I think I have finally recovered from my tour of Southern California. As Paul McCarthy would say, it was amazing. It is one of the main projects I used my N.E.A. Grant for. It was a kind of thing I have dreamed about. But my dreams paled against the reality of it. Paul helped us arrange the performances in L.A., connecting us with Jack Marquette of Anti-Club and Robert Gero. But this was after months of soul debating on Paul’s part on what would be the best spaces for me.
It took months setting everything up for the trip. The trying to line up actors for the L.A. pieces. The pile of actors’ resumes melted to zero by the time we left on the trip. It was the same old story … the vulnerability, the avant-garde strangeness, and nudity proved too much for the straight actors to imagine doing. So I prepared myself to wing the performances, as I usually am forced to do.
Also just before our departure, we got a definite red tape NO from U.C. Irvine.
We arrived in L.A. to establish a beach head before going on to San Diego. We received a call from Robin McHeed. I met Robin months before as I was doing my Approach Art on Sproul Plaza at U.C. Berkeley. She will graduate this summer from U.C. Irvine. She is a stranger in a strange land at Irvine. Something clicked in Robin when I told her I was doing a tour in Southern California. It became her personal revolt against the rightist system to get this long-haired, red-helmeted, multi-colored, spastic elf with his giant portfolio of chocolate covered naked live art that the audience has a chance to play in. So when we ran into the red tape dead end, Robin turned into a one woman bulldozer. The call was informing us that she got a classroom in one day for the performance … basically she personally sponsored me. So we had an extra show on the road.
Next day, we traveled to Irvine. Robin was kind of disappointed when we rolled up in our big American car. She was expecting a Magic Bus full of wildly dressed artists. But she soon realized I was still that mischievous elf. We followed her around as she busted her buns making last minute contacts. I got more and more freaked out being on a campus which was consciously designed to discourage human contact and a sense of community … where students are identified by for which big company they will be working. I started to think no one would show up for the performance, not to mention participate, in this stronghold of the enemy. So in my mind, I started adapting “Random Gestures” so that if no one became involved, at least it would look like something was happening. To my surprise, there were students waiting outside the performance room when we arrived.
The windowless room became a dark cave with a light strobing. I lay on a table-altar surrounded by neatly dressed yuppies and young republicans. Gestures were randomly read out. Anyone could get on the table with me and do the gestures, and return to their seats when they did not want to do the gesture. At first, nobody did anything at all. But after fifteen minutes, a few timidly started doing the gestures in their seats. Slowly, one by one, people got on the table … especially after Robin broke the ice. It was a trip seeing these ultra-yuppies touching one another in intimate ways. They drank it up. The guy who I got to play music asked in the middle of the piece if he could stop playing music and join the table. Two male roommates found themselves doing things together like rubbing noses … and liking it. We had to push more tables together to make room for all the people. At one point, about 12 bodies piled onto me and slowly rocked … because they couldn’t quite let themselves rock on one another.
After the piece, Robin invited everyone to her house for chili. It gave me a good chance to hear in detail what people thought about the piece, but also to watch the effects of the piece on the people. When they first came out, they were still relating to one another, being high, being physical, being vulnerable. It took several hours for this noticeable change to wear off. It was like waking up from a dream … or coming down from a trip.
The next night, we were in a totally opposite scene than Irvine … the anti-club, the L.A. art/punk club. I was doing my CABARET OF CHAOS, which consisted of me singing along to taped message songs such as “Better Sit Down Kids”, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else”, “I Am Woman”, etc. When the packed punk house saw this weird crip (me) sitting on the stage yelling into a mic to bad music, they started jeering at me, pulling at my feet, and in general tried to give me a hard time. I loved it. I started kicking their heads playfully, sang all the louder, and interacted with them. They started liking it almost in spite of themselves. They started clapping along, then singing along, then rocking along with me. Amazing. Hard-core punks got on stage to dress me in their spiked jewelry and even to give me a back rub while I sang. After 45 minutes of this, they demanded more. When I finally got off the stage, they crowded around me, touching my body.
I could never dream up this reality.
