The Frank Moore Archives

Hidden treasures discovered while digging through Frank Moore's huge archives.

Menu Close

Tag: LaBash

The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary (1991-1999)

By Stephen Perkins, 4.11.19
https://artistsperiodicals.blogspot.com/2019/05/p_9.html

I have always been lucky. I have a body that is ideal for a performance artist. And I have always wanted to be a performer. When I was a kid, my younger brother used to get mad when people looked at me when he pushed me to the movies or to the teen club. He cried. But I liked people looking at me. That is what I mean I am lucky. I am lucky I am an exhibitionist in this body. One time, I was working out on the jungle gym outside of our house…a kid came by and asked if I was a monster. I just roared like a monster. It was fun…I started to see my body as a tool. I could get away with things that others couldn’t.1

With incredible humor and an infectious smile Frank Moore (1946-2013) navigated the world in a body of which he had only minimal control. Born with cerebral palsy and unable to walk or talk he used a wheelchair his entire life. When he was seventeen, he created his own personal communication system by strapping a pointer to his head which allowed him to point to letters, words and phrases on a board, and thus he was finally able to break out of his isolation and communicate with the world.

But Moore did not let his disabled body hamper his path through life, and his obituaries detail the myriad creative activities that he was engaged with including a long career as a performance artist, a shaman, poet, essayist, playwright, painter, musician, Internet TV personality, a 2008 presidential candidate and co-editor of the zine The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary amongst a host of other activities.2 Along the way Moore also completed a BA in English (1972, University of New Mexico), an MA in Psychology (1976, University Without Walls, Berkeley) and an MFA in Performance/Video (1983, San Francisco Art Institute). Mention should also be given here to Moore’s longtime partner Linda Mac and fellow collaborator Michael LaBash, both of whom were key partners, and collaborators in helping Moore realize his ideas and projects during his years living in Berkeley, California.

This text concentrates on only one thin slice of Moore’s extensive activities and that is his role as co-editor with Linda Mac of The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary, a zine that they published in Berkeley in nine issues (#0-8) between 1991-1999.3

Introduction

Looking at the inaugural issue, it is interesting to note that the first piece of news in Moore’s editorial concerns the recent publication of his book Cherotic Magic (1990), which is an introduction to the shamanistic apprenticeship that he was offering at the time. Moore admits to this “…shameless self-promotion…for my apprenticeship, for my 6-session course, for my performance art and videos and tapes, and who knows what else.”4 Throughout the life of the periodical, Moore would use it as a distribution outlet for the varied products of his assorted activities.

About the magazine Moore states in the first issue:

TCR is a journal of the edge. TCR is an offensive movement or measure offering alternatives to the fragmentation, isolation, personal helplessness which is actively promoted by the combine of power systems. TCR is anarchical, based on personal responsibility to reshape reality into a more human, trusting, loving reality, full of fun and pleasure. TCR is not a reaction. It is a magical act of enjoying life. It is a journal of and for people who are doing this magical art….Now we magical misfits know we are not alone, that there are others out/in here/there feeling, thinking, trying, doing similar things. This just by itself should speed evolution up.5

Moore’s desire that the magazine should provide a network of support for these ‘magical misfits’ is coupled with his larger vision of this movement, about which he states “I think it is very important that there be a Cherotic Movement, not unlike the so-called Sexual Revolution of the Sixties. This Cherotic Movement would be (or rather, is) a physical/spiritual movement that re-defines and expands sexual, spiritual, social concepts of reality.”6 This latter statement outlines the core themes that would form the basis of all of Moore’s work in various media, and they would provide the links to all of his different activities throughout his career. On the definition of a “cherotic (r)evolutionary” Moore wrote, “…Chero is the physical life energy. I created the word “chero” by combining “chi” and “eros”. And revolution is the mutation stage/phase in the process of evolution…so an erotic mutant for life!”7

The most direct way through which Moore offered interested people an experience of the cherotic was through his performances, in which the audience was invited to actively engage in what he called ‘eroplay’. Eroplay is another word that Moore created to describe the experience of “…intense physical playing and touching of oneself and others. Eroplay is also the force of energy which is released as the result of such play”. Moore emphasizes that “eroplay is not foreplay, even though foreplay is eroplay…” and further that “Foreplay leads to orgasm…eroplay leads to being turned on in many different ways in all parts of the body,” and he concludes “Eroplay is the blissed-out, warm, relaxed, turned-on, totally satisfying feeling of a good head rub…eroplay is that intense feeling throughout the entire body”.8 The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary would be one of the mediums through which Moore communicated his expansive philosophy of the cherotic, and he challenged his readers to become ‘revolutionaries’ in this radical movement to reshape, and expand our physical, spiritual and sexual lives.

