Universal Transportation, Flight 1
It’s about time a lot of buzz is going around about BDSM and spirituality. I was on a few panel discussions long ago talking about the connection between play and spirit. I wrote about my journeys in Lee Harrington’s “Spirit of Desire.” For me, sm/sex play and body rituals share a common energy and invitation to trance.
Have you ever danced to live drumming with steel hooks pierced in your upper chest, balls sewn onto your arms and back and found yourself traveling to an inner place where transformation and healing occurs? Did you know that people in Southern India and Sri Lanka have been doing this ritual for thousands of years? This ancient means of universal transportation was brought to our culture a little more than thirty years ago by my life partner, Fakir. I was the first to try it with him.
Just out in the San Francisco Leather Scene, I would not miss a single Society of Janus meeting. Janus was the only West Coast organization where kinky folks met to share ideas and techniques. In December 1981 the cover of their newsletter, “Growing Pains,” featured a man decked out like a Christmas tree, with shiny balls sewn on his torso. Looking at objects pierced onto his flesh, I wondered how it felt? Why did he do such things? In time I learned why.
By 1987, the death of so many of our comrades led me to approach Fakir about doing a body ritual. This time I would be the pierced one, the devotee. I asked Fakir to suture balls on my skin like I saw on that old newsletter’s front page. It was not to be a Christian ceremony, and yet our roots are our roots! On a hot August weekend we went to a friend’s secluded land in northern California where I could hold my ritual of grieving.
The three of us prepared my “stations of the cross,” meaningful for the good catholic girl I used to be. We drove two rows of wooden stakes in the ground creating a path where my dance was to take place. On my right I attached to each stake the name or photo of a dear departed. On the other side I did the same for those we were afraid to lose to AIDS.
Fakir threaded monofilament through each needle he pierced me with and attached a rubber ball, seventeen in all on my chest and upper back! My body prayer was dancing hard, shaking the balls, running, building up as much sensation as I could to release my pain, fear, and feelings of helplessness in the face of the plague. I screamed goodbye to the departed and sent my love to those on the verge of their last journey. Mark beat the drum and Fakir encouraged my trance state and saw to the safety of it all. I lost all sense of local reality and zoomed into an altered state. Later, as night fell, Mark fisted me back into my body, a powerful and familiar grounding rite!
That was my first ball dance. Mark passed in 1988. A year later we lost Cynthia Slater, the founder of The Society of Janus, a brilliant community visionary. Two years later I tied the knot with Fakir.
Body-based rituals are always about your inner landscape and personal myth. No two are the same. Fakir, piercer and shaman, brought these rites to California, Arizona, New York, Oregon,Texas and Europe and is blessed with countless shamanic proteges. Kinksters and artists alike know the link between Body Art and Body Rites.
In 1995 we traveled to Penang, Malaysia to attend Thaipusam, the sacred Hindu piercing festival Fakir had wanted to witness since he read of it in National Geographic fifty years prior. He decided we would go to Penang rather than Kuala Lampur’s huge affair, which attracted too many tourists. I’ll tell you more about the birth of the hook pulls next Saturday at 10am.
In kink with heart,
For more about the formation of the leather community read “Leatherfolk,” by Mark Thompson at www.markthompsongayspirit.com
For more on body rituals: read Fakir’s BodyPlay Magazine available online at www.fakir.org