Frank participated in Swamp Fest West in 1990 with a performance of “Out of Isolation” on Market Street in San Francisco at the Montgomery St. BART Station and then, a day later, with a reading, by poet Jack Foley, of his essay, “The Combine Plot” outside the entrance to the downtown Berkeley BART Station. Here are an assortment of materials and photos from the event.
a mat is on the otherwise bare performing area. harsh bright lights. jim lies in his world of the mat.
I lie here in my universe of the mat, my bed. I always have been here lying in my universe forever, forever. My mat, my pillow, my sheet, my blanket…for countless force-fed meals, enemas, baths, shaves, haircuts, pissed-on sheets…many many harsh-lighted days, many, many semi-dark nights. Outside my universe there are bony fingers, blotch-skin creatures. Sometimes they invaded my universe…the sickly-sweet smelling ones. They “take care of me”…they handle me like they handle my pillow. Their voices are high, loud, flat. Sometimes they lie on beds beside mine, moaning and crying for alone many many, then they get quiet and others of them carry the still ones away. There are always new ones, but they are always the same. There are different bony fingers who invade my universe, who strip me, probe me stretch me until it hurts…do strange things to me like rubbing ice on my body then brushing me hard. They talk to me in funny ways…loud and flat. They say, “We are doing this for your own good.” They don’t think I understand what they are saying. I don’t understand most of their words. But I understand enough, I understand I am not a Mister, a Mrs., a Miss, a Nurse, a Doctor. I understand I am not bony fingers. They can keep their universe of bony fingers. I am not going out of my universe of the mat. I understand enough. A long long, when I cried out, they made me numb. I do not like being numb. In my universe of the mat, I am not numb. But they said crying out was not “appropriate behavior”. I do not think appropriate behavior is good.
Everything that is not appropriate behavior makes me feel. But I understand enough to stop crying when the bony fingers are around. Stop making any sound, any move when they are around. They stopped making me numb. I understand enough. I discovered a way of rubbing myself that makes me warm, makes me feel good. Bony fingers slapped me away from feeling good. Not appropriate behavior. I understand enough. I do appropriate behavior in the harsh light when they are around. I am still, quiet. In my universe of the mat. I do not even look into their world. I am busy creating within me. But when the harsh light goes and the semi-darkness comes…when only the still or moaning bony fingers are around…I move, I laugh, I cry, I rub my body and good feeling comes. Not so loud or so much that the harsh light, the bony fingers, and their numbness come back. But just enough. And by rubbing, I know I am not bony fingers.
In the harsh light, they treat me just like my pillow. They change me just like they change my pillow. Always fast like they need to move on. Sometimes, the special bony fingers, the prodders, stand over me and say I should come into their universe, what they are doing to me will help me. They talk like they talk to my pillow. Why should I want to go into their world of greys, where everyone wears white? In my universe of the mat, I lie on smooth warm softness and create the brightest colors and the sweetest sounds to surround me. But I am not worried. Bony fingers never really believe I ever can enter their universe.
I only wish I was not the only soft fingers…I wish there was another soft fingers in my universe of the mat…someone to share in the bright colors and sweet sounds…someone I could laugh with, cry with, move with, share good feeling with…someone who would be with me on the mat, touch me not like touching my pillow, not like pulling things out of me or to make me different. But just because we are the only soft fingers in the universe of the mat.
There is a new prodder. Do not look at bony fingers. But catch sight of same white. Miss Roberts talking to a pillow called Mr. Merrill. Same words about “to make you better”. But sound of voice is somehow different, softer. The touch is still changing the pillow of me. But not bony fingers! I sneak a peak. Same white, but different. The skin is soft like my skin. The smell is almost like my smell. Almost enough to try to open my universe to this new soft fingers. But words came, the same words as bony fingers. The prodding soft fingers strips me bare just like she is changing the pillow of me. Easier to probe my pillow of a body. The prodding fingers does the same hurting “make you better” exercises on me as the other bony fingers before. And then the going somewhere else fast. And the touching the pillow of me, instead of touching me.
When the soft fingers and the harsh light were gone, I cried louder than before. I do not care if they make me numb. Maybe numbness is better if soft fingers are the same as bony fingers, if soft fingers also want me to go into grey and white, if soft fingers does not want to be with me, then numbness is better.
Soft fingers keeps coming back. At first, rushing to somewhere else, trying to pull me into the grey universe. I know how to fight against that bony fingers trick. But I like her soft warm skin touching me…like my soft warm sheet under me. Sometime soft fingers forgets about helping me, about making me a better person. For that moment we are the only ones in the universe…together. Then soft fingers remembers the bony fingers and starts touching me like a pillow again.
But the moments of being together grow. I like when she forgets and makes mistakes and comes closer into my world. I like when she just sits on my mat…on our mat…and just looks at me, just listens to me. I feel more and more like I can show her my moves, show her my sounds. I like when soft fingers became Jane and I became Jim. I like when Jane just lies on the mat and we just look at each other, listen to each other, even when we really don’t understand what meaning…but we feel. I like it when Jane starts making her own noises, not just bony words. I like when Jane holds my hand. I like when Jane comes into my world of dim light, when she wears colors bright, soft, smooth flowing…not bony fingers white…and even her hair is flowing strangely soft. I like when Jane comes wearing the colors soft even in the harsh light. I like when Jane makes the harsh light go away for a while, when Jane rocks me, when Jane rubs my head. I like when Jane slowly takes all the colors off. She is soft everywhere. She lies next to me on the mat. She makes soft sounds and soft moves, just like me. She is just like me now. Two soft fingers on the mat. I like when Jane lets me rub Jane’s back, when Jane calls me Jim. I like it when we are in our universe of the mat sharing not appropriate behavior…laughing, crying, making good feeling come. Rocking or holding hands made different good feelings come together, making soft sounds together, together making good feelings come.