In Moore’s editorial for the second issue he expands upon his editorial position and in his desire to keep The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary an open and freewheeling place he states what the magazine is not going to do:

…we will never do theme issues such as poetry, gay, sex, women, etc. This is because the theme format is a great way for editors and galleries (etc.) to keep control of content, style, point of view, and the accessibility of the communication channels they manage. The theme concept also fragments both people and dialogue into labeled bits that can be shuffled in and out of fashion time. TCR will follow the magic wherever it non-linearly goes. We will print what we like, what interests us…9

Moore was always alert to the ways systems oppress and suppress, even within the context of magazine publishing, and all nine issues of The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary display a comfortably unruly aesthetic that embraces a wide variety of artists’ works, poetry, writings by Moore and others, and reviews of his performances and publications.10

What’s in a Name?

Before I explore the contents of the periodical there are two subjects that I want to address, and the first is the name of the periodical.  A look at all nine issues reveals that the periodical’s name for the first five issues is The Cherotic Revolutionary and from the sixth issue the title has been changed to The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary. In editorials for issues #3 (1993) and #4 (1994), Moore spells the name of the periodical “The Cherotic rEvolutionary” with a lower case “r” and the title on the covers reflect this emphasis on the “R” by printing them with a screen that distinguishes the letter “R” from the rest of the word. By issue #5 (1995) the title of the periodical is The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary. In his editorial in issue #3 (1993) Moore explores the background around the eventual name change:

There are changes around here. Well, what do you expect from a zine with “revolution” in its last name? And that may be one of the changes…our name appears to be in the process of changing itself from The Cherotic Revolutionary to the Cherotic Evolutionary. A revolution is a mutation from the normal as-is reality, an experiment and adventure in newness. The purpose of a revolution, and any mutation, is to break new ground for evolution…to prod evolution along.11

The second subject, and question that I want to explore is, what to call this periodical? In the first two issues Moore describes it as both a ‘magazine’ and a ‘journal.’ In the third issue he refers to the periodical as a ‘zine’ and by the next issue zine is used not only in the editorial but in the masthead for all futures as well. It’s perhaps unsurprising that this new descriptor also parallels the period when the title of the periodical was in flux. I would agree with the use of the word ‘zine’ to describe this periodical, as its anarchic, and low-tech production, certainly displays all the features of a periodical published by enthusiasts and non-professionals. However, at one level Moore’s original use of the term ‘journal’ is also appropriate as well. Journals have historically been the site where the activities, and research of specialized groups was communicated to their professional community. Moore, in his editorial for the first issue, describes the periodical as being just such a place, albeit comprised of an ‘unprofessional’ community, but with the same theme of sharing their research within this group. Moore writes that the periodical will provide a site for this community to address:

…magical issues that I for one have been hungry to talk about for a long time in the depths that it is possible with people who have committed their lives to going across the taboo border to effect evolutionary change. In future issues of TCR, I hope we will move far beyond the book, Cherotic Magic, and give one another aid and comfort on the edge by linking together, by announcing new findings in our hidden experiments [my emphasis] on nonlinear change.”12

Inside the (r)Evolution

All nine issues of The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary present a smorgasbord of works by a variety of writers and visual artists, and the following overview includes the names of the more frequent contributors in different media. The periodical publishes a wide range of writings including poetry (Jessie Beagle, Robert Howington), reviews of the periodical, Moore’s performances and other events (Kyle Griffith, Barbara Smith), texts related to shamanism (Kyle Griffith, Brenda Tatelbaum), personal stories about sex (Carol A. Queen, Veronica Vera), performance art (Annie Sprinkle, Karen Finley, Linda Montano), sex and spirituality (Chief Distant Eagle), and disability issues (Steve A. Brown). On the visual front the periodical is copiously illustrated (Michael LaBash, John Seabury, Brian Viveros), and throughout there are black and white photographs, and featured portfolios (Tony Ryan).

Cover for Issue 6. Artwork by John Seabury

On the technical side, The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary was a photocopied periodical and beginning with the third issue was published by Frank Moore’s and Linda Mac’s Inter-Relations, their publishing arm that took over from the original publishers, S/R Press. Coinciding with this issue was their acquisition of a Mac computer, and with Michael LaBash as art editor, the quality of the overall design improves substantially, and would continue throughout the life of the periodical. However, even in the final issue (#8, 1999) where the design is at its tightest, there is still an element of the early anarchic quality that grounds the periodical within the larger history of zines. The periodical was an annual publication with the exception of #1 and #2, both published in 1992.

