Oh, we here are hurting, are recovering from weeks of multiple shows! Just this past week, we did three SHAMAN’S DEN shows and Friday at the new performance space Flux 53 in Oakland for the Los Angeles band Magick Orchids I was a guest vocalist. Btw, Flux 53 is a great theater (actually two performance spaces)… But bring your own P. A.!
Then Saturday was another REALITY PLAYINGS. It is building, digging in to the meat. Actually the performance started for some of the audience members before they got to the Temescal. Of course this is always true, but is usually hidden. But THE TRAVELING CLUBHOUSE contacted me a couple of weeks ago about bringing one of their groups to the performance as a part of a day long guided tour of challenging adventures. Moreover they asked me to give them a pre- performance ritual to prepare them. I told them to randomly pair up the people before going to dinner. The people in the pairs would feed each other. I thought this might be the last I would hear from them. But if they did do this ritual, it would open everything up. And by God they did it, and it did open everything up for everybody. It is amazing we are attracting people like THE TRAVELING CLUBHOUSE who value being stretched even if it is uncomfortable. And they were not alone. We had a room full of people who came to go deep and have developed abilities that allow them to risk. It feels like we are only beginning to tap into a deep vein of potentials! Of course we have only been doing this for over forty years. Moreover the six of us create a personal base which allows us to call upon our intimacy together… And Erika being there adds something. Tomek and Kene-J have developed trance quivering flesh music which allows us to slip into unknown freedom which can feel scary. And people like Unrulee and Michael the street mayor of Berkeley who have come to my performances for years add a calm to the mixture, not to mention a knowing humor! And now people are coming who have an understanding of what is occurring under the surface level because of their own personal work, such as gal*in_dog [the POW POW guy] who is a performance artist and teacher. We are creating a powerful nexus of expanding erotic zones of an underground community building subversion!
Stay tuned! Better yet, come to the next performance!
Frank started talking to everyone, asking what people did, heard about how Charlie and Nicole had found this performance to bring the Traveling Clubhouse to, and why they chose it ... it was free, and it looked very interesting to them, and wanted something that would be challenging ... they had seen it somewhere online on a search for free things to do on that date ... and they talked about why they had set up the Traveling Clubhouse ... after experiencing a similar mystery tour of NYC, organized by a local arts collective. Frank asked them how challenging? Nicole said "somewhat challenging" ... Frank asked her if those two words went together? She had to admit that they didn't ... she said she wanted it to be challenging! Another guy said he wanted 8 out of 10. He was a physics grad student ... and there was another one there too ... and a chemist ... Frank asked the first physicist if time exists? And then what about matter and space? He had a hard time answering ... he said the best answer he had heard was that time and space exist so that everything doesn't happen all at once! Their conversation continued over the course of the performance ... Frank pointed out that particles exist outside of time ... and later he brought up light ... what was that? A particle or a wave? The physicist said that it was really neither ... he also said that the way that they looked at it was that a particle really was not defined unless you tried to observe it ... they exist everywhere at once, until you observe them. Frank related this to the performance ... he said that he has always thought of the performances as quantum physics ... the physicist said something like, "Yes, it could be defined as that." !!
There were a lot of other people coming in, some leaving right away, others sitting down and staying for some time ... Frank talked with a bubbly young woman who said she wrote creative non-fiction. There was another woman who came, who was a writer as well, of poetry, but she didn't have any of hers with her, and couldn't recite from memory ... Later, Frank had her read from his writings ... which was amazing. Frank asked the nonfiction writer if she would undress Jen, and put on some of the costume jewelry that was laid out nicely on a mat ... She did it ... A little bit later, Frank asked the physicist to undress Erika and put jewelry on her too, which he enjoyed! Frank kept asking him if he was reaching 8??! Later, when most of the Traveling clubhouse was going to leave, and Frank asked them what they thought, the physicist said that he liked it ... he said it was not unlike most normal human interaction ...
There was so much that went on, so much that connected to so much else ... one of the curators of the POW POW performance festival came too, and Frank talked to him about what he does, and asked for a hint of the "character" Frank would be interviewing when he and his partner come on the shaman's den. He gave a low guttural growl ... that was the hint! Later, Frank had him undress Linda and put costume jewelry on her too ...
Throughout the night, Frank would ask people what they thought of it so far ... it was really neat to hear, in the moment, as opposed to at the end, what people were experiencing ... and a common theme was a sense of being uncomfortable, of not knowing where it was going, but liking this, liking this challenge. Even the music made Charlie uncomfortable. Oftentimes, we don't hear people's experience until the end of the performance, and this is when many have left. But this time, you got a sense of what the experience was like throughout the performance, which was really interesting! It showed how powerful an experience these performances are ... in many different ways, and how quickly they affect people.
A really funny point was when Frank asked the two creators of the Clubhouse to direct him in something ... they asked him to come up with a limerick, and Frank vocalized his limerick, and then asked them to repeat what he came up with ... they had a hard time! How about Tomek, could he repeat it? He got it! Then Frank did another line ... the two girls were still having a hard time. Tomek got part of it, but had to take a second crack at it to get the whole thing! Finally, the girls attempted to repeat Frank ... but then he asked them to do it with the humor. It was really challenging for them! Frank was earning his 8, really 10!
Closer to the end, Frank asked Guillermo, the POW POW guy, to talk about his experience of the performance. He loved it. He said that it felt to him as if Frank were communicating with everyone from another dimension ... and that the way he spoke, and what he said was bringing everyone into that other dimension ...
Earlier, Frank asked the nonfiction writer's friend what she wanted to do ... She said she wanted everyone to get up and dance. So Frank said, ok, let's dance. Everyone got up and danced to the music that Tomek, Kene-J and another guy, who had come to the performance, were playing, which was amazing! Frank took a piss break, and then was undressed for the rest of the performance. The dancing was fun ... an impromptu game started up with the word pillows that we bring ... people were tossing them to each other, and using them like hackey sacks ... forming a circle.
In the "second half", there was a really interesting conversation with a philosophy professor and author, about what constitutes reality ... what is mind, soul, self? Frank said that he has never been able to pin down where is the mind. Frank had asked him what was his philosophy? He was saying that he doesn't think that the mind ends at the skin ... They talked together