Picture 350 pounds of bearded, pierced, and tattooed flesh swinging from meat hooks shanked through back fat.
That's a rough idea of what Coco Stabs does for fun.
Coco is one subject of this week's feature, about the subcultures of suspension and body modification in South Florida.
The Carol City native is a body piercer by trade, and we caught up with him at Tattoos by Lou in North Miami Beach.
Coco has been in the business for 15 years and has worked as a professional body piercer for ten. He started out as a tattoo artist, but then fell in love with pushing needles through people's skin and sticking jewelry in the holes he made.
He says the first piercing he performed was on a clitoral hood. "The moment that I did my first piercing, it was just love at first sight," he says. "I saw that needle slide through the skin, and it was just amazing for me. I didn't wanna do anything else."
Coco gets philosophical and says, "I like the whole thing about manipulating or changing the form of the original way the skin was made to be," but admits there's a power play involved as well. "I'm a Scorpio and I'm very controlling, and I guess I do get a little thrill out of being in control of the person. They have to trust me and let me do what they want, my way, and end up with something pretty on their body."
Here we see him preparing to mark local performance artist Kerri "Vikerrious Vixen" Aultman with a felt-tip pen at the point in her throat where he will install a dermal anchor, which will house a small, shiny jewel.
Coco installs the gem.
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And now say hello to the finished product.
Later, Coco demonstrates a bridge piercing on co-worker Kade, a tattoo artist at Lou's.
Coco with his two happy subjects at the end of the day.Coco beams, "I got to poke people today, so I'm happy." Kade's response: "I felt like I got punched in the face." And Kerri says, "I liked it. I'll do it again. Let's do another one!"