A poem by Teresa Cochran about “The Jam” on Frank Moore’s Shaman’s Den, May 28, 2000, with Teresa Cochran, Giovanni Moro, Walter Funk, John The Baker, Corey Nicholl and Frank Moore
Here’s the poem I wrote about our jam in May. I wanted to surprise you with it on LUVER! 🙂
Here we are In the Shaman’s Den The Shaman on piano, Bringing music out of infinite spaces, Inviting us to follow. We find our own parallel musical paths, Each one different, But present, Like a harmony. Joyous play With shamanic toys; We are all here. The silent one, Booya, Is no less present. Here he is With headphones; An omniscient being, While we trust him To stay with us And participate in our adventure. And o the magical recording later! It contains things we could not, did not hear In our shamanic journey. I feel as if I have lived At least one lifetime During that one-hour jam. Condensed, yet timeless.
Excerpted from Frank’s letter to Annie Sprinkle, February 17, 1987, describing Dotty, the character Annie would be playing at Frank’s first Franklin Furnace performance, INTIMATE CAVE, May 14, 1987.
For about eight years, I have been working with the character whom you are playing. I call her Dotty. You remind me of the woman who originally played Dotty. I have tried to get other people to play Dotty in different pieces, with not much success. They have lacked the depth and freedom and control needed to pull it off.
Dotty is a zombie, mentally retarded … has no I.Q., no intellect. But she is not dumb. She is very slow. She takes a couple of minutes to waddle several feet. She does not speak. But she makes loud, long, slow laughs without obvious reason. She makes funny faces and distorts her body [Howie Mandel may have copied her moves]. She gets sidetracked very easily. A bit of dust can stop her in her tracks as she focuses to explore it. In a strange way, she is very focused. Once her focus is on you, she is locked on you until her curiosity is satisfied. She is a ball of emotional, innocent curiosity. This gives her a gentle power over people, allowing her to break taboos, sitting on laps, crawling on people, unbuttoning shirts, gently pushing limits.
In this piece, she is looking for warmth, for intense physicalness. She looks for this in the audience at first. She does not force this on people. But she does not settle for less. When she finds that a person has quit going with her into that physical intimacy, she loses interest and moves on to another person.
Frank Moore 1812 Bancroft Way Berkeley, CA 94703 (415) 540-0907
Here is the packet including two proposals, my resume, and articles about my work. After we talked to you, I started thinking about the problem about The Painted Bride. It seemed if I did a performance there, I would either put you at risk in your job or would have to compromise … probably both! I am not willing to do either.
But it would be a shame not to do something at The Bride if it is possible. So I came up with the idea of doing the lecture there. Ideas and words are safer and more acceptable to administrators than the physical acts which put the ideas in the real world. The lecture would plant seeds, at the very least.
The performance at the other gallery should be a day or two after the lecture to give the physical product of my ideas.
Although there is nudity in “Wrapping/Rocking”, the piece has proved to be very accessible and gentle. I am looking forward to doing it there. I will need one female performer [how about you?] and up to two other dancers for the piece.
In L.A. I have attracted young artists who perform in my pieces down there. I have a dream about this also happening on the East Coast. Winter is turning out to be proposal-writing time of the year. One of the proposals is to the Yellow Springs Institute in PA. If I get accepted, I would want to work with some of the same people I will worked with in N.Y.C. and Philly this time around.
Linda and I are looking forward to seeing and talking with you on South Street … and at Cafe Roma here.
Here is Frank’s proposal for the lecture:
RAPTURE PERFORMANCE – A MAGICAL ART a proposal for a lecture by Frank Moore
There should be a kind of art that magically alters human reality, alters consciousness, subverts the existing order, and expands the limits of morals. Performance art can be such a channel of revolutionary, empowering change … if it focused on invoking the state of rapture.
In the lecture, I will go back to the primal roots of all art around the fireside and in the cave. The urge of creativity was a spiritual and communal attempt to affect, to change, the outside reality, both the natural world and the surreal world of gods and spirits. Art has hidden rituals in which power came from the acting out, not from viewing the art.
