Exploring The Taboos Of Intimate Fun
The audience for this one was sweet [both genders, even the two street stand-up comedians]. They were basically ready to go deep into their dreams of how things should be. Some of them were already focused on doing this in their regular lives, especially the three who are in an art collective together. So it was relatively easy to get the tribal intimacy to the surface. This was further lubricated by the music by Tomek and the general open environment of THE CENTER FOR SEX AND CULTURE. There was even the deaf mute who has come to my performances several times before. He tends to root everything. But when we were preparing to go into physical rituals of intimacy, a guy released the virus of fear basically to call attention to himself and to sabotage things, as he admitted later. He took the mic and said he would not take his clothes off because of the video camera. Of course he has been coming to my performances for years, all of which were videod. Moreover I had an audience member undress the camera guy among other things to draw attention to the fact that he was videoing the performance. Although some people caught the virus and joined the band, the tribal body didn’t let the virus sidetrack the deepening joyful intimacy. This was especially true for one of the three from the art collective who rocked on my lap juicy human warmth without limits arousing pleasure prickly rubbing bodies together flowing into Linda smoothly becoming one body. So I would say we defeated fear at this performance! And what more can you ask of a performance?
WHAT HAPPENED by Erika and Da Boyz
ERIKA AND DA BOYZ:
We were back at CSC for another performance, having been there 3 months ago in July! After hitting major Saturday evening traffic coming over to San Francisco, we still made it to the space by 5:30, enthusiastically welcomed by Carol Queen, who gave us a quick run-down of things before heading out herself. She had left us with one of their volunteers, Bill, who would come back at the end of the night to help shut things down. We got right to work setting up! And later said that it was great to be there so early, because we did need all the time!
CSC was set up for their Dirty Comics exhibition, the great space always filled with divans and comfortable plush chairs … we transformed it into the performance space, with no chairs, but a big open carpeted comfy pad, strewn with huge body sized pillows, costumes and jewelry laid out, a music area, with a table waiting for the arrival of Tomek, Mikee’s big colorful backdrop and panels everywhere, Frank’s digital painting vinyls, t-shirts for sale, and a long table at the entrance covered with free stuff: fliers, handouts, Frank’s painting postcards, Frank Moore for President bumper stickers, buttons, a broadside of Frank’s poetry, Frank’s “Magical Act of Doing” pamphlet, and Chapped Lap poetry chapbooks for sale … Alexi would man the door, collecting the $5-$25 sliding scale …
Frank, Linda & Mikee were not far behind us, and the set-up went all the way up to about a quarter-to … People were already arriving, and Tomek arrived! He had been in Europe for 2 months. We were really happy to see him!
A few people came around the same time, and Frank started talking to them … a tall black guy and a gal dressed in black leather, and a woman with glasses, her hair tied up with chopsticks … Frank started talking to the black guy first … how did he find out about the performance? He had seen a flier at “Brainwash”, and had been attracted to it because he is a performer too, and said something along the lines of that he likes things that are out of the ordinary … Frank asked him what he does? He said that he is a stand-up comedian, and recently moved to the bay area. (Later he mentioned that he had checked out Frank’s website, and mentioned looking at a photo gallery)
Frank asked him to do “5 minutes” of stand-up. He declined, saying, “No, no, tonight is your night. It’s my day off.” He mentioned that the gal he came with was a stand-up comedian too. Frank said, “Tonight is our night … Would you read a couple chapters at random from my novel?” He said ok, and as he got up to come up and sit behind the mic next to Frank, he said that would teach him to open his big mouth next time! As he looked over the novel chapters, Frank said to read from a chapter further in, not at the beginning, and he replied that the first chapter actually looked good! He got set up, needed his glasses, and also said that he was dyslexic, so bear with him … Frank said, “This was written in dyslexia!” More people had started to arrive, and this got a laugh!
