Miguel hanging by hooks in his back while performing "Rope" via body suspension
Photo: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images

Here’s Everything We Know About Miguel’s Gruesome Body Suspension Performance

The singer’s high-wire act has left fans in suspense—and confusion

What the hell does Miguel have going on right now? That’s what many fans are asking after footage surfaced of him previewing new music last Friday in Los Angeles. The 37-year-old singer held an event deemed the “Viscera Experience” (in collaboration with Sony’s For The Music audio brand) to promote his upcoming album, Viscera. It was promised to be a boundary-pushing experience for attendees and streamers, but what happened there left viewers hung up on what they had witnessed.

Haters would say it’s PhotoShop, but there was nothing fabricated about the performance that Miguel put on. Two assistants clad in white bodysuits pierced Miguel’s back with hooks that connected to cables, which lifted him several feet above the audience for about four minutes, as he performed an unreleased song called “Rope.” (Viewer discretion advised—it's not for the squeamish!)

Footage of the clip—gruesome as it may seem—was always going to go viral. (You can watch the performance in full here, for a limited time.) But even after a few days, there appears to be confusion. Here’s everything we know about Miguel’s latest attention-grabbing performance.

What exactly is body suspension?

Believe it or not, Miguel didn’t do anything new. It’s been reported that body suspension is an ancient body modification practice in which people are lifted into the air via large hooks, which can be placed on different parts throughout the body—back, legs, arms, chest, among others. The practice was archived as far back as 5,000 years ago, said to be used as a form of spiritual enlightenment for people in the Middle East. Modern-day lifters also use the practice for the purpose of relaxation and increasing physical tolerance.

Does it hurt?

Suspenders have said yes, though they oftentimes train themselves to overlook the pain for the purpose of the activity. In addition to the possible bleeding and swelling during the suspension, possible risks after the fact also include nerve and tendon damage, as well as infection, according to doctors. It’s a commitment, for sure.

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Why did Miguel do this?

Only he knows the answer to that question, but it’s safe to assume that he knew he’d instantly grow a buzz around his first new LP since 2017’s War & Leisure. And, there’s a connection to his lyrics. A portion of the previously teased “Rope” includes the lyrics, “I’m hanging onto nothing/I’m hanging from the ceiling,” likely alluding to his recent divorce from actress Nazanin Mandi.

Has Miguel done this before?

That seems to be the case. Knowing that the world would soon be asking questions, Miguel was ahead of the curve and started connecting the dots long ago. He alluded to his affiliation with body suspension months back, in early June, by posting a caption-less picture of his back bleeding through a tank top in the spots where the hooks were. In early August, he opened up about the experience in a Los Angeles Times interview, admitting that he’s recently been taking part in a number of “fully immersive, visceral experiences.”

“I couldn’t have known how committed I was to the real purpose of this s**t until I had hooks in my back,” Miguel told the Times. “It was a scary and freeing experience and emotion to go through because it’s such a light switch. It has so much to do with pain. What does pain mean?”

According to TMZ, Miguel had months of preparation before this moment. With more repetitions and increased comfortability, that’s likely why his singing voice was unaltered.

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So, about those potential hazards—is Miguel good? And has he said publicly addressed the performance?

Miguel hasn’t spoken to press since his sky-walking act, but he has been active on social media. Yesterday, he posted an image to Instagram that showed a blood stained undershirt. He also posted a video recap with a lengthy caption (lightly edited for legibility):

  • Couple things suspension will teach you… First , that you are unf**kwithable. Second, (and more importantly) to trust yourself, trust your strength, and trust the power of vulnerability without needing to control the outcome. Couldn’t be more grateful for the revelations (l)earned through the shadow work, both mental and physical, preparing for this performance to announce my next LP, VISCERA, and the range of emotions it has evoked. The love, concern, encouragement, anger, and curiosity are equally warranted and appreciated. Thank you, love you. Lastly, a very special thank you to @sonyelectronics I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive and trusting partner, going above and beyond #forthemusic. Wait till you hear this album.

OK, so Viscera is about to be fire. Got it. When does it, uhh, drop?

Miguel has yet to announce the release date of his next album, but it's expected to hit the public before the year is out. While you wait, peep the teasers he released earlier this year: "SID," "Numb.9," and, yes, "Rope."