Frank Moore was a man of breathtaking accomplishment, a true counter-culture hero, poet, artist, philosopher, rock star, talk show host, comedian, U.S. Presidential candidate and filmmaker, as well as a devoted “family man,” if you accept his definition of family (which I do). Yet the first thing many people noticed when they saw Frank was his physical “condition.” That is, in addition to being all of the above and so much more, Frank was quadriplegic.
Born with severe cerebral palsy that rendered him unable to walk, talk or control the movement of his limbs, Frank conquered what some might call his extreme “disabilities” to become one of the world’s foremost performance artists, deep thinkers, political leaders and inspirational teachers. The Steven Hawking of Erotic Theater, Frank coined the term “chero,” combining “chi” and “eros” to express the physical energy of life. He also created the word “eroplay” to describe the physical interaction between adults released from the linear goals of typical sexual intercourse, often in the context of long, 5-48 hour ritualistic performances. These performances were transformative experiences (full disclosure—I was privileged to participate when he and his wonderful family were guests on my show) that melted the barriers between participants, performers and audience.
As such, Frank Moore was the ultimate wounded healer, a differently-shaped medicine man, a spastic magician, a wild shaman and a trickster lover that inspired so many people, from performance artist Annie Sprinkle to Berkeley councilman Kriss Worthington. Of course, some folks feared his tremendous power, especially certain old-guard Republicans. In the early 90s, he rose to national fame as one of the NEA-funded artists targeted by then U.S. Congressman Jesse Helms for doing art that was labeled “obscene.”
Whether orchestrating an outercourse orgy or running for President (where—more disclosure—I was his running mate), Frank always said he had the perfect body for doing performance art. It was true; you couldn’t take your eyes off him. And then there was that wild mind of his—steeped in the ethos of the swinging 70s and the living theater of Antonin Artaud, Jerzy Grotowski and Richard Schechner. He was also a painter who painted with a brush attached to his head before he started digital painting on the computer. But what moved me most about Frank was his poetry.
Which brings me to this brilliant, bonoboësque, galvanizing, poetry-packed book of his, “Frankly Speaking: A Collection of Essays, Writings and Rants.” What a masterpiece of freedom of speech! Even more disclosure: I quote him heavily in my own book “The Bonobo Way.”
Since Frank passed away a couple years ago, I’ve missed him terribly. But reading “Frankly Speaking,” it’s like he’s right here with me, hollering with infectious glee as his life-partner Linda (who helped organize this magnificent collection) patiently translates his astounding, inspirational wisdom, a gateway to truth and deep joy.
In 2007 Frank was contacted by journalist Ravi Somaiya who wanted to do an interview for The Independent about Frank’s presidential campaign. He also contacted and interviewed Frank’s running mate, Dr. Susan Block. We never saw the article in The Independent, but we found it in The Age (theage.com.au) in Australia. Below is the excerpt from the article about Frank’s campaign.
Ravi Somaiya, The Age (Australia, theage.com.au), December 9, 2007
Forget Hillary and Barack. The real characters vying for the Oval Office in next year’s US presidential election are the wackos, the zealots, the eternally optimistic and the latest round of former Hollywood stars.
FRANK MOORE Independent
Most shrewd political advisers would counsel against appearing naked except for your shoes and socks and having a girl grind up and down on you. But performance artist and quadriplegic Frank Moore isn’t following the usual advice.
He’s known as the “Stephen Hawking of performance art” and communicates, like the esteemed Lucasian professor of mathematics, with a pointing board. His vice-presidential candidate is Dr Susan Block, an internet and telephone sex therapist who also hosts an explicit cable and internet TV show.
“Define ‘win’,” he says through his interpreter when I ask about his chances. “I have already won. You are talking to me. It’s not just a publicity exercise, but (an effort) to get the issue talked about in a real way.”
His policies include abolishing welfare and social security in favour of a $1000-a-month payment for every adult; free education and healthcare for all; a flat-rate tax of 10% for earnings up to $1 million, with a 75% rate on earnings above that; and halving the military budget.
“I suppose at first it’s kind of funny,” says Block. “Here’s this quadriplegic artist and a pretty outspoken sex therapist who likes to dress up in lingerie. But I think when people read our platform they’ll find there’s a lot of sense in it. Right now, some politicians are sexually repressed and channeling their sexual energies into big phallic bombs and war and destruction.” Make love not war, indeed.
Well, are not all political campaigns performances? That doesn’t mean they are not serious. My performances often start with something seemingly trivial then grow by themselves very quickly into forces unto themselves. The campaign started with a t-shirt of The Three Stooges. Michael [“Mikee”] LaBash, who is one of six people I live with in a tribal relationship and who is our graphic/web designer, had a CURLY FOR PRESIDENT t-shirt. For Christmas 2006 Mikee made me a FRANK MOORE FOR PRESIDENT shirt. When I wore it, people started asking me what my platform was. So I wrote a platform up. Everybody who read it got excited, overflowed with hope, saying it expressed what they felt and wanted. They didn’t see a performance artist in a wheelchair. They didn’t check the odds of my winning. Instead they saw someone who they could excitedly vote for… somebody who shared their dreams, who talked deeply about what really affects their lives. Their reactions placed on me a responsibility to mount a serious campaign, to commit and surrender to it…and to hang on no matter where this ride would go. I never know where a performance or a project will evolve.
