Breaking Taboo: A.G.R.O. and the Art of Human Suspension
Once Khris was welcomed onto the stage and the crowd realized he was about to be hoisted above them, they went absolutely nuts. The Hunger fueled the fire, calling out the words, "Who wants to see this motherfucker fly?" and with that, it was on. There was a crushing migration of spectators moving toward the stage, as Khris contorted his body in ways that shouldn't be possible when you're hanging by hooks. My jaw was on the floor, along with the rest of the jaws in the crowd. It was insane.
Looking around the crowd to take in their reactions, it was quite sweet to watch the members of A.G.R.O., many of them tattooed and burly, looking on with both pride and protectiveness. They were all beaming; that was a member of their group up there, hurling glow sticks and appearing to fly as he swung his body like a trapeze artist, and they were so stoked for him.
It was in that moment, as Khris was suspended at great heights with only his skin to hold him, and as I watched the faces of the members of A.G.R.O., that I realized the one consistent reason that these folks were suspending with A.G.R.O. has less to do with the actual piercing and hanging and more to do with belonging. To suspend and test the body in ways that are so uncommon, well, it's something that involves not only balls of steel, but also a whole lot of trust.
They're suspending not only for the thrill, but for the connection that comes with trusting those around you with your safety. It's a ritual of bonding with a "family" in a way that many of the members haven't had in the past. Yes, there's a fetish quality to it for some, and that may be enough to push them toward suspension, but what really keeps them around as members of A.G.R.O. is the feeling that they belong there. They've got a family here -- one that has a bit of an interesting hobby, but a family nonetheless. And rather than bonding over a cup of coffee or a beer, they're doing so while literally just hanging around.