But suddenly Jane was gone. I was alone in happiness. Jane would come back into the happiness with me on the mat. So I was happy.
But when Jane came the next day, she was in bony white. Jane had become like bony fingers again. She said what we were doing was not appropriate behavior. She used words like romance and sexual that I did not understand. Jane left. The numbness came back without the bony fingers giving me anything.
Jane came back as bony fingers. I kept rising out of the numbness in hope whenever Jane came, but then fell deeper and deeper.
Jane came. I could not hold the crying back. I cried in the harsh light. Then Jane cried too. She made the harsh light go away. She came back into our universe of the mat and rocked me. Jane told me to teach her the noises and the moves of our universe of the mat. Now I have another soft fingers, Jane, on the mat, in the universe with me, together with me.
Together we can expand the universe beyond the mat. Jane can bring other soft fingers in. The bony fingers begin to fade. I can see, begin to see colors beyond the mat, begin to hear laughter beyond the mat. Jane says she and I together will explore the universe that is outside. She and I are happy.
In Frank’s own words, “Penny is funny, warm, sexy, erotic, kick-ass, political, subversive, plain talking, nude, up-lifting, real, wise, entertaining, committed, outsider, humane, community-building, rich history … and a damn good artist!”
Penny had just finished a performance of her BITCH! DYKE! FAGHAG! WHORE! in San Francisco and was immediately taxied off to Berkeley by a couple of Frank’s students. This was also the second session of the night for Frank who had just completed an hour and a half interview with another guest shortly before Penny arrived. When Frank announced the show, he said that they would be “comparing notes from our lifetimes of cultural subversion!”
Penny Arcade’s transformative experimental performance work has been produced all over the world. Like Frank, her resume is rich good reading, and takes you on an amazing journey from leaving home at age 14 to “join the fabulously disenfranchised world of queers, junkies, whores, stars, deviants and geniuses”, through Andy Warhol’s Superstar Factory, into the European political theater of the 1970s, her art experiments and activism of the 1980s, prolific theatrical productions of the 1990s, and her growing international performance work since 2000. And like Frank, she (with Steve Zehentner) has produced a long-running public access TV show, planting seeds and exposing mainstream culture to the real art and history. This show, Stemming The Tide of Cultural Amnesia, The Lower Eastside Biography Project, actually featured the interview below, so it has been seen many times on both coasts.
This interview is “shop talk” between two legendary artists, and a primer for any artist just setting out on the road of art and the experimental life.
Linda: (in mid-sentence) … we play it as a repeat all night, so a new episode plays at like one in the morning, because we have like, almost 400 episodes.
Penny: Wow. That’s crazy, I love it!
Linda: We’ve been doing it like ten years.
Penny: Yeah, and we’ve been doing ours about ten years. So, it’s kind of interesting that we’re on the same (gestures) …
Linda: Yeah. Got into cable at the same time.
Frank: I just asked for a 2½ hour time slot.
Linda: Because they didn’t have that as an option, but he said, I’d like to do 2½ hours and they said OK. But I think in Berkeley they don’t have a lot of people that are doing shows. It’s not like very competitive.
Penny: In New York it’s really … everything’s a half hour. You know, maybe sometimes you could do an hour special, but I love it!
Frank: How do you fit life into a half hour?
Penny: Yeah, exactly! Total bullshit! But, one of the things that was the most fucking interesting thing was when I went to get that piece of pizza. And I had the books, right? So, I’m waiting for the pizza, and I started to read the NYU lecture [Frank’s Art Of A Shaman – Ed.]. And I’m a fast reader. I’m the highest comprehensive reader in my … when I was 12 years old in my age group in the state of Connecticut. So I’m reading and then my eyes fell on this whole … you and I have to talk, of course a lot about the commodification of art, right? And I was talking with the boyz (Corey and Alexi) about … I’m like totally an emerging arts fighter. I hate the whole concept of emerging arts, it drives me insane.
Frank: If art is not emerging, it is not art.
Penny: Yeah, but there’s a big difference between suddenly saying, after a thousand years, where there were young artists who became old artists and now they have this … the idea of emerging arts as a class of young people.
Penny: This comes not from the art world. This comes from academia, because parents who are paying 250 fucking thousand dollars to educate their kids to be a performance artist, or a spoken word artist, or an experimental filmmaker, the same amount of money that it costs to educate somebody to be a lawyer (Frank sounds) or a surgeon. The parents want to be assured that there is an entry-level position for their kids. And this is terrible for young people because young artists, there’s no two ways. Jack Smith said, you have to apprentice, it’s the only way to learn how to make art! And not that people shouldn’t also do their own thing, you know.
Frank: Or just do it for years.
Penny: Yeah, absolutely! But you have to be willing to be bad for twenty years in order to be good.
Penny: I was talking to the boyz and I was saying what they’ve been doing with this emerging arts thing is creating this professionalization of art. And art is not a profession. Art is a vocation. And I was reading in your …
Linda: Art Of A Shaman?
Penny: … Art Of A Shaman. And I was reading this part where you were talking about what they did with performance, into making it into a certain amount of time. Many, many people said about my show … I invite anybody, you know … and they say, I didn’t know it was going to be so long. (Linda laughing, Frank sounds) And that’s not one of my long shows. (Frank sounds, Linda laughing)
Frank: Exactly! They think that 45 minutes is a long show.