I will deal with how art, along with formal religion, lost its primal focus of change and became an object for viewing. Art became fragmented and isolated. Art failed the people.
The lecture will talk about how the avant-garde tradition, including performance art, was a reaction to this failure. It was an attempt, mainly unconsciously, to get back to the magic.
I will maintain that this magical art is still possible in this yuppie decade. In fact, it is vital for our collective sanity to have such art of rapture. By talking about what I do, I am hoping that tactics will emerge for this underground war of art and magic.
Roni’s reply, undated and handwritten on Painted Bride letterhead paper:
Dear Frank and Linda,
Happy 87 – hope all is well with you. Thanks for sending me the information – I showed it to Chris Hayes, the program director, and Chris is willing to do one weekend evening in May (*see note) around your NYC visit (either before or after) for Wrapping/Rocking. He asked if you would work for a minimum guarantee (say $150) against our standard 65% of the gate. (One hundred people at 6.00 each would be about $400 for you, if I figured correctly).
So let me know EXACTLY what your plans are regarding trip east; we can house you here, of course (do you like dogs – you can stay with me – I’m on a 1st floor.) and if you want to do Kitchen 1st or Bride 1st.
We have some ideas on getting the public out (”SEX, NUDITY, SOFT EROTICISM”*) and we also think we can get the art opening crowd out.
Hope to hear from you soon. love to you both. & happy 87! Roni
Frank performed “Wrapping/Rocking” as part of the “Masters of the Mind – San Francisco Performance Artists” weekend at the Art Department Gallery in Denver in 1987. Mark Pauline, of Survival Research Laboratories, performed on the second night.
Karen Briede’s Art Department Gallery was part of her work/living space where she also did hairdressing.
Below is the letter that Frank wrote to Cecilie, a local person who Karen had found to perform with Frank as part of his cast. This was the first time that Frank described “Wrapping/Rocking” in written form.
Frank Moore 1812 Bancroft Way Berkeley, CA 94703 (415)540-0907 April 13
Karen of the Art Department Gallery said you will be in my performance, Wrapping/Rocking, on May 8. I am glad to have you on board. She also said you had at least one other person to be a dancer. Because of changes in the piece, we need 2 to 3 additional nude dancers (that makes a total of 4 to 5 nude dancers plus you). Could you help Karen to get these?
I will get the times and dates out of the way, then get to the meat of the piece.
Linda and I get to Denver Tuesday afternoon the 5th. I want to get together with you and the dancers Wednesday and Thursday afternoons for 2-4 hours. On Friday, we will meet at the Gallery at 6 P.M. to put our body make-up on before the performance. Would you pass this information on to the dancers? Also, would you call us Tuesday night at the Art Department (303 892-0352) to confirm the rehearsals?
I am enclosing the poem which Linda will read over and over throughout the piece.
As the piece begins, I am lying on a mat. You are bending over me, rocking. Your nude body brushes over me in this dance to the live drums beating. Although our bodies are always in physical contact during this dance, our bodies will be only barely touching.
During this dance, the nude, body-painted dancers will greet each person at the door, will perform a ritual of kissing and washing of feet, give him Somala (a magical potion) and then will lead him to his special sitting spot on the floor near us.
When the last is seated, the dancers will lift each of us onto the lap of an audience member. There we wait as they replace the mat with my wheelchair. The dancers will then lift me into the chair and you onto my lap.
We start rocking together, moving together. We start making sounds together. The live music will respond to our sounds and movement. The dancers move slowly round us in a sensual ritual. Slides start being projected onto our nude bodies. Linda starts reading the poem.
Our movements, our rocking, and our sounds should cover the range of emotions of the poem … sometimes comforting and child-like, sometimes suffering and in pain … magical … sexual … insane … etc. But never linear, one emotion should not lead to another, but just flow out of us. In this way, our rocking and sounds will become a chant that will put the audience into a magical trance.
