Dan Morrill photographer

Photograph by Dan Morrill
Suspension by Suspended Animation at SeaCompression 2012

In an earlier post I mentioned suspension, and I thought I’d write a bit more on the subject. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, suspension is a form of bondage. The person being tied up is literally suspended off the ground. It’s dangerous, so you want to make sure the rope artist knows what he or she is doing. I’ve never seen anyone fall, but it can happen, and when you’re trussed up like a Christmas turkey you can’t do anything to protect yourself.

Now that I’ve scared you, let me tell you why I love suspension. First, there’s the utter sense of trust. This is true of all bondage for me, but particularly in this extreme form. I have trouble trusting people in daily life, so it was a sweet revelation the first time I experienced this. When I’m being suspended it’s critical that I pay attention to what is going on with my body, and that I communicate it clearly. It’s the only place I’ve found where I will actually listen to what I’m feeling, be honest with myself about it, and communicate it without worrying about what the other person will think. I know that the person doing the rigging truly does want to hear whatever I tell them, will pay attention, and give me what I need. It’s the ultimate safe place for me to be vulnerable.

Photograph of suspension by Dan Morrill

Photograph by Dan Morrill
Suspension by Suspended Animation at SeaCompression 2012

Then there’s the physical aspect. It’s sort of like flying or floating, but there’s also some pain, though I’m not sure if pain is the right word. It doesn’t hurt nearly as much as other things I do, but it’s a little beyond simple discomfort. When the full weight of my body is resting on a few ropes, they dig in. And some forms of suspension are deliberately more painful than others, depending on what the rigger and I want to do.

With all forms of bondage, I go into an altered state of consciousness, but never more so than when I’m suspended. Someone once asked me why I like about being bound, and after thinking about it for a few minutes I told them it feels like I’m being hugged. Suspension is being held off the ground, secure and safe in the knowledge that I’m being cared for. There’s also a certain endorphin buzz brought on by the pain, and an adrenaline rush from doing something I find exciting. Sometimes I giggle like a kid at play, especially if my rigger swings me around or teases me. Sometimes I just close my eyes and bliss out.  Unfortunately, I can’t do full suspensions any more. I’ve developed vertigo (caused by some kind of inner ear problem) and discovered a few months ago that being suspended sets it off. I’m glad my rigger was able to get me down in a hurry. Vomiting while dangling in mid-air is not something I want to experience. At least I can still do partial suspensions, where one part of me is grounded, and that’s enough to keep the dizziness at bay.

Photograph by Dan Morrill

Photograph by Dan Morrill
Suspension by Suspended Animation at SeaCompression 2012

Suspension is also done as performance art, and I’ve seen some beautiful examples. The photographs I’m using in this post are from a performance by Suspended Animation. If you get the chance, try to catch them at the Seattle Erotic Art Festival, Burning Man, or SeaCompression. You can also find more info about suspension on their website.

If you’d like to learn more about bondage in general or suspension in particular, I highly recommend Jim Duvall. He teaches classes at the Center for Sex Positive Culture in Seattle, among other places. All of the riggers I’ve worked with give him rave reviews.

I’d like to thank Dan Morrill for giving me permission to use his gorgeous photos for this post. Look for his work on Flickr, or at his website, Guerrilla Photographer.

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