The letter Frank wrote to get the gig:
To Jack Marquette Anti-Club, Los Angeles
Paul McCarthy suggested I contact you about my doing a show at The Anti-Club when I am in Southern California in late January. I will be doing performances at U.C.L.A., with the help of Paul, and at U.C.S.D. for the performance art class of Eleanor Antin. But what I would do at your club would be very different from these other performances.
I would do a very silly and tacky musical revue which grew out of my Outrageous Beauty Revue which I did as the Saturday early show at S.F.’s Mabuhay Gardens for three years in the late 70’s. The show has wacky characters who murder songs from the 60’s. The show could be from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on your time requirements. I don’t know why, but the show is the most accessible thing I do.
I am enclosing the cover story that High Performance did on my work and the article about me that the editor of Metier wrote. They should give you the feel for what I do.
Paul told me that you manage Johanna Went. Ever since she and I performed on the same night at the Mabuhay many years ago, I have wanted to perform with her again … maybe I could open for her at your club.
As part of receiving an NEA grant, Frank was required to keep a diary during the year of his grant. This is the first time Frank wrote these familiar words.
From Frank’s NEA Diary:
October 20, 1986:
“We are in the cave of dream. We are in a battle of an underground 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 moralist, 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 … divided 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.
Time to do battles with the boxes.
Our tools are magic, our bodies, and dreams.”
November 1, 1986:
“The last (above) entry is part of a larger essay of my philosophy, and was read at my L.A. five hour piece (CAVE OF DREAM) and was read at my U.C.B. piece.”
the cave is our world, his and mine. together around the fire in the warm cave. it has always been this way. mother and grandmother…mothers and grandmothers have always been in the cave above the tribe, have always been talking to the world spirits for the tribe, have always been taking the tribe out of the world of survival, cold wet fear…into our body cave of warm laughing joy, taking them into us deep for awhile.
and there has always been one of his kind in the cave. mother said that before i was born, the one who she lived in the cave with died. his death cursed the tribal field, cursed the tribal planting. the tribe again survived only by the hunt and the gathering. the spirit of the field would only come back when mother could mate in the tribal field with a healer after hair grew on his body. until that time, during times of moon blood, mother led the tribal women in the chant of plant magic, keeping their knowing of the secrets of growing alive during the years of waiting.
as the world spirits desired it, for many years no deformed male baby who could be a healer lived for more than for a few days within the tribe…even when mother secretly took such babies from the sacrifice rock and brought them to the cave, where she and the old healer tried to bring them fully into life.
so after the death of the healer, mother had to make the secret and dangerous journey to the sacrifice rocks of other tribes in her quest for a deformed boy baby, for a spirit that didn’t dwell in the world of survival, for a magical son who could be a healing bridge between all realities. mother had to hide behind the sacrifice rock of each tribe for many nights, waiting for a father to put a deformed boy child on the rock to die.
one day the tribe discovered that mother was not in the cave. they went into a ritual dance and a fast, piling all the food outside the cave to bring her back. they had a feast when they discovered that she had returned with a new healer. she had found a deformed boy baby. she saved him from the sacrifice rock and carried him to the cave. there she gave birth to him. everyone knows that cave magicians can give birth to even full-grown men. so no one was at all surprised to see this baby in the cave.
mother took care of him, raised him in the cave. she grew to understand his sounds, his moving body, his spirit talk. i understand him now. as he grew up, his healing magic became physical touch. he was in the future and the past and the world spirit…linked with mother’s body. now linked with my body.
when hair grew on his body, mother took him as her magical mate. then the secrets of growing, the magic of the plants, again came out of the moon cave and into the field. once again, the spirit entered the field and was attended to by the women of the tribe.
once again, before every harvest and every planting, the tribe carried mother and her magical mate to the fields. there she would take him deep inside her. they became one body together in ritual pleasure, offering the pleasure to the earth spirit as a thanksgiving. these were the only times he left the cave. these were the only times that she took him deep into her, although they were always together in the sacred play when they were in the cave, rubbing, licking, laughing, moaning, crying within the awareness of life. he and i are still in that awareness cave.
