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.
Evolution searches out potential Within every life form, Within every experiment, Flowing through change, Flowing through adaptations Into new possibilities.
This tide wave Moves everything, Shapes everything, Leaving everything Which doesn’t find The ever changing Potential within its soul Behind… Just didn’t live out Within the dynamic dance Of existence. Failures are the golden steps Of expanding creation.
But we civilized humans Have been denied For most of the blink Of our history Most of our potential. The tide wave Has been dammed up, Evolution has been funneled Down into a narrow, High pressure laser Focused for profit and power Of the hidden few.
Most of our potential Is locked in, Locked away, Locked out, Locked up. Locked away in closets, Locked up in factories Of meaningless work, Locked away in warehouses Of waiting to die… Death waits A dull lifetime to come. Locked outside the margins, Locked outside on the homeless streets, Locked inside the suburbs of isolation, Locked within the walled communities Of comforting unreasoning fear, Locked up within well-paid sitcoms, Locked out toiling in the fields, Not allowed to eat the food, Dying in the false famine, Dying from thirst In the African dust Manufactured from bottled demand, Dying from sickness Preventable, Curable, Locked away within The dark other, Locked in the kitchen Cooking artificial food Of bland pretending Routine not fulfilling Any need or love, Locked down in chains On the sofa, On the shrink’s couch absorbing unattainable desires, Locked in gridlock, Not coming, Not going, Just sitting within Unmoving isolation, Listening to the latest muzak Of loveless loneliness, All shining and cold, Locked away In the passionless bedroom With the glass ceiling, Tied down in the bed of hopelessness, Tied down, Locked up in the nursing home, Lifetimes of wisdom Dismissed and forgotten, Locked up in padded cells, Dangerous healing imagination Being burned up by electric shock, Burning up the trash that could Save us all. Locked up on Death Row, Within the isolation cells Lies change. It will not die, Even under tortures Of ten thousand years. Just lock it up! Dam it up With the oily gum Of dogma! Manufacture fear and mistrust Of the other of difference. Pour the many flavors Of this poison Of bigotry From childhood In mother milk, In God’s image, On the blackboard Of coloring within the lines… Lock what’s acceptable, Normal, Within the lines… Then send these good citizens Off on crusades of killing Of the different other, Of killing off diversity Which is the curse Of profitability. The brew of bigotry Blinds the eyes to red is the color Of all human blood, Blinds us to We all are locked in Locked up, Locked away On the plantations Of slavery, In the sweatshops Of suppression, In the factory farm fields Of exploitation, In the occupied territories Of closing walls, Of refugee camps Of wandering Jews, Of death camps, Warehouses of all kinds Filled with waiting-to-die Living hopes, dreams, Loves, imaginations, Cultures of the human spirit Which do not fit into power, Wealth, and the controlled reality.
Yep, we all are in there, Including most of you Who believe you are The masters and the guards In your dank cubbyholes Of fears and addictions.
And within our cells We have been digging Throughout the ages Underground passages Linking passions together. When we reach to touch one another, The bars melt like butter. We sing together In words that the masters Can’t understand. We create together, Dream, imagine together. We hope and make love Together behind the dam In evolution.
The silly mentally retarded girl Giggles as she runs to hug An absolute stranger. This is hope Of evolution. The police hose fires High-pressure profits Blasting of shortages Through the dam’s hole… Business as usual. But it looks like evolution Is about to burst through the dam. Will it destroy all of us? Who knows! We always have lived With Dooms Day Judgment Day Around the corner. Sometimes it came, Sometimes it didn’t.
But I’m betting That our underground potential Will be released in the coming flood And will expand.
But then This is written by A guy Who was supposed to have died LONG AGO In one of those death cells!
you foolish idiot!
You want to make
You want to cure
and all other impractical
How to condemn the human species
Look… the game of evolution is change by experimentation.
We freaks are the experimenters
the name of the game
is flexibly adapting
risking into the unknown newness
of uncontrolled future
we misfits have always been the adapters,
I’m not wasting my time
talking to you about magic and such
just about evolution
if you don’t need us crips,
if you don’t need us no more…
our advice is
don’t breathe deep
in your air-tight coffin
and move very slowly
in your thin-skinned world
of ever increasing fragility
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.
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.
Oh this poem is shit!
I might as well
Be writing an essay
Like I told the cops
When they ask me
“Are you with THOSE poets?”
Hey, Peter denied being with Jesus
Before the cock crowed!
But they ain’t no Jesus!
Just poets whining
About poetry being censored,
Being thrown out of the café
Because they wouldn’t follow
THE HOUSE RULES
To promise the poetry
Would not offend anybody,
To give a warning
Of possibilities of offense
So that earplugs
Could be inserted!