Frank: And I do 48-hour performances! (Frank sounds)
Penny: Yeah, yeah, of course. That’s because you’re a master. You’re a master. But it’s so … it’s very empowering for me, because I was very, very tired. I was very sick the whole week. From the first night you came to the Thursday night you came, I was sick that whole week with very bad bronchitis. And I had hepatitis C a few years ago and I went on the interferon treatment and then I got an auto-immune illness called sarcoidosis that settled in my lungs. So it made me weak in my lungs. So when I get bronchitis, which I seem to get now every time I get a cold, I had no energy. So all those shows I’m doing with no energy, which is very hard, you know. And so I was worried about the length. You know what I mean, myself. I was going, fuck, I don’t have the energy to … like, usually the opening of the show when I introduce the dancers, that’s like an assault. (Frank sounds)
Frank: Like a wrestling announcer!
Penny: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!! Like a wrestling announcer, exactly! It’s a very dynamic fighting, very aggressive, you know. And I didn’t have quite that much energy, so I was like pushing it uphill all the way. It was very hard for me. So that night when I went to get the pizza then you gave me the book, I was looking at it. And then I read that thing about what they’ve done with performance. I think you and I are in agreement about a lot of things. For instance, I always say that performance only happens in the performance, right? It doesn’t happen … you don’t rehearse performance art. You know what I mean, that’s kind of (laughing and gestures) …
Frank: Or the rehearsal is a performance!
Penny: Yes, absolutely! Perfect! No problem! So then when I was reading it and I fell on these lines where you were talking about how they’ve taken performance and tried to fit it into this kind of entertainment category, etc., and then if you don’t do that, then you’re sloppy or you’re bad or you’re unprofessional or whatever. And my eyes fell on that, and I’m like, oh my God, I was just getting seduced down this road. You know, getting twisted up and feeling bad about myself. And then the other thing was, and also, of course, the most exciting thing that I read at that moment was about how the show goes where the show’s going to go. The performance goes where the performance is going to go. (Frank sounds)
Frank: You don’t control it.
Penny: No, no, no! It has to go where it’s going to go! And the thing is all my work is created improvisationally. And this show is the result of pretty much two years of straight improvisation. And then eventually it becomes kind of a set piece because it was … my mind works a little like an old time word processor. I kind of scan, and then I cut and paste in my own head as I go along. I think this is something you understand.
Frank: Me too.
Penny: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I think, I was getting this. I was reading this shit and I was thinking maybe Frank Moore and I are the same person! (laughter)
Frank: Or mates.
Penny: Yes, yes, definitely, for sure. But we even possibly could be the same person! Why couldn’t there be a sharing of almost persona, or something that we don’t even know exactly what it is.
Frank: I could do your show.
Penny: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. I could do yours! I love it!
Linda: He did that. There’s a picture up there (gestures) of Frank dressed as Elvis Presley.
Penny: Oh yeah.
Linda: And he did that with an artist who was popular around here that called himself Extreme Elvis.
Penny: Oh yeah.
Linda: He was a big guy and he came out as the big Elvis. That was his outfit. And he’d end up naked real fast. Then he did the peeing and pooping on the audience stuff and just all this going out to the audience and trying to get them to be there with him. And they were mutually admiring each other. So he came up with the idea. He had this big date booked in a club in Oakland. He said, how about you be me? But we won’t tell anybody. He didn’t tell his band. He told one of his backup singers, that’s all. And he played Frank in the audience.
Linda: And so the backup singer wheels Frank in. And the place was packed. (Frank sounds) He’s this hot act. And the band, because they know he’s always pulling fast ones, they just kind of go along with it. Oh, OK! And Frank does the whole show as him.
Penny: You have video of that?
Linda: Oh yeah!
Penny: Wow, that sounds so fantastic!
Frank: Freaked the punks out.
Linda: Well, they started … do you mean when the band had to come to your rescue? No.
Mikee: Gilman Street.
Linda: Oh wow! So what we did was, there’s this little all-age punk club down the street, that’s been around forever. And they were having this video festival and they contacted us out of the blue. We’re not really involved with them. And said to Frank, could you submit something for us to play at this festival. So we had just done this show, and they needed like 15 minutes or something. So he said cut out the 15 minutes where the backup singer pees on me. So we play that. And they’re these hardcore baby punks. And they freaked out. Why did they freak out? Because they thought that Frank was not there of his own free will. That he was being forced to be peed on and all this kind of stuff. Which Frank was not! That was the controversy!
