Bob Flanagan (born December 27, 1952) was a poet, performance artist and often humorous writer. He was also a chronic sufferer of Cystic Fibrosis, who used BDSM to help alleviate the pain he suffered.
Bob Flanagan's fame is one of the few that crosses all boundaries - sufferers of Cystic Fibrosis know him as one of the few people to have survived the disease into adulthood, music fans know him as the star of Nine Inch Nails' 'Happiness in Slavery' filmclip, where he is devoured by a torture-bed, as well as his part in Godflesh's 'Crush my Soul' video where he played an upside-down suspended Christ. The BDSM community know Bob as an author, performer, workshop-host and artist, while the body modification scene know Bob for his many piercings, tattoos, scars and for nailing his penis to a board on more than one occasion.
In the years leading up to his death, Bob was the subject of the documentary SICK: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist by Kirby Dick, a documentary that took a look at Bob's life, his art, his suffering and eventually his passing.
"In a bizarro, alternative universe kind of way, I sort of resemble Superman. Look, up in the sky, suspended by his wrists and sporting a huge erection - It's me. Yes, it's me, and most of the time I feel as though I come from another solar system. And despite my skinny physique and frail sensitivities, I possess certain powers and abilities far beyond those of so-called normal human beings. I was born with a genetic illness that I was supposed to succumb to at two, then ten, then twenty, and so on, but I didn't. And in a never-ending battle not just to survive but to subdue my stubborn disease, I've learned to fight sickness with sickness."
Bob passed away January 4, 1996, at the time of his death he was the oldest living person with Cystic Fibrosis.