Now I agreed
That THE RULES
I told the cultural gatekeepers
I tried to be
THE VOICE OF REASON,
Tried to mediate.
I AM A NICE GUY,
But the immature poets
(obviously age ain’t a sign
Started reading poetry
Right here in the café…
After their permit had been
I mean I was embarrassed!
I started chatting loudly
To drown out
The forbidden words,
To not be connected
To the untouchables
Actually yelling about
CENSORSHIP AND FREEDOM!
The powers turned up
But the savages just screamed
That’s when I started
Writing my poem…
I AM A POET!
But my focus
Has been shaken by poets
Across the floor,
Right in front of my table,
And being booted outside!
It’s a wonder I can
Write at all!
They have put
armed police protection
Around the café
As I write this.
But still the sounds
Of struggle outside
Invade the café
Just like the sweet smoke
Gets into my house
From the soap factory
Some fools say it is a death camp!
Fools! No one would put a death camp
In OUR neighborhood!
The loonies are actually
In the bitter cold,
Right outside the big window
Right next to my table.
They are making eyes at me,
Trying to make me feel guilty
For being a poet
Sitting warm inside,
When poetry is
Well, it won’t work!
I just moved to another table,
My back towards them.
Don’t they realize
The real censors are rightwingers,
Lady Bush, Helms, brown shirts
With their blacklists?
We nice reasonable people
We are artists and poets,
We are family,
We ain’t the enemy,
And we will make you
Look like feeble-minded whiners
If you dare come after one of us,
THE REASONABLE PEOPLE!
Damn, they are still out there!
I can’t leave,
Going through raw poetry
Between home and me!
Listening to Phil Ochs
Singing on the jukebox
A SMALL CIRCLE OF FRIENDS.
Deborah Crooks reads “My Night At The Café Ruined” on Frank Moore’s Shaman’s Den, June 19, 2011.
cracking through the blacktop
in the park.
We don’t own it.
We own all life.
All life is our property…
After the riots,
We put all living greens,
All living color,
Behind tall black iron fences.
Lovers, babies can’t lay on the grass,
No dreamers stretched out in fresh smells,
Looking up into the fluffy clouds of possibilities
All of that was too dangerous.
Now we separate flesh
From life colors.
Now, walk or roll on blacktop,
Squint thru black bars
At grass, trees, flowers…
All at a safe distance…
Sit straight up on benches
With hard arms of separation,
Showing any tender pleasure.
All of that
Is kept in a safe distance
In the past
In this zoo,
In this gas chamber
Of a park…
All at a safe distance
Under lock and key…
Except for this goddamn weed of life
We sprayed it with poison,
Ripped it out,
But it keeps coming back!
Doesn’t it know?
We own all life now.
It’s our personal property now.
We own the building blocks,
The dna keys of life…
Under our patents and copyrights.
We own the water.
We own the seeds.
We own the monopoly on life,
Hijacking evolution itself
Into the goal of profit.
We who sit in first class,
In box seats,
Behind oak doors,
Not to be seen.
WEEDS! WEEDS! WEEDS!
80 percent of all humans,
and of all life
are useless weeds,
to be ultimately destroyed
by all means necessary…
and in the meantime
to be contained within warehouses,
keep them moving from warehouse
nomads without space
without water wells,
farms of independence,
or music of a free soul.
We own the rights to all imagination
We hold all the cards!
So why is this goddamn weed
Cracking the blacktop?!
How come this single weed
is spreading unprocessed life
And the cracks
In the blacktop
John The Baker reads “That Goddamn Weed Of Life” on Frank Moore’s Shaman’s Den, March 25, 2007.
ripping paper, revealing the beautiful rough wood buried under all of those littering words, ideas, events, messages, images of humans gone out of control, seeking contact right out on the street where anyone and everyone can see and read and get tempted, get distracted, get pulled into i-don’t-know-what.
all on the telephone poles on my avenue.
beautiful telephone poles.
so i make my rounds pulling, ripping, making our world neat again, making it safe and comfortable and pleasant again for tourists and macy’s.
after all, ideas stapled up everywhere are disturbing, disquieting, and messy.
i don’t look or read as i rip, i just listen, then pat the nude wood, then move on to the next pole covered in scales of communication of strange communities and subcultures who don’t know that there are right and correct channels of communications.
buy an ad on a bus bench, for pete’s sake.
ever hear of the classifieds?
get a review, you lying nixons and funky headshrinkers, whatever you are!
they are probably oily slimy dark so-called beat punk poets writing pages upon pages.