So he started trying to read the chapter, but it was very slow going, he had a hard time just physically reading it. At some point, Frank asked him, giggling, “Are you sure you don’t want to do your own material?” He said ok, and proceeded to tell a number of jokes. Before he started one, he said, this one is racist, if that’s ok? Frank said, “Why not?” And he replied something like, “Just like a white person …” Frank said, “Now that’s racist!”
So he told some more jokes, and then sat down, and Frank talked to his friend … she had also seen the flier at Brainwash, and said that she was a stand-up comedian too, and also a digital artist. Linda pointed out Frank’s digital paintings on the vinyls that we had up … Let’s Twist Again, Falling in Love, and Toni. Frank asked her if she would come up and do her stand-up. She said sure, and got up next to Frank and told a string of jokes about the KKK. Then Frank asked her if she would read a chapter at random from his novel. She picked a chapter and read it … it was the chapter that was about a student leaving … we said later that we all had the experience of it being a “difficult” read and listen, wondering if the people in the “audience” would stay with it … but they totally did, and got very much wrapped up in it, were following it closely, as non-linear as it is. The first comedian said, “I gotta buy that book!”
After she finished reading, Frank asked her if she would undress the cameraman. Linda asked, “Which one?” The gal looked from Corey to Mikee … Frank said, “Both of them!” She said ok, and went over to Corey first, quickly undressing him, and then to Mikee …
Meanwhile, at the door, a guy was standing in the lobby with his bike for nearly a half-hour … Alexi asked him at some point if he was coming in. He said, “Well, what’s going to happen is it just going to be this, talking to the audience …?” Alexi said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen …” He said, “So what can I expect? What is going to happen in the course of the night?” Alexi asked him if he had read the flier and the warning sign. He said yes, but somehow that wasn’t enough. He asked Alexi, “So you just work here …?” Alexi said, “Well, I work with Frank. I’ve been working with Frank for over 20 years, but I don’t know what’s going to happen … Frank is improvising the performance …”
He asked, “Well can I just peek for a while?” Alexi said ok, but he would not really get the performance by just peeking, and Alexi was going to be closing the curtains at some point … And that point came soon, and the guy left!
So Frank turned to another guy who had come in, a tall guy with glasses, and asked him how he had heard about the performance. He said that he checks the CSC website and looks to see what their upcoming event are … and he had seen this and was interested to check it out. He said that he had been to another event at the old CSC location, an Annie Sprinkle piece, and noticed on Frank’s flier that Annie considers Frank to be one of her teachers.
Frank said yes … In fact, she was in one of his performances before she really became a performance artist. And at that time, Frank told her that she was going to be a successful performance artist, and she didn’t believe him! Someone in the audience asked if she was still performing? Frank said yes …. And added, “She gets married a lot …”
Frank asked him what he does, and he said that he is a scientist, developing pharmaceuticals. And for fun he comes to events like this that he finds. After the comedian had added that he had seen Frank’s photo gallery online, he also added, “I liked you better with short hair!” Frank and Linda explained how that was for a film that Frank made, “Feisto”, where he shaved all his body hair for the role, and they just recently put the video of that shaving online, part of the UCB series from the early 80s. In response, the pharmaceutical guy told everyone that he had just recently shaved his head, and he recommended it highly to everyone to do at least once in their life because it feels so good.
We think now Frank moved to the guy sitting next to him, a guy with bushy sideburns … he had actually been at the Dirty Comics event at CSC the previous week, and had seen the flier for Frank’s event, and was intrigued. He said he lives the life of an “elegant hobo”. The black comedian said, “So do I!” He had just moved from Syracuse, NY to stay with a friend who was going through a break-up. He had only been here for a few months. Frank asked him how he was liking it here. He said that he really liked it so far.
