The Edge

The Edge is an avant-garde company of actors and artist, founded and directed by Frank. The Edge is focused on subversion, on magic on altering reality … and is not afraid of combining individual arts together.

We met Jonathan when he answered one of our CALLBOARD ads. CALLBOARD is a straight Bay Area theater listing publication that we would sometimes list in.

Our ad read:

Cutting Edge Productions is casting for males & females for THE EDGE, a company of experimental theatre and performance art.

Jonathan had moved to San Francisco from the mid-west with his wife and was scheduled to study at ACT (American Conservatory Theater) in the fall and had been looking for something to do for the summer and signed on to work with Frank as part of Frank’s weekly workshop in Performance that we did at a local private kids’ school in a space we rented.

We met Suzanna when she attended one of our first “Wrapping/Rocking” performances at The Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco in 1986. She worked with Frank for a few years. 

Mary was living with us at this point. She had been working with Frank since the 1970s and had been part of the Outrageous Beauty Revue.

Here is the text from a poster for the UCB series that featured The Edge:

Friends of the Studio

presents

free series of live performances

by

The Edge

in Frank Moore’s

Experimental Reality

supported by a grant from The National Endowment for Arts

7 P.M. at Rm. 125 Dwinelle, U.C. Berkeley

Thursday – September 4, September 18, October 2, October 30, November 13, December 4, 1986

Experimental Reality is not passive entertainment. Experimental Reality is not television.

Experimental Reality is a taboo-breaking series of improvised mischievous avant-garde performances which at first appear childishly simple, but which devilishly suck the audience into a surreal and sensual underground where even serious can become silly without social straight-jackets to spoil their fun. Each piece is designed to goose your mind and morality … among other things. These pieces make the audience an active element in the magic of art theatre.

Frank Moore is a nationally recognized controversial performance artist who always tries to create a dream reality in which anything is possible. He will use this series to develop productions for San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City.

The Edge is an avant-garde company of actors and artist, founded and directed by Frank. The Edge is focused on subversion, on magic on altering reality … and is not afraid of combining individual arts together.

Another performance, July 1986, Walden School, Berkeley, California.
Frank & Jonathan “King Lear” with Suzanna and Mary

Frank created a brochure:

Here is what Frank wrote in December 1986, at the end of the year of his NEA grant:

From NEA Fellowship October 1, 1985 – October 1, 1986:
Grant #51-4111-0456
December 2, 1986
 
What my N.E.A. Fellowship did for my art career this year was give me a new freedom. I could put my ideas directly into action without being limited by a lack of money. But this new freedom was not totally financial. Having the N.E.A. opened up performance and lecture venues which had been before denied to me.
 
But it also opened minds to my art and philosophy, making it much easier to get spaces, audiences, and actors for my work. My work could thus go much further in its content … it could explore new depths of magic.
 
The year started with a performance tour of southern California. This included performances at University of California at San Diego, the Anti Club in L.A. and Babel – a group show in L.A. Through this tour I met such performance artists as Eleanor Antin, Rachel Rosenthal, Allan Kaprow. These meetings gave me more of a sense of an artists’ community in which to do my work. This tour also planted the seeds for a group of young artists who work in my productions in L.A.
 
After this tour, The Inter-section for the Arts in San Francisco asked me to do my “Wrapping/Rocking” for two nights.
 
The Southern California tour stirred up the desire in me to have an avant-garde performance company in the Bay Area. To this end, I founded The Edge. I started leading a weekly workshop for my new group in a rented gym.
 
With The Edge, I have developed my bi-weekly performance series at University of California at Berkeley into a free and freeing taboo-breaking event with an average audience of 30 questioning students.
 
In private performances with a number of people of all walks of life, I have refined my concept of EROPLAY and of performance. I have been asked to give lectures at the San Francisco Art Institute three times this year. I also broadcasted my art and philosophy in a four-hour live program on KPFA public radio.
 
The year climaxed with an L.A. five-hour performance of my “Cave of Dream”, which I consider to be my best work to date. In it, I combined The Edge with my L.A. group to form a cast of 15 to create a complex surreal basket of reality. This performance alone would have been impossible for me without the freedom of the N.E.A.
 
Moreover, the N.E.A. created a momentum which will carry over next year to a performance in Denver at the Art. Dept. Gallery and an East Coast tour, including a production of “Cave of Dream” in N.Y.C. at Franklin Furnace.
 
Frank Moore

MEB

Photo by Ken Jennings

An excerpt from Frank Moore’s book, Art of a Shaman, Chapter 11:

During the rehearsals of Glamour, when the strip joint got unbearably boring after hours upon hours, I took a walk along Broadway, into what then was the West Coast hardcore punk center, the Mabuhay Gardens or the “Fab Mab”. Since I did not have anything else to do, I asked the gruff manager if I could do my next production at his club. To my surprise, Dirk Dirksen was a visionary who, instead of seeing a crip asking for a hand-out, saw me somehow as a misfit artist perfect for his new wave cabaret. Dirk gave me a sheltered theater for six years, with complete artistic freedom and moral support. The first production was a raping of a high-brow comedy, Meb, which I turned into a multi-media farce, full of camp, nudity, sex, violence and rock’n’roll. The straight playwright walked out in horror, the club owner wanted us out, and only a handful of people came. But Dirk wanted to extend the run. He loved it.

