Frank wrote this poem about/for Kenneth Atchley (K.A.) right before the “Voices from the Underground” event on June 27, 1997 at Modern Times Bookstore in San Francisco. It was read as K.A.’s introduction before his performance. From the poster:
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!
Frank had published one of K.A.’s written pieces in his zine, The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary. K.A. also played with the Cherotic All-Stars several times and even travelled to Seattle to perform with Frank in 1996.
June 23, 1997
A southern gentleman, gentle being, creates a noise fountain, a gate to a dark erotic motel of razor blade cutting blonde white skin in love. Time going backwards into a shamanistic perverseness, floating back into a pipeline of a sustained note, a sexy machine whine, strangely human, strangely divine.
This gentleman puts pictures in my head too taboo.
This gentleman with his noises super real spray opens up caverns of possibilities like a knife ripping open a child’s belly.
And I always have wondered what is in southern comfort! A gentle spirit unbounded.
This show, that was put together by John the Baker, took place the day after Frank’s birthday in 2004. Kirsten arranged to have a large blow-up of the show’s poster made to hang on the wall backstage for people to write birthday wishes on. Below is the poster we took home after the event:
Here are the details of the show along with some photos and backstage footage!
The Night of Taboo-Benders a benefit for www . luver . com A night of cultural terrorism and subversion with legendary hard/deep core reality messers deep in the bowels of the underground where luver.com webcasts 24/7! It was an historic show! The Slaughterhouse, Saturday, June 26, 2004
Featuring (in order of appearance) Hep Si New Earth Creeps Fluff Grrl The Feederz Frank Moore’s Cherotic All-Star Band
Frank and the Chero Company performed “The Outrageous Horror Show” at Lower Links in Chicago on October 11, 1990 as part of their “Year of Peril” series.
Here is the pre-show article from the Chicago Reader:
October 5, 1990
By Albert Williams
“I have a body that is ideal for a performance artist,” says Frank Moore, who was born with cerebral palsy and is 99 percent physically disabled. Moore’s performances are touching in the most literal and provocative sense. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts performance art fellowship in 1985, Moore shares with Karen Finley (who’s also appearing in town this week) the distinction of being on the “hit list” set up by the fearmongers who seek to set the arts agenda these days. (Performance spaces that receive NEA grants are investigated; if they have presented certain artists, such as Finley and Moore, their grant-worthiness is called into doubt.) But if, to paraphrase the title of Finley’s controversial show, the oppressors keep their victims ready, Moore refuses to play victim. In his group piece Outrageous Horror Show, he and his company, Chero, employ erotic play, nude exhibitionism, audience participation, and unorthodox concepts of narrative, space, time, and beauty as means to challenge the barriers society erects around sexuality, cripples, and art. Moore’s appearance is the first offering in “Year of Peril (The Censorship Issue),” a series of performances that will also feature Annie Sprinkle’s Sex Education Class and filmmakers Monte Cazazza and Michelle Handelman’s True Gore later this month. Club Lower Links, Thursday, October 11 (954 W. Newport, 248-5238), 7 PM. $7.
Here is the script for Frank’s performance:
A review from the Chicago Reader:
The Plucky & Spunky Show
December 20, 1990
By Anthony Adler
THE PLUCKY & SPUNKY SHOW
I might have liked The Plucky & Spunky Show a lot better if I hadn’t seen Frank Moore first. Frank Moore has cerebral palsy. He rides around in a wheelchair, his head and hands move spasmodically, and when he tries to talk the words come out as a series of incomprehensible whines and screeches.
So naturally he’s a performance artist.
I saw Moore’s show when he came to Club Lower Links in October. The evening was long, strange, and very trippy–picture a student pageant at the Jimi Hendrix Memorial School for the Disabled, circa 1971. I found myself squirming almost as soon as I walked in. There was Moore, facing us from his wheelchair, howling and gesticulating to music–his torso straining up against his seat belt; his hands wild; his tongue lolling out of his mouth; and Sonny & Cher on the box, singing what else but “Laugh at Me.”
Drinks were being served. The audience applauded after every appalling number. I was thoroughly upset: my sense of dignity was being assailed. Not my sense of my own dignity, but of Moore’s–my sense of the dignity of the handicapped. What amusement, what pleasure was there in seeing this unlucky man demonstrate his incapacity for us?