mother got big and i came out of her into the cave. if i was a male baby, mother would have gone like a spirit with the baby out of the cave to where the woman of the chief slept. she would have put the baby beside the woman and then slipped away. the boy would be born to the woman of the chief. the magic of the cave mother can only be passed on to a daughter of the cave. if i did not come from mother’s body, she would have gone on a quest for a cave daughter, leaving the healer alone in the cave. the tribeswomen would take care of him as best as they could. but if mother would die on the quest, the healer would die. then the tribe would die.
i grew up cuddled up between their bodies, playing with their bodies, smelling the herbs mother hung to dry in the cave, smelling the teas and other medicines mother made from them to give those who came to the cave to be healed. i ate the food and drank the water and the milk that the tribe brought to the mouth of the cave everyday.
i always played with mother and the healer…to me, he is laughing face because his hairy face always has tickled me…when they played together. but she put me into the child hole to play whenever she and he did rituals with a tribesperson. grandmothers from long ago dug these child holes. there is one just outside the cave for when mother danced with the chief before every hunt, before every battle, arousing his power.
i now arouse him.
there is a child hole at mother’s secret place where she goes when the tribe faces death from nature offended…the secret place where she offers herself to earth spirits as a sacrifice by working herself up by dancing and rubbing until who she is burns away. and there is a giant children hole in the middle of the moon cave where all the tribeswomen with children without body hair go during the times of blood. i watched the rituals from the child hole. when i could get out of the child hole, i could take part in the rituals…even before body hair and times of moon blood.
mother started teaching me cave mother magic and how to combine and blend it with the magic of laughing face. laughing face has always been my brother, my playmate. i grew up understanding his sounds, understanding his body, hearing his thoughts, seeing through his psychic eyes. he is my body. since i had body hair, he has been my mate.
mother started teaching me cave mother magic. cave mother magic is body magic. the body of the cave mother is the body of the earth. after i could get out of the children hole in the moon cave, mother started teaching me cave mother magic. mother said a long time ago the women of the tribe did not bleed together as one body in the full bright moon time. each woman bled alone at her own time away from the tribal fire, bled alone in dangerous cold darkness. one day, the moon, full and bright, told cave mother that the women will only have their time of blood in the nights and days of bright moon. the moon told cave mother that on the night before the full bright moon, all the women with all the children before body hair should leave the tribal fire, carrying a flaming branch, and dwell together in the special cave until the last moon blood fell. the times of moon blood are the most magical.
during times of moon blood, the elder men with the chief stay with the healer in the healing cave, taking care of him until the cave mother returns. they feed him, give him drink, bathe him. but they themselves fast and chant and rock and gently touch him. they can not understand him, can not see through his eyes. but as they sit around him, his spirit fills them and they are filled with visions.
mother began my magical training by taking me with her when she left the moon cave during the waiting day and the day of restoring. on these journeys she would collect herbs, special stones, healing mud, and all the other magical objects that she would prepare and use with the healer in their cave, our cave. she told me the story and the power behind each object. she told me the secret magical stories hidden within the stories that the women shared within the moon cave, rubbing one another, rocking together, enjoying their single body.
after the times of blood, when we returned to the healing cave, mother started letting me help her prepare the healing objects. mother said the objects by themselves do not have healing powers. but the body magic calls forth the healing effect of the object just as mother and the healer call forth the healing magic within each other. after someone left the cave after a ritual, mother started explaining to me what had happened. most of this explaining was not done in words, but by mother and laughing face playing with me, turning my body and spirit on.
laughing face would melt into the person’s body as they played, seeing what was needed. sometimes by touching deeply, he could transmute the inner sickness. other times, when he felt death was approaching, he and mother would arouse the body spirit to melt with death. but most of the time, as the healer was physically melted with the person, mother saw with the healer’s eyes, felt with his body. then the healer would lay back, and mother would begin her body dance, rubbing wet warm, sucking the other into her, licking coolness, blowing life into the other, dancing hard and long deep into the woman cave. the other could be the ill person. often it was the healer. just before she left, mother started to pick me to be the other dancer. the dance would fade into sleep. then just before dawn, mother would wake the person up, give him herbs or a magical object, give him rituals, then would send him back into the tribe in survival.
