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.
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.
the two nude figures sit in time and space. one upon the other. rocking together. rocking in their cave.
two magic figures rocking together against time. rocking back through time. back and forth.
mother rocking her baby. rocking against sickness and tears. rocking back into love and peace.
in the cave, unseen except by the spirits, the holymen rock out of this reality of personal isolation of greys. rock until they rock into the pulse of pure light. back and forth until at-one-ness came, until atonement came… not just for them… but those outside the cave. magic rocking. passion rocking. almost sexual, not quite… very sexual… beyond sexual.
two bodies rocking together, rubbing isolation away.
grandpa sits in his rocking chair, slowly holding onto creaking passion of living. lovers dance, rocking back and forth to the music. sometimes fast. sometimes slow. passion rises warm and comforting. pain and grief disappear. a kid holding onto a blanket, rocks back and forth, holding onto the wrapping that holds us all together. colorful ribbons of our cocoon. the 2 lovers pumping hard on the swing, working together to get the highest thrilling flying and swooshing drop on their bellies and, yes, in their loins. almost sexual, but not quite…. very sexy… beyond sex. mere sex would get in the way of the child-like melting of earth and sky. back and forth, up and down, wrapping us together in brightness and softness and the magical commonness.
a girl laughs on a big old rocking horse. a g.i. holding his guts in, blood oozing out, rocks on the battlefield… rocks to keep life in and pain out.
light pulses, reflected off tin and plastic.
daddy rocking baby to sleep on his lap. cozy togetherness in ribbons, rocking by the fire far away from reality.
the arab woman, on her knees beside the unrecognizable remains of her husband rocking to handle grief and pain. a crazy rocks on the street corner, talking to beings from another reality. wrap us up cozy. wrap us warmly. maypole dancers with ribbons. admit that we all are wrapped up together in see-through ties.
the gypsy woman, eyes closed, rocks back and forth, giving master spirits her voice and her body to speak through. rocking in her tent.
the boys rocking uncontrollable from laughter at their childish pranks.
rocking surrealistic in the darkness, in their colorful bonds, the two nude figures, using magical passion to melt together, rock like the blind, like the insane, like the holy men, like lovers… and the magical melting spreads out of the cave and into the world.
“Wrapping/Rocking” Poem by Frank Moore Chanted by Michael LaBash Background music: excerpt from “Body Music” performed by Frank Moore’s Chero Company: Leigh Gates, Michael LaBash, Alexi Malenky & Rourke Smith Thumbnail photo by Kevin Rice A segment from the web video series LET ME BE FRANK, Episode 4. Website for the series: http://frankadelic.com/ Watch episodes: https://vimeo.com/channels/letmebefrank
Here are some Wrapping/Rocking performances:
Wrapping/Rocking @ The Intersection, San Francisco, California March 14, 1986
Wrapping/Rocking, Sixth Sense Gallery, NYC May 19, 1987
Wrapping/Rocking, Painted Bride, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
May 23, 1987
Wrapping/Rocking & Statues, EZTV, Los Angeles, California
September 9, 1988
“Wrapping/Rocking”, Berkeley, California
January 14, 1989
“WE ARE IN THE CAVE OF DREAM. WE ARE IN A BATTLE OF AN UNDERGROUND WAR AGAINST FRAGMENTATION. ART IS WAR AGAINST FRAGMENTATION. THE BATTLE IS ON ALL REALITIES. THE CONTROLLERS HAVE ALWAYS TRIED TO FRAGMENT US. FRAGMENT US FROM EACH OTHER. IMPRISON US IN ISLANDS OF SEX, COLOR, RELIGION, POLITICS, CLASSES, LABELS, ETC., ETC., ETC., ETC., ETC. THEY FRAGMENT OUR INNER WORLDS, THEY BLOW OUR INDIVIDUAL REALITIES APART, AND PLAY THE PIECES AGAINST ONE ANOTHER. THEY ARE US, OR A PART OF US.”
“THEY ARE THE CONTROLLERS, THE POLITICIANS, THE SEXISTS, THE WOMEN’S LIBBERS, THE PORNOGRAPHERS, THE CENSORS, THE MORALISTS, THE CHURCH, THE MEDIA, THE BUSINESSMEN, EDUCATORS, THE VICTIMS AND THE POWERFUL.”
“THEY ARE US. THEY HAVE DIVIDED US FROM OUR POWER, FROM OUR BEAUTY, FROM OUR LUST OF LIFE AND PLEASURE. THEY HAVE DIVIDED US FROM MOST OF REALITY…DYING FROM LIVING…SEX FROM LIVING, SEX FROM PLEASURE. WE ARE KEPT IN BOXES OF FEAR, OF MISTRUST. WE ARE KEPT WAITING…KEPT WAITING TO DO WHAT WE WANT…WAITING FOR ENOUGH MONEY, ENOUGH SCHOOLING, FOR EVERYTHING TO BE RIGHT. WE ARE KEPT WAITING AND PROTECTING AND HIDING AND SUFFERING.”
Frank wrote for the underground press paper, The Hips Voice, when he lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the early 1970s. Thanks to Paul Escriva for retrieving this article from the Underground Press microfilm collection at The Chicago Public Library, Chicago, Illinois.