Now Frank turned to the woman with her hair up in chopsticks … she was actually the first to arrive, very early, and had come back closer to the start time. She had seen the flier all over the place, both in Berkeley and in SF, perhaps right outside her school, CIIS, and in the Haight … she said something about serendipity, because she studies psychology, and recently found out that the word “psychology” has its origin in the meaning, “soul healing” … and also said that she had recently realized that she doesn’t really know anything, and felt a burst of creativity from acknowledging this, and had also been wanting to learn from a shaman …
Frank asked her, “Learn what?” She said that she wanted to learn about the soul … “What about the soul?” Frank asked. She said that she wanted to learn about healing the soul … and went on to talk about “individual souls” vs. “collective unconscious”, and “individual trauma” vs. “historical trauma” … Frank asked her if she would come up and pick two chapters of Art of a Shaman to read? She said sure …
First she picked, “Art of Risking”, and showed the pictures as she read it. Right away, one of the photos was from that very UCB performance when Frank was shaved!
As she read, Frank would pause her from time to time to ask people if they would undress each other. First, Frank asked if Erika and the elegant hobo from Syracuse would undress each other. Yes, he said. Then a little bit later, he asked if the two comedians would undress each other. He was willing, but she said that she only felt comfortable in the presence of women … So Frank asked if Erika could undress him? He was a little hesitant, but agreed, saying, “Good thing I wore my clean underwear!” And once Erika had his clothes off, he warned his friend, “Don’t laugh!”
Back to the reading … for the second chapter, the woman asked the audience which one she should read, “Sex?” or “A Wounded Healer”, by a voice vote of “aye!”. The “Ayes” went decidedly for “wounded healer”, the second chapter in the book, again showing the great photographs as she went … When she had finished, and was sitting down again, Frank asked her if it had answered her question. She said that it had answered some of her questions, but she had lots of questions …
Frank asked her, “Do you want to work with me, knowing how I work, what I use …?” She said yes. Frank said, “Great. I will come back to you …” Now he turned to a young guy sitting next to her, and asked him how he had heard about the performance. He had seen a flier in the Haight area, and was attracted by Frank’s description of the performance … he talked about how some years ago he had wanted to do a ritual of intimacy which he would call “The Sex Church”, and put an ad on craigslist for people to do it with him, and got three responses. But his dream for what it would be did not match what actually happened when he got together with the people. He found himself making out with “an older, large man” and getting “stuffed into a latex bodysuit”, and that the feeling was nervous, tight, awkward, sharp and hard … not what he had imagined, which was more of a relaxed group setting of intimacy … combining sex and spirituality in some way … and he said something along the lines of that Frank had obviously come to this much earlier … meaning, how to go about creating this … and so that was why he was here!
Perhaps now Frank asked if Erika could undress him, and he said, “Yes please! Thank you Erika!”
Now Frank asked the psychology student if she and Linda could undress each other. At first she declined, saying that she was on the rag. Frank said that she could leave her underwear on … She said, “Well, I could undress on the top only …” Frank suggested that she could change into one of his miniskirts, and she said ok. She and Linda undressed each other, and Erika brought over the miniskirts. She offered her the flame miniskirt and the black miniskirt, and she said to the flame one, “Oh no, not that one!!” So she got into the other …
Now Frank talked to an older man who was sitting toward the back. He had also seen a flier, on a pole near Brainwash … and at first had thought that the event was for Alan Moore, the comic writer … Frank asked, “What the fuck is ‘brainwash’??” He was told that it is a café on Folsom … and a good place to put up fliers apparently! With regard to Alan Moore, Frank said that they had just watched the documentary, “Comic Book Confidential”. The man also said that he had lived in NY in the 80s, and was aware of Karen Finley from that time, and had noticed her quote on Frank’s flier, which also attracted him to the performance. He talked about recently being at some kind of workshop about sharing stories of yourself. Frank asked him for one of his stories. He said that one of his stories is that when his partner is not happy, he has acted as if he can still go on and not be affected (something like that) … but he realizes that he can not really be happy if his partner is not happy …
Meanwhile, people were starting to play with Betty’s jewelry … the psych student had started putting some of it on, and then passing it to others. Frank told everyone about Betty, and Linda described how they met her when they moved into the neighborhood, how Betty would bake and bring them cookies, and loved that Linda would wear the jewelry she gave her (and nothing else!) at our performances. How she is churchgoing, but loved watching the videos of our performances with her partner Joe … and how we were there for them when Joe got sick and passed away … and now she has become part of the tribe, Alexi making all of our meals every night, Erika eating with her, etc. …
Obviously everyone loved hearing about this, and the story man said that this was a much better story than his! Frank said, “Exactly. Stories should be uplifting.”