At the back of each issue is information about acquiring previous issues of the magazine as well as details about other products available from Frank Moore’s assorted projects. Later issues also included a page that featured readers’ and advertisers’ works and products, as well as their contact information. The periodical ceased publication when Moore and Mac started their internet radio station LUVeR (Love Underground Visionary (r)Evolution, and “We were just too busy to do both…”.13

Following from this brief survey of the periodical’s contents, I want to examine a number of specific aspects of the periodical that play important roles in the periodical’s nine-year lifetime. One theme that resonates powerfully throughout the periodical is censorship, in particular Frank Moore’s experience of it during the ‘culture wars’ that were raging during the periodical’s early years. I will also examine two other important elements of the periodical, specifically Michael LaBash’ illustrations, and Moore’s written contributions.

The theme of censorship appears in the first few pages of issue #0 (1991) by way of an article by Jack Helbig that first appeared in The Chicago News & Arts Weekly (Oct. 11 – 17, 1990) titled “Outlaw Artists, Porn? Play? Or Immoral Plot”. In his article Helbig summarizes the recent conservative attacks on artists doing edgy performance works and the fact that they had all received grants with taxpayers’ monies. Helbig concentrates on Annie Sprinkle, Karen Finley and Frank Moore, and he outlines the cases that Senator Jesse Helms and Representative Rohrbacher launched against what the late conservative art critic, Hilton Kramer, described as these “New Barbarians”. The censorship wars of this period raged across the artworld and nobody in this community was unaffected by this controversy. Artists doing provocative works were an easy target for conservatives in whipping up hysteria about the use of public funds for this type of ‘pornography’. Sadly, they were ultimately successful in changing the granting process in order give local communities a greater say, and control, over who did and who did not receive grants. Attempts to cut the amount of funds provided annually to the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) were ultimately not successful, but within this hostile climate there would be no move to increase the funding either.

Further into the above issue #0 (1991) Moore publishes an open letter to Jesse Helms and demands to have a dialogue with him writing “Why are you closing channels of expression and funding to me without due process of law?” claiming that this campaign is a way of smearing the artists’ reputations and thus making them “…untouchable, unfundable, unbookable”.14 Moore concludes his text with one final address to Helms stating “If you have anything to say to me or to ask me, come to talk to me man to man. Otherwise, get your Big Brother foot off my back”.15 One result of this controversy is that in future issues Moore would feature the works and writings of both Annie Sprinkle and Karen Finley, and in issue #3 (1993) six pages and the cover are devoted to the work of Sprinkle, including also Veronica Vera’s important Post Porn Modernist Manifesto (1989).16

Michael LaBash’s Artworks

One vital and eye-catching feature of The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary are the illustrations that are featured in all the issues of the periodical by Michael LaBash. The artist was one of the intimates within the family group that formed around Frank Moore, and Moore always spoke very fondly of this indispensable member of the cherotic team. LaBash’s drawings are powerful, humorous and slightly creepy works in which naked people couple and engage in all sorts of surreal ways. Hands and body parts couple with all sorts of real and imagined bodies, and their assorted orifices.

The first two issues of The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary feature LaBash’s works on the front covers, with all subsequent issues featuring his works on the back covers, and they provide powerful visual equivalents to Moore’s eroplay teachings.17 LaBash’s works are also found inside the periodical where they are published in a variety of page sizes, as well as being used as illustrations for different submissions. As one of the consistent features of the periodical they have a very powerful visual presence within the periodical, and they seem to merge with the periodical’s larger project, becoming in the process visual talismans for the cherotic (r)evolution.

Cover for Issue 1 by LaBash
Back cover of Issue 2 by LaBash
Page from Issue 6 with artwork by LaBash

Frank Moore’s Writings

It goes without saying that Moore’s writings would form a key part of the periodical. Each issue includes an editorial by Moore about the contents of the current issue as well as other pertinent themes and subjects. There are three reviews by Moore of different printed matter publications, as well as his own writings which are represented by fourteen texts spread out over the life of the periodical.18

A good proportion of Moore’s writings explain and expand upon his key concepts of the cherotic (r)evolution and eroplay. In “Nonlinear Bits” (#1, 1992) he writes that “The cherotic revolution is an evolutionary movement, an anarchistic way of change, in which the single person is the center of the creative force”. In the second issue he examines a theme central to his practice under the title “Cultural Subversion” (#2, 1992) and he recounts his rejection of politics as “…a means of effective subversive change…” and how this led him to begin “…looking towards art and magic for an effective channel”. Coupled with this vantage point he describes how, as an artist with very limited funds, he became a “no/low tech artist,” and the important role his access to this personal technology played in his work, stating “This no/low tech form is vital to work which is culturally subversive by expanding the concept of sexuality and reality beyond the frame of taboos”.

