolutely relate to Blake’s frustration that his youtube video of he and Fakir doing a walkthrough of the Nomad (Jewelry) Collection at the Portland Art Museum had only been viewed (as of this writing) 335 times in four years versus the 20k+ views on videos of hack piercers doing hack work on uneducated piercing clients.
I think I’m taking a few years off from Conference, so this was the perfect year to close that book for a while. New friends were made, old friends were hugged and stories were told. Can’t do much better than that!
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.
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.