There were more undressings … we think that the elegant hobo undressed the scientist, and perhaps the sex church guy undressed the story man …
Now Frank turned to a group of three young women who were obviously there together. He talked first to the girl who had come in first … she had short hair and a lot of tattoos … he asked her what she thought of the night so far … She said that she was trying not to think too much … Frank asked her, “How do you feel?” She said that she has been feeling a lot of different things coming through her: anger, hate, fear, joy, love … and basically she was trying to let these things move through her and not hold on to any one thing …
Frank asked her what she does, and she said that she is an artist, and part of an art collective with the other two girls there.
The girl next to her, with reddish blonde hair, said she was also an artist, a performance artist … Frank asked her to do a piece, but she said that the kind of things she does she couldn’t really do there … because it was more like setting up environments or situations in which people could feel safe to be creative, to do art … Frank said, “Like this.” Yes … Then the tattooed girl described one of her art pieces, overlapping video and live stop motion photography of live painting …
The first two girls had been to an Annie Sprinkle event a couple of weeks ago, and were very inspired, and then they both saw fliers, and were attracted by the artwork, and noticed Annie’s quote. They said something to indicate that they were attracted by the description of the performance, and the need for a kind of tribal, collective intimacy …
The third of the group, a gal with shiny green hair, was also an artist and a native plant landscaper. She had seen a flier in the Haight, and was also attracted by the artwork, and then heard about it from her friends … the first girl said that it was a way for them all to do something together, “with people they love”.
Frank asked them now if the three of them would undress each other, and they said yes. It was cute watching them decide who to undress who and what to take off first …
Soon after, Frank asked the collective if they would come up with a 5-minute piece to do with everyone … they could take 2 minutes to come up with it! Meanwhile, Frank asked the psych student if she, with Linda, would undress him. She said sure, and they undressed Frank …
Then Frank asked her to talk about the night so far … but before she had a chance to say anything, the collective was ready! They asked everyone to stand up, and hold hands in a big circle. The first activity was a question for each person to answer, “What would make you free, now?” It went around the circle, person after person … each had a different personal answer … Erika said that she felt free in her life with Frank, Linda, Mikee, Alexi and Corey … Frank said he is free! Linda said, to keep enjoying …
Then it ended with the same song, everyone singing together!
Meanwhile, back at the door, a guy came in and wanted a reduced rate because he missed “most of the performance”. Alexi said no, that there was a sliding scale, so he could pay anywhere on the scale … He asked, “So what’s going to happen in the last hour?” Alexi said he didn’t know … Frank is improvising the performance … “So, what are they doing now?” Alexi described what was happening. “What’s going to happen next?!” Alexi said, “I don’t know.” He asked, “Is there going to be another performance?” Alexi told him yes, next week, in Oakland, and gave him the Uncomfortable Zones flier. He signed the mailing list, and left!
Now Frank turned to Michael Rosenthal, who was sitting toward the back of the room … “He has been coming to performances for years …” We think Michael asked if he could have the mic, and Frank said, “I’m not sure …!” He took the mic, and started explaining why he did not want to be undressed all the way. He said that he has no problem with nudity, but in this day and age, with all these “privacy issues” on the internet, and the fact that this is being recorded … he would prefer to keep his bottoms on, like a “pregnancy belt”! He said he could wear one of Frank’s skirts over his underwear … Frank told him that he could play music then … He said that he could noodle around, he didn’t really know how to play, but he could try … Frank and Linda said that is great.
