Special Convention Review: Tampa Bay Convention

by guest reviewer Jason Sand

Well after standing at the exit for I-4 with my thumb out for about 20 minutes, I chanced upon a friend heading there on a last minute excursion to meet me there only to hear I was out hitchhiking. We were stoked...Tom Petty was playing, we were screaming the lyrics, this was gonna be our first convention.

Upon arrival, we realized that it was not too big and that there wasn't much to the convention itself. What I learned, and my friend missed upon leaving that night for work, was that it's the people not the convention that you go for.

But a lot of people there weren't desirables. Lots of Alcohol. Beer only, but I couldn't stand the fact that it served as it was against so many shop policies. Yet it was used as a motivator for those to get ink. I also saw that it has gotten to the point of being there for artists to get work from each other.

The general attitude of the place though was pretty quiet, people meandering about watching people get inked. A horrible band was playing music that was too loud for many of the tattooists liking. I wandered about looking at the various set ups. I came upon Blue Devil Tattoos, and talked to some artists I knew. Then wandered up to Lasting Image, where they asked for pictures and I ended up becoming acquainted with those artists. I stood out for the most part and many people were coming by taking pictures and asking questions. I met up with someone I knew from another shop and he offered me a place to stay for the weekend. He introduced me to some great artists. He had to go for a bit so I went about my wandering and came upon Erotic Body Jewelry. I talked and talked and talked and then he mentioned they were doing a suspension and I expressed my desires to do one, one day.

He was just the assistant, but said that they could use an extra body and asked how I wanted to do it. I mentioned off the shoulders and he showed me the set up. The lady doing the production of the video they were doing later found me and said that I was what she wanted for the film and that as far as she was concerned I was in. The rest of the day I got acquainted with the artists from Lasting Image and Wild Thing. I ended up going to a hotel party with the artist afterwards, where I watched many of them get shitty drunk and have an all around good time.

Saturday came and I spent some time at the beach and driving around with my new friends then showed up at the convention, where I met the person doing the suspension set up. He offered for me to stay at his place, where I promptly slept on the floor with the dog and fleas. I ate nothing, drank little, and kept myself fairly oblivious to the upcoming day.

Sunday rolled around and the excitement was building at the convention. Everyone knew I would be hanging and were asking me questions, and the pictures continued. I helped set up and move things, though they wouldn't let me do any hard labor which I tried so hard to do wanting the full deprivation effect. I stayed outside most of the time, basking in the heat. Then the show started and I was the opening presentation.

I walked up on stage and noticed the large crowd of drunks and such and a decision to not take this to the fullest heights entered my mind. They wanted a mere presentation and actually told me they wanted me up for at least a minute. I am thinking to myself "a minute!" I want to be up for hours! I decided that I would stay up until things started taking on a different light and use this experience as a mere taste of what is to come when I have found the proper time and friends to do this with.

I walked up on stage and realized I had stage fright. I hopped up on the table not worried about the suspension, just more so of the people. The commentator was a complete joke and really put a poor light on the whole situation. He kept saying things like "yes we are freaks" and other such attention getting bullshit. They had a person on stilts with a marinet and the strings attached to various rings temporarily placed upon the commentator and he was dressed as a puppet. As he paraded around, the piercer began piercing me.

We used 2 6ga needles to do 4 piercings for the hooks, though she did the first one backwards (this was her second time for doing this and had made the same mistake before). The piercing itself was a sharp blast of pain but nothing like genitals or the face. After placing the hooks, I needed to get up and let my endorphins calm down a bit.

I walked to the front of the stage displaying the hooks where I was quickly blinded by the flashing lights of the cameras. The commentator was being booed and I was getting encouragement from all the artists able to watch and from the people that I had made acquaintances from.

Now came the suspension itself, I bowed my knees a bit and asked them to pull the hooks, it was an awkward feeling but nothing I couldn't handle. As they started pulling up I felt the skin stretching away from me and this tended to be a somewhat discomfort. I bent my knees some to add to the weight and it started hurting. As I got on the balls of my feet I was in a bit of agony, then I was flying free, the only discomfort being from the tension in my arm and chest muscles. The implants pulled tightly turning many shades of red, this was another concern I noted. They asked if I was alright and wanted to be brought down, I promptly threatened to attack if they did. They kept good watch over me and asked if I wanted to swing as I looked a bit in pain. I agreed and the movement of me was quite relaxing and took away a lot of the discomfort. By this point I only got little pricks of pain and an electric like feeling around the hooks. Then they commenced to spin me which was interesting, at one point I asked that the commentator shut up when he came up to me and was trying to ask me questions. The crowd kept wanting to see my back as I hung and after about 10 minutes I was left to my own devices as other parts of the presentation were starting.

They were piercing a ladies stomach, and pinning some young man to a spinning wheel to be pierced. I let all this fall away and drew within myself pushing back and forth off the wall finding comfort in the motion. The crowd was quite quiet and seemed to be soaking in the spectacle.

After a total of about 20 minutes up I started feeling real light and my mind had wandered quite far from what was going around me. At this point I asked to be brought down as my chest was starting to burn, this was a good time to come down.

They placed a table under me and I kept my knees up and off it for a bit longer. I placed my knees on the table and felt as if the weight was off the hooks. I was wrong, as soon as they loosened the rope I felt gravity come upon me heavily. My head swooned and I immediately curled in a ball, letting my bearings find there individual little niches.

To fast forward a few minutes, I wandered into the crowd back to their booth and grabbed some sugar pills, and water. Then I waded into the crowd where I surprised a lot of people and began answering the drudgery of questions and giving plenty of proper photo opportunities. Though I felt the crowd was a bit disappointed with the showing, they were actually quite excited and impressed.

Then came the superman suspension, this guy did such a good job. He went through a bit of pain and swooned some, and was off balance. They kept him level though and at one point the assistant grabbed onto the back, the guy holding his leg and they spun around quite quickly. They did an awesome presentation but the crowd prevented me from seeing a lot of it due to my short stature.

All in all it was a good convention for my first one, and I have managed to get in with some artists in Orlando who have taken me home, some have picked me up since then and taken me to Orlando to go clubbing with them. I have been offered free work when the opportunity is there, but as of late it hasn't shown itself. I also found someone to do my subincision, and some other scalpelling I have planned. So for me the convention was more a way to get to know the artists on a more personal level than an attraction. I have yet to here from the people that did my suspension and have doubts that I ever will. If so, I will send in a copy of the video for Crow's reviewal, and just so he can see just how disappointing such a great thing became.

It wasn't bad, but neither did it meet up to my standards, the crowds, nor the host of the convention. I blame the commentator. Everyone involved were wonderful people as was the host, it was just the commentator. It was a first for a few of us so obviously it wasn't all it could have been. We all had fun and I guess that is what counts the most.

3 pix of me doing the suspension are up on my site. As I get more back, I will post them.

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