A piece written by Veronica Vera that was published in High Performance magazine, #53, Spring 1991.
Frank Moore communicates his world to his audience. It is a slow world built on trust. Because for a “crip” (Moore’s word to describe his cerebral palsy), time is elongated and things happen through cooperation. Frank Moore cannot move a distance of five feet on his own, but he can lead an audience by giant leaps through innerspace.
Out Of Isolation, Moore’s simple two-character video at The Kitchen, described the initial meeting and subsequent week of physical therapy between a spastic (Moore) and his nurse (Linda Sibeo). At first the patient was unresponsive to the nurse’s well-meaning but torturous, by-the-book approach: pulling at his limbs, massaging him with ice cubes and bristly paint brushes, petting and swatting him as she would a dog. Occasionally, she revealed a personal side, using the patient as her confidant. She decided to return on the weekend to pay him a non-professional visit, and by the end of the visit, they lay naked together, cuddling, sharing. Not only has the patient come out of isolation, but so has the nurse.
This is the pivotal message of every Frank Moore performance: that physical interaction—the sharing of energy, the sensual “eroplay”—is essential to life, and the more we strip it down to its basic level, the more we benefit from the force of the interaction.
That same weekend, Frank Moore and Chero company presented INTERDREAM as part of New York University’s “New Pathways For Performance” conference. Body painting, massage, primal music, chanted poetry—INTERDREAM contained all of Moore’s favorite methods of communication, including the shaman’s tent where he lay naked ready to receive audience members, collaborators, who chose to go deeper into the cave. Among the audience were members of “Disabled in Action” and “Artists With Disabilities. Inc.” They greeted his performance with enthusiasm, and contributed to bridging the gap between artist and audience.
Because I had performed with Frank Moore twice, I thought that if I entered the cave as merely one of the audience members, I might feel a let down. Blindfolded, I was led to a clear space on the shaman’s mat. I reached out and felt bodies, some clothed, some bare-skinned beneath my fingers. My clothes were a barrier, so I removed my blouse and bra. I felt Frank, his thick tongue and glasses, then I felt a woman’s breasts, legs and arms, and I couldn’t tell where one person ended and another one began. I lay with the god Shiva, half-man, half-woman, cradled by warm human flesh, so vulnerable, yet so safe. And then I began to cry. I cried my way out of isolation.
Out of Isolation was presented at The Kitchen in New York City, October 6, 1990. INTERDREAM was presented at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, as part of “New Pathways In Performance,” October 7, 1990.
Veronica Vera is a literary artist. She is creator of The Theory of Sexual Evolution.
Russell: So the money was just … what was the money for?
Frank: It was just for me.
Russell: They were just being kind or generous?
Frank: It varied. Like some people did not even look at me.
Russell: Most people didn’t give a damn, right?
Frank: The poor give because they like me.
Russell: You mean poor people?
Frank: They are who give the most.
Russell: So did you feel weird about people giving you money or did you not? Just accept it?
Frank: Yes. Because on one level it serves a function for people to be able to give, and on another level I was never there mainly for the money. I was people watching and people fishing.
Russell: On another level you also needed money.
Frank: But if that is your main reason then they feel that.
Russell: You weren’t there for money because you didn’t want them to feel it?
Frank: No. The reverse. (laughs)
Russell: Even if you had not needed money you would have been there?
Frank: Yes. Which has been the case most of the time.
Russell: Was this the first time?
Russell: Is that what led you into the possibilities of that, of being there?
Frank: Yes. Like I have always people watched. This was more interactive.
Russell: And you were OK with the interactions?
Russell: I am only saying that because of many people, disabled people among them, who have been in that situation. You understand my point?
Russell: I have no judgment on it myself but I think there might be many disabled people who might feel that you were perhaps leaning on past images or perceptions of disability, and not being on the forefront of new roles and images for people with disabilities. Now, like I said, it’s all a construction to me, but many people load it valuably.
Frank: (laughs) Well at that time I was wearing a jean skirt. (laughs)
Russell: So? What does that mean? What are you saying?
