Today we donated the LUVeR CD/MP3 collection to University Pulse Radio, the student-run online station of Boise State University. Avery, a sophomore and the general manager of the station, came with her boyfriend to pick up the boxes of CDs. They were blown out by how much there was. Avery is thrilled to get them for the station. They did not all fit in her car so we loaded the rest in our car and drove them down to the campus where we got to see the music’s new home. Frank would be so pleased with where they have landed.
An excerpt from the show featuring Linda Mac and Mikee LaBash with hosts Chuck Gregory and Ava Bird … starts @ 36:26
Listen to the complete show here:
Linda: What we’ve always experienced, working with Frank, that censorship was such a huge part of what we were always dealing with. Because of putting out that thing of us all being connected and not focused on the limits but rather the connectedness of people and finding ways to make people more viscerally aware of it. And we found that censorship was always, always … we were always dealing with it and we always took it on. And most of the time won!
Chuck: There’s a certain power. Once you say something and it’s out there in the ether somewhere … in the internet or the group consciousness or whatever it is, somehow people start to hear it and censorship just doesn’t work!
Linda: Yes, exactly! Exactly! Frank always used to talk about it as planting seeds. You plant seeds just by putting stuff out there and connecting with people and that’s more powerful than any of the forces from the power.
Ava: I just wanted to add in too, just so Chuck and Tina and the listeners understand some of the work that Frank Moore did. He would host events and have people really jump outside their comfort zones. Share poetry and ask people questions and have people dance together that might not have known each other. And people connecting together in kind of fun and interesting ways. Almost like a live art project.
Linda: Yeah, Frank was mostly known as a performance artist, even though he did all this other stuff. And he was really good at creating environments. Like the last two years of his life, the thing that Ava is talking about, we did a monthly performance in Oakland. It would run three hours each month. People could pay if they wanted to, but there was no charge at the door. And Frank would just talk to people. Everybody would be sitting around the room. We had it all … we had art all over the walls and all sorts of things. It was a strong environment. He changed the name of the series … one of its names was “The Uncomfortable Zones of Fun”. He came up with that because in these performances he had modules of rituals that he would be able to pull out, so a lot of the time he’d just be asking people “what do you do?”, “what are you interested in?” and talk with the person and see what that got going. And a lot of times he’d run into people saying something like, “well that’s outside my comfort zone”, as if that should be a limit. And so Frank called the series “The Uncomfortable Zones of Fun” with the idea of that once you cross that line everything opens up. And all of a sudden there’s unlimited possibilities of what life can be. So a lot of times in Frank’s performances it involved nudity, if people wanted to … it was an environment where you could take your clothes off. And he used that as the thing that broke down barriers between people. Because you’re sitting in a room where people don’t have their clothes on, everything changes. People look at each other … they feel different. And there is a lot more possible because all of a sudden sitting around in clothes seems silly. So that’s what Ava is talking about. That was really the thing that Frank was really, really good at. At creating that environment.
Mikee: You felt safe to be free like that too. That was something that he was so masterful at was creating an environment where everyone just suddenly felt safe! Where people would say “I never felt this close to a bunch of strangers like I have in this performance.” That was a very common reaction.
Linda: Some people would talk about the level of intimacy they felt in the room. And it would bring up those feelings of how isolated they feel in their normal life, and why can’t life be like the way this room feels. So that would be the way that Frank saw planting seeds … that people have an experience of the possibilities between us, with us all. And the idea would be that people carry that with them outside when they go back to their day-to-day life.
Chuck: Well, I love that!
Poet: That’s profound.
Ava: Talk about planting the seeds in people … where even if just say, one or two or five people came and showed up, you would see the fliers … I lived in Oakland and Berkeley at the time, that’s how I met Frank and Linda and Mikee. I had gone to his performances and had read about the ones he had done in the past. He’d been doing it since the seventies. In Berkeley, he also had a TV channel … talk about free speech and censorship. He got a show on the local cable access TV channel.