Penny: It never ends. The political correctness never ends. Yeah, it’s funny, because you’re reminding me of … a number of years ago, I guess it was around 1991, I got a call from Ron Delsener who is the big rock’n’roll promoter in New York City, from his office. And they said that this band … now what the hell was the band’s name … I can’t believe I’m not going to remember the name of the band … the band is like, they’re the superstars of industrial music … Pig Head? Pig something. And it was like a guy from the Ministry, guys from out here, from the Ministry or whatever it’s called … it was a super hardcore industrial band. It was all the stars of all the different bands. Like a five-star band, they’re the super band! And apparently they had requested me. So I go down there, and I’m talking to the guy on the phone from the office. And I said, you know, I don’t think so. I said, the audience for this is like 16- to 24-year old guys. I said, I work with like … you know at that time I was doing a lot of work on rape and sexual abuse and shit like this and I say, my work is about rape and sexual abuse. I said I have like six erotic dancer girls. And I went, and yeah! I think, yes, I should do this! (laughing) The guy’s like, huh?! Well, I go there and I start doing this piece. And there’s like, I don’t know, 400 hardcore boys on the floor and I’m starting this piece and it was some piece about sex. It was a sexual piece. And the girls are grinding and dancing. (Frank sounds) And the boys just kept looking at the ground, you know. And then pretty soon it starts to look like oatmeal, like they’re getting annoyed! They wouldn’t look up, and it was bubbling like this (gestures). A guy at this point comes running up to me and goes, (screaming) we don’t want to hear any more of your sex stories!!! I had the mic and I was like, oooohhh. Is it true what they say about hardcore boys? Is it true what they say about hardcore boys? And it became really, totally … it was like really intense. And I was just going. And I just didn’t stop. And I started talking about that there was a smell of new age order. Of the new world order was in the room. And I just kept going on and more and more. And they were like freaking out. (laughter) And I looked up and there was a guy who was the roadie for the band. And I yelled, I said, hey, how long do I have to perform to get paid? And the guy goes, 20 minutes. So I said, OK. I ended up on one of the amps in the front and I started talking to them, very quietly. And I said, well, Pig Face, that’s the name of the band, well, I said, it’s kind of a weird situation. I’ve got to perform for 20 minutes in order to get paid. I know you guys don’t want to see me. And you don’t want to hear anything that I’m doing. I said, even though Pig Face wants you to see me. That’s why I’m here. And I went on. I did this whole long, very quietly emotional thing. And then I looked up and I said, how much time do I have left? He goes, you just did 20 minutes. And I went, bye! (laughter) And we all walked off the stage. And then I went upstairs and the guy from Pig Face, the main singer, he’s this little English guy. He’s quite famous, blonde guy. And I said, hey, your audience are assholes. And he goes, yeah, I know. And he’s doing push-ups. I said, are you doing push-ups to be pumped when you go on stage? He’s doing push-ups and he goes, no! It makes the acid come on faster! And then I watched him, and they were like … their whole show was these young guys trying to get on stage and them beating them with their guitar and bass. It was like the mosh pit scene, you know. And then afterwards we were … I was upstairs and all these guys kept coming over and going wow, you’re way more hardcore than Pig Face! And you’re more hardcore than anybody!
Recorded March 8, 2009, Berkeley, California. This is an episode of my live internet streaming video show, THE SHAMAN’S DEN, on my internet station, www.luver.com. On this Penny Arcade and I talked deeply about how to cause trouble in the underground as misfit performance artists as a lifetime calling and have fun doing it!
The life and art of shaman, performance artist, writer, poet, painter, rock singer, director, TV show host, teacher & bon vivant FRANK MOORE
a web video series
Originally we had planned to do a documentary about Frank’s life and work because we have so much footage and so many photographs. But we did not want to do a “normal” talking head style documentary. We realized that Frank had already written a biography of sorts in his book, Art of a Shaman, so decided to try to use that as the “script” for the video. We decided to see if we could get people who were important to Frank and had played a part in his life to each read a chapter of the book. After drafting the email and sending it out we were blown away at the immediate response and the project took off. We assigned chapters to readers using the random principle … as Frank loved to do … pulling a piece of paper with a chapter number written on it from a bag as we read a person’s name.
Once we had all of the recordings of the readings and added up the time, the documentary was going to be at least 3 hours long … and it was going to take a really long time to put together. We then had a eureka on a walk one day …. we could put each chapter out on the web as we create them … as episodes!
Several musicians have created “background music” for each episode.
Way back at the beginning, when we first had the thought of even doing a documentary about Frank, we asked Vinnie Spit Santino if he would write a song for it, without any idea how we would use it … or what we were even doing with the documentary. Vinnie wrote the amazing “Let Me Be Frank” that will be the opening song for each episode … and the title of the series!
David Johnson was one of the San Quentin Six, a group of inmates at San Quentin prison accused of an escape attempt in 1971 that led to a riot on the cell block. Their 16-month trial was called “The Longest Trial” by Time magazine. David was convicted on one count of assault.
Elder Freeman, whose real name is Ronald Freeman, was a Catholic priest in the African Orthodox Church. He was also one of the founding members of the L.A. Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. He was in the leadership of the Southern California chapter of the party, and one of the leaders in the underground part of the Black Panther Party, which came to be known as the Black Liberation Party.
Frank first learned of David and Elder through a political prisoners conference that he had sent his crew to videotape to broadcast on LUVeR.
David: Yeah, yeah, we don’t have a lot of funds. We’re all poor. (laughter, Frank sounds) We used to have a saying, back in the day: “Revolution is hazardous to your health and you don’t get paid.”
Frank: They got the money, we got the people.
David: The people. That’s true. But we need more hearts and minds.
Frank: How do we get them?
David: Gotta start here. Starts with education. People have to understand there’s another side to the story.
Frank: To what?
Linda: Another side to the story to what?
David: The story that they put out there.
Elder: You know, to get people to get involved and change, sometimes what causes it is the conditions, so that means that the system is setting it up for itself, for its own destruction, by what they’re doing. By them opposing what’s right. For them not treating people humane and not being … well … have no regards for the land, the water, the air … human beings’ medical care, feeding people. When they know they got the technology to resolve a lot of the problems that’s going on in the world, and they take and they use this and they capitalize on it and they only use certain resources, as long as it’s beneficial to a certain segment of people, the people that’s in power. So, it’s like, even when you’re studying Marx and all the different struggles, and even before Marx, when people’s conditions, the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the conditions got to where the people felt it was beyond … the burden was too great for them to bear anymore, they rebelled against it. And that’s what’s happening like now. Even with the thing in Quebec. It’s like, we’ve got to have safeguards on the world as far as … for life to even go on! With the things that they’re planning, they planning for everything to come to an end. So somebody got to say something! And it’s a cause for the young people, the young people! We was young once. (Frank sounds)
David: The burden is on them.
