Of all the gonad-grabbing titles out there, Things I’ve Seen ranks right up there with Washing Your Hair.
But Hollywood-based performance artist Joey Strange isn’t your ordinary schmo — and what he sees is worthy of note. Here, we get his stock-in-trade: allowing people wielding large-gauge needles to pierce his body and insert flesh hooks that attach to a rack, allowing Strange to hang from the rack like a side of beef.
Thing is, Strange’s suspensions have been documented so often that what once seemed like a deeply personal experience has taken on the polished showmanship of a slightly-dated nightclub act.
Later, Strange has a mainstream camera crew in tow, witnessing his unsuccessful attempt to suspend in three different positions without touching the ground. Strange appears to understand he’s taking his "art" too far; he breaks down, sobbing in pain. "It took everything," he explains afterwards, obviously shaken. "I don’t think I’ll ever do it again."
Further along, Strange takes his act to a gay nightclub for the "Gauntlet Freak Show." He’s planned an elaborate Catholic-inspired ritual, with facial piercings, a Bible, a ripped priest’s frock, a girl drinking from a crotch-level chalice... and the crowd couldn’t care less.
And then there’s the (anti)climactic "Theater of Note" performance where Strange is humbled when he’s unable to perform. "I’d lost respect for suspending," he explains to the camera. "I’d done so many of them; I wasn’t taking care of myself... it was a wake-up call for me... you have to [suspend] for the right reasons; if you don’t respect it, it’s gonna turn around and bite you in the ass."
In sharp contrast, the one act Strange just watches is a ritual in the Arizona desert. Becky B., Terry, Kat and Isa Gordon perform their own suspensions on a tree; only Strange’s camera is present. The experience seems meaningful to the women, who are surrounded by close friends. As ethereal stunner Gordon explains, she was drawn to the beauty of the environment, preferring the ritualistic aspect of suspension to the performance end. For Gordon the act is akin to "floating and flying and transcending."
That Strange includes this non-Hollywood aspect shows maturity and growth on his part; it’s another step in his journey, and a brave one at that.