Linda: It’s still going too, Ava! It plays four times a week. And that was one of the censorship fights, because at some point the City Council … because there was a lot of nudity and eroticism in the show, it didn’t censor. It played after 10 p.m. which is supposedly when adult shows are, where as long as you’re not doing pornography, you can do what you want to do. And we took advantage of that and the City Council decided they didn’t want Frank’s show on so they tried to pass a law that would change the adult time to 2 a.m., which, of course, nobody’s watching. And we fought them! We fought them and the ACLU got interested and said that they would back us. And we would show up at the City Council meetings and we would all say things. And in the end, they never did anything. They never changed it. It just disappeared. And the show is still playing with no censorship.
Chuck: I love that! Very good.
Linda: So it is possible.
Ava: You have to fight for your rights, or they disappear. I wish it wasn’t like that, but it is. You really have to be looking out for your rights and protect them. If you don’t, they’ll be gone. And it starts at that local level. Those little things. These are our communities and our stations, and we have to take responsibility for it. We take our freedoms for granted and maybe assume they can’t take them away, but they’re always trying!
Linda: And our experience has been, since Frank passed in 2013, that like first … Frank had this Vimeo channel that had hundreds and hundreds of videos and a huge audience where people would, all over the world, would set their clocks to watch our live performances. We’d put them up the next day. And a whole community was created. And over the years they would try to take videos down. They would take videos down. And Frank would protest. He’d write to them and explain to them the context of his work. Like, yes there is nudity, yes there is erotic play, but this is the context of my work. And they would apologize and put the video back up! And then, at some point down the line, the people stopped being willing to talk with us. Because after Frank passed away, Mikee and I still did the same thing, and they always put it back up and apologized. And then there was a point where the people weren’t people anymore. They were kind of like smiley faced, thank you so much but your video is down and there is nothing you can do. And that seemed to start a trend. Then Frank’s whole Vimeo collection was taken down.
Linda: Just to get rid of him! Because he also had a group called the Eroart Group that had a huge following. And he would encourage people who make videos that he called eroart, which is taking erotic, physical video and art that people always want to throw in the pornography place because there is no other place to put it. He called it eroart and he encouraged people to submit their videos. So there was a huge community of people that were creating videos because they knew that they had this Eroart Group that had a very … it was one of the biggest groups on Vimeo by the time they kicked us off. So we kind of felt that that was part of what they wanted to get rid of … that whole thing. And our experience has been, you know, Ava was talking about censorship, our experience has been that marked a point where more and more and more censorship, it just kept expanding and less and less people were acknowledging it as censorship and acknowledging that there was a fight to fight. People just got quiet at a certain point. That’s our experience.
Chuck: Was there a particular point where you noticed this change happening?
Linda: The Vimeo thing happened when?
Mikee: It wasn’t that long ago.
Linda: It was after 2018.
Mikee: Alex Jones and Julian Assange.
Linda: People were cheering on that it is OK to take somebody down just because they don’t like them! And we were thinking, what about the idea that people have freedom of speech?! What about that?!
Linda: And less and less people were willing to acknowledge that there was something not right about just taking people off like that.
Mikee: It was slowly building, but taking Trump off of social media, the president of a country. It seemed so out there that they could do that, but everybody was cheering it on, going along with it. It seemed like it just snowballed from there. Now all of the COVID doctors have gotten the boot.
Linda: All the stuff that happened around COVID and all of the censorship. All of a sudden are people not only not acknowledging that there is censorship going on, but they’re mad at you for pointing it out!
Linda: So it’s snowballed to where it’s flipped into some other weird place where censorship is something that you’re not allowed to talk about.
Chuck: Yeah, I’ve noticed the same phenomenon, especially on social media and just in general. There is an amazing isolation of the media from reality! They say what they’re allowed to say, what they’re supposed to say and that’s it!
Linda: Yep! And way back in the 1980s Frank started talking to artists, in this case, about fragmentation. He said, watch out, because you have the “powers” that are just lurking there and you give them an opening when you start … like at that point it was like “gay” vs “feminists” or “this” vs “that” … where people were blaming each other and fighting each other … he said we’re all on the same side.