Elder: They have to get involved, they have to take the front, and we have to support them in everything that they do that’s right. If they’re doing the right thing, if it calls for civil disobedience then you got every right to rebel against that and be disobedient to that law or rule.
David: It’s in the constitution! If you want to go by that!
Elder: Right. You got societies where people … what was good a long time ago, they find out that they have to change it because it didn’t fit, it was old, like spitting on the sidewalk when the sidewalks were made out of wood. You had to change the law. So when times change, things have to change. So situations and dealing with like the drug problem that they got in the United States, the way they’re dealing with it, they can’t … they don’t want to for some reason recognize that they is wrong. That approach they took was incorrect and they have to re-change and revitalize it.
Frank: They are making money, so they don’t want the change.
David: It’s true. You know, you used to say one of the things of paramount importance, particularly as a revolutionary, is to safeguard the environment. Because if we don’t safeguard the environment … you see, the environment can exist without us, but we can’t exist without the environment. (Frank sounds) And if we don’t defend the environment as revolutionaries, then there’s going to be no political landscape for us to wage political battles that we have to wage in order to honor human rights, human dignity. I got a thing about laws. And, I was taught this: all laws are not moral laws or just. At one time it was legal to have slaves. That’s morally wrong. No human being has a right to subjugate another human being. And that’s part of what we struggle about today. We don’t have the right to determine our own destiny. We don’t have the right to determine what happens to our community. And every community should have that right. And that’s what we struggle for. The right to determine our own destinies.
Frank: In fact, they are taking our rights away fast.
David: That’s true. That’s true. And people have to understand that. Because a lot of our rights are being legislated away.
Elder: With the prison system, the way … the whole operation, what they’re doing to them with the prisons … how they are building more prisons, they then turn it into … it’s big business. Instead of putting money in the communities where the majority of the prisoners are coming from, and setting up programs in those communities. The Department of Corrections, when you first come in there, when they give you orientation, the first thing they tell you is that we do not rehabilitate. So their whole thing about being rehabilitated, they say, find you a program and don’t cause us much … as little trouble as you can, the less time you do. Other than that, they’re just warehousing, that’s all they do. Rehabilitation is a myth!
David: And that follows what comrade George Jackson said, about prisons being the chief repressive institutions in this society. Rather than address issues, this society would rather build more prisons. Prisons serve to repress revolution, particularly in this society.
Frank: They take would-be revolutionaries out of society.
David: That’s true, that’s true. And that’s one of the battles that we’re engaged in because the prison system in this country … there are people in there who become conscious of why they got in prison. And like one of my mentors, comrade George Jackson said, that now that we’re in these institutions, one of the things that is of chief importance is transforming the criminal mentality to a revolutionary mentality. So, that when we leave these institutions, we can go back into our communities and be an asset rather than a predator. And that’s dangerous (Frank sounds) in terms of how the system looks at it. Because the more chaos and confusion that they can create, the more confused the people will be. And I look at myself as being a revolutionary. And I’ve faced death. Because, like I say, George says, once you say you commit yourself to revolution you become a criminal. Because in this society being a revolutionary is criminal. (Frank sounds) So that’s why they said, we don’t have any political prisoners in this society, because it’s criminal. And that’s accepted throughout the world. This is one of the countries that has an abundance of political prisoners, but by the standards that they have set, they can go to the United Nations and say, we have no political prisoners. Because a revolutionary in their eyes is considered a criminal. As opposed to a humanitarian, someone who’s interested in the well-being of all people in this society.
Frank: And it is not just the prison but the institutions for crips and the schools, etc.
Linda: Well, like with the institutions for crips, Frank has said, a lot of the people in institutions for crips are a lot less disabled than Frank is. (Frank sounds) And yet … like, Frank made a movie about a guy, who he plays, that gets the girl, and when he showed it at the Cerebral Palsy Center, these are kind of like inmates. These are adults that aren’t allowed to go out on dates. Everybody stood up and started cheering! (Frank sounds) And they had a little revolution on their hand. They were saying, they won’t let me date, I don’t care if I get hurt! They say, oh you’re going to get hurt. I don’t care! (Frank sounds) And the teacher got real excited and said, Frank we want you back. And then we get a phone call saying it’s been canceled. The head of the center said they don’t want Frank back, they don’t want him showing any of his movies. You know, they have this whole set-up. Nobody wants to lose their job and get all these people out having a life!
David: Right, right. See ’cause he’s interested in changing the human condition. And they want to keep the human condition … I mean, most of these institutions drug them. Even in prisons! Rather than deal with people’s feelings. They’d rather give them drugs and numb them. They don’t want you to feel. We live in a drug culture. You turn on the TV, pain is an indicator that there’s something wrong. They don’t want you to experience pain. They want us to mask pain, they want us to cover it up.
Frank: Pain is fuel.
David: For change!
Frank: Yes. (Frank sounds) (laughter)
David: But, see, they don’t want us to deal with that. Like I said, we live in a … every pain that you have, if you turn on the television, you can find an ad where they’re going to tell you, you got a pain here, take this pill. You can’t sleep, take this pill! Rather than really what is the source or the cause? Let’s eliminate that. And if you don’t feel your pain, you can’t alleviate the pain.
Frank: Change the society that …
Frank: … caused the pain.
