Well, last night in preparing for an interview about my last presidential campaign [that still has legs!] , Corey googled FRANK MOORE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. The below is one of the things he found. We got the little theater that I named THE BLIND LEMON (because there was a painting of Blind Lemon Jefferson in the lobby) on San Pablo Ave in Berkeley in 1977. In the thirties it was the communist center. In the sixties it was a hippie club at which Bob Dylan once played. Obviously it also had been a blues club. So I continued the tradition! I did a lot of different things in the space. Including having bands play on Fridays. I was doing THE OUTRAGEOUS BEAUTY REVUE at the San Francisco punk club, THE MABUHAY GARDENS on Saturdays. So I booked bands that played at the Mab at my club. It was an all- ages club before all- ages club was a popular concept! Sure, no drugs /booze. But also no smoking! I actually made the scary hard-core chain smoking band, THE MUTANTS, to not smoke! Hey, I have always been a mother fucking bad ass, not a "harmless" guy as Kevin described me below. Would Kevin write the below great piece thirty years after I only booked him. Not ripped off his clothes and licked his nipples! But I am flattered. The work just is that powerful! Thanks, Kevin !
We ended having bands play at THE LEMON because we thought we were doing too many different projects. Which seems silly considering how much we are doing now!
As told to Kevin Army
NOVEMBER 24, 2010 11:06AM
Frank Moore and The Blind Lemon
One of the briefest punk rock clubs in the bay area was a place called The Blind Lemon in Berkeley. It had previously been a folk or hippie club, but sometime around 1980 it was taken over by disabled performance artist Frank Moore. It doubled as some kind of church for him, and he used the space for some of his longer performance pieces.
I got an appointment to meet with him. He is mostly wheelchair bound, as he was born with cerebral palsy, and he can't talk. He communicated by pointing at an Ouija board with a stick that was attached to his head, while one of the women who followed him translated.
He listened to my demo, which ended with my unfortunate and closeted song I Want To Be Gay, a sarcastic response to Tom Robinson's fine and brave Glad To Be Gay. After the tape ended he smiled and slowly pointed out i-t-s h-i-p t-o b-e a c-r-i-p t-o-o. I did not get that he had a sense of humor at the time.
Though he freaked me out, he was a pretty OK and harmless guy, considering I'd seen him do performances at the Mabuhay Gardens where women would pee in jars, pour it all over him, and then he'd roll around on the floor making inhuman sounds. Moore liked the tape, gave my band a gig, complete with a nice review in their flier.
When we got to the club to play, there seemed to be a fair amount of lesbians, who tended to Moore. We guessed they were the church members. They would carry him around and act dissociated and worshipful. The bathroom was a toilet with no lid in the middle of the room backstage. Everywhere was badly painted black, with a little florescent green, and it filled the club with an uncomfortable darkness and heaviness.
Most bad vibe punk places had a fun element, this was just weird. I don't really remember anything about our set, I do remember wanting to get out of there as fast as possible. The club had about a 6 month run. Even punk rockers have their limits. It was hard to shake off the bad vibe for a few days after being there.
Since then, I've heard about Moore in the news from time to time. I guess I have to respect someone who can't speak and can barely move, who has written books, created paintings and made a name for himself in the performance art world.
He was one of the artists targeted by Jesse Helms, and anyone who Helms disliked, well, you have to have a soft spot for. Most recently, Moore ran for president as an independent candidate. I doubt he got very far.
There is a kind of art that is just awful, and challenges everything. I have no urge to see Moore perform again, and I would never want to go back in time to the Blind Lemon, but I know the importance of freedom of expression in the arts. These people pave the way for other things to happen. He shared his space for an evening so I could express myself, with no strings or conditions. It was 1980 or so, and I was too young to enjoy meeting this strange man, or to appreciate his perseverance and strength.
Maybe our imaginations ran a bit far thinking it was a cult. And perhaps his art has evolved through the years, it's been quite some time. But there was something undeniably uncomfortable there. It could have been my suburban innocence, but I don't think so. I've been exposed to a lot since then, and not much lingers in such a disagreeable way. But that's part of life, part of the punk experience I guess.