Frank had a slideshow projected onto the back wall of the stage while segments of the play were happening that featured the “war hero”. We did a photo shoot for this slideshow at Tilden Park where the “war hero” was fighting Linda, “the babe.” Here are some of the photos from that shoot and the poster (all by Ken Jennings):

Meb photo by Ken JenningsMeb photo by Ken Jennings Meb photo by Ken JenningsMeb photo by Ken JenningsMeb photo by Ken JenningsMeb poster by Ken Jennings

The Erotic Test, 1978

An excerpt from Frank Moore’s book, Art of a Shaman, Chapter 11:

After a second parade had gotten out of hand and turned into dulling sleaze, I organized an indoor multi-media carnival in a large San Francisco warehouse, The Farm, where adults could play like kids in a safe environment. Providing adult playgrounds is one of the basic goals of my work. Since I think playing is a safe, mind-altering drug, I called my carnival The Erotic Test after The Acid Test of the Merry Pranksters.

Here is Frank’s “The Erotic Test Manifesto” (download pdf here):

The Erotic Test Manifesto by Frank Moore

Tickets for the first and second Erotic Test events:
Erotic Test ticket
Second Erotic Test ticket

Linda Mac at The Erotic Test, 1978. Photo by Mary Sullivan.

Fantasy Costume Parades

An excerpt from Frank Moore’s book, Art of a Shaman, Chapter 11:

Public performances naturally evolved from what was created from the workshop. The first major public piece was a fantasy costume parade through Berkeley, flaunting brightly painted skin and see-through costumes of net and lace. The parade ended up with a free punk concert in the park. I have talked about how my art is not made of separate public pieces but is an evolving monster. For example, in this parade, an inner character of one of the cast members, Diane Hall, emerged (photo below). This character was a middle-aged, middle-America-on-acid, fast nonsense talking, dizzy dame in a skin-tight Frederick’s of Hollywood gown, long fake eye lashed, and a two-foot beehive bleached blonde wig with blinking Christmas lights. This creature grabbed the mike away from the hippie M.C. Wavy Gravy, and started hosting the concert. A year later, when I needed a bridge between a wacky stage show and the audience, I brought back this Woolworth babe.

 

Wavy Gravy

Diane Hall

The Halloween Fantasy Costume Parade poster

Poster by Ken Jennings

Photos by Ken Jennings

Passion Quest

Passion Quest performance

This “note” was written by Frank in October 1993 after the October 9 “Passion Quest” performance at Passion Flower in Oakland. The March 19, 1994, “Passion Quest 2,” also at Passion Flower,  incorporates the changes Frank talks about in this note. The scripts for both performances are available to download below under each poster.

Here is Frank’s note:

Yesterday I rewrote sections of the all-night ritual…partly in response to the increasing anti-sex environment of our culture (I wanted to make it clearer that the work is NOT anti-sexual)…and partly (mainly) following the desire of the ritual itself to go into different, “deeper” physical trance states. (“Deeper” is a misleading term because of its vertical linearity.)

These are some of the new sections:

“WE ARE GOING ON A NONLINEAR JOURNEY, A TRANCE JOURNEY, A JOURNEY BEYOND TIME AND TABOO, A JOURNEY OF PLAY, A JOURNEY TO LILA. FOR THIS JOURNEY, I NEED HEROS WHO ARE WILLING TO GO INTO THE TABOO AREAS OF EROPLAY, WILLING TO PUSH BEYOND WHERE IT IS COMFORTABLE AND SAFE TO EXPLORE AND BUILD A LARGER ZONE OF SAFENESS. ONE ADVANTAGE OF WORKING IN A SMALL ENCLOSED SPACE IS IT FOCUSES THE ENERGY, BUILDING UP PRIMAL FORCES. ALSO, BY HAVING OUR PLAYING EXIST WITHIN THE SACRED CIRCLE OF RITUAL, OUR PLAYING CAN BE DONE OUTSIDE THE CONTEXT OF TABOOS, WITHOUT BEING INFLUENCED BY JUDGMENTS OF THE AUDIENCE. SO THE PLAY, WITHIN THE EROPLAY RITUALS, CAN BE INTENSE, VULNERABLE, AND MAGICAL WITHOUT ANYTHING SEXUAL ABOUT IT. THIS ENERGY THEN WILL BE LEAKED OUT FROM THE ENCLOSED SPACE INTO THE OPEN PERFORMANCE SPACE, BECOMING THE MOST POWERFUL THING HAPPENING IN THAT PLACE. USING THE MAGICAL STATE RELEASED BY OUR PLAYING, THE DUEL-BODIED ROCKING JOYOUS FIGURE OF LILA WILL CARRY US IN A TRANCE, THROUGH SEX, TO WHAT IS BEYOND…TO THE REALM OF ALL-POSSIBILITIES.”

