Here are some excerpts from the transcript of the show.
Recorded January 16, 2005.
Frank: That is why I am too hardcore for the punk scene.
Linda: The intimacy? Is that what you’re talking about?
Frank: Yes. Not just punks.
Linda: Not just punks, too hardcore for just about anybody.
Lori: And when you say hardcore, do you mean too bold?
Frank looks at Linda.
Linda: Well, I think of it as kind of like, maybe saying “real” or something.
Linda: Yes, authentic. Like people, say, for example, will have a façade of whatever. Frank will actually be that, not just the façade. So that makes people uncomfortable. Like the people in the sex scene, for example. It’s all like, you know, I’m open sexually, I’ll have orgasms, dada dada da. But Frank will actually bring intimacy and humanity into that, and everybody gets really uncomfortable. So, whatever the scene is, it’s like that.
Lori sets up her toy piano and sings a song, “My Country”.
Frank: Fucking powerful.
Lori: Thanks, Frank. I wrote it probably round the Gulf War and I never sang it out. And it was very private. And I recorded it in May of 2001. And then the airplanes hit the buildings. And. I was scheduled to begin doing secondary recording on September 11th and a friend of mine called me from Washington, D.C. I was in Ohio, actually down south. I was going to go to L.A. the next day. It was the 10th. And then I woke up the morning of the 11th. A friend of mine called me and told me what was going on and. I didn’t go to L.A. that day on the 11th, but I went on the 12th. And my producer, Andrew Williams, and I sat there and were devastated and I said, I can’t think of anything better than to sing harmony now. And so, harmony vocals was what we did. And it was interesting because I was going to do some harmony on this song, “My Country”. I felt so confused. I felt confused about … the song’s not confusing him, but living here and loving parts of my country and loving parts of being an American. And not loving my government, felt very confusing on September 12th. And I couldn’t sing the harmony vocals on this song for a few days. And then it got clearer and clearer to me that the voice that sings this song is a voice that a lot of people need to hear because, again, the way in which art is able to stand forward in the not knowing. To be brave enough to not know. And, you know, once again, that’s something that we’re taught is dangerous, in a way, to not know. Laughs. Do you know what I mean?
Lori: Yeah. So that’s where that song came from.
Frank: And it keeps getting new dimensions.
Frank: The song.
Lori: Yeah, exactly, exactly. Right. Well, and I feel again, I feel really happy about that I chose not to do any harmony on it because, you know, for me, it keeps coming back to how brave am I willing to be. And for me, brave is not, sometimes not embroidering too much and letting myself be as simple as I am. And my mind tells me that something ought to be more complicated or more clever or more, you know, beautiful or more layered or something. And in this case, to use the toy piano again to be a counterpoint, to be the child’s layer of questioning. The simple, silly sound of the piano behind the devastating questions about how it’s possible to continue being here, I mean. I don’t really think about leaving.
Frank: Where would you go?
Lori: I don’t know. You know, I bought something on Craigslist recently. I bought a little computer thing, this WACOM tablet. And when I went to the guy’s house to pick it up, I walked into this kind of penthouse. I mean, I didn’t even know such things existed in San Francisco. But it was a high rise building. And he was a fairly young guy, clearly a tech guy. And I walked in and all the rooms were empty and he and his girlfriend were packing up. And I walked into the space that had been the, I guess, the living room and there was a poem painted on the wall in handwriting which shocked the shit out of me. You know, in this pristine penthouse. And it was a very political poem. And it turned out that he was kind of a poet I.T. guy. And I felt right away that something odd was happening and I said, where are you going? And he said, where am I going or why am I going? I said, well, if you tell me where, I can probably guess why. And he said, I’m going to New Zealand. I said. OK. And he wanted to leave before the election. You know, he was just really clear that he had reached his limit. And one thing that keeps coming up for me is what is my limit personally? And I think about what happened in Germany.
Frank: But I think now everywhere is Germany.
Lori: Sighs. I don’t know, I’m not positive maybe. I don’t know.
Frank: We thought about moving.