In one of my speeches from the campaign I said that I started running basically because none of the prominent candidates were talking honestly and directly about the state of things, were committed to fundamental change, and had a clear plan to create a humane, sustainable, and just plain enjoyable society. So I took on that role. My running for President created an excitement for how possible it is to bring our dreams for our society into reality… to remove fear and isolation; to get the boot of big corporations off our neck; to provide everyone health care, life-long education, a minimum income, and a livable wage; to restore our rights and freedoms; and to bring our troops home! We everyday people know the real state of the union! But more importantly, we have the sense of what is possible! We need leaders who share our dreams and who do not sell us short. Or sell us out!
This excitement extended overseas, and we received much more coverage of the campaign in Europe than we did locally, although there were a handful of great interviews and articles about the campaign here in the U.S.. In Europe, there were great articles written about the campaign in France, Germany, Poland and the UK, and an appearance on Swedish TV!
We did many local events and attended many different local festivals during the over two years that I ran for President, and they were some of the most effective pieces I have ever done … Here is what I wrote about the campaign coming to the “How Berkeley Can You Be” Parade in September of 2007:
“The whole day blew me out. Linda and Mikee took turns pushing my chair close to the lines of people along the parade route so I could shake hands, look into people’s eyes, hear their responses, interact one on one…all of which would have been impossible if I sat on a truck. I was moved when people thanked me for running, when whole sections started clapping and chanting “GO, FRANK, GO!” Erika, Corey, Alexi, and sometimes Linda or Mikee gave out over 1,200 copies of the platform. And people didn’t throw it away as is common, but started reading it, shouting out planks they were moved by. I can see that “pressing the flesh” can be addicting! And a lot of people are devoted viewers of the public access shows of Suzy and mine. “I WATCH YOU EVERY NIGHT!” “WE TIVO YOU!” “I LEARN FROM WATCHING YOUR SHOWS!”
Camping out in our beautiful booth, which we put up for most of these events and festivals, was only slightly less intense. We were a visual magnet, decked out with banners, t-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, peace flags and platforms. And people got the tribal body that the 6 of us are together!
Here is a selection of 10 of my “planks”:
— We will have universal prenatal-to-the-grave health care and universal free education with equal access.
— Every American will receive a minimum income of $1,000 a month. This amount will be tied to the cost of living and will not be taxable.
— Public mass transit will be free, 24/7, and reliable.
— I will encourage a society of small villages connected by mass transit. Within these small villages, people could walk or bike to work, to school, to shopping, to entertainment, etc. Mass transit will combine these small villages within 15 miles radius into dynamic communities. Living in these villages will end gridlock traffic, will cut greenhouse gasses, will cut stress and isolation. Housing for all incomes will be included equally in each village.
— I’ll do away with all tax deductions for over $12,000 income. Instead, there will be a flat tax of 10% on annual income of less than one million dollars for an individual and less than five million dollars for a corporation. But the flat tax will jump to 75% on annual income exceeding these limits.
— I’ll cut the military budget by at least half.
— I will bring the troops home from Iraq immediately. Moreover, I will change this country’s self-image from that of THE SUPER POWER/ WORLD LEADER to that of a member of the global community.
— The use of drugs should be legalized and taxed. Pot and spirits should be sold over the counter to adults only. Tobacco and other addictive drugs should be sold by prescription only. Free drug rehab programs should be readily available.
— Prisons should be only for violent or otherwise dangerous criminals. Prisons should be a part of the health and educational system and should include drug rehab programs. This should also be true for the new creative in-community programs for non-violent criminals for paying-back, rehab, and education sentencing. These programs will be more effective and much less expensive and harmful to the community on every level than the current human warehouse system. Flexibility of sentencing should to be returned to judges. I will ban the death penalty.
— Every corporation should come up for a renewal every 25 years, at which time it must prove that it has been operating in the public interest. If it fails to do this, it loses its right to exist. Corporations that have existed before this policy will have 10 years before they will have to prove they are worthy.
By the “official” count, I received a handful of votes, spread across a number of states, Maryland, Illinois, Kansas, Georgia, Utah, West Virginia, and of course California. But the “official” count for write-in candidates is always just a small part of the picture, because so many of the states that actually accept write-in candidates for President will never actually count or record the votes unless the number of votes becomes large enough to contend with the “major” candidates. For instance, we know directly that I received votes in New York, but there were 0 votes counted for me in NY.