i absorbed all of this. i saw boys come to the healing cave when they first had hair on their bodies. the boy with first body hair would be barred from entering the moon cave on the first time of blood after body hair first appeared. the cave mother would ritualistically force his mother to not bring him into the moon cave again because he would never be again her son. the cave mother would send him to the healing cave. there, the chief would bar him from the cave, telling him to sit on the rock outside the cave, to wait for cave mother, to wait, not moving, without food, without water, without sleep.
days later, the cave mother would return to the healing cave, without giving any notice to the sitting would-be man. she would enter the cave and would lie beside the healer. the elders would slowly dance from the cave to the sitting would-be man, lift him up, carrying him into the cave mother, lying him on her, belly on belly. then the elders would leave to dance outside of the cave.
mother would gently let the boy enter her body, guiding him to melt with her in body and spirit, pulling him into the deep trance of transforming pleasure. then, when the boy had died to his child soul, the elders of the tribe would enter the cave, lift the entranced would-be man onto their shoulders, and carry him out of the cave and on into his quest for a vision, for a new soul, and for a proof of his worthiness to be within the tribe.
when a girl first entered the moon cave on her first time of blood, the women gathered around her and rocked her gently day and night until the moon blood stopped flowing between her legs. then they washed her childhood away, washed her into womanhood, washed her first in their moon blood, then washed her in clear cold water, welcoming her into their collective body.
then the cave mother took the new woman outside of the cave, laying her down on a bed of leaves. mother would reach deep inside the new woman, gently breaking the seal of skin, if it had not been broken in child play. the mother started calling forth from inside the new woman, started calling forth wave upon wave of intense moaning burning pleasure moving within the new woman’s body, joyfully burning up the little girl’s insides, the body of the young new woman writhing, opening wide to let the whole universe in. when the little girl had been completely burnt up, the tribal women took the new woman into their circle to rock with her.
as my mother did before, i live with laughing face in our cave of love and play, far outside the reality of cold survival of the tribe. most of the time, people of the tribe come to our cave not to be healed of some sickness, nor to know the future, nor to appease the spirits, nor anything that you in your time might think would be magically important. most of the time, they come to be rocked by me and the healer, to be sung to by us, to play with us, to come into our personal love of warm playing skin. the possibility of this personal love has not truly entered their reality of survival…except in their memories of what they have experienced within our cave…slowly this pleasure playing of personal love has leaked out of the cave over the lifetimes of the many cave mothers from the time when the first young girl found the first healer and hid with him in a cave, sneaking out to steal a blazing branch from the group fire of the human pack, sneaking out at night to gather berries and fruit…sneaking out so that the pack wouldn’t kill the useless deformed boy…sneaking out until she became an earth spirit to the pack when they caught sight of flashes of her. the young cave couple lived a new kind of existence together. in the pack there has always been the physical love of a mother for her babies, and children of the pack always have played together. but when the children entered the adult pack reality of cold survival which was dominated by fear, by individual isolation, and by being together solely out of physical need, this love and this child play quickly faded into the ultimate black beyond the light of the night fire of the pack.
but in the first cave couple, the personal love that was the mother-child physical love within the pack transmuted into the personal love between people that hadn’t been linked by the birthcord. this new kind of love was what melted the bodies of the first cave couple together. their playing together as children in adult bodies called forth this new kind of love. slowly their play revealed totally new physical pleasures which humans had never experienced before. in the pack, there was an ever-present lurking of a violent urge erupting in some male, grabbing a female from behind just to let her go a minute later after the pressure of the urge had been relieved, the woman going off to soothe her wounds.
but within their cave playing, the first cave mother and the first healer began discovering the many paths of pleasure within their body of two…long giggling tickling belly warm chest moaning exploding white light turning colors sleeping warm skin. on these paths of pleasure, the moon came to them and taught them magic. the moon told many strange things…that men were not just protectors and providers…that men have a direct and active role in the creation of life…that everyone in the pack is physically connected to one another as a body. becoming aware of these things would transform the pack into a tribe, calling forth tribal love, extending into the land and animals. this awareness would come slowly as the tribespeople visited the cave, visited the personal love of the cave mother and the healer, experience within their own bodies the new physical pleasure. they would take tiny bits of the expanding cave reality back to their relationships within the tribe. the moon said every pack had a cave couple developing, hidden, playing.