Frank: Not the old image.
Russell: But clothing sometimes detracts from images, as you’re well aware of.
Frank: Seriously, what you put out affects the image.
Russell: Yeah, but intent and role in clothing, I don’t see where it could affect it. We’re going too far off here, this philosophical …
Frank: I was joking.
Russell: (laughs) OK. But you still need to give me something in terms of your reasoning and intent around that issue.
Frank: What issue?
Russell: The issue of your difference from the way many people would view that situation.
Frank: If I thought it was demeaning I would not do it.
Russell: I have no doubt, but at some point, maybe in a more general discussion not connected to any particular incident or period, I want to bring up this idea again. For one, because I think you have something important to contribute on the subject, I think you have a lot to contribute on that subject. You could provide insight. So, it’s not just my obstinance.
Frank: Like the real old image is crips should be at home or in some out of sight place, or when they are on the street they are in a desperate situation. I was not in either of those. I was living a life in the outside world.
Russell: My image was the image of the disabled beggar. People in medieval times would even disable themselves so that they could beg for food. That’s the image that I’m talking about, that a lot of people try to distance themselves from. What is the difference in your thinking?
Frank: But why? Like if the crip did it to survive, that is a strong person.
Russell: You’re getting into dynamics of the person existing and doing what it takes. They may be changing or trying to change that image to fit the sociopolitical situation today.
Frank: They should celebrate those people.
Russell: I’m not sure about celebrating. I think they accept them but again want to get away from that kind of image in the sociopolitical environment today. I have the unusual ability to be able to see everybody’s point of view about everything. (laughs)
It causes me a lot of problems sometimes but ultimately I think it’s good for the kind of work that I’m doing.
Frank: And in the hippy culture in the 1970s panhandling was an acceptable way of making money. Like hitchhiking was normal.
Russell: I also understand it was different times. I also wanted to see what you felt about that point of mine, what I brought up, because I think it’s important to get at the gist of what different people are about in terms of their orientations and what acts they feel comfortable and uncomfortable doing. Again, different times and sometimes the pressures of accepting all the principles of some doctrine can be pretty authoritarian.
Frank: Like a lot of people said crips should not be on a stage.
Russell: So you didn’t listen to them. (laughs)
Frank: Who was crips? (laughs)
Russell: Right. Where were we? (laughs) We got off on a good tangent there. I like those tangents. (laughs)
Frank: When someone stopped to talk it got deep.
Russell: So you got into a lot of discussions.
Frank: And that is how a rich woman asked me if I would paint her.
Russell: You said during the discussion that you painted, and she asked you to paint her.
Frank: (makes “yes” sound) She came to our house to see my paintings, but wanted me to paint her at her house.
Russell: So what happened?
Frank: We took my stuff to her big house. (laughs) She took her clothes off. A light went on in my head.
Russell: So you weren’t expecting her to take her clothes off?
Frank: No. It was the first time I painted a live person.
Russell: So when you say a light went off you mean that this was something to get into, expand on?
Frank: Yes. That art gives people an excuse or a context to do what they would not normally do. I did see that in class. But the class context may have been operating but this was just a start. So I started doing nonfilms.
NEW YORK CITY CIRCA 1974
SAN FRANCISCO, 1980
ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY, 1984 photos by Mary Sullivan
While in New York City, Annie Sprinkle introduced us to the photographer, Eric Kroll, who then scheduled a photo shoot with us while we were in town. Here are some outtakes from the photo shoot at his studio.
In 1989 the six of us, Frank, Linda, Mikee, Alexi, Rourke and Leigh, took Amtrak across the country to New York State, where we did the five-hour performance, Journey to Lila, at Hallwalls in Buffalo and Pyramid Arts in Rochester and then two weekends at Franklin Furnace in NYC. We were also scheduled to do a music show at CBGBs but they had a fire during our sound check!!! and had to cancel that night’s show and we could not stay the extra day for the replacement date they offered us. We took over a train car with our sleeping bags, food, etc. on both legs of the trip!
Here are some photos from the train ride to New York.