David: We’re working on it! We’re working on it. (laughter)
“Kerbavaz is a rare guy! He knows practically everything, enjoys life/people, and is available!” – Frank Moore
Frank first met Dr. Rich Kerbavaz when Frank was a patient at Rockridge Medical Group in the early 1980s. Twenty-five years later, they had become dear friends, Frank was running for president of the U.S., and Rich came over to discuss Frank’s health care plan and to compare it with the plans of the “major” candidates.
Two years later, Frank went into the hospital for a routine operation, and instead spent six weeks in intensive care, and almost died. Rich Kerbavaz was there following Frank’s care, and was his unfailing advocate. Frank said, after surviving this hospital experience, that if he did not have Rich, who was “willing to go against the prevailing expectations, it would have been much harder for me to beat the curse of their expectations, judgments, projections.” This gives you an idea of who Rich Kerbavaz is.
With 30 years as a highly respected ENT doctor and surgeon, Rich knew the medical and medical insurance systems. In this interview Rich and Frank work together to develop an alternate, more humane model for health care in this country.
(Frank’s complete presidential platform can be found here)
Richard: Ah, the bigger cross-sections kind of things.
Linda: Gathering together like that.
Richard: Yeah. I guess there is a certain amount of just resistance to having any kind of a gathering at this point.
Linda: Yes, it seems so.
Frank: Other than corporate-sponsored events.
Richard: Yeah. And that’s OK. But if it doesn’t have that kind of sponsorship and a narrow goal that they can justify somehow, they don’t want it to happen. I think the fear is loss of control. And it’s just sort of the issue of controlling a lot of actions and behaviors.
Frank: I think that they is a big part of why we don’t have universal free health care.
Richard: Ah, what a segue! (laughing) Good point, good point.
Frank: The rich don’t want to be in the same system as the rest.
Linda: As the unrich.
Richard: And there’s just a lot of obstacles or things that keep getting thrown up that are just not really true, but are the way people believe or the way people react to things. It’s really interesting in all the big surveys, if you just ask Democrats the question about some sort of health plan or national health plan, it’s overwhelmingly popular. And if you ask Republicans the same questions, it’s overwhelmingly negative. And if you phrase the exact same question the same way to two different groups it just is totally polarized. It’s very interesting. At almost every level asking it, whether they’re in favor of a plan or opposed to the plan or whether they think it would be good for them or good for the country … there’s all these different … the same kind of a survey’s been done a half a dozen times and each time they ask slightly different questions, and it still comes out a big divide right along party lines! And those who are not declared in either major party, it sort of splits 50/50. So it’s interesting.
Frank: Why is that?
Richard: I think that it’s just how people frame the internal discussion or the internal dialogue. They’re using their political filters to look at a bigger issue. And so it’s a threat in some way to the Republican party or to the Republican … the people who support the Republican party. And so people who are either a little bit more liberal or more of a Democrat, more of a social Democrat or aren’t really involved with any organized party, tend to be in favor of the universal health plan. And that’s across the board, however you ask the question.
Frank: Like if the rich were in Medi-Cal, Medi-Cal would get better fast.
Richard: Yeah, it would. (laughing) It would make a big difference. Actually, the ones that you want to get in Medi-Cal are the politicians. (laughing)
Frank: Because they would not stand for it.
Richard: No, they wouldn’t stand for those kinds of things. And clearly they would not be eager to keep doing all the cuts that they seem to keep doing now to the Medi-Cal program. Just every year, anytime there’s any kind of a budget crunch, the first thing that goes is health care! The easy thing … actually there was another survey not too long ago that, in California, people were more in favor of cutting health care than cutting K through 12 education. I’m not sure exactly how they asked the question, but there was more support in the budget crunch time of cutting health care than cutting educational expenses. Tough choice, but nobody was really eager to raise taxes.
Frank: (making sounds) It is not really a choice. We need both.
Richard: Yeah, right, right. And then the trick is coming up with some sort of a funding mechanism that’s a little more fair across the board. Which is one of the things that’s nice about some of the tax proposals that you put out there, is that it eliminates a lot of the very strange, skewed tax codes that we have now and tries to make it a little more fair to everybody.
Frank: And the 7 …
Linda: The 75% tax over $1 million per individual and $5 million per corporation …
Frank: Would take the greed out of the picture.
Richard: Right, right. And that would be a very good thing to do as well. ’Cause clearly we’ve got an awful lot of issues at the very top. That most of the people who make that kind of money aren’t paying taxes, at all! They manage to find shelters for everything. So where’s the justice in that, where the bulk of the tax burden is being carried by the middle class.
Frank: But I get: that is discrimination.
Linda: That’s what you get? Yeah, that’s what people criticize: that he’s discriminating with that.
Richard: Discriminating against the wealthy?!
Richard: (laughter) Interesting concept.
Linda: And I’m sure it’s not rich people saying that, either.
Richard: That’s an interesting concept. That there are … I guess there are enough people that aren’t in that tax bracket or in that income bracket who want to be, but they view it as a threat to their dreams or their aspirations, somehow.
Frank: But they don’t see box seats as discrimination.
Richard: That’s an interesting point. (laughter) Well, you see, box seats are to give them something, and taxes takes something away.
Frank: And the rich need some perks (laughter) to be rich.
Richard: (laughing) That’s true! Otherwise you stop being rich! It’s terrible! It ruins the whole point! So maybe what you should do is just allow that for everybody who’s in that tax bracket, that they get a box seat some place. (laughter)
This show, that was put together by John the Baker, took place the day after Frank’s birthday in 2004. Kirsten arranged to have a large blow-up of the show’s poster made to hang on the wall backstage for people to write birthday wishes on. Below is the poster we took home after the event:
Here are the details of the show along with some photos and backstage footage!