As the poem is being read over and over, the dancers will slowly create a web of ribbon, cellophane, toilet paper, and tin foil … ultimately connecting, wrapping, everyone up together.
The end will be us sitting nude in soft light in the remains of the web, talking with the audience. In rehearsals, we will not go through the entire piece. We will focus on getting comfortable with each other, and on exploring sounds and movements which we will use.
Hope I have given you the feeling of the piece and of what will be involved. If you have any questions, feel free to call me. Is there a number where we can reach you?
A proposal Frank sent to Yellow Springs Institute, January 1987:
RAPTURE – A SPASTIC BALLET
Can someone who cannot walk, or even stand, be the center of a modern ballet? Can someone who cannot speak sing an emotional opera that will pull the audience into his reality? Can someone make what is normally seen as physical limits become the gateway to erotic grace and beauty?
I am that someone.
“Rapture – A Spastic Ballet” will be a 90-minute live performance combining dance, poetry, pre-recorded electronic music, and live and pre-recorded singing/chanting.
During the days of preparation and rehearsal, I will teach my cast of two dancers and a chanter, my noise language … how to sing like babies, like madmen, beyond words to feelings, then create a soundtrack of over-dubbed musical sounds, performed solely by myself, and a non-verbal abstract chant/wailing, which will be based on my noise language. I will teach the dancers my spastic movements. With these movements, to this intense abstract soundtrack, we will create a complex dance. This dance will use lights as another medium of emotional language.
When the audience enters the theatre, I will be nude in my wheelchair, moving awkwardly, making noises. These noises slowly become singing to the soundtrack. The two dancers appear as images of myself … but they quickly become extensions of my body, picking me up out of my chair … lifting me into a freeing dance of swirling, rocking, rubbing, rolling, flying, swinging, laughing. Throughout the chanter will be reading my poetry over the soundtrack. At certain points, audience members will be invited to be actively involved in the dance … to hold me … to rock with me.
The end of this ballet of rapport will be a bright web of ribbon, cellophane, and tinfoil connecting me, the audience, and cast all together.
The kind of art in which I am interested is art that causes change, that heals, that threatens, that unites, that subverts, that destroys limits and breaks taboos. I am not interested in doing art that comforts, decorates, entertains. In my performances, in my workshops, and in my lectures, I am trying to go back to the time when art was the magical, irrational, non-logical channel of active impact … when art was not just an object of passive viewing. I focus on live direct art for this end.
When we trace art to its primal roots, it combines with science and religion to form the primitive mans’ occult tool to influence both the natural and the supernatural worlds. It involved both private and communal rituals with no audience except the gods and demons.
In my work, I try to create an environment in which the line between consciousness and the subconscious can be temporarily erased, where the power of taboos is released so that personal and social change can be magically induced. The artist in this intensely intimate work is a conductor focusing and guiding the ritual forces. This is an avant-garde art, a revolutionary art.
In this kind of art, my body gives me a definite advantage. It links me to the wounded healer, the deformed shaman. By combining this with performance tactics, I combine realities to create awake dreams.
Of course, my kind of art is not mass media, trendy or fashionable. It is just idealistic …. Definitely not a money-maker.
But I have always thought art should be a calling, not a career.
This is an excerpt from the conversation between Christian Lunch (aka Xtian) and Frank on Frank Moore’s Shaman’s Den, December 9, 2001, right after the Fuck The War Ball at the underground punk club, Burnt Ramen in Richmond, California. Xtian performed with the Cherotic All-Stars that night. He was also at that time the sound guy at the Stork Club in Oakland.
Xtian: Well, I think the wonderful thing about eroplay, when you see it live is that, if you’ve never seen anything like that before, it’s like, hey, it’s a bunch of dancing girls … or, it’s a bunch of chicks, wow. This is cool, man. Let’s watch this! And the thing about it is there’s also that … um … it’s like it’s generating an erotic energy, but it’s being channeled towards something really powerful, like I said before. That’s the thing that makes it unusual. And it would shock a club owner but it turns the stage into performing, into a ceremonial space which is … I suppose the club people would be upset if you’re turning their club into a church. Maybe that’s what they are bugged about.