i am seeing into your time through laughing face’s eyes. i’m seeing past the marble temples where cave mothers became sex goddesses…past the men of power dividing the cave mother from the wounded healer, chaining her to promote isolation by turning her into just a safety valve for the release of guilt of power and the frustration of unattainable desire.
but laughing face and i are still in our hidden cave waiting for you to come and play with us.
1. What were the THREE MOST IMPORTANT things you did to get a break and start moving toward recognition as a performance artist?
2. While you were moving toward getting to where you needed to go, how did you make enough money to survive while not taking away TOO much time and energy from your creative work?
3. How do you spend your days now, mostly? e.g., approximately what percentage of each day is spent writing, marketing yourself, planning shows, arranging tours, scoping out and applying for grants, bringing in outside income, acting as a mentor to other artists, etc.?
4. What do you love MOST about doing what you do now?
5. What do you HATE most about doing what you do now?
I can only answer art is not a career not a money maker but a money taker an addiction, a life long master who does not give a flying fuck what I “THE ARTIST” loves, hates, what I want to do, where I want to go
the artist’s job is to surrender, to follow, to melt into art
making money is easy
but the river of art rarely flows
naturally that way
without damming the river up
so keep your day job get a day job you like doing because art is your mistress of night & you ain’t her pimp she’ll take your money & time she will take you into the basement of the unseen
you’ll get old with her attending her needs rocking on the porch with her no goals, no plans, no marketing, no rush.
Just rocking, just surprises everyday,
just people dropping by,
just floating without knowing,
just doing, just suffering, just enjoying.
Frank wrote a column called “Frankly Speaking” for each issue of his zine, The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary, TC(r), that he published in the 1990s. Reading through them now … they are filled with gems … and so much of it applies to right now.
This, for example, is excerpted from the TC(r) #2 “Frankly Speaking” column:
“I’m lazy. For months I have been thinking about writing about the liberal sickness called “political correctness.” This sickness fragments people into artificial groups (black, gay, women, disabled, etc.) within which they then are forced to stay. This sickness makes the individual so fragile that any “bad” or “wrong” word or image (nigger, fag, chick, cripple) can completely shatter the person. This fragileness makes it impossible to function in the real world without the artificial dome of pc-censorship. I was going to examine this sickness within the art world, using the art combine Highways/High Performance magazine as my case study. But I kept putting it off. I’m lazy. Then Curtis York’s letter fell into my hands. Now I don’t need to write that article!
Talking about pc-censorship brings us to the cartoon by the rock’n’roll artist John Seabury. We have gotten shit for running his “pig rape” drawing in this issue … from people who normally are against censorship. I’ve been thinking about why this drawing gets people so angry or uptight. I don’t think it is the images. After all, look at LaBash’s drawings. The taboo-breaking image contents are equal between them. The difference between these two artists is LaBash is nonlinear while Seabury is linear.”
And then there is this excerpted from Frank’s column in Issue #4:
“I was feeling better. Then I remembered that some “gay” bookstores will not carry T.C.(r) because it is not “queer enough”! It doesn’t matter that about eighty percent of our contributors consider themselves gay or bi. It doesn’t matter that some of the works focus directly on “gay” reality. It doesn’t matter that T.C.(r.) has always been included in the queer zine scene. And it does not matter that I am a lesbian in a male body.”
This is the very first “Frankly Speaking” column. It appeared in Issue #0. Frank thought that Issue #0 was totally self-promotion so he didn’t put it on the website and it wasn’t available to buy! We have just added this column to the site. Issue #0 will appear in the compilation book.
SPEAKING FRANKLY Editorial by FRANK MOORE April 10, 1991
At first look, this first issue of TCR looks like a shameless self-promotion, a big advertisement for my book, Cherotic Magic, for my apprenticeship, for my 6-session course, for my performance art and videos and tapes, and who knows what else. Well, you have to start somewhere. And that somewhere is the exploration of the magical edge I have been on for about 25 years. This promotion that we call TCR is a promotion of the edge itself.
