After the most recent Annual NC Tattoo Convention, which takes place every September in Greensboro, North Carolina. I had the opportunity to interview the founder of Hold Fast Suspensions, and find out what drives his passion for the art. Body piercer, Andy McLeod, has been in the body art industry for 15 years. He’d always been interested in suspensions, from the start of his career; his interest fueled by books like “Modern Primitives” and the performances of artists such as Fakir Mustafar. Although the idea had always been in Andy’s mind, it wasn’t until he started Hold Fast Suspensions with fellow piercer, Nate Potts that his vision came to life.
Located downtown in Winston Salem, North Carolina, Hold Fast meets most of their suspension performers through social media. Their Facebook page draws a lot of interest. With the help of some friends in the body art industry, Hold Fast built a business around suspension art, from the ground up.
Andy says, “it’s not different from piercing, essentially. You use the same knowledge. Where you should, or shouldn’t pierce. Hitting your marks. Common sense. It is a little more extreme. We do it for the model and the crowd. Every time someone goes up, I feel really, really good, that I’ve given them something not really many people can get.”
Why Promote Suspension Art?
“It’s fascinating. The ritual draws me to suspension art. It’s a life changing thing. Tribes in South America and Africa, and even [Native Americans] would do them. You’d have these kids go and do these suspensions, and some of them would stand for days on end, with no food or water and have visions. After a few days they would bring them down. It’s pretty much a vision quest. It was like a gateway to becoming a man. You’re no longer a child, this is your journey into manhood, and a lot of cultures still practice this.
“I enjoy the historical aspect of it, but also every time I’ve done one it always amazes me how strong the actual will of a human being can be, and how far someone can push themselves, and at the same time, be in complete contentment of themselves and what they’re doing, what they’re going through. It just proves that, it really is mind over matter. I’ve done it myself, it’s a fun experience. It’s always been a wonder. Pretty much the look on their faces and the things they tell me after, that’s why I do it, really. I don’t care so much about the money, or fee or anything like that. I just like giving that to the people.”
A Door Closes, a Better Door Opens
Andy and Nate parted ways over business disagreements. Nate made a series of poor choices that prevented him from supporting his end of the business. When Nate left Hold Fast Suspensions, it became solely Andy’s, and he asked Molly Dix to be his new partner. He’d met Molly when she was working at Little John’s Tattoo, where she and Andy had mutual friends.
Molly later apprenticed as a piercer at Liberty Tattoo. She became interested in suspensions talking with Andy during down time at the shop. Andy recalls that she was really helpful, and a key player in the suspensions as Nate started being off more and more.
“She proved herself substantially. She is really on point, to the point where she would do something right before I would even go to tell her. She’s so just on it all the time, and Nate was always bumbling around. She knows the business well, and that’s a really big asset. We started working together and she’s been a driving force ever since. It’s really great when you have a partner you can rely on. It’s an incredible feeling.”
The Future of Hold Fast Suspensions
With Molly’s help, Andy wants Hold Fast to take suspension to a new level. They hope to promote the art, and also generate more opportunities for Hold Fast Suspensions to perform.
“Money’s good, but you know, hey, it’s not really all about the money. We’d like to get more people interested in it and maybe attend more conventions. I want to put on a good show, and get people having experiences they can’t really get anywhere else. We want to get a name out there. It’s not to get famous or blow up in the magazines. I’d like us to travel and do guest spots at conventions. I’d like to do more outdoor stuff. Outdoor suspensions are a lot of fun to do. We want to keep learning. Keep meeting people, and try to take this as far as we can go.”
You can watch a variety of videos of Hold Fast Suspensions’ performances on this YouTube channel.
Read more about Hold Fast’s displays, and see pictures and video, here.
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