Frank: I am sneaky. It looks like rock.
Frank wrote this about the Fuck The War Ball performance:
Well, this was the period when I was producing a lot of music shows at the infamous illegal underground punk club BURNT RAMEN. This was the last two acts of a very long show. Traditionally my band closed the shows. Also, traditionally I cherry picked musicians from the other bands of the night to be in my band. But this show the musicians kept leaving during the show [the club was in the most dangerous neighborhood]. So at this point when I was the next act, I had no band except for Xtian [aka Christian Lunch] and a flock of nude women. So in the middle of Extreme Elvis’ set [which I consider one of the top five performances of ALL rock ‘n’ roll history!], I asked Elvis if I could borrow his band. So our two sets melted together! Btw, we performed in what normally passed for the GREEN ROOM there because that was where E literally pitched his tent!
After so-called feminists tried unsuccessfully to stop the booking of this show because they thought my art was somehow sexist, this show marked the transition from me singing to corny records [which I had been doing since THE OUTRAGEOUS BEAUTY REVUE broke up in the early eighties] to jamming. In fact, this could be considered the first CHEROTIC ALL STAR BAND. Barb Golden of THE WIG BAND opened up the night. Her sax player Toyoji had played with John Cage. I did backup vocals for her in her set. Then she played keyboard in my band with John Seabury of THE PSYCHOTIC PINEAPPLE [which formed after they saw my OUTRAGEOUS BEAUTY REVUE] on guitar. Before the show I tried to get Toyoji to play in my band. But he shyly declined. However in the middle of the glorious erotic chaos of the set, he crawled on the stage and got more and more uninhibited!
I think I have finally recovered from my tour of Southern California. As Paul McCarthy would say, it was amazing. It is one of the main projects I used my N.E.A. Grant for. It was a kind of thing I have dreamed about. But my dreams paled against the reality of it. Paul helped us arrange the performances in L.A., connecting us with Jack Marquette of Anti-Club and Robert Gero. But this was after months of soul debating on Paul’s part on what would be the best spaces for me.
It took months setting everything up for the trip. The trying to line up actors for the L.A. pieces. The pile of actors’ resumes melted to zero by the time we left on the trip. It was the same old story … the vulnerability, the avant-garde strangeness, and nudity proved too much for the straight actors to imagine doing. So I prepared myself to wing the performances, as I usually am forced to do.
Also just before our departure, we got a definite red tape NO from U.C. Irvine.
We arrived in L.A. to establish a beach head before going on to San Diego. We received a call from Robin McHeed. I met Robin months before as I was doing my Approach Art on Sproul Plaza at U.C. Berkeley. She will graduate this summer from U.C. Irvine. She is a stranger in a strange land at Irvine. Something clicked in Robin when I told her I was doing a tour in Southern California. It became her personal revolt against the rightist system to get this long-haired, red-helmeted, multi-colored, spastic elf with his giant portfolio of chocolate covered naked live art that the audience has a chance to play in. So when we ran into the red tape dead end, Robin turned into a one woman bulldozer. The call was informing us that she got a classroom in one day for the performance … basically she personally sponsored me. So we had an extra show on the road.
Next day, we traveled to Irvine. Robin was kind of disappointed when we rolled up in our big American car. She was expecting a Magic Bus full of wildly dressed artists. But she soon realized I was still that mischievous elf. We followed her around as she busted her buns making last minute contacts. I got more and more freaked out being on a campus which was consciously designed to discourage human contact and a sense of community … where students are identified by for which big company they will be working. I started to think no one would show up for the performance, not to mention participate, in this stronghold of the enemy. So in my mind, I started adapting “Random Gestures” so that if no one became involved, at least it would look like something was happening. To my surprise, there were students waiting outside the performance room when we arrived.