But the virus of fear had already escaped … now people started getting focused on the cameras, even though it was obvious the whole night that the performance was being recorded, and Frank had made a point of calling attention to the camera guys, as they had been the first undressed. But there was no logic in the virus … people repeated buzzwords like “privacy”, etc. The scientist put his clothes right on …
The collective girl with the red hair asked what this was being recorded for. Frank said that it was for his public access show in Berkeley, and for his channel on vimeo … There was murmuring, Michael’s virus had created an analyzing, judging tone … to some extent … the same girl wondered if it was going up just as it was shot, or would be edited …? Was it going live on the internet right now? Frank said that it was not going to be edited, and no, it was not going out live … Later, after the performance, Frank said, “Kill Michael.” Michael, who knew Frank’s work for more than 20 years, knew that Frank recorded everything and should know the feeling of what Frank does … and so to introduce that virus…!
Frank had Erika undress the guy sitting next to Michael, an older man who we recognized from the CSC performance in 2010 at the old space. He is deaf, but participated fully in everything, both then and tonight.
Michael went over to the music area, and Frank introduced “Gestures”. Linda described Gestures and said that she would pair people in twos and threes … The psych student spoke up, saying that she would only do “non-sexual” gestures because she is married and in a monogamous relationship … The sex church guy asked her what was a “sexual gesture”, and she said, “Like sucking nipples … massage is ok, etc.”
Frank and Linda said that she could do the Gestures and just decide what, if anything, she did not feel like doing when it came up … But she ended up pulling herself out, after being paired, and went over with the musicians, decided not to do the gestures at all. The black comedian was paired with the story man, but he told Frank, “I’m straight, and you paired me with a guy …” Linda said, “Well that’s just the way it works …” So he was out too, joining the musicians … So Frank and Linda said that those who wanted to do the Gestures should stay on the mat, and the others could join the band and play music! Two of three girls in the collective got up to join the band … the girl with the reddish hair stayed. Erika was paired with the elegant hobo and the deaf man. The sex church guy was paired with the collective girl. And because he had lost his pair, the story man was paired with Frank.
Gestures totally melted away the fear virus … it was beautiful to watch the pairs doing the gestures together. And we said later how funny it was that the first long series of gestures were all on the “light” side. Rubbing each other’s arms, hands, ribs, showing each other’s calves, etc. … We could imagine some of the musicians saying to themselves, “I left because of that!” Then there were other gestures that came up, a lot of rubbing bodies together, exploring each other’s bodies using every part of your body, for arousing pleasure … etc. Erika and the two guys were having a lot of fun, and you could see that the sex church guy and the collective girl were in a deep joy together, and the story guy with Frank was very deep … amazing!
We were saying afterward that it seemed to take the musicians a little while to get into it, but then that the music seemed to follow the joy of the gestures, and was amazing. Tomek laid a foundation throughout the entire night that was amazing, and made it really easy for the other musicians to join in. It was great having him back!
After a while, Frank switched pairs with the sex church guy, who we later came to know as Justin. Justin was then paired with the story man, who it turned out was also having a birthday the next day, same as Mikee! Frank was paired with the collective girl, and they did gestures for a while, and then Frank asked her if she would read, while the others continued gestures, “Wrapping/Rocking”. She read it, as the band played on …
Then Frank asked if she would rock on his lap, and she did, throwing herself into it completely. She was great!!! The lights were turned off, and slides and strobes went on … As always, it was dreamlike and beautiful to see the rocking nude bodies under the slides, images and bodies melting together. Meanwhile, the pairs rocked together. At some point, Linda rocked with the two of them together, soft warm erotic beautiful … and then a little bit later, Linda and she switched places, and Linda rocked on Frank’s lap, while the collective girl held them and rocked with them.
While the musicians played, the psych student was dancing for a while, topless in Frank’s miniskirt … but she got dressed and left before the rocking ended, so Frank did not have a chance to talk with her again. The black stand-up comedian also left before the rocking ended. He told Alexi at the door that he was sorry, but he really had to go. He said he had enjoyed it and wanted to know if there was going to be another one. Alexi gave him the flier for the Temescal performance next week, and he signed the mailing list.
