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The Hook-Up

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Many great performances hold the audience in suspenSE. What's less common is an event that suspends the performers.

Last week, members of the Atone Pain Tribe were in the Dungeon club on Marshall Avenue. A man hung from a wooden crossbeam, his body dangling a foot above the ground, attached only by his nipples. Two women had connected a chain between their backs with piercings and were engaged in a topless tug of war.

To perform a suspension, a person pierces the skin with a hook. He or she then attaches the hook to chains and hangs from them. A newcomer to suspension may use as many as 12 hooks to better distribute his or her weight. But experts, such as Atone Pain Tribe's Colby (who doesn't want his last name used), may use only one hook.

Colby says that suspension draws inspiration from earlier traditions. "You can view us as modern interpreters of primitive rites of passage, I suppose," he says. "What it is really about for me is the extreme clarity and purity the experience creates."

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