In another important text in issue #3 (1993) titled “Frank Moore’s Philosophy of Art”, he gives a very succinct account of his philosophy writing “I’m not interested in doing art that comforts, decorates, entertains…I’m trying to go back to the time when art was the magical, irrational, non-logical channel of active impact…”. Further into this text Moore takes a personal turn when he writes “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”.

Other articles detail different aspects of his philosophy including a text on the importance of the open mike as a democratic channel (“A Rant On An Open Mike,” #6,1996), and with “Their Cuddling Cocoon” (#6, 1996) he describes the bodily sensations that are experienced during eroplay. Other articles deal with issues related to his practice, like ordinances regarding nudity in the town of Berkeley, the larger field of performance art, musings on the nature of fame, and an interview with his counter-cultural hero and journalist Paul Krassner, former editor of the Realist (#5, 1995).

A word that regularly appears in Moore’s writings about his practice is the word “channel,” and he uses it to describe his view that art and magic, are important channels in assisting the individual in their personal evolution. I would like to propose expanding the use of this term to include Frank Moore’s own physical body, as the indispensable channel through which he developed his unique philosophy of art, and accompanying performance practice.  Furthermore, The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary can be understood as playing a very similar role in Moore’s work, which is reflected in his editorial in #5 (1995) where he addresses his take on the functionality of the periodical, “i realize that i and this zine are just middlemen, just a pipe. when art goes through the pipe, that is when the pipe is important…not before or after”.

Wrapping Up

After having been immersed in The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary over the past month, I have to conclude that the most extraordinary thing about this zine is, that it exists at all! With Moore’s restricted mobility, it required a number of extra hands to design, publish and distribute the periodical, and this is what his dedicated family unit was able to provide him. However, the contents of the periodical were Moore’s decision, and they reflect a savvy intelligence in propagating his philosophy, and teachings on the art and magic of living and loving. Despite his uncooperative body, Moore’s sharp mind was laser-focused on achieving his cherotic (r)evolution, and the zine brims with this burning desire.

For the nine years of its life The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary would be a virtual home for Moore’s “magical misfits”, and it functioned exactly as he had hoped for in his first editorial in #0 (1991) as a place where this community could come together to “…give one another aid and comfort…”19 and also to “…know that we are not alone, that there are others out/in here/there feeling, thinking, trying, doing similar things.”20

A powerful theme that runs through all of Moore’s writings and activities is that of ‘communication,’ and the zine would be one of the many channels, or media, through which he was able to satisfy his desire to be seen and heard. From the seventeen-year old who devised his own low-tech pointer communication device and breaks out of his own personal isolation, there was no holding him back. A key philosophical, and practical strategy was his appropriation of the new personal technologies, all of which would become key elements in his role as a ‘no/low tech artist’ who was committed to using this ‘anarchistic technology’ for his own cultural subversion.21 A prime example of this approach was Moore’s use of the photocopy machine to publish the entire run of The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary.

As I have noted earlier, Moore understood The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary as being a part of the advance guard of the Cherotic Movement, a movement which he likened to the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s. Within this larger context The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary can be seen as continuing the longstanding tradition of artists’ periodicals that accompanied all the avant-garde movements of the 20th century, serving both as indispensable players in communicating avant-garde intentions, and in this case preparing the way for the cherotic (r)evolution.

The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary at its core, is about healing the body politic, about mending the “…fragmentation, isolation, personal helplessness…” of contemporary life and creating “…a more human, trusting, loving reality, full of fun and pleasure.”22 It is not without irony that the messenger, and teacher of this healing message, was someone whose own body was so severely disabled, and yet it was this same body that was the channel through which this “wounded healer…deformed shaman,”23 would develop his profound philosophy in which The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary would function as one of the spear tips of the cherotic (r)evolution.


Footnotes

1.         Moore, Frank, “Caves,” Berkeley, 1987, no pagination.

2.         For links to Moore’s activities: http://www.eroplay.com/
For his videos: https://vimeo.com/channels/frankmoore/page:1
The Cherotic (r)evolutionaryarchive:
http://www.eroplay.com/contents.html

3.         Some basic information about the periodical. All nine issues were photocopied, with the first four issues printed in standard letter size and side stitched. The remaining five issues were photocopied in the tabloid size and then folded, and saddle stitched. 