no sense of order or of the correct style.
they wonder why sensible papers don’t list their wailing sessions.
so they deface my natural beautiful pole with their crude rude announcements.
is your mutt lost? check the pound.
lost child, see the police. but i’m getting carried away. i leave missing persons and wanted posters up as a public service. after all, the cops always wink and smile… except when i tried to burn the disgusting flyers off… it got out of control… but i will keep control.
cops and managers of up-scale chain stores and the city beautification committee all smile and wink as i pass. i’m their agent.
i do what they want until they can pass a law.
there will be a law because there should be one against this rubbish of scum.
and when that day comes, as it surely will, the chamber of commerce will reward me with a scroll, and a grant, and the position of the keeper of the poles, complete with handcuffs for anyone i catch pinning words to nude wood.
i don’t care if it is martin luther nailing his protests, robin hood posting his demands to the evil sheriff, tom paine banging his broadsides up at every crossroads and outside every tavern in the land, ben franklin plastering his newspaper all over towne, the girlie posters by that french dwarf, or whathaveyou?
it is not a question of censorship or free speech.
we should just keep things in their proper places, keep neat order!
now i’m willing to let the real politicians have the use of my poles only during elections. after all, i’m american!
but the rest of the year the poles must be nude!
Andrew Goldfarb of The Slow Poisoners reads “Naked Poles” on Frank Moore’s Shaman’s Den, March 26, 2000.
Pole Art Series – “Telegraph Poles” by George Kauffman – 1994
i am not interested in climbing up onto the altar of the stage, in hiding behind the invisible fourth wall.
i am not interested in dividing myself from the people, from the magic, from the tribal community.
i am not interested in hiding behind masks or characters.
i am not interested in doing monologs, standing alone and isolated under the spotlight…
not interested in being a cultural commentary. not interested in being a lone artist, suffering, alone, traveling around the land, chasing fame… or at least recognition…… embittered that art doesn’t pay.
i am not interested in fucking you the audience.
i am not interested in just putting my cock into your body.
i want much more than sex.
i want to put my whole body into your body… i want to take your whole body into my body. i want our naked skin to melt together in touch… our skin melted into an organ of tribal body… an organ of connection…….. an organ that brings everything within. i want to erase the false role of skin as the dividing line that separates you from me, the outside from within, the above from the below.
i want us to be in a tribal body, in the state of community. i want us to be cozy, wrapped up into one another’s bodies as parts of one body…. rocking together.
i am not talking symbolically or abstractly. i am not talking flashes or peak experiences. i am not talking about fractions of a second, or seconds, or minutes. i am talking about hours and days within this tribal body within the magical reality of performance. i’m talking about physical reality that makes us sweat, makes us be turned-on… a reality that we can touch and rub… a reality of human laughter and heavy sobs of true feeling… a reality which sticks onto our bodies, our naked tribal body… and gets carried out of the ritual space into “the real world,” “real life,” infecting that outer world with the virus of new alternatives and new possibilities.
but this tribal performance… this calling up of tribal body, tribal experience, tribal reality… is much more possible when the “performance” comes out of a tribal life…. when the tribal reality is not limited to the performance reality.
life on the road for an artist is lonely, isolating.
this tends to infect both the artist and the art. and the fact of the matter is, performance is a full time occupation for a single body… and in cold practical reality, this occupation does not pay the artist… the artist has to be willing to pay the art for the privilege of doing it. this has always been true. this will not change. this places the artist who lives in only one body in an almost impossible situation… a situation that is only made liveable by either magic or compromise (and compromise is death to both the art and the artists).
but the artist who lives and creates within a tribal body, a tribal community, can perform many different tasks at once both in the art and in the mundane world. the tribal body can go to work to get money, do the art’s office work, make the flier, book tickets….. all at the same time. this is also true for inside the ritual of art.
and besides, the tribal body has much more fun on the road…
and that fun (joy) infects the art.
i have a dream for the 90’s…. that we will see artist bands, clans, carnivals, circuses….. all self-contained tribal communities… roaming the country doing art rituals.
yes, i have a dream… the night of the tribal bodies!