Since Cherotic Magic was published, there has been a written dialog centering around the book. What is exciting about this dialog is that the people in the dialog are serious explorers of the edge themselves. They are writers, artists, publishers, cultural revolutionaries, reality subverters around the world. In this issue, under the cover of writing about my work, they talk about magical issues that I for one have been hungry to talk about for a long time in the depth that 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 of our hidden experiments of nonlinear change.
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 the 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 act. Thanks to S/R Press, we finally have a channel of communications among the personal revolutions … otherwise known as mutations … which has always been the main fuel for evolution. 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.
Frank’s announcement for his performance at DADAFEST 2003:
THE SHAMAN’S SHELTER FROM THE STORM DADAFEST, July 11 & 12, 2003 Somarts Gallery, S.F.
For this year’s DADAFEST, I’m doing the longest continuous performance I have attempted since the 48-hour DYING IS SEXY in Toronto in 1999.
From midnight Friday July 11 to midnight Saturday…within the madness that is DADAFEST…I will be in THE SHAMAN’S SHELTER FROM THE STORM, giving out magical mantras and secret gestures, doing pantanic rituals, conducting deep core music, going into trances of controlled folly, etc…all to give people WHO DARE TO COME IN magical ways to survive the upcoming TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF “CIVILIZATION”! bring your bodies, musical instruments, voices, and desires to jam with me for an hour or 2, or to spend the night with me, or to just peek in, or totally lose time itself!
THE SHAMAN’S SHELTER FROM THE STORM will be somewhere in THE SOMARTS GALLERY, 934 Brannan. s.f.
Frank wrote this after the performance:
Sunday, July 13, 2003
Well, we here are recovering from this weekend’s DADAFEST. It was quite amazing. It was much closer to the true spirit of dada than ever before. Katy and Blue took risks and by most accounts we were getting within the cave, most of the artists [and most of the audience] rose to the higher level. I can’t judge because I was in the cave for most of the 24 hours. But that was the buzz and the vibe of it. But the fact that they went outside of the socially acceptable time frame lost them press coverage and the Beach Blanket Babylon crowd. But to the dada credit of Katy and Blue…and almost everyone else…this wasn’t seen as a negative, but getting back to the dada roots. If they do it again, they now will have a good base. Just on the level of the sheer work and organizing of doing a 24-hour event that created a large and relaxed community of artists, it was quite an impressive undertaking that worked!
For this year’s DADAFEST, I did the longest continuous performance I have attempted since the 48-hour DYING IS SEXY in Toronto in 1999. We made an intimate cave out of a great portable 10×10 gazebo and the LaBash backdrops. When needed, Mikee and Linda would go out people hunting, coming back with willing victims. I lost my band that would have been outside the cave for the whole 24 hours, attracting people and would have provided just one more continuous thread to the piece. But as it was, these people hunting expeditions were rare because there was a person in the cave…if not a wild scene/happening…most of the time.
We had this sign on the cave:
Enter THE SHAMAN’S SHELTER FROM THE STORM, inside the shaman is giving out magical mantras and secret gestures, healing by touch, talking beyond frames, doing pantanic rituals, conducting deep core music, going into trances of controlled folly, loving, listening, laughing…all to give people WHO DARE TO COME IN magical ways to survive the upcoming TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF “CIVILIZATION”!
When someone came in, I asked him to read one of my poems/writings of his choosing. This became a powerful ritual because people chose things that spoke right to them, reading whole new dimensions into the poem than were there before. This ritual reminded me of tarot readings or casting the I-Ching. At times, these readings developed a community spirit that exploded pure raw dada chaos out-of-control magic…especially when the FLUFFGRRL crowd held court in the cave.
Then I asked the person to do a random gesture/act, drawn from a magical bag. These acts range from “easy” to explicitly intimate. If the people were a couple, I asked them to do a gesture together, and together with me. Most did these rituals.