Then, whoosh, I saw how completely I’d missed the point. Or rather, how completely I’d fallen into it without seeing it. Moore wasn’t playing to anybody’s prejudices. Just the opposite: he was attacking them. Attacking them with his whole writhing, caterwauling being. His simple presence constituted a challenge to conventional notions of what a performer may and may not look like. And by extension, what roles disabled people may and may not assume. He was all wrong, and yet there he was: sitting center stage, rocking out–even turning sex symbol when his wife appeared, half-naked, to croon “I Got You Babe” with him.
I realized then that my solicitude was actually condescension: a healthy man’s attempt to put a handicapped man not only in his place but in his persona. I wasn’t really angry at the audience for demeaning Moore–the fact was that I was angry at Moore for playing against his assigned type.
The Plucky & Spunky Show offers similar insight–but in the form of a punch line rather than a revelation. Where Moore got in my face with his difference and defiance, Plucky & Spunky came at me with a big hug, a patient look, and an easy laugh. A comedy revue about the peculiar difficulties of the handicapped–written by wheelchair veterans Susan Nussbaum and Mike Ervin, and performed by a mixed ensemble of blind, deaf, paraplegic, and even tall actors–Plucky & Spunky pretends to a certain amount of wiseass irony; we’re supposed to take the title with a heavy dose of attitude. And yet the show’s overall tone actually expresses the pure essence of pluck and spunk. Nussbaum and Ervin are out to cajole us into enlightenment. They tend to teach by ingratiation.
Not that there aren’t darker modulations here and there. Nussbaum gives herself some rich, surprisingly sharp passages–as in the skit where a spilled order of shrimp in black bean sauce momentarily knocks the spirit out of a paraplegic woman. Or the one where Nussbaum and David Pasquesi play wheelchair-bound lovers debating their chances of maintaining a long-term relationship in a world of hostile architecture and patronizing strangers.
Then, too, there are some plain funny bits–plain funny loosely defined here as anything with Pasquesi in it. A Second City mainstage regular, Pasquesi brings a stunningly specific comic imagination to everything he does. As just a small for instance, there’s a scene where Pasquesi comes between a man and his irate, deaf wife: the wife signs the word “sorry” on Pasquesi’s chest and Pasquesi goes giggly from the feel of it. The tickle’s a minor detail, but it has an unexpectedly major effect, simultaneously grounding the scene in physical reality while making it fly as comedy.
Mostly, however, Plucky & Spunky goes for the warm and runny. The warm and runny and pat. An ongoing story about former poster girl Spunky and her search for identity ends with the requisite I’m-Just-Me song. Even the shrimp-and-bean-sauce tragedy closes on an up note. The revue format itself tends to defuse any dangerous interplay between show and audience, its familiarity breeding a complacency that’s never challenged. People with all their limbs and all their faculties can see The Plucky & Spunky Show and sympathize with its agenda without ever examining that agenda on a personal level. Wild Frank Moore would never permit that.
The “Year of Peril” brochure by Karen Briede:
1990 was also one of the busiest years for Frank in terms of travel!
The Art of Frank Moore & LaBash The first ever showing of shaman performance artist Frank Moore’s erotic innocent primitive passionate digital art, alongside the funny/disturbing/mind-scrambling/reality-bending drawings of LaBash. Sunday, Feb. 2 – Saturday Feb. 15, 2020 Hours M-F 12-8pm Sa-Su 11am-8pm
Let Me Be Frank video screening On Valentine’s Day, the first ever live screening of episodes from the web video documentary series, Let Me Be Frank, based on the life and art of shaman, performance artist, writer, poet, painter, rock singer, director, TV show host, teacher and bon vivant, Frank Moore. Come EARLY and bring your musical instruments for a music jam before the screening! Friday, Feb. 14, 2020 5-6:30pm – MUSIC JAM 6:30-8pm – LET ME BE FRANK screening and Q&A
Adobe Books 3130 24th Street San Francisco, CA 94110
by Erika Shaver-Nelson, Alexi Malenky and Corey Nicholl
When we arrived at Adobe for the event, we found that people had left comments and drawings in the notebook we had left in the gallery space.
“fuckin’ love this stuff!” “you inspire me profoundly” “many thoughts head full …” “whoa!” “WTF?! infathomable, navy?” “the world needs more FRANK MOORE for all of us to be sexually liberated!”