Linda: Don’t let yourself be fragmented from each other. Because you are going to open the door for “the power” to come in and fragment all of us. And really, his words have totally come true! As we all know. (Laughs)
Ava: It’s one of the big tactics that they use to divide and conquer. And it’s effective! Look at how people fall right into it. They fall into the traps. And you’re the freak! It’s you that’s the freak! It’s you that’s the problem! They make it seem like you are doing something wrong. Just what people went through. Frank was one of the early warriors of online free speech and it’s gotten so out of control. Of course, they’re going to do that! Like, it’s no longer surprising. Like you said, the President of the United States got deleted! That shows you they have more power than the president. That’s the message, and that’s scary!
An excerpt from the show featuring Linda Mac and Mikee LaBash with host Chuck Gregory … starts @ 25:50
Listen to the complete show here:
Chuck: Before we move on, can you tell us a little bit about what you are doing to celebrate Frank’s work. You’ve got a lot going on about Frank Moore! Tell us about it. (laughs)
Linda: Yeah. Frank died ten years ago. Mikee and I went from having our entire life, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, totally focused on what we were doing with Frank. And Frank was full of ideas, we were always performing, and we had an internet radio station … we were just constantly, constantly going. And after Frank died, Mikee and I were, like, OK, so now what? (laughs) We realized that we always had a sense in those … I was with Frank 38 years … in those 38 years, that we were living like three lives at one time. We didn’t sleep much. We were constantly, constantly, constantly doing things. So Mikee and I realized that Frank graciously (chuckles) left us this huge archive of stuff to do something with. So, over the course of the ten years it’s just evolved and become clearer to us what we need to do. We immediately … the first book we published after Frank died, Frankly Speaking, got a lot of people interested and that hooked us up with The Bancroft Library in Berkeley, part of the U.C. Berkeley system. I casually mentioned to them when we brought them a copy of the book, that we’re looking for a place to give Frank’s archives to and they said they were happy to take it. So, that was in place right from the beginning. We knew at some point we had to organize that stuff and get it to them. We initially gave them maybe ten boxes of stuff, stuff we knew we wouldn’t need, as like a down payment (chuckles). Because Mikee and I had a lot of ideas. So, from that point on we did a twenty-episode video series based on Frank’s book, Art of a Shaman, where we contacted a lot of different people that had been important in Frank’s life and asked them if they would read a chapter. We used that as the audio track. And then Mikee edited in all this stuff, like visual things. We got people to do music for us that had been part of our art community. So that took a bunch of years to do that. And we published a bunch of books. And now it’s getting more down to the nitty gritty because we realized we have to … it’s time to start giving Bancroft Library more of the things. In the period, in that ten years since Frank died and we first talked to them, it seems like they’ve gone through a lot of changes and now it’s more bureaucratic. There are attorneys involved (chuckles). They want to know about copyrights.
Linda: So, we’re dealing with that.
Mikee: We’re in the process of a big batch of stuff going any time now.
Linda: So, there is a lot of hustle! Mikee is scanning things like crazy, so that we get everything digitally before we give it to them …like the photo binders. The one thing about us was that we kept everything. So, because we were so involved in a bunch of different sub-cultures … mainly because the different sub-cultures that we would get involved in … there’d always be that line where they supported what we were doing until Frank turned his gaze to what was going on in that community.
Chuck laughs heartily.
Linda: And then we became outlaws (chuckles) … like, for example, as a really vivid example, there was a point where we had stumbled into the art world because we didn’t even know that what we were doing was called performance art. That’s a long story, but we ended up at the San Francisco Art Institute. Frank was getting his second Masters. We found out that what we had been doing was called performance art. So, like, oh, OK! So that opened up the whole art world. And there was a point in the art world where people were afraid to book us and there was a whole thing that happened and the poets rushed in and said, yes, we support you, Frank! And we ended up doing this street performance in San Francisco in front of The Lab, which had booked us and then canceled it. So, that’s a whole story in itself. So, the poets were 100% behind us.
Mikee: So, we were part of the poetry scene for quite a while.
