Session 51, January 27, 2003
Russell: We were talking about the band, getting the band together. We talked a little bit about some of the performances you did.
Frank: Did you watch …
Russell: I completely forgot to check it out! Sorry. I will write a note.
Frank: Tell me about it! Like us!
(Russell talks about all that he has going on right now)
Frank: When the OBR hit, all of the sudden we were going two nights a week and the workshop on Sundays and pairings.
Russell: Yeah, it sounds like you were busy then too. It takes some adjusting.
Frank: Not to mention doing the sessions.
Russell: Yeah, I was tending to grumble that I didn’t have much time before, but sometimes you realize how frivolous you were with your time before when you really start getting busy. And I realized, I was wasting a lot of time before and I didn’t think I was. Suddenly, you’re doing three times as much and you’re still doing it. So anyway, I will look at it next time!
Frank: That was why I did not tell what acts we were doing until we got there.
Russell: If you want to pick up some other aspect that was going on in your life either at that time or some other themes, we could get back to that after I watch it this time. If you don’t want to get into it.
Frank: Not really.
Russell: OK. Then I can just do it in retrospect. I think you’re ready, huh?
Frank: They had to be prepared to do any of the acts.
Russell: And prepared meant what?
Frank: Bring the costumes and props.
Frank: I wrote the list of acts the day of the show.
Russell: It was just what you happened to feel would be good that particular time.
Frank: (makes “yes” sound) I kept experimenting with the order and we kept adding new acts all the time. So it never was the same.
Russell: Always something different.
Frank: Debbie painted the backdrop. It was like a carnival show.
Russell: Sounds great.
Frank: It was on one side of the stage and on the back wall but people could see us waiting to go on on the side.
Russell: So people in the audience could see you getting ready to go on. OK. So you were giving them a little bit of backstage view.
Frank: (makes “yes” sound) Like we crips could not use the dressing room.
Frank: It was upstairs.
Russell: (laughs) Not accessible.
Frank: So, we changed on the side of the stage. They hosed Hoffman down after his act. (laughs)
Russell: (laughs) Got a little messy.
Frank: On the side of the stage. (laughs)
Russell: So people could see it? (laughs)
Frank: (makes “yes” sounds)
Russell: That was very tantalizing.
Frank: So the show was not just what was on the stage.
Russell: How were your crew about that?
Frank: That is just how it was.
Russell: What about the audience? Did they like it do you think?
Frank: Yes. Because there were a lot of fast changes.
Russell: Oh yeah, OK. So there were changes going on a lot of the time?
Frank: I mean costume changes.
Russell: Yeah, that’s what I meant too. So there were a lot of costume changes going on from what I understand.
Frank: (makes “yes” sound)
Russell: So there would be something going on on stage and somebody changing at the same time sometimes?
Frank: (makes “yes” sound)
Russell: How interesting. Sounds like fun.
Frank: When we got there we only had a half hour to set up and less to tear down.
Russell: Wow. Under time constraints. But you did it.
Russell: So, how long did the performances last for?
Frank: The regular show, one hour.
Russell: That’s a good time.
Frank: The Anniversary show, three hours.
Russell: Three hours! What constitutes the Anniversary show? When did you do the Anniversary show?
Frank: We did it for three, almost four years.
Russell: So each year you’d have one big Anniversary show?
Frank: (makes “yes” sound)
Russell: Wow! What about the last show?
Frank: That was at the Art Institute. The sound did not work.
Frank: At the Art Institute.
Russell: So how did you handle that?
Frank: People in the audience loved it, but the cast was looking for (laughs) any excuse to kill the show.
Russell: The cast?! That wonderful, dedicated cast?!
Frank: They called me to say why that was it. (laughs)
Russell: What did you say?
Frank: It was hard trying to get them to see what we were doing.
Russell: But didn’t they just love performing?
Frank: They never saw …
Russell: The larger picture?
Frank: (makes “yes” sound) Like they always saw the Mab as a dive.
Russell: And it wasn’t.
Frank: They always saw the show as bad. Just what we did.
Russell: What was their motivation for doing it then?
Frank: A good question.
