Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008 | 2 a.m.
The crowd is waiting for blood but it won’t come.
When the four polished hooks pierce the skin of Matt Zane’s back, down through the epidural layers and then back out, there’s no blood.
No blood and not much of anything. Zane just twitches a couple of fingers on his right hand.
The crowd doesn’t do so well. “Oh (bad word). They just put a (really bad word) fishhook in his back.”
That isn’t even the worst part.
The hooks are connected by a rope to a bar that is connected to a pulley. Zane starts walking forward and backward, stretching the skin around the hooks, until he’s on his tiptoes. Then he is hoisted 2 feet off the ground. He dangles.
(Body suspension, as it’s known in the sport.)
This still isn’t the worst part.
Zane is going to dangle for six hours.
He’s trying to break the record held by rock star-magician Criss Angel, who used a totally wussy eight hooks for his five-hour, 42-minute record.
Angel did it as a stunt for his TV show. Zane is doing it as a stunt for his latest porn movie.
We mentioned that he’s doing this at the Adult Entertainment Expo, didn’t we? He’s in a booth next to ... other booths. Also, he’s near the food court.
Speaking of food, the skin on his back looks like pizza dough draped over fingertips. His back is covered in tattoos like the markings on an ancient gateway to an unspeakable evil not born of this world.
“That is disgusting,” a passer-by says. “That’s just ... there’s something so wrong about that. How could he do that?”
Adrenaline and endorphins help, says Steve Joyner, a member of a small team helping Zane. “We laugh that the main risk is boredom,” Joyner says. “But really it’s ‘rippage.’ I’m watching that second hook from the left.”
The hole around the hook is stretching. Too much and it will tear and maybe rip out.
Zane is helped by his physical condition. He prepared with four weeks of meditation, sleep, yoga, health food, cardio workouts and abstinence.
It’s three hours in. Bruises are starting to show on the taut skin under his shoulders. The skin over the hooks has gone numb. His lower back cramps from the stress of the position, stress he tries to relieve by crossing his legs and pulling them up like a yogi.
And the boredom? Not a problem. Zane has autographs to sign, pictures to pose for (often with nearly naked starlets) and interviews to do.
“If I come down, it’s because they tell me it’s time to go to the hospital,” Zane says.
Zane thinks that he’ll keep this record for a while, but he’d like to see magician David Blaine try. “His will is really strong.”
Now it’s 4.5 hours in. Zane is clutching a sweat shirt to his skinny torso and kicking his legs back and forth, trying to stay warm and loose.
Joyner and the team tell him to knock off the kicking. It’s making the hole around hook 2 bigger.
Three minutes to go.
He asks for a DVD of his movie with an unprintable title. He holds it up to the cameras as he dangles from Satan’s swing set. “Thank you all for being a part of history and make sure to check out all the fine pictures from Evolution Erotica.”
10 ... 9 ... 8 ...
“Hey guys, can we do the interviews after I get down?”