Linda: So, we archived all of that. So, we have a huge collection of poetry stuff. And then we crossed the line with them. Frank was booked to read his poems at a café in Oakland, and the week that that was happening, we were on the front page of the ….
Mikee:East Bay Express, which is a weekly.
Linda: It’s a weekly paper in the Bay Area, very popular. The cover photo was a picture that Annie Sprinkle had taken of Frank and I in the 1980s where I was naked.
Mikee: And body painted.
Linda: And they put that on the front of the paper (giggles). And it was everywhere! You ride down the streets and there are those little boxes with the papers and there it is.
Linda: And we were impressed that they did that. And inside there was a bunch of nude stuff too! It was a really good article, really good. The reporter was great. He spent a lot of time with us. But the person that had booked us read the article and freaked out. And she called us as we’re walking out the door … we’re loading Frank in the van, which is not a small thing, it’s a whole process. So, he’s halfway out the door and she emails and says they read that paper and they’re nervous about what Frank’s gonna do! And they need to know exactly what he’s going to do! So Frank says, and this is him sitting in his chair, halfway out the door, and I’m spelling him out … he says, I have a policy of never saying what I’m going to before a performance …
Chuck laughs heartily.
Linda: … but I’ll tell you this. I always get asked back. (giggles) That didn’t mean much to her. First of all, we were booked to read poetry so obviously that’s what we were coming to do. So, it never came up in our minds that we were doing anything other than going there and reading poetry. So, she says, well, then I’m cancelling! So Frank says, well, you know, we’re on our way out the door … She says, I’m cancelling you as the featured reader. He says, well, you’re still having a poetry reading tonight? She said, yes. He said, well, we’re on the way out the door, we’ll just go anyway.
Chuck laughs heartily.
Linda: So, we had planned on going early and having something to eat. They had a little café. So, we get there and that turned into a whole thing. The owners of the café came down when they found out we were there. Everybody was freaking out. They cancelled the entire reading, even though there was a roomful of poets there ready for this.
Linda: So, they cancel the reading. So, Frank says, well, we have a bunch of poets here anyway, let’s just read poems together. So, Jesse Beagle gets up. She’s in her seventies at that point. And she starts reading a poem. The owners called the police! The police show up and Jesse won’t stop reading. She’s very feisty. And they drag her out of the café. Literally drag her.
Linda: And they won’t talk to Frank. The cops won’t talk to Frank. Finally, Frank has me go over to them and say, you know, Frank is the person that was booked. Frank is the person behind this. Why won’t you talk to him directly? Because they have to read his letterboard, right. So finally, one of the cops comes over and once he starts talking to Frank, Frank is very engaging. And by the time he’s finished talking to Frank, Frank says, well, can we read poems out on the sidewalk here?
Linda: And the cop said, well you know Frank, if you sit on their bench, you can’t do it. Frank says, well, what if we don’t sit on their bench? The cop said, well, legally I can’t stop you if you’re just standing on the sidewalk.
Mikee: If you’re not blocking the sidewalk.
Linda: And he wishes us good luck! So, Frank says, can I just go inside for a second and tell the poets that we’re going to do the reading out on the sidewalk. So, the cop says, sure. And he walks us into the café and walks over to where all the poets were sitting, and the poets literally turned away from us and pretended they were reading something and acted like we weren’t standing there talking to them. So we ended up doing the reading on the sidewalk with most of the poets sitting right inside the glass being uncomfortable that we were sitting outside and they couldn’t leave until we were gone because they were too embarrassed.
Linda: So that’s an example of how we move … there’s a story like that with every subculture we’ve ever been part of … where Frank stands up for something he believes in and it crosses a line for the rest of the people. So, in terms of the archiving, Mikee and I realized at a certain point that we basically have archived the small press during a period of time because we put out a zine. We have a pretty good archive of poets. We had a radio show online, one of the first ones.
Mikee: In the 1990s until 2010 or something like that.
Linda: We had DJs recording shows from all over the world and sending them to us, and that’s a fraction …
Mikee: We have hundreds of cassette tapes and all kinds of things.
