By Sarah Rose de Villiers
Some grotesque entertainment went down, and up, at Champs Action Bar last Friday. Needles were threaded through pale flesh, a Marine dangled from the roof and volunteers had their asses whipped by a woman in a black corset.
‘Freak Factor – Big Hooks and Good Looks’ was sponsored by Full Sails Tattoos, and the event poster promised ‘fifty shades of fucked up’. The show kicked off with a curious and diverse crowd gathering around a smoky stage, where a woman with black pigtails straddled a chair as 30 needles were delicately laced through her back. The two rows of glistening metal and plastic grips seemed to mark no-man’s land above the strings of her taut corset. Later, as each needle was removed from her back, beads of blood mapped the pierced terrain. The next woman to be pierced held out her arms, and watched 30 needles form fences on her flesh – 15 needles in each arm and not a single flinch on her behalf.
While metal pierced through skin on the stage, a woman dressed in (not much of) a sailor’s outfit was tied up and suspended from the ceiling. Her arms were twisted and trapped behind her back, her legs were bent and bound, and the knotted blue rope segmented her flesh as she swung and spun above a distracted crowd.
After the piercing and suspension, there was a competition based on pain. The members of the crowd who could endure the most whippings would win tattoo vouchers of up to R1000. But it was an ironic contest – those who truly wanted tattoos were obviously able to brave a bit of pain, and others thoroughly enjoyed being whipped.
The first round attracted 15 volunteers, who each received six cracking whips with a riding crop brandished by a woman with lethal heels and red lips. Some people flinched, cursed and covered their faces as the whip left red streaks and sore marks on their behinds. Others dropped their trousers and smirked as the black crop made contact with their bare flesh.
As one round followed the next, the crop got longer and John Wayne, who had organised the event and pierced the first two woman, replaced the whipping woman in the black corset and hit the volunteers with a more resounding crack. Some competitors dropped out, but others settled for several rounds of lashes and red welts.
“I wish I had known they were doing whipping,” a latecomer loudly declared, “I would totally have signed up! But fuck the tattoo voucher – I want to get beaten, not inked.”