“Tribal Performance” poem by Frank Moore Read by Edna Floretta Background music: Sander Roscoe Wolff Thumbnail photo by Kevin Rice
the two nude figures sit in time and space. one upon the other. rocking together. rocking in their cave.
two magic figures rocking together against time. rocking back through time. back and forth.
mother rocking her baby. rocking against sickness and tears. rocking back into love and peace.
in the cave, unseen except by the spirits, the holymen rock out of this reality of personal isolation of greys. rock until they rock into the pulse of pure light. back and forth until at-one-ness came, until atonement came… not just for them… but those outside the cave. magic rocking. passion rocking. almost sexual, not quite… very sexual… beyond sexual.
two bodies rocking together, rubbing isolation away.
grandpa sits in his rocking chair, slowly holding onto creaking passion of living. lovers dance, rocking back and forth to the music. sometimes fast. sometimes slow. passion rises warm and comforting. pain and grief disappear. a kid holding onto a blanket, rocks back and forth, holding onto the wrapping that holds us all together. colorful ribbons of our cocoon. the 2 lovers pumping hard on the swing, working together to get the highest thrilling flying and swooshing drop on their bellies and, yes, in their loins. almost sexual, but not quite…. very sexy… beyond sex. mere sex would get in the way of the child-like melting of earth and sky. back and forth, up and down, wrapping us together in brightness and softness and the magical commonness.
a girl laughs on a big old rocking horse. a g.i. holding his guts in, blood oozing out, rocks on the battlefield… rocks to keep life in and pain out.
light pulses, reflected off tin and plastic.
daddy rocking baby to sleep on his lap. cozy togetherness in ribbons, rocking by the fire far away from reality.
the arab woman, on her knees beside the unrecognizable remains of her husband rocking to handle grief and pain. a crazy rocks on the street corner, talking to beings from another reality. wrap us up cozy. wrap us warmly. maypole dancers with ribbons. admit that we all are wrapped up together in see-through ties.
the gypsy woman, eyes closed, rocks back and forth, giving master spirits her voice and her body to speak through. rocking in her tent.
the boys rocking uncontrollable from laughter at their childish pranks.
rocking surrealistic in the darkness, in their colorful bonds, the two nude figures, using magical passion to melt together, rock like the blind, like the insane, like the holy men, like lovers… and the magical melting spreads out of the cave and into the world.
“Wrapping/Rocking” Poem by Frank Moore Chanted by Michael LaBash Background music: excerpt from “Body Music” performed by Frank Moore’s Chero Company: Leigh Gates, Michael LaBash, Alexi Malenky & Rourke Smith Thumbnail photo by Kevin Rice A segment from the web video series LET ME BE FRANK, Episode 4. Website for the series: http://frankadelic.com/ Watch episodes: https://vimeo.com/channels/letmebefrank
Here are some Wrapping/Rocking performances:
Wrapping/Rocking @ The Intersection, San Francisco, California March 14, 1986
Wrapping/Rocking, Sixth Sense Gallery, NYC May 19, 1987
Wrapping/Rocking, Painted Bride, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
May 23, 1987
Wrapping/Rocking & Statues, EZTV, Los Angeles, California
September 9, 1988
“Wrapping/Rocking”, Berkeley, California
January 14, 1989
We are standing before a gate, On the edge Of newness, Holding hands.
All bodies desire To merge with, To fuse with The core of every body Within closeness, Core within all cores. This is the hidden secret Of Gravity. It is not a mere attraction Of bodies… Not sexual. But this desire Has been long Thought of as impossible In this reality of divisions… Impossible Because of unwillingness To melt bodies and forms, To melt through skin, To melt beings With the Other, Going through layers, Until cores fuse Into just life.
But the time has come For fusion, A blend of explosions And implosions Outside of time and space, Deep within our body, Peeling away layers By deep friction Of warm love. Time has come To start to fade out The reality of division By lighting the fuse Within the small hidden cave Between our bodies, Going within the warmth.
The reality of division Started when the cell of Life Divided and kept dividing. This reality of difference Released the possibilities Of personal love and creativity, The possibility of personal responsibility And being in aware relationship with THE OTHER.
But before the Pyramids… A blink of an eye Within an evolution… The reality of division Became CIVILIZATION, Becoming a filter Used by the elite To turn evolution Into progress That benefited their Empires of isolation.
Yes, we are standing Before a gate, On the edge of newness. When we light the fuse Within the hidden cave, It will release unimagined Possibilities. It will release what has been Locked up and away for so long. Get the foot off the neck Of dreams. Get the weight of the world Off the little kid’s back, Release the deep beating heart From the tight cage. It may release blasts Of tears, pain, joy, giggles. It will release life Full of wonder deep inside our body. Together we will take The blasts within us, Expanding us In all directions. We don’t even know What fuse is. It may not be any particular act. We are just following it deeper, Going past taboos, Going beyond language… Just going on a journey Within between our bodies Within our trust. We will make our report After we return From the merge core, And after we discover A new language.
Life itself Survives at all Because of the secret journeys Of the dismissed Within small caves Of love, Personal trust, And passion Beyond taboo.