Musicians kept dropping in to jam for a while. Friday night Dr. Oblivious, Nate Scott, Fluff Grrl’s Bob and Pervertidora Records’ Chris [A.K.A. GOD] jammed. Then Bob and Chris segued us into a twisted Cheech and Chong flick, in a failed search for more beer, and a match for the only joint, dropping Bob’s burnt hair all over my cave as Kaosmic Kitty showed us her nazi clit as she and I rubbed thighs as Bob sucked my cock as Chris informed us he is having a breakdown because he is off his meds as Bob obsessed on Linda’s hairy bush and the lame dada going on outside as dawn broke. There was no lame dada inside the cave!
I took a break from the cave to take part in THE CULT LEADER CONTEST. Among my disciples were Katy, Fluff Grrl’s Bob, and Michael Peppe. What can I say? I simply was the only real cult leader there!
Kirsten arrived Saturday afternoon after traveling since the wee hours across the country. We started a 5-hour pantanic dance as Linda and Mikee kept the cave within the ritual reality, which was a challenge because that was when a lot of people came through, each reading my writings extremely deeply to the dance…when Peppe and Andy Poisoner with Ronnie played music…when the Fluff Grrl crew with Joanna camped out in the cave.
The pantanic dance was extremely physically challenging, requiring a committed focus over hours to melt everything down to an explicit, slow, small, human, warm intimacy that was generated between Kirsten and my skin through dancing/rubbing. At one point, about 3 hours into the dance, it was necessary to take everyone out of cave and limit it to people coming in for the first time. At another point in the dance, it seemed to be extremely difficult for people to stay in the cave to observe the dance. This was because they were, through the dance, directly experiencing unlimited intimacy [which is quite different than sex]…and they found themselves in the state of pure dada…and they ran…but carried with them the virus of new possibilities. A DADA SUCCESS!
In 1988, Frank was one of a few artists who was invited by High Performance magazine to contribute a statement on the subject of “The Function Of The Arts In Culture Today”. Here is the piece that Frank wrote:
Art can be to pacify, to make money, to decorate, to entertain. But I am committed to art as an underground war against fragmentation on all realities. This should be the position of avant-garde art. The goal of this art should be to create alternatives to the fragmented society.
As artists our tools are magic, our bodies, taboos and dreams. We need to be warriors who will go into the areas of taboo, will push beyond where it is comfortable and safe. We must be idealists, willing to live ideals.
In the past 20 years, the calling of art has become the career of art. The passion and idealism became the studying of the trends of what will be “in” next. The passionate vulnerability that creates magic was replaced by a cool and clever intellectualism. We got seduced by high tech…seduced by the modern media, by the quest for large audiences.
Performance is being ruined by trying to package it as off-beat cabaret entertainment. Some performance fits into this slot. But when most performance is forced into neat cabaret format, making performance acceptable and profitable, performance becomes a hip form of nightclub watching, groovy TV watching. Performance is being limited in time and space for acceptability. Performance is in danger of becoming society’s lapdog, instead of a magical lab.
Art is the way society dreams, the way society expands its freedom, explores the forbidden in safety. Society needs its dream art, just as an individual needs to dream or go insane. Our fragmented world needs taboo-breaking dreams to get back to freedom. Our society is at a fork in its growth. It can go deeper into high tech impersonal isolation, or it can rediscover the magic that happens when physical and emotional humans actively and directly link up with one another. Art can either just follow society, recording the trends, or it can take a pathfinder role. We artists must not make cynical statements from our inner worlds about how fucked up the rest of society is. We must create alternative community realities in which people can be actively involved.
Here is the letter they sent inviting him to contribute:
Here is Frank’s article as it appeared in the magazine:
When Frank received the NEA Fellowship in 1985, one of the requirements was that we keep notes so that Frank could submit a diary at the end of the Fellowship year. We got a marble copy book and labeled it ART BOOK with the dates of the fellowship. I had forgotten about all of this, but in the course of digging through our archives to try to figure out where we kept info before we were using the computer to log everything in, we found the ART BOOKS! We kept using the ART BOOK as a way to keep track of all of our “art” activities, starting a new one as we filled each old one, with 1995 being the last year logged in.