The page numbers for each issue vary from 24 – 38, with an average of 31. The covers of the first four issues were photocopied onto different colored papers with the insides the traditional white. The covers for the last five issues were printed on tabloid size white card stock, and coupled with the saddle stitching, enhance the overall look and feel of the periodical.

The first three issues (#0, 1991 – #2, 1992) were published by S/R Press (Luna and Kyle Griffith) and from #3 (1993) onwards it was published by Inter-Relations, which   consisted of Frank Moore and Linda Mac as the publishers/editors. Print runs for

#3 (1993) was 300 copies, and by #6 (1996) it was 500 per issue, and continued until the last issue #8 (1999). Extra copies of individual issues were printed on demand. There were a few paid subscribers, and coupled with the contributors the readers were from all over the world.

Source for the above information was an email from Linda Mac (4.1.2019).

Below is a listing of the issues and their publication dates.
Vol. 1, #0, April 1991
Vol. 1, #1, January 1992
Vol. 1, #2, July 1992
Vol. 1, #3, April 199
Vol. 1, #4, 199
Vol. 1, #5, October 199
Vol. 1, #6, July 1996
Vol. 1, #7, May 1997
Vol. 1, #8, April 1999

4.         Moore, Frank in The Cherotic Revolutionary, Vol. 1, #0, 1991, p. 2.

5.         Moore, Frank in The Cherotic Revolutionary, Vol. 1, #0, 1991, p. 2.

6.         Moore, Frank in The Cherotic Revolutionary, Vol. 1, #0, 1991, p. 12.

7.         Moore, Frank from his website (The Cherotic Revolutionary section), http://www.eroplay.com/tcr.html, accessed 3.22.19.

8.         Moore, Frank, “Caves,” Berkeley, 1987, p. 3.

9.         Moore, Frank, Editorial, The Cherotic Revolutionary, Vol. 1, #1, 1992, p. 3.

10.       In the interests of authorial integrity I should state that I had an article of mine published in the final issue of The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary (Vol. 1., #8, 1999) titled “Assembling Magazines,” (1997).

11.       Moore, Frank, Editorial, The Cherotic Revolutionary, Vol. 1, #3, 1993, p. 3.

It’s interesting to note that further into this editorial Moore credits Kyle Griffith as the person “…who pushed for the publishing of the book [ed. note Cherotic Magic, 1990]…and then strongly suggested we come out with a zine.”

12.       Moore, Frank, Editorial, The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary, Vol. 1, #0, 1991, p. 2.

13.       In an email from Linda Mac (4.1.2019) she recounts the larger story around the periodical’s demise, writing:

TCR was going strong when we stopped publishing it and we loved doing it! What stopped it was our starting, LUVeR (Love Undergound Vision Radio, later changed to Love Underground Visionary (r)Evolution). And that is a story in itself! We were just too busy to do both, so we stopped doing TCR.

14.       Moore, Frank, “An Open Letter to Sen. Jesse Helms,” The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary, Vol. 1, #0, 1991, p. 24. Other artists attacked by Helms & Co. were: Holly Hughes, Tim Miller, John Fleck, Johanna Went and Cheri Gaulke.

15.       Ibid., p. 24.

16.       The text of Veronica Vera’s Post Porn Modernist Manifesto (1989) is below:

LET IT BE KNOWN to all who read these words or witness these events that a new awareness has come over the land. We of the POST PORN MODERNIST MOVEMENT face the challenge of the Rubber Age by acknowledging this moment in our personal sexual evolutions and in the sexual evolution of the planet.

We embrace our genitals as part, not separate, from our spirits.

We utilize sexually explicit words, pictures, and performances to communicate our ideas and emotions.

We denounce sexual censorship as anti-art and inhuman.

We empower ourselves by this attitude of sex-positivism.

And with this love of our sexual selves we have fun, heal the world and endure.

17.       One commentator on LaBash’s works is Barbara Smith, and in her review of Moore’s book Cherotic Magic in issue #0 (1991) she points out the discrepancy between Moore’s definition of eroplay as an activity that does not lead to orgasm, and the fact that many of the figures in LaBash’s works do indeed illustrate this kind sexual activity. I too share this reservation, but within the broader reaches of what this periodical is about can  reconcile their subject matter within Moore’s larger philosophy.

18.       Below is a listing of Frank Moore’s writings in the periodical:

Editorials
One in each of the 9 issues

Reviews
#5, 1995: Annie Sprinkles Post Porn Modernist
#6, 1996: Barbara Golden Multimedia Package.
#7, 1997: Tony Ryan Photobook.