The Night of Taboo-Benders a benefit for www . luver . com A night of cultural terrorism and subversion with legendary hard/deep core reality messers deep in the bowels of the underground where luver.com webcasts 24/7! It was an historic show! The Slaughterhouse, Saturday, June 26, 2004
Featuring (in order of appearance) Hep Si New Earth Creeps Fluff Grrl The Feederz Frank Moore’s Cherotic All-Star Band
I originally wrote the play to have something to do with a guy, who would direct it.
I wrote it as a prose poem. As a poem, it has been published in many magazines and books in both the U.S. and England. One of the most amazing stories around the poem version of OUT OF ISOLATION is…
A 40 year old woman somewhere in the Midwest read it in a zine and started thinking about her baby sister who she had loved. The doctors told the parents the baby sister would be a vegetable without an IQ…and they should put her in an institution, put her out of their minds/hearts, and went on with their lives. Unlike my parents, they followed the doctors’ advice. But after reading OUT OF ISOLATION, the woman hired a detective to find her sister, without telling her parents (because the guilt would be too much…and pointless). It turned out the sister only had a slight case of cp, was adopted and has a successful life. The sisters re established their relationship.
If this was the only effect of my work, my work and life would be successful.
Anyway, when we were ready to cast the play, the director just chose an actress from the very first audition because he didn’t think we could get what we needed, so he settled…even though I told him when I direct I usually spend months finding the willing person for a part. But he was the director. The actress made it very clear from the start she wouldn’t do nudity. So the director threw out the nudity, not realizing that the nudity was not the real problem. The woman had a hard time even touching me! But the kicker was the actress saw the play as the nurse getting JIM out of the institution and into “the real world”. She kept making Jim look out a window to motivate him. I finally suggested to the director that he should tell her there ain’t no window. She totally freaked out and wrote us a Dear John letter. At that point he gave up on the project.
It took me a year after that to cast it. Linda Sibio had been in several of my ritual performances in Los Angeles….and she is a great performance artist in her own right. When I couldn’t find anybody in the San Francisco Bay Area, I asked her. She is very picky about what she enters into, but once she commits, she will do anything. We went down to L.A. for a week to shoot it. I had planned the first day to rehearse the whole piece…but when we were on the mat…without my board or Linda Mac…Linda Sibio just took off her clothes and eroplayed with me for two hours…and of course I’m flexible! Afterwards she said it was what she needed to get into the space/role. So we just shot the piece straight through each day for four days. I just spent a half hour before each day’s shooting going over with her the needed changes. The rest was improv.
Ok, here it goes…fast forward through the 35 years since Debbie and I left the community. A bus ride to D.C. to her family…the Jewish mother-in-law from hell [years later she sicked a hit man on me!]. I quickly called my friend Moe…whose head shop was in that book I was writing and which is lying unfinished in a trunk….but I did turn the material I was “channeling” into a book art of living. [The metaphysical writing is in the same trunk.] Moe rescued us and put us on a plane to San Francisco. The first person we ran into as we stepped off the airport shuttle was another of my college friends who put us up for the night. The plan was for Debbie to go to the S.F. Art Institute [where I would go years later]…but she couldn’t get in. After a week getting kicked out of rooms [crips weren’t in fashion yet], we boarded a bus to Santa Fe before we ran out of money. Santa Fe is where I lived before I went to the community. We got into Santa Fe at 4am without any phone numbers of my friends. But a friend drove by and saw me…and woke my dear friend Louise up. She picked us up. We stayed with her for a while. But to get Vocational Rehab money, I had to get back into college. So we moved to Albuquerque, staying with my friend Steve in the mountains until we found a room in town. My channeling made a spiritual community interested in me…until my muckraking nature raked up muck! I got my B.A. much too soon in terms of our money. We met Jo who we became intimate with. We three moved back to Santa Fe, where I got into an intensive film course. We met Ray. We four got married. After the film course, not having money to make films, I did nonfilm performances. I also started a drop-in workshop combining theater, ritual, intimacy, eroticism, etc. A community began to develop out of this. I began doing all-night audience-interactive ritual performances. We moved, with some of the workshop people, to N.Y.C. to continue the work in a loft off of 5th Ave. Both Debbie and Jo were pregnant. Louise flew out to deliver the boys at home after the hospital wouldn’t let me even on the ward [again before crips were in fashion!]. The boys came three days apart. We raised them tribally…the sanest way! They are in their 30s now…one is becoming an acupuncturist; the other is a musician and an instrument maker. After they were born…and after I did 2 nights of ritual performance in a ballroom…the tribal we moved to Berkeley…after a short attempt in San Bernardino. There I got a motor wheelchair. Imagine me mobile, driving myself all over the bay area, driving into all kinds of adventures. I even drove into a travel agency and met a sexy travel agent Linda who quickly quit to be my partner in crime for the last 35+ years!
A guy who saw a flyer for my workshop came to check me out. He didn’t want to do the workshop. But he did want to come to me for weekly individual sessions where I kicked his ass about his relationships and his life…and he paid well! He turned out to be a psychic teacher. All of his students and clients wanted to see me! For a couple of years I worked 8 hours a day and had two weekly workshops going. Although I always charged just what the person could afford, money was good, especially when they started moving in with one another and came as households! I even got a masters degree just by documenting this work. But problem solving was boring. I wanted a community of deep intimacy. So I demanded more. A community of 30 in several households emerged. Sound familiar? Also quite a few successful businesses came out of this sexy coming together…not to mention a few millionaires [never me!]. We won a legal battle with the I.R.S. over getting church status. They were saying we didn’t believe in a God. We had to go to D.C. with my channeled and metaphysical writings and the A.C.L.U.! But Inter-Relations was born, which has made doing the work much easier.