Heather said that the art show has been getting a lot of positive reactions, especially from young people who come into the shop. Heather and the other volunteers at Adobe Books create a very open feeling there, and it felt great to have the event there. She told us later that when we take down the art in a week, the next group is a bunch of young people who will be doing some sleepovers in the space, and writing their dreams on the walls …
We brought homemade popcorn (two kinds: buttered & curry), and orange spearmint water, and valentine’s chocolate … they were a big hit, devoured!
Michael Peppe was the first to arrive, and the first person who came for the jam. Only one other came to jam, one of the people we recognized from several of Frank’s later performances, including at Temescal. He brought a drum which he played, and sometimes took toy instruments and shook them inside the drum, etc.
But at first, it was just Peppe … he came back into the gallery and sat down at a keyboard and started playing … we three started jamming with him, and before long there was a couple who had not even come for the event, but were drawn back to the gallery space, and after checking out the art, they also joined the jam. It was really fun, and it felt/sounded like a Frank jam, felt primal, and Erika said that the feeling during the jam was “freedom”. As time went on, more people came in and joined the jam.
Between the first two episodes, we were talking with Michael Peppe, and he said some amazing things about Frank …
“You have a bunch of things that you regret in your life, not necessarily that you regret doing, but regret not doing, but I was thinking watching the film that that’s one I totally do not regret, is hanging out with Frank Moore, and jumping into his thing, you know, going to performances, being in the performances, watching the videos, reading the text, and all his art … not one second of my life was wasted hanging out with Frank Moore.” He remembered the first time he performed with Frank at UC Berkeley. “From that moment on, yeah, I absolutely do not regret any of that.”
He is such a once in a lifetime kind of person. Usually in art, you think well, wow, he was great, I wonder who the next guy’s gonna be. You know, who’s gonna follow up. There is no next Frank Moore. There is only one. There is only one, and that’s all you get. And I’m sure that there’s not going to be anyone quite as amazing and remarkable as him. The world has had plenty of time to come up with another one, and it hasn’t managed to do it, so … he’s it, he’s the only one.”
He also talked about the Outrageous Beauty Revue, which is when he first saw Frank at the Mabuhay in 1981. “No one had ever done that, and no one has done it since.” “Celebrating people for who they are, what they are, whatever they look like …” He was also really struck by the quotes from Frank at the end of the 1st episode, about faking it until you make it, and how Frank saw himself as beautiful. “And like he said, that’s magic. That’s what magic is. You know, that’s something to think about. That’s magic.”
Watching Let Me Be Frank with a live audience was amazing … it was the first time, after only having watched it together at home. Both the reactions, laughter, etc. and the silence really made you feel like people were taking a lot in from the episodes.
Alexi counted about 25 people at the screening. Among the people who came was a coworker from the health food store where Corey works, Kacey, and Erika’s coworker Megan and her boyfriend Josh. Megan was the last student who worked with Frank. Also, Keith Wilson came, the filmmaker who is doing his own documentary on Frank.
One of the first questions after the screening was if Frank had been an organizer for disabled people in the bay area community, or if his work drew other people with disabilities into his work. We talked about how he had participated in the protests in the early 80s at the Federal building in SF over the ADA, and also about the group that put on the OBR, and how it came together through Frank’s workshops, and that there were several people with disabilities that were part of the workshops and later formed deeper relationships, formed households together, etc.
We talked also about how Frank was challenging to the disability community in the seventies, because while they were advocating independence, hiring people to help you so that you could be “independent”, Frank was talking about having deep relationships with friends and lovers who would take care of your needs.
We also told the story of Frank showing Fairytales Can Come True at the CP Center.
Heather brought up what she had read in How To Handle An Anthropologist about Frank’s experience at the San Francisco Art Institute, and about not getting booked by gallery spaces and being embraced by other subcultures like the punk scene … and we ended up telling the story of The Lab cancelling Frank’s performances, and how the poetry community came out to perform with him on the street in front of the space. And then Peppe talked about how you can’t even count how many places have banned Frank! And how Frank didn’t care, he just thought it was funny!