Texts
#0, 1991: An open letter to Sen. Jesse Helms
#0, 1991: Museum of Lovemaking
#1, 1992: Nonlinear Bits
#2, 1992: Cultural Subversion
#3, 1993: Frank Moore’s Philosophy of Art (1987)
#4, 1994: Tribal Performance (1992)
#5, 1995: Interview with Paul Krassner
#5, 1995: Magical Masks in dialogue with James Audlin (chief distant eagle)
#5, 1995: In Defense of Bad Art (1993)
#6, 1996: A Rant On An Open Mike (1995)
#6, 1996: Their Cuddling Cocoon (1995)
#7, 1997: Mainstream Avant-Garde (1996)
#8, 1999: What Price Fame? (1998) first published in Performance Journal #16, Spring 1998)
#8, 1999: Out of Isolation (1986-1994) Insert in this issue as a small 8-page pamphlet.

19.       Moore, Frank, Editorial, The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary, Vol. 1, #0, 1991, p. 2.

20.       Moore, Frank in The Cherotic Revolutionary, Vol. 1, #0, 1991, p. 2.

21.       Throughout his career Moore worked in a wide variety of media including: radio, video, zine publishing, TV, performance art, writing, and he was a musician, painter and publisher of books.

22.       Moore, Frank in The Cherotic Revolutionary, Vol. 1, #0, 1991, p. 2. 23.       Moore, Frank in The Cherotic Revolutionary, Vol. 1, #0, 1991, p. 2.


Recorded Friday, June 27, 1997, 7:30 p.m. at Modern Times at 968 Valencia Street in San Francisco, California.
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!
Poster by LaBash

tortures

© Frank Moore 5/18/94


Reading by Attaboy & Ben Burke on Frank Moore’s Shamans Den, October 24, 1999

events are real,
but victim’s reality
ain’t mine.

loud doctor
judge
voices kept pronouncing
no intelligence,
no future,
no spark,
just a black hole drain…
put him
forgotten
memories
institution.

family screaming voices
over thanksgiving
and christmas table
accused
the mother’s sins taken out on the son…
the son
there
listening
crying
for 13 years.

ugly doll.

kids were pulled away…
maybe it’s contagious.
kids were slapped away
for looking
at the slobbering
doll.

adults,
keeping
the doll
for awhile
to give
the poor woman
a break
saying
over coffee,
why does she keep him,
no future,
can never do anything…
sure, he understands…
but more the pity…
understanding doom…
look at him
listening to us
in the chair…
4 years old
and doomed
to can not.

abandoned at 5…
hospital,
their excuse,
a baby brother being born,
then me
with chickenpox…
but i knew it
was because i shit
too much,
pissed
too much…
so i held it in
until i couldn’t
anymore…
and then sat in it
because i needed
too many baths.
sat in it
until after college…
it was the least
a burden
such as i
could do!

they were going to leave me
again…..
the floppy
ugly
thick-lipped,
buck-tooth
dumbo-ear
no-future
me…
for 2 years…
i’d be 10
before i’d see them
again…
if then…
but my hives
put an end
to that!

frames steel and leather
pinched,
rub blisters,
rub raw red sores
from hips to ankles,
framing
imprisoning
chaining
this gross
abnormal beast
down into the sacred appearance of
normalcy,
that abstract state.
if the beast crossed his legs,
the illusion would crack…
so wedge a lead bar
between these frustrated legs
for 26 years…
never mind
it pinches his balls.
he will just watch tv
all his life.

me
lying on a hard table,
listening to the professionals
discussing my doomed fate.
me
only in underpants.
they want
always
to cut open
my body and brain.
i knew kids
who were twisted zombies
after doctors
cut them open.
doctors want
to give me drugs
to stop my slobbering
and to tranquilize
my body
into the american dream…
or in the ballpark. they settled
on daily physical torture.

dad
missed my ninth birthday party
for a bender….
babbling drunkenly later
about how he loved me.
teachers
bribing
one another
about who would get the freak.
one quit.
but the professionals
decided the schools weren’t equipped
to handle such a creature.
sentenced
to isolation
with mother
in the towers…
with daily outings
to physical tortures.
bent fingers,
arms,
legs
so far into unnatural positions
that it took
three of them
to do it,
so far i screamed in pain,
screaming
i want to be normal.
i lied,
i never wanted that!
one time
i stuck my hand up
into their cunts.
they rubbed ice
all over my body,
then brushed me
hard
with a house paint brush.
i awoke
when i was 13
after an operation
to pull my balls
down,
i awoke
to hear one nurse
saying to another,
“why did they bother,
no woman
would make love
with him.”
mom
once told
me,
“any girl
who would want you
must be crazy.”
in the towers,
i lost my hearing.
the teenage “babysitter”
blindfolded
14-year old me
so i couldn’t see her
and two girlfriends
dance sexually
with one another.

