This is a promotional shot for a friend - The Great Bendini - who's a fakir performer, contortionist and hand balancer working on the carny, vaudeville & burlesque circuit. He really does stick skewers through his face - he's not conventionally pierced and he very rarely bleeds.
Interestingly, he doesn't normally wear much makeup when doing this act as he ends up tattooing himself!
We sought to add interest and focus by including another performer in the shot.
The lighting is classic monster lighting in front - a small silver gridded beauty dish below Bendini; the light is just striking Maria too. There are 2 red gelled strobes behind the cage - which is just a section of fencing which was lying round the studio. The fog was from a cheap Amazon-sourced unit.