The campaign also had a direct effect on the electoral process for write-in Presidential candidates in a number of states. We not only forced several states’ elections divisions to learn their own system, we also challenged and/or changed procedures and requirements in other states both before and after the election. In states like Vermont, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Nebraska and others, the campaign had the effect of familiarizing elections officers with their own procedures, which they did not know before the campaign contacted them! We did all this with a lot of help from elections expert Richard Winger, who was an early fan of my campaign.
In Arkansas, the campaign challenged the Elections Department’s stand that “Write-in candidates are not allowed in presidential, municipal, or primary elections.”
In Pennsylvania, the campaign got an elections official to admit that Pennsylvania’s system for write-in Presidential candidates is “archaic and not good”.
In Wyoming, the Secretary of State’s Elections office actually did not know what the procedure was for a write-in candidate for President in Wyoming. The representative there asked, “What does this say about our country, and this democracy” that she didn’t know how this can work in Wyoming, and that they were not set up for a candidate outside of the political machines … She said that she should be the person to know, if anyone knew. She said, “But I am going to find out! And I’m going to call you!” In the end, the elections office in Wyoming refined their system through this correspondence.
In Utah, we got the office of the Lieutenant Governor to correct their own Elections office, which was giving out false information about the process of becoming a write-in candidate for President. It turned out to be much cheaper and simpler than they were telling us!
In Minnesota, we challenged their rejection of my candidacy because my Vice-Presidential running mate, Dr. Susan Block, and I were both from California. This was wrong! And we won, I was accepted!
Hi. I am Frank Moore, the producer/host of the targeted UNLIMITED POSSIBILITIES and the sponsor of the targeted SUSAN BLOCK SHOW. It is interesting that this proposed ordinance is designed to target shows by an uppity crip and a smart sexy woman…or is it a smart sexy crip and an uppity woman? My show is politically, culturally, and artistically radical, offering in-depth conversations about issues that affect us all with a wide range of people, live music, and cutting-edge performances, films, and art. We throw everything in this stew for social change, explore everything, including eroticism, to find alternatives. This is what got me targeted by Sen. Jesse Helms in the early ’90s. And this is why our shows are being targeted now. A few people, including some on the City Council, want to sweep these alternatives from public access because they are threatened by these alternatives.
Councilmember Betty Olds, who introduced this ordinance, has publicly proclaimed that if she had her way, she would ban these alternatives from our public access channel. She bemoaned the fact that it is illegal to censor or ban community shows on public access channels. This ordinance is an attempt to get around this legal fact. Olds actually has said she would take away B-TV, the channel of the community, if that was the only way she could force the removal of the shows that she doesn’t approve of. So the real targets and victims of this ordinance are not our two shows, but the people of Berkeley, their freedom of expression on their channel.
This ordinance came about when both the staff of B-TV and the board of BCM refused to adopt a censoring scheduling policy, following their mission of promoting free speech and diversity. They knew getting some complaints is always a part of running a free speech channel. All of us producers were acting responsibly, requesting that our shows be aired after 10pm, the standard “safe harbor” for adult content. But the City Council, fueled by very few complaints, decided to ignore B-TV’s staff and producers and the BCM board. It decided to issue rules controlling what could be shown on B-TV when. When politicians do this, it should always set off loud alarm bells.
This ordinance is a dangerous product of this misguided adventure. It purports to protect children from “indecent” programs. It doesn’t do this. Again Olds has admitted that protecting children is just an excuse to get rid of shows that she and people like her find unsettling, etc.. This ordinance does not provide cheap hardware to concerned parents that allow them to block any program they deem unfit for their kids. Instead, it does away with the “safe harbor” of the 10pm-6am timeslot for adult programming. In its place there will be an “indecent” timeslot of midnight to 6am. Except for the shows which fall into a very narrow definition of what “indecent” is as defined in this ordinance, all other shows can be shown anytime! As Councilmembers Spring and Maio pointed out as they voted against the ordinance, the two targeted shows are not indecent. In fact, B-TV doesn’t have any shows that are indecent as defined in this ordinance.
In reality, this ordinance is not about protecting children at all. It is about chilling free speech. It is about forcing people to do “acceptable” shows. Under this ordinance, a producer is expected to label her show as indecent or not. If she doesn’t label it as indecent and somebody complains, there is a hearing. This hearing, its process, its rules, etc. are not remotely spelled out in the ordinance. If the show is found “indecent” in the hearing, the show is exiled to after midnight. But if the show is found not to be indecent…well, the complainer can do it again next week…until the producer is ground down into watering down her program. This is the real goal of this ordinance, not protecting kids!
Well, Suzy and I are not chillers. We do not chill. We boil. If this ordinance passes, we will fight lustfully! And we will win. We have to because, as Kriss Worthington keeps pointing out, this would give this and other city councils the power to control what we do and say on OUR public access channels…and freedom of speech dies!
By the way, are we going to let them limit our possibilities?