Breaking Taboo: A.G.R.O. and the Art of Human Suspension
I'll be the first to admit that pre-A.G.R.O., the idea of hanging by hooks from anywhere gave me the heebie-jeebies. My (obviously ill-informed) idea of what would be happening out at the Mullet -- and, later that evening, at Scout Bar -- involved just what you'd expect from the mind of a dramatic writer type -- I pictured that along with the meat hooks, there would be archaic piercing practices, weird chanting, odes to Beelzebub and, of course, lots of drugs, because who else would be up for this kind of thing? Needless to say, that's not quite what I encountered.
When you ask a member of A.G.R.O. why he or she does this, you'll get a myriad of reasons -- the adrenaline, the fetish quality, the natural high -- they're all reasons given for why a person would want to hang by pierced flesh. There doesn't seem to be a blanket answer for why. Nor would there be from the guy who was getting his rigging put into place; despite his solitude during the piercing process, this guy was no seasoned pro at suspension. We were witnessing his first time.
Surrounded by the members of A.G.R.O., the "rigger" -- the person charged with keeping the suspender in air with the help of the rope, his body weight and a harness -- began to hoist him up, his feet hovering only slightly above the ground. He left the ground only an inch at first, and then maybe two.
As he rocked back and forth, he quietly instructed the rigger to pull him up. As he stood on his toes, bearing his weight like a pierced ballet dancer on pointe, the rope was pulled, and into the air he flew. The silence was broken with a grin and the loud cheering of the spectators, congratulating him on a suspension well done.
These days, A.G.R.O. isn't just about suspending members at the Mullet once a month, though. They've taken it a step further, and from A.G.R.O. Suspension Team, A.G.R.O. Side Show has grown. While A.G.R.O. is mainly about the the art of suspension, Side Show is about putting on one hell of a performance while suspending.
And put on a performance they can do, as was evident only a few hours post-Mullet, when our day of suspension moved on to more air-conditioned digs at Scout Bar, where Khris Harding, one of the heads of the Houston A.G.R.O. chapter, would be performing alongside the local Houston band The Hunger.