Lori: Where were you going to go?
Linda: France at one point.
Lori: Yeah, well, France is interesting. We’re talking about degrees, I guess.
Lori: And there is nothing pure right?
Frank: And the battle will always be there, no matter where you go.
Lori: This is called “The Coyote”, and it’s a howl along at the end, so you’ll know when your part is.
Lori sings “The Coyote”. All howl together at the end.
Lori: So that was the first, but that’s part of it, I thought I wanted something and I got part of it and it was not what I thought it was. And. But I hurt myself a lot in the middle of it, so …
Lori: How is … I said the sex mistake, but, you know, it’s really not. But let’s say it more clearly. Uh. I didn’t make contact with what was true. I failed to make contact with what was true because I saw something glittering. You know, all these people who had been my heroes suddenly were available to me in some way. And I don’t know whether it was my higher self that… Um, well, what I know is that I had some work to do that was very old about my value and my sexuality and, um, the intersection of those two things, uh, made me small in some way. And this coyote piece, what I was asked to learn, the way in which it became my teacher was, um, about making me so small, because there was a lie that was told about me. I got smaller and smaller and smaller inside this lie until finally I had to stop and and and and tell the truth. Um, and in in the three years since then, um, I had to unravel this very tight knot about where my value lies. So that’s part of the how and the what.
Frank: I have to fight not to get famous.
Linda: Yeah, at different … there have been cycles, you know, where it’s like, you know, there’s cycles when what we’re doing is hot and they’re the points that, you know, it seems like if Frank wasn’t so kind of sharp about this, we could have gone to the fame place on a number of occasions. But he sees it coming and subverts it.
Linda: The Outrageous Beauty Revue is a real obvious one, because we were doing the show in San Francisco for three and a half years and it got a lot of press all over the world. It was in movies. We had TV people … it was just everywhere. And there was such a push to, you know, to just kind of go in the direction it was leading. But it always kind of happens in little, tiny ways. It’s like, well, if you just adjust this about the show. And Frank would … At the time, you know, it wasn’t obvious at the time that we shouldn’t do it, to me. It was obvious to Frank we shouldn’t. But it all seemed like. Oh yeah, right. And Frank would go, “No!” And, it’s like, where is he coming from? What is he doing? But and then afterwards it became clear that these were all things … I guess he’s talking about changing, letting something outside change the content, although, you know, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal at the time because it’s so like it’s so dominant, (laughs) you know, it’s just so, oh, that’s reality. And, you know, you have to keep this hold of this other reality.
Lori: Right. Yeah, well, vigilant.
Linda: Yeah, that’s the word.
Lori: That’s the word that comes up for me. It’s very seductive. It’s seductive. The dominant culture is very seductive.
Frank: Because they control very little. They want you to think, they want us to think that very little is what matters. So that they can control it. But in reality, they don’t control much.
Lori: Well, right, but once again, the oppression is so internalized that they don’t need to control much.
Lori: Yeah, we’re doing it for them. We’re controlling ourselves for them by buying all the bullshit.
Lori: Both with our dollars, but also much more with our brains and our hearts and our imaginations.
Frank: And that is why you and I are so successful. We play in that “much”.
Linda: The “much”? Oh, I see. The “much” that they don’t control! You play in that “much”. They control a little, that you and he are successful because you play in that “much” all the rest of it.
Lori: It’s very challenging to redefine success in the way you’re suggesting.
Lori: But I guess that’s why you have the pointer.
Frank: and which is why I freak …
Linda: … freak them out, freak people out.
Lori: Right, because you just don’t fucking care.
Frank: It is not the nudity and the eroticism that freaks people out.
Lori: Right! But they think it is.
Lori: They think it is. So it’s telling the truth or being authentic and redefining the terms.
Frank: Yes, but that is art.
Lori: Hmm, yeah, I mean, we might say it’s good art because there’s a lot of art that’s not that, right? There’s a lot of art that doesn’t redefine anything. It’s pretty, you know, cream cheese or something, maybe it’s cream cheese and not art.
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