and:

“EROPLAY AND WHAT IS USUALLY CALLED “SEX” ARE BUT TWO OF MANY WAYS TO RELEASE AND CHANNEL THE ENERGY OF PHYSICAL PLAY. IN THE WESTERN CULTURE, THESE MANY WAYS HAVE BEEN HIDDEN FROM US WITHIN SEX. EROPLAYING WILL LEAD US TO DISCOVERING THESE MANY OTHER WAYS. EROPLAY IS NOT ANTI-SEXUAL ANYMORE THAN WALKING IS ANTI-SWIMMING.”

During the years I was exploring just eroplay trance in my work, I found that people in their head would pull themselves out of the playing when the play reached a certain intensity. What was happening was they were stepping out of the play to check if the play had turned from eroplay into sexual. Most of the time, this stepping back and checking was not from mistrust or not wanting to play, but from a carefulness and a confusion. But what the stepping back does is remove the person from the experiencing (playing) mode into the thinking/observing mode. This creates the jerkiness which is not pleasurable. This greatly limits the playing/experiencing, greatly increasing the confusion factor. It took me several years to come up with a way around this dynamic. I finally started asking people before they committed to the work if they would be willing to use sex in the work. This willingness bypassed a lot of pulling back, jerkiness, confusion, carefulness…and the whole sexual question…allowing the person to experience the play with the intensity unlimited. The play remained eroplay. The reasons that the play needed to remain eroplay rather than sexual in the work were practical rather than moral.

When the work turned to exploring, mapping, other physical trances “closer” to “sexual”, the need for this willingness grew for practical reasons.

The eroplay rituals will stay about the same, with only a slight widening of the frame. The real change will be in the WRAPPING/ROCKING ritual in that the rocking couple will have a wider “keyboard” of gestures, including “sexual” (really sursexual or tansexual). This new range of possibilities will effect the ritual…even on the nights when the couple (really the trance) happen not to “use” the “sexual” gestures.

During the WRAPPING/ROCKING ritual, the “audience” sit and watch and are wrapped together by nude body-painted dancers. The physical focus, the physical trance generator, is the rocking couple who are using the wider keyboard. The rocking couple are a female cast member (Linda in recent performances) and me. I’m not sure the audience will be aware of the widening…but they will be effected by it. The eroplay rituals in which the “audience” physically participate more remain the same.

Frank Moore
October 1993

Passion Quest poster

“Passion Quest” poster by LaBash

DOWNLOAD “PASSION QUEST” SCRIPT

Passion Quest 2 poster

“Passion Quest 2” poster by LaBash

DOWNLOAD “PASSION QUEST 2” SCRIPT

“Passion Quest” ticket, front and back

“Passion Quest” ticket, front and back

 

“Passion Quest 2” ticket, front and back

“Passion Quest 2” ticket, front and back

Frank to be included in the Live Art Research Space of Performistanbul

Performistanbul

Frank’s work will now be archived in a new performance art research library in Istanbul, Turkey, the Live Art Research Space.

We were contacted by Performistanbul requesting a donation of Frank’s work to their archiving project. As a result, all of Frank’s digitized videos (almost 1000), and all of his published books will be added to the collection, plus other publications, a collection of posters, some original performance scripts, paraphernalia from Frank’s 2008 Presidential campaign, and more.

Performistanbul Live Art Research Space will focus on archiving, documenting and exhibiting performance art while providing space and resources for doing research.

“Over the course of our conversations and collaborations with performance art experts in the past two years, the need to conduct further research and access the means by which to do so has become ever more pressing. To this end, Performistanbul has decided to create the Live Art Research Space to meet the needs of students and researchers working in the field of performance art both locally and globally.”

“Performistanbul believes in the uniting and healing power of performance art, which is at the same time, a very effective tool to reach out to people around the world. This has motivated us to plant the seeds of discovering and creating new languages in the field of live art and as a first step, we decided to establish a specialized library and an archive of more than 7000 physical and digital resources within the research space. Planning to open in 2018, the Live Art Research Space will also launch Performistanbul Publishing, aiming to publish new books as well as translated books in Turkish.”

Learn more about Performistanbul at www.performistanbul.org
See Frank Moore’s website at www.eroplay.com

“Living Sculpture”

A live performance by Frank Moore 1982-1983
U.C. Berkeley Art Museum, Bancroft Way

From Frank: In “Living Sculpture” I sat for six hours in my position in the museum, waiting for people who were willing to take the time and the energy to talk to me on my word board, letter by letter. I do my art to be with people in a deeper, slower way than normal, polite, social interaction allows. My body is a great tool in this.

See more photos and read reviews of the performance on Frank’s website:
http://www.eroplay.com/Cave/living-sculpture/index.html