On an unseasonably cool evening in late May, a woman hanging by a hook embedded in the flesh on her back is elevated several feet in the air, onstage at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe. She is holding a marionette control in each hand, and below her, the strings are tied to two other people through minor incisions on their arms. The three of them move to the beat, and the "marionettes" dance with each other. Around them, a crowd goes wild.
On a smaller stage nearby, a woman holds a paddle while a man, wearing nothing but a thong, stands still, arms raised high and hands holding a wooden frame, waiting for the paddle to make contact with his skin.