dad was pissed.
he couldn’t hit a crip.
so every night
at the dinertable
he would scream
at my brother,
humiliated my brother,
backhand slapped my brother,
whipped my brother
with a belt….
and then exited to the local bar.
i always cried.
my high school teacher
made me eat clorets
because my breathe
and body odor
stank bad.
college wouldn’t take
me
because my slobbering
would offend and distract
other students.
airlines
used this logic
to not let me
on their planes.

rubbing myself
into climax
in college,
nothing came out
like before.
orgasms weren’t messy
like before…
before that bladder operation.
curious,
i went to the college nurse,
who checked with the doctor
who didn’t see any reason
to tell
a 27-year old virgin
ugly
rag doll
about the side-effect
of the operation
of no-mess orgasm…
after all, rag dolls
don’t have sex or kids…
we don’t want to have more rag dolls!
my would-be mother-in-law
told my would-be wife
“marry somebody else…
and adopt frank!”
she said a lot
more choice things…
but time and space are limited.
but she did bribe
every justice of the peace
for miles around
to not marry us.

if you don’t shut-up,
you spoiled brat…
living
with old drunk
male nurse
who kept rag dolls
in their place
by punching them out.
lived with him for 6-months…
until he pulled
a loaded gun on me.
then i screamed him to sleep.
a knife at the crashpad…
if i didn’t stop laughing at him…
i wasn’t laughing.
a paper dixie cup at the headshop…
if i didn’t start talking,
he’d push it down my throat.
never mind the hitman.
never mind linda’s mafia papa.
and i’m sure i’ve forgotten a lot.
my first french kiss
was from a guy
who then tried to rape me
putting his penis in my mouth.
i like french kissing.

but all in all,
life has been good!

Detail of “Luna” by LaBash ©1991

Review of Cherotic Magic by Barbara Smith

Cover of the original photocopied edition by LaBash

Cherotic Magic by Frank Moore
by Barbara Smith, 1991

Due to complex reasons of historical conditions and need, artists from the industrialized nations of the world more or less simultaneously (late 1950’s – early 1970’s) felt a depth of experience uncontainable in ordinary and available cultural forms.  They emerged with a language of remarkable similarity – clearly felt in retrospect to be shamanic and whose purposes extended far beyond the realm of the commercialized art market.  One of these performance artists is Frank Moore who has just published an introductory manual for prospective apprentices in shamanic/art practices.  The book is also a very helpful means of access to this particular realm of performance art for the historian and student.

Moore, paradoxically a severely disabled cerebral palsied human being, who cannot clearly utter a single word is simultaneously a clear and eloquent writer about a reality-shifting form of art he calls Cherotic Magic and a spectacularly courageous, ecstatic journeyer and practitioner of shamanic transformational art.

Reversing the ideas of normal causality, his book guides one towards powerful experiences of re-integration into a unified field of consciousness brought about by the apprenticeship.  The radical purposes of the book initiate a teacher/student relationship more appropriately similar to a guru situation than the normal art student context which we all know can be one which borders on charismatic adulation.  Rather, the relationship is intended to awaken and restructure the whole being with access to an interrelated “web of all possibilities,” a potentiated ground of existence, from which the student may return empowered with energy, vision and unflinching faith to change the so-called reality structure of this fragmented and specialized culture.  The process is a form of magic, which inspires a sense of body wholeness and aliveness where the personal power is to be found.   A manual of faith and a description of the nature of apprenticeship, the book is a clarification of the sort of contractual agreement one enters with a teacher, rarely stipulated but here clearly spelled out.  This agreement is one of mutual responsibility where the risk is clearly seen to be taken by both parties.

Having explored these realms a good deal myself both in terms of self-discovery and also with teachers, I find the book to be rigorously tough in its demands (on the potential student and quite naturally the teacher as well), and it also very clearly describes qualities required (such as trust) and the benefits to be gained in these explorations (such as love).

Moore has broken the apprenticeship into segments with re-entry periods back into ordinary life between the intervals in order to accommodate Western students’ difficulty in going through the lengthy course in a sustained fashion.  The fact  that the student must exhibit a deep and long-term calling, will or faith to repeatedly return to the teaching is Moore’s greatest risk, for spiritual apprenticeship is not a common practice in Western culture.  This is a little known fact that the apprenticeship entails risk in the making and/or breaking of the relationship not only in regard to the student but more so for the teacher.

Moore speaks of the a-logical interaction, as a journey along which student and teacher become soul mirrors.  Moore is not seeking a following, however.  He states to his credit, I believe, that such work is highly personal and requires one-to-one attention and becomes non-productive when he has many followers.