Frank: They liked to get on stage. Or some did.
Russell: Just liked to ham it up. They didn’t have a sense of the larger picture of what they were doing.
Frank: Ami and Mariah wanted to be rock stars. Diane wanted to be in theater.
Russell: They had aspirations. Did any of them, after the OBR closed, go on to do stuff?
Frank: Ami tried, and years later I ran into her. She said she now knows what I was talking about. She got a technically great band that went nowhere and was not fun.
Russell: She was a member of a band that was technically good, but it wasn’t any fun?
Frank: (makes “yes” sound) So she does real estate.
Russell: You mean sell houses and land stuff. Sounds boring.
Frank: Catherine got into a band as the girl.
Russell: Lead singer?
Frank: You know bands that have the girl just for marketing.
Frank: We went to see them. It was sad. She tried to sing one of our songs, “Beaver”. But without the context of the OBR …
Russell: It didn’t work.
Frank: She got shit from the audience.
Russell: They weren’t expecting it, whereas your audience was.
Russell: It was out of the right context. Context is everything.
Frank: Or was all about new, creating a new context.
Russell: About creating a new context.
Frank: (makes “yes” sound)
Frank: So when she did not have that context …
Russell: Right. What did she think? Did she know it after she tried it?
Frank: I don’t think she understood.
Russell: That’s a shame. Things can have radically different effects on things.
Frank: Most of them still think it was trash.
Russell: Think of it as trash?
Frank: (makes “yes” sound)
Russell: Do you think it was one of the best things you did now? I get the sense that you enjoyed that.
Frank: On every level.
Russell: Yeah, it worked on every level.
Frank: Most artists would kill to get that fortunate opportunity. We had the Mab to do anything we wanted.
Russell: So you had a venue all of the time.
Frank: Which was one of the three top punk clubs in the country. All the top bands.
Frank: All the cutting-edge artists.
Russell: Yeah. Prime location.
Frank: Dirk was ready to walk when the owner said we had to go.
Frank: We had people like Zappa say, “Love the show.” (laughs) We had worldwide press.
Russell: So that was pretty much of an impact.
Frank: They said Zappa must have been kidding.
Russell: Who said that?
Frank: The cast. (loud sounds) Robert Fripp liked the band.
Russell: Yeah, well these guys are pretty heavy duty avant-garde musicians. Fripp is definitely out there.
Frank: They did not believe him. (laughs)
Russell: Wow. He’s actually the guy who didn’t lay any wax!
Frank: And I explained it.
Russell: Simple! They were stupid. I have no idea.
Russell: They had expectations about what constituted good or excellent.
Frank: They thought it was not real theater or music.
Russell: Right. They had expectations about what real theater and music is. So, that’s a shame for them. Because they had a hit and they didn’t realize it.
Frank: So they don’t get it is history.
Russell: Yeah, right. What about Hoffman, was he the same way?
Frank: Like he wanted to be mainstream political.
Russell: You’re talking about him personally?
Frank: (makes “yes” sound) So even though he took his acts with respect, he thought it was something to distance himself from.
Russell: When you say he took his acts with respect, what do you mean by that?
Frank: He was a perfectionist.
Russell: OK. So he wanted to distance himself from his acts?
Frank: From the OBR.
Russell: At the time or later or both?
Russell: How did he do that?
Frank: Not tell …
Russell: People that he was in it?
Frank: (makes “yes” sound)
Russell: Because he was afraid of being shunned by the mainstream?
Russell: So he may have been having fun but he did not want to own up to it in case it tarnished his reputation in the mainstream.
Frank: (makes “yes” sound) In the closet.
Russell: (laughs) OK. Did he maintain that throughout … that kind of attitude?
Frank: (makes “yes” sound) Which is silly.
Russell: (laughs) Why?
Frank: Because history … he was one of the first disabled performance artists.
Russell: Does he cop to that now?
Frank: You would know better than me.
Russell: (laughs) I’m just seeing if you would answer. (laughs) I can be sneaky.
Frank: He jumped around on his knees and had big bruises on his knees.
Russell: So he had the war warts. I think he cops to it and looks on it fondly.