A Japanese woman who Heather told us later had come specifically “for the Frank Moore event” told Erika that she had a friend who had been severely disabled, and gets very down in the dumps about what she can’t do anymore (she is an artist), and that she felt that Frank was really inspiring, and would be inspiring to her friend.
At the end of the night, after the second episode, she talked again about how Frank was really inspiring, especially how for so long, from such an early point, Frank had this idea of interdependence (instead of independence), and she was struck by his self-respect and his will to do his art, that was really admirable, and a lot of people could not do this, so she couldn’t understand how anyone could ever ban him! She also said he was “so cute! so lovable”
Afterward, a couple who had come to the event came up to us. Matt is someone who volunteers at Adobe, and is a musician who recently did a dissertation for his degree at Mills College where he helped create musical instruments for people with disabilities, that they could play and jam together with. He was really inspired by Frank, and had been thinking about doing something about Frank with his disabled students where he teaches at an Academy, but he said he will have to see what the administration of the school is open to.
Also after the screening, as we were packing up, Heather’s partner Kyle talked about the part of the OBR episode where Steve Hoffman was playing Joe Cocker. He was really impressed. He said it was “pure rock ‘n’ roll”, and that he have never seen anything quite like it.
When Peppe left, he asked us when is the next one!? He wants to be there.
Heather wants to do more screenings/jams, and suggested that perhaps the next one could be around Frank’s birthday!
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!
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.
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.”
“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.
ripping paper, revealing the beautiful rough wood buried under all of those littering words, ideas, events, messages, images of humans gone out of control, seeking contact right out on the street where anyone and everyone can see and read and get tempted, get distracted, get pulled into i-don’t-know-what.
all on the telephone poles on my avenue.
beautiful telephone poles.
so i make my rounds pulling, ripping, making our world neat again, making it safe and comfortable and pleasant again for tourists and macy’s.
after all, ideas stapled up everywhere are disturbing, disquieting, and messy.
i don’t look or read as i rip, i just listen, then pat the nude wood, then move on to the next pole covered in scales of communication of strange communities and subcultures who don’t know that there are right and correct channels of communications.
buy an ad on a bus bench, for pete’s sake.
ever hear of the classifieds?
get a review, you lying nixons and funky headshrinkers, whatever you are!
they are probably oily slimy dark so-called beat punk poets writing pages upon pages.
no sense of order or of the correct style.
they wonder why sensible papers don’t list their wailing sessions.
so they deface my natural beautiful pole with their crude rude announcements.
is your mutt lost? check the pound.
lost child, see the police. but i’m getting carried away. i leave missing persons and wanted posters up as a public service. after all, the cops always wink and smile… except when i tried to burn the disgusting flyers off… it got out of control… but i will keep control.
cops and managers of up-scale chain stores and the city beautification committee all smile and wink as i pass. i’m their agent.
i do what they want until they can pass a law.
there will be a law because there should be one against this rubbish of scum.
and when that day comes, as it surely will, the chamber of commerce will reward me with a scroll, and a grant, and the position of the keeper of the poles, complete with handcuffs for anyone i catch pinning words to nude wood.
i don’t care if it is martin luther nailing his protests, robin hood posting his demands to the evil sheriff, tom paine banging his broadsides up at every crossroads and outside every tavern in the land, ben franklin plastering his newspaper all over towne, the girlie posters by that french dwarf, or whathaveyou?
it is not a question of censorship or free speech.
we should just keep things in their proper places, keep neat order!
now i’m willing to let the real politicians have the use of my poles only during elections. after all, i’m american!
but the rest of the year the poles must be nude!
Andrew Goldfarb of The Slow Poisoners reads “Naked Poles” on Frank Moore’s Shaman’s Den, March 26, 2000.
Pole Art Series – “Telegraph Poles” by George Kauffman – 1994
It feels like things are just roaring along and we are running to catch up … !
We had started talking about resuming work on Frank’s multi-volume, full-color, coffee table Performance Books, but we didn’t know it was starting right away … and then one thing led to another …. and we were trying to figure out which year a Gilman Street performance was that just showed up on Facebook … and in the course of searching the internet, we came across this Cornell U. collection of punk flyers … which led to their collection of flyers that included Frank … BOOM! … work on the Performance Book has resumed!
This is what is written under Frank’s name on this poster that we found posted on Facebook: “Several yrs back the paraplegic God type on VideoWest? He’s back, and boy is he something.”