Neither of those guys, though, had attempted Okipa. Coco Stabs doesn't prepare for his suspensions by fasting ("I stuff my face first. Fuck it. It helps the experience be more euphoric.") and gets his emotional comfort instead from fawning over his pet bunny, MJ. ("It's stands for 'Mary Jane,' because I smoke a lot of weed. It was the easiest name I could think of.")

"I've never had a spiritual experience or whatever from it. I just wanted to do it to see what else my body could handle — to cross it off my bucket list," he says about the suspensions. "Now it's just something I do to chill with my family."

"I've already got four people who want to hang," Diabolic Mikey says. "Randoms, but they say they'll pay us 400 bucks."

Fakir Musafar brought Okipa, a Native American ritual, into the modern era.
Courtesy of Fakir Musafar
Fakir Musafar brought Okipa, a Native American ritual, into the modern era.
Fakir Musafar hangs from meat hooks.
Courtesy of Fakir Musafar
Fakir Musafar hangs from meat hooks.

He, Madrid, and Coco Stabs are discussing the plan for their family business over a recent dinner at Ricky's Thai in North Miami. Although Coco and Mikey constantly hover over their iPhones, obsessing about Instagram followers and trying to cull new initiates from their feeds, Madrid has the final say about whom they will suspend.

"I want it to be like us — family," he decrees.

Indeed, Madrid wants to start a family business. While he says he'd feel guilty charging people for performing his passion, he also recognizes that the cost of owning and operating a rig is high. He's thought about advertising his new space to anyone interested, but it would be a time-and-cash suck that would attract the wrong folks. In his mind, people looking for a spiritual epiphany would be willing to pay.

"When it's free, people don't care," he says, as if casually inclined folks would be willing to undergo such intense pain on a whim or dare. "The suspensions would be full of disinterested people. When it costs money, people attach a value to it."

But even if they're willing to pay, potential candidates need to be vetted. Madrid ideally wants to find foursomes who will form their own crews after they're initiated into the practice. He's also worried about getting his own crew — which he's just deemed "the Four Horsemen" — in line.

Right now, he's focused on attracting his buddy and first acolyte, Diabolic Mikey, away from the dark arts. The former gang member with a heart of gold thinks the demons following him are a boon, Madrid explains, but his energy is draining. He'll likely find trouble if he doesn't change. Madrid wishes Mikey, with his tattoos and pseudonym, would stop embracing those demons.

"A lot of his image is a shock-value thing," Madrid says. "I don't know what happened in his life that helped him find strength in the occult, but after the suspension, he realized it was the other way around, and those energies were using him."

Although he doesn't see himself as a teacher like Juan Leal, Madrid is clearly initiating a group of Miami kids into a new way of seeing the world. He's hopeful that social media will help make the shift. He, Mikey, and even Fakir Musafar had to find out about suspension through either late-night documentaries or rare books. Posting a picture online, though, can inspire more people than other media.

"Every time I post a picture on Facebook, there's someone new who sees it and wants to try it," Madrid says. "I have a feeling that if we started a business, I could stay busy for a while."

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