I started putting on events like free concerts and sexy parades, and directing plays at our storefront. I also started doing 48-hour improvised performances. Everything was small and underground. But then I directed what was supposed to be a one-night-only wacky tacky sexy take-off on beauty contests, the outrageous beauty revue, at the S.F. punk club the Mabuhay. The room held 500. It was packed. The first two rows were photographers and reporters [we were on the third page of the next day’s S.F. paper]. Scary! The club’s producer made me announce that it’ll be a weekly show. So it became the ever-evolving early show every Saturday night [and often Thursday too] for three and a half years. So we opened for EVERY punk/hardcore/whatever band! And we got international coverage of all kinds…magazines, t.v., films, etc. I had to work hard to not let it get big or lose its edge…to keep it underground where you have the most effect and freedom…just popping up everywhere to interject bits of subversive alternatives. At the beginning, I was not in the show. But I started worming myself in. I added a live band, the superheroes…of course I was one of the lead singers! The band started getting gigs at other clubs. And we opened our own club, the blind lemon, in Berkeley. But by the second year of the show, the community began to decay. It took years for that painful process to play out.
In the meantime, I started making small films [after walking out of a “real” film deal!] and mainly put them in the closet…waiting for the internet and public access t.v. to give them outlets! The first film, Fairytales Can Come True, even was distributed. In the meantime I went to the S.F. Art Institute graduate program for “performance/video”. I/the work freaked them out bad! But Linda and I stuck it out for two years…which landed me a cover story in the major performance art magazine… which made me the darling of “THE ART WORLD” for at the most two years, until they figured out I wasn’t a nice safe thankful crip artist, but an artist who pushed limits. But during these two years, before the art world blacklisted me, Linda and I started touring the U.S. and Canada, doing both the long ritual performances and singing gigs. I also started being invited to lecture at colleges. I was one of the featured performance artists in the film Mondo New York. I also kept making videos [directing, acting, editing, even creating musical scores and Linda doing the camera work]. I began a performance series at the University of California. This series, which lasted for three years, gave me a lab where I could improvise/jam with other artists/musicians. When I got on the art world’s blacklist, I moved into poetry readings and other underground worlds. But then Sen. Jesse Helms got me back into the art world’s graces, kind of, by including me on his list of six targeted performance artists whom he considered obscene. That opened more possibilities for touring. I rode that pony for all that it was worth!
My writings, as well as articles about my work by other writers, began to be published in a wide range of magazines and books. In the early 90’s, I began to offer shamanistic apprenticeships. My book, Cherotic Magic, came out of this. By this time, the community had shrunk to our household of five and the two boys. And even in our house, the original vision, principles, etc. had faded. Linda and I finally moved out…in with two of my apprentices, Mikee and Alexi. Debbie and the two others of the old household went into walking around town nude as The X-plicit Players.
I continued performing, directing, touring, etc. But we also started publishing an underground zine, The Cherotic [r]Evolutionary which became very popular…which ain’t saying it was a profit-making thing! The Work has always been a holy addiction that we pour money, etc. into to create community and to effect social change. We jumped into the web full force when it was born. FreespeechTV.org gave me free unlimited space to put up videos and audio content …that lasted for years! We put up the works of other artists as well as our own work. Our site, eroplay.com expanded and expanded. Over 7 years ago I started doing a radio show the Shaman’s Den, on a web station. But my muckraking their ambitions to make it big didn’t sit well. They suggested not politely that I start my own web station. So we did within a week. luver.com started with a live music show web casting from Japan, followed by my 2-hour show on Sunday nights. But LUVeR quickly evolved into a radical 24/7 station with all kinds of music, news, whatever shows. It became a black hole for our time and money, forcing us to stop publishing our zine. In about a year LUVeR started webcasting video as well. My show started to be a video show of me either talking to a very interesting person or of bands from all over the world playing live at our house. Then I started doing shows on Berkeley’s cable public access station. I use the shaman’s den shows as the base of these cable shows, but throw in videos of my live performances, films, concerts, erotic explorings, poetry readings, whatever. For a year the City Council tried unsuccessfully to get me off the air. But now I’m on the channel every night of the week, up to 6 hours a night!
Now we have two houses on the same street. I live in the “Purple House” with Linda [we have been together for over 35 years!], Mikee [who has been with us for over 15 years,] Erika [who has been working with me for 5 years and moved in over a year ago], and three cats. And in the “Blue House” Alexi lives with Corey and Cookie the Cat. The two houses are on the same block. We designed the Blue House, and Alexi and Corey basically built it. Alexi learned construction by working for a company that grew out the community of 30. We have set him up with a successful handyman business. Corey works at the natural food store around the corner. Through it we have started an international food testing project for GMOs. Erika has become the director of enrichment at a large retirement community, injecting our sexy subversion in there. Linda, Mikee and I work at home keeping everything going. Mikee does the tech and graphic stuff [which, btw, he is available for hire cheap!]. Linda does all the practical stuff that makes everything possible. And me?…a cult leader always with big ideas! We are a good team, a tribal body.
Hey, I just found out that we are putting on a LUVeR benefit at the illegal infamous historical hardcore dive burnt ramen with my jamming erotic band the cherotic all-stars in May. Not bad for a crip turning 60 in June! True, we have pretty much stopped flying to places touring. But there is no sign of slowing down!