The windowless room became a dark cave with a light strobing. I lay on a table-altar surrounded by neatly dressed yuppies and young republicans. Gestures were randomly read out. Anyone could get on the table with me and do the gestures, and return to their seats when they did not want to do the gesture. At first, nobody did anything at all. But after fifteen minutes, a few timidly started doing the gestures in their seats. Slowly, one by one, people got on the table … especially after Robin broke the ice. It was a trip seeing these ultra-yuppies touching one another in intimate ways. They drank it up. The guy who I got to play music asked in the middle of the piece if he could stop playing music and join the table. Two male roommates found themselves doing things together like rubbing noses … and liking it. We had to push more tables together to make room for all the people. At one point, about 12 bodies piled onto me and slowly rocked … because they couldn’t quite let themselves rock on one another.
After the piece, Robin invited everyone to her house for chili. It gave me a good chance to hear in detail what people thought about the piece, but also to watch the effects of the piece on the people. When they first came out, they were still relating to one another, being high, being physical, being vulnerable. It took several hours for this noticeable change to wear off. It was like waking up from a dream … or coming down from a trip.
The next night, we were in a totally opposite scene than Irvine … the anti-club, the L.A. art/punk club. I was doing my CABARET OF CHAOS, which consisted of me singing along to taped message songs such as “Better Sit Down Kids”, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else”, “I Am Woman”, etc. When the packed punk house saw this weird crip (me) sitting on the stage yelling into a mic to bad music, they started jeering at me, pulling at my feet, and in general tried to give me a hard time. I loved it. I started kicking their heads playfully, sang all the louder, and interacted with them. They started liking it almost in spite of themselves. They started clapping along, then singing along, then rocking along with me. Amazing. Hard-core punks got on stage to dress me in their spiked jewelry and even to give me a back rub while I sang. After 45 minutes of this, they demanded more. When I finally got off the stage, they crowded around me, touching my body.
I could never dream up this reality.
The letter Frank wrote to get the gig:
To Jack Marquette Anti-Club, Los Angeles
Paul McCarthy suggested I contact you about my doing a show at The Anti-Club when I am in Southern California in late January. I will be doing performances at U.C.L.A., with the help of Paul, and at U.C.S.D. for the performance art class of Eleanor Antin. But what I would do at your club would be very different from these other performances.
I would do a very silly and tacky musical revue which grew out of my Outrageous Beauty Revue which I did as the Saturday early show at S.F.’s Mabuhay Gardens for three years in the late 70’s. The show has wacky characters who murder songs from the 60’s. The show could be from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on your time requirements. I don’t know why, but the show is the most accessible thing I do.
I am enclosing the cover story that High Performance did on my work and the article about me that the editor of Metier wrote. They should give you the feel for what I do.
Paul told me that you manage Johanna Went. Ever since she and I performed on the same night at the Mabuhay many years ago, I have wanted to perform with her again … maybe I could open for her at your club.
Frank’s announcement for his performance at DADAFEST 2003:
THE SHAMAN’S SHELTER FROM THE STORM DADAFEST, July 11 & 12, 2003 Somarts Gallery, S.F.
For this year’s DADAFEST, I’m doing the longest continuous performance I have attempted since the 48-hour DYING IS SEXY in Toronto in 1999.
From midnight Friday July 11 to midnight Saturday…within the madness that is DADAFEST…I will be in THE SHAMAN’S SHELTER FROM THE STORM, giving out magical mantras and secret gestures, doing pantanic rituals, conducting deep core music, going into trances of controlled folly, etc…all to give people WHO DARE TO COME IN magical ways to survive the upcoming TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF “CIVILIZATION”! bring your bodies, musical instruments, voices, and desires to jam with me for an hour or 2, or to spend the night with me, or to just peek in, or totally lose time itself!
THE SHAMAN’S SHELTER FROM THE STORM will be somewhere in THE SOMARTS GALLERY, 934 Brannan. s.f.