After a time, the rocking ended, and the lights came up again, and Frank had Linda and Erika “get” Tomek, and then “get” the rest of the musicians … They came up and held each person and rocked with them … you could feel how each one of them really enjoyed it, melted into it …
Then Frank had everyone come back onto the mat, and asked people, one by one, what did they think/feel about the night?
We think he started with the collective girl who had rocked with him. She said the rocking was intense, and she had a lot of feelings come up. She said that there is this picture that people can get together, take off their clothes and do things with each other, and it is all so “smooth and pornographic”, but she really appreciated the natural awkwardness of the night, that it was real … Frank said that he has found that those people who are comfortable with casual nudity are often the ones who have a shield or surface up, and it does not get vulnerable.
The collective girl also talked about having been inspired by reading the poem, the images of rocking, and letting herself go into that feeling while she rocked … She said that another level for her was the feeling of being close to Frank and Linda together, and how good that felt. Frank said that she let herself go. Frank asked her if she wanted to work with him. She said yes. He said that they can get together to talk more about what that means.
Then he turned to her friend in the collective, the one with the tattoos, and asked the same question. She said that she had pushed herself a lot in taking her clothes off in front of a group of people, and she also talked about how good it felt when Linda and Erika “got” her, how the touch felt pure. She said that she wished that there was more of that for everyone, all the time.
The third in the collective, the green haired girl, said that she also liked being “got”, and enjoyed playing music a lot.
Justin said that he doesn’t generally hug men, but he was hugging the story guy for a long time, and it felt very good … at times, he felt like he was hugging his father, who is dead, which was very healing, and it made him think about his mentor, who he is going to see tomorrow, who could really use a hug, and he is going to hug him for a half an hour! Frank said, “So, in other words, not much happened!”
The elegant hobo from Syracuse at first talked about feeling badly that people put their clothes back on and left, not understanding … But when he let go of that, let go of trying to be in control of the situation, he really had a great time. He and Justin came up to Corey after the performance and asked how this performance was the same, and how it was different from all the other performances?! Corey said, “Well, we do these every month in Oakland! And Frank has been doing it for years …” But he said that really each performance is different because … and they completed his sentence, understanding that it was different because it always depended upon who came … Corey said that on the other hand, the feeling that is created between people during the performance is very much the same, which they also really got. The elegant hobo asked if people do what they did that night, putting their clothes back on/leaving …? Corey said, “Oh yeah …” Sometimes whole groups get up and leave en masse!
The story man said that the performance felt very good, that it felt like what he needed … and he got a lot from seeing Frank simply asking for what he wanted during the performance, and that it showed him that you can get what you want, if you just ask for it …
Last, Frank asked Michael Rosenthal how he felt about the night … He basically expressed that he had shot himself in the foot, taken himself out of participating more directly, but that he had enjoyed playing music, that it had been a long time since he had played, and really liked it.
Erika said that it was really fun doing the gestures, really great having Tomek back, and she really enjoyed hearing different people read Frank’s novel, that it seemed completely different each time someone read it!
And Frank said, “The End …”
Afterward, several people came up to talk with Frank, and there were other tidbits … As he left, the deaf man gave Frank and Linda a big “thumbs up”, and made sure we had his email right on the mailing list. The collective girl came up and exchanged emails with Frank. Justin came up and wanted to buy Frank’s book! Frank autographed if for him, and they took a picture together with his camera. Frank inscribed in the book, “Do your dreams.” Justin said, “Yes.”
After everyone left, we broke down the set, eating popcorn, and talking about how amazing a night it was, despite Michael’s virus. Linda talked about how lucky we are in so many ways. What a great space that Carol and Robert make available to Frank! Frank said, “I did it!” Linda said yes, she was always amazed at how Frank does it.
TO SHAMAN'S CAVE
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Last modified November 6, 2011