Frank: Do you see the history?
Russell: Yeah. I know what you’re talking about. And I think he glimpses it at this point with respect. But he had a conflict of mainstream/avant-garde, or whatever you want to call it, in him. He walks that tightrope. So sometimes he goes one way or the other too. (laughs) But a lot of people don’t like that kind of thing. And a lot of people don’t even go as far as him. He seems to have or tried to apply some of the stuff you were doing at the time in his life since then, which … that’s good. That there’s still an effect all of those years later. You lived it. That’s you. But he walks that tightrope so, and yet he still gives it its credence, tries to keep it there.
Frank: He banned me from the CP Center.
Russell: (laughs) Why? He thought you had this bad influence? Corrupting?
Frank: (makes “yes” sound) A drama teacher had me show my movie there.
Frank: Yes. Did I tell you before?
Russell: Yeah, I think so. But it’s still funny.
Frank: They were adults, most were less disabled than me. But they are warehoused.
Frank: Most don’t talk.
Russell: I know. I’ve been up there and I’ve seen it. I used to go up there with my friend and we always had the discussion afterwards of how many of them were cognitively impaired and how many of them were just starved and had not been given the opportunity, were just socialized into being that way.
Russell: Yeah. It’s kind of scary. You come away feeling … it’s sort of a weird, morbid thing.
Frank: When they were watching my movie … (Frank emotes enthusiastically)
Russell: They were responding?
Frank: They were singing.
Russell: (laughs) You got through to them. You broke through to the other side, as Jim Morrison says.
Frank: Afterwards they talked. They wanted to date. They wanted to risk. “My sister don’t want me to get hurt. I don’t care. I am willing to get hurt if that is what it takes.” (screams)
Russell: (laughs) You shook it up, you shook up the old pot.
Frank: Does that sound like mental?
Frank: The teacher was excited. He did not understand his job. He thought it was to get them into life. (screams) So he invited me back. (laughs)
Russell: So was that when Hoffman stepped in?
Frank: After a few days the teacher called me. The Director said, “No way.” It took a lot to calm the clients back down.
Russell: Oh yeah. And was the director Hoffman?
Frank: Yes. Of course, his ex-wife is in it.
Russell: What do you mean?
Frank: In Fairytales.
Russell: So did you guys ever talk about that later?
Frank: No. I don’t think I have seen him since then.
Russell: When was that?
Frank: I did not see him then.
Russell: Oh, he just sent word.
Frank: The late 1980s.
Russell: He just sent word, he didn’t tell you himself?
Russell: He didn’t want to confront you.
Russell: Yeah. He didn’t want to chance anything.
Frank: Give them hope.
Russell: So, what was he doing there? (laughs)
Russell: Yeah. It’s always been curious to me. And if I hadn’t encountered some barriers up there, I might have interviewed men from there instead of in the community and had gotten a much different view. Because a lot of the barriers that exist for those … like that’s a barrier right there.
Frank: They are not allowed sex.
Russell: Well, yeah. Every once in a while they will let someone come in and talk about it, but when, with the support of several staff, my study got close, the Director put a stop to it for a couple months until all of this business was taken care of. He wanted to meet with me in a couple months and I didn’t want to hang around for a couple months waiting, so I just went with my other alternative. But I heard from one of the staff members, there was a history there where some staff member had been caught masturbating one of the men there and had gotten fired. And that that was what the history that was there was why they were really wary. (laughs) But, I don’t know the circumstances about that, but I can imagine. That kind of thing is not necessarily taboo to me, but institutions like that have to protect their whatever they’re trying to protect. Their good name, legal shit.
Frank: They are prisons.
Russell: Yeah. But even though a lot of those guys get to go home to group homes, a lot of them, they just come back there the next day. Group homes probably are just as much of a prison because … It’s really kind of a shame that somebody is not brave enough, it’s not necessarily brave enough, but you have to be able to get through the barriers, the gatekeepers yourself, to segue and expose that situation. Someday somebody will.
For order information and much more visit the website: http://www.eroplay.com/hthaa/
Visit the The Outrageous Beauty Revue website.