Frank wrote this after the performance:
Sunday, July 13, 2003
Well, we here are recovering from this weekend’s DADAFEST. It was quite amazing. It was much closer to the true spirit of dada than ever before. Katy and Blue took risks and by most accounts we were getting within the cave, most of the artists [and most of the audience] rose to the higher level. I can’t judge because I was in the cave for most of the 24 hours. But that was the buzz and the vibe of it. But the fact that they went outside of the socially acceptable time frame lost them press coverage and the Beach Blanket Babylon crowd. But to the dada credit of Katy and Blue…and almost everyone else…this wasn’t seen as a negative, but getting back to the dada roots. If they do it again, they now will have a good base. Just on the level of the sheer work and organizing of doing a 24-hour event that created a large and relaxed community of artists, it was quite an impressive undertaking that worked!
For this year’s DADAFEST, I did the longest continuous performance I have attempted since the 48-hour DYING IS SEXY in Toronto in 1999. We made an intimate cave out of a great portable 10×10 gazebo and the LaBash backdrops. When needed, Mikee and Linda would go out people hunting, coming back with willing victims. I lost my band that would have been outside the cave for the whole 24 hours, attracting people and would have provided just one more continuous thread to the piece. But as it was, these people hunting expeditions were rare because there was a person in the cave…if not a wild scene/happening…most of the time.
We had this sign on the cave:
Enter THE SHAMAN’S SHELTER FROM THE STORM, inside the shaman is giving out magical mantras and secret gestures, healing by touch, talking beyond frames, doing pantanic rituals, conducting deep core music, going into trances of controlled folly, loving, listening, laughing…all to give people WHO DARE TO COME IN magical ways to survive the upcoming TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF “CIVILIZATION”!
When someone came in, I asked him to read one of my poems/writings of his choosing. This became a powerful ritual because people chose things that spoke right to them, reading whole new dimensions into the poem than were there before. This ritual reminded me of tarot readings or casting the I-Ching. At times, these readings developed a community spirit that exploded pure raw dada chaos out-of-control magic…especially when the FLUFFGRRL crowd held court in the cave.
Then I asked the person to do a random gesture/act, drawn from a magical bag. These acts range from “easy” to explicitly intimate. If the people were a couple, I asked them to do a gesture together, and together with me. Most did these rituals.
Musicians kept dropping in to jam for a while. Friday night Dr. Oblivious, Nate Scott, Fluff Grrl’s Bob and Pervertidora Records’ Chris [A.K.A. GOD] jammed. Then Bob and Chris segued us into a twisted Cheech and Chong flick, in a failed search for more beer, and a match for the only joint, dropping Bob’s burnt hair all over my cave as Kaosmic Kitty showed us her nazi clit as she and I rubbed thighs as Bob sucked my cock as Chris informed us he is having a breakdown because he is off his meds as Bob obsessed on Linda’s hairy bush and the lame dada going on outside as dawn broke. There was no lame dada inside the cave!
I took a break from the cave to take part in THE CULT LEADER CONTEST. Among my disciples were Katy, Fluff Grrl’s Bob, and Michael Peppe. What can I say? I simply was the only real cult leader there!
Kirsten arrived Saturday afternoon after traveling since the wee hours across the country. We started a 5-hour pantanic dance as Linda and Mikee kept the cave within the ritual reality, which was a challenge because that was when a lot of people came through, each reading my writings extremely deeply to the dance…when Peppe and Andy Poisoner with Ronnie played music…when the Fluff Grrl crew with Joanna camped out in the cave.
The pantanic dance was extremely physically challenging, requiring a committed focus over hours to melt everything down to an explicit, slow, small, human, warm intimacy that was generated between Kirsten and my skin through dancing/rubbing. At one point, about 3 hours into the dance, it was necessary to take everyone out of cave and limit it to people coming in for the first time. At another point in the dance, it seemed to be extremely difficult for people to stay in the cave to observe the dance. This was because they were, through the dance, directly experiencing unlimited intimacy [which is quite different than sex]…and they found themselves in the state of pure dada…and they ran…but carried with them the virus of new possibilities. A DADA SUCCESS!