The radical nature of this esoteric apprenticeship practice includes the breaking of social mores and taboos in order to reach direct experience particularly in the realm of conventional sexuality.  Moore clearly states however that the touching and erotic playing involved (Eroplay) is not driven by the goal of sexual intercourse, but is the refreshing awakening of what he calls Cherotic energy which becomes a free fund of available and heightened “juice” for healing and creativity.  (These teachings parallel quite exactly the teachings I’ve experienced from my Native American shaman teacher and also Tantric practices.)

My first response to reading Cherotic Magic is one of resonance and appreciation, the feeling of knowing very deeply that of which he speaks as true and uncompromising.  He gives examples and authentication through powerfully written, illuminating stories about his own early life of terrible isolation and study; the breakthroughs which allowed him to finally believe in his own intelligence, joy and beauty and to receive the powerful inner flow of intrinsically experienced wisdom and knowledge of these liberating teachings.  These life passages correspond to such experiences of mystics everywhere.  I appreciate many things about this book, not the least of which are the words Moore has coined to name certain qualities and goals of his work (such as Eroplay and Chero).  One such word Erour, means vulnerable strength.  Its meaning corresponds exactly to my own early performance experience.  In the past, I put myself in very psychologically risky positions in performances and I was frequently criticized for doing so as if I were “hurting myself”.  My own experience was quite to the contrary, although I was in fact going to “the place of fear or pain or constraint” in myself with vulnerability and because I deliberately chose to do so, it was an act of strength and I returned with released energy and power.

If anything in his book is weak, it is this issue of authority and how to define the limits (and/or goals) of guru/student practice.  It is weak not because I think Frank is either weak or inauthentic … but because we live in a spiritually naïve culture.  Most people I imagine are cynics.  The book is not written for such people as there is no language that I know of to convince them a priori to any experience which in itself is convincing.  Further, the way one meets one’s teachers in life is often inherently mysterious and a unique process.  Perhaps the only ways a potential student can judge such persons and situations have first of all to do with one’s depth of calling and an experienced synchronicity.  Failing that, one needs to feel one may leave the teacher at any time despite the pressure to stay and one can also inquire of former students as to their experience.

For me, it would be advantageous if he could paint a picture of what completion might look like.  Is it simply staying the course (twelve years for a resident; seven on, five off approximately / seven days for the introductory course)?  The difficulty is that completion of such a practice might look very different in each of the “graduates” and only a sense of demonstrable knowing and changed behavior would be adequate.

The book is replete with black and white drawings by Michael LaBash. Depending on prior biases, they can appear to be psychedelically violent and visceral with a heavy emphasis on sex.  They are intricate intertwinings of interpenetrating fields which writhe over the entire drawing area with no central image.  Rather, naked figures whole or in parts of both sexes and composite hermaphrodites with breasts and cocks weave in an out of planes and orifices.  As I have said, Moore speaks in the text of making clear how Eroplay is not to be thought of as driving for sex or focused on it. Rather it comes from a presexual state of infancy, yet here the drawings are strongly sexual in my view and often horrific.  (No doubt, however, not meant so much to be sexual as frank (pun intended).

Moore’s writing about the ethics of commitment is a powerful critique of our shallow culture.  What he says rings true and created a sense of gratitude in me and inner resolution.  He speaks with great personal authority.

In the general dialog of art and culture this form of art appears to be the most difficult to speak about partly due to its radicality and partly because it re-integrates art into religion, magic, belief, and effect.  It means and makes change.  I, myself have twice come to a bifurcation point re: some need to synthesize art as I practice it somewhat within the cultural dialog and spaces of my profession as against a chosen spiritual path (Buddhism or Native American teachings).  I finally had to ask the question: which was my core path, art or the spiritual path?  And could the creative process itself be a path to spiritual awakening and inner knowledge?  Or was a core of spirit teachings the only way and the art must be derived from it.  Not the least of which is the question of feminism.  The female spiritual journey is for me a major issue within this questioning.

Moore himself raises the question  of Shamanism  /as art –  /as performance – /as therapy.  He cites performance as the bed of mystical initiation, rites of passage, mystical ceremonies where art/science, philosophy, and psychology and theology merge and become whole once again.  Here, we may experience these things as at once ancient and strange.  The breaking of restricting taboos and inner barriers moves towards a place not of isolated individualism, but one of connectedness both in the interior landscapes and with each other.

Art from Cherotic Magic by LaBash

More information about the book, Cherotic Magic Revised, is available here: http://www.eroplay.com/cheroticmagic/

Cherotic Magic Revised cover by LaBash