Excerpted from Frank’s letter to Annie Sprinkle, February 17, 1987, describing Dotty, the character Annie would be playing at Frank’s first Franklin Furnace performance, INTIMATE CAVE, May 14, 1987.
For about eight years, I have been working with the character whom you are playing. I call her Dotty. You remind me of the woman who originally played Dotty. I have tried to get other people to play Dotty in different pieces, with not much success. They have lacked the depth and freedom and control needed to pull it off.
Dotty is a zombie, mentally retarded … has no I.Q., no intellect. But she is not dumb. She is very slow. She takes a couple of minutes to waddle several feet. She does not speak. But she makes loud, long, slow laughs without obvious reason. She makes funny faces and distorts her body [Howie Mandel may have copied her moves]. She gets sidetracked very easily. A bit of dust can stop her in her tracks as she focuses to explore it. In a strange way, she is very focused. Once her focus is on you, she is locked on you until her curiosity is satisfied. She is a ball of emotional, innocent curiosity. This gives her a gentle power over people, allowing her to break taboos, sitting on laps, crawling on people, unbuttoning shirts, gently pushing limits.
In this piece, she is looking for warmth, for intense physicalness. She looks for this in the audience at first. She does not force this on people. But she does not settle for less. When she finds that a person has quit going with her into that physical intimacy, she loses interest and moves on to another person.