Linda: So we feel obligated and a responsibility to find good homes for all that stuff. So, that’s what we do! (laughs)
Linda: And taking opportunities like this, Chuck, that you gave us, to let people … put out, you know, Frank!
Excerpted from Christine Tamblyn’s article, “Subversion and Spectacle: Recent Trends in California Performance Art” in Art News 1987.
In non-Western cultures, people with physical or mental disabilities were often designated as shamans. According to these criteria, performance artist Frank Moore’s shamanistic credentials are impeccable. Moore is a victim of cerebral palsy and brain damage who has no control over any of his muscles except for the ones in his neck. Unable to speak, he communicates by pushing a plaster pointer around an ouijia-like board covered with the letters of the alphabet. He is confined to a wheelchair.
Initially, Moore might seem unsuited to be a performance artist. However, his body actually serves as an extremely powerful performance instrument. Moore has stated that it is fortuitous that he is an exhibitionist, since people are always staring at him anyway. He circumvents conventional expectations in more radical ways than by simply functioning as a performance artist: the performances he presents violate social and sexual taboos.
Moore is an advocate of what he has termed “eroplay.” He contends that people have forgotten how to touch one another in an innocent, sensual manner in our repressive culture. Thus, his performances provide opportunities for the audience to engage in eroplay. Moore’s performances in the Over the Edge series sponsored by the ASUC Studio in Berkeley from 1983 on often began with his companion, Linda Mac, reading a manifesto he had written about eroplay. Then she would pair people off into same sex or opposite sex couples to carry out instructions picked randomly from a bowl. These instructions exhorted the couples to hug one another or rub one another’s bare breasts. The performance ended with helpers wrapping everyone in a giant circle of cellophane, ribbon, toilet paper and aluminum foil.
The wholesome humanistic rhetoric Moore uses to convey his intentions contrasts markedly with Mark Pauline’s nihilistic stance, although Pauline’s Survival Research Laboratories performances are equally subversive.
Frank wrote this poem about Noni Howard for the event, Voices From The Underground, which featured contributors to his zine, THE CHEROTIC (r)EVOLUTIONARY:
Voices From The Underground
Friday, June 27, 1997 7:30 p.m. at Modern Times at 968 Valencia Street in San Francisco, California.
THE CHEROTIC (r)EVOLUTIONARY, a zine of all possibilities, presents VOICES FROM THE UNDERGROUND, an evening of readings and music by a wide range of agents of cultural subversion … featuring Dorothy Jesse Beagle, Barbara Golden, Noni Howard, Jack & Adelle Foley, K. Atchley, Frank Moore … plus special surprise guests. If that is not enough, everyone will get an autographed xeroxed piece of art by LaBash!
NONI DOES EXIST!
By FRANK MOORE, June 23, 1997
Everybody here has secret identities of superheros terrorists criminals artists. Everybody here is in disguise. Everybody here is intimate friends of the well-known. Everybody here has a secret cave of great influence. But nobody ever expects/suspects. We are that good!
But there is a legion, a myth, an old wife’s tale… Noni. If you travel deep into the underground, you will come to the cross roads between pleasure and torture. Here you’ll find Noni, the taboo queen. Gravel voice of hard drink that can fray your skin off layer by layer with beautiful sandpaper words which give you orgasms of pleasure while making you bleed. They say she is a nightmare creature that can rip your balls off to your cries of delight, rip them so gently.
They say she has unspeakable secrets and slaves of both sexes and even satan herself bows down to Noni!
And they say this wild creature Noni comes out of her dungeon cave into normalcy to walk among us in disguise.
I never listen to what they say. But I believe, hope, that Noni does exist… nightmare risk taboo queen. I’m searching for her…you, Noni!
Then Noni wrote this poem in 2001 for Frank:
FRANK DOES EXIST For Frank Moore
dressed in the colours of the earth your mind swells my imagination/
Prophet, Poet, Producer of the blossoming flowers of our eternal youth
you are there to celebrate every awakening.
such joy that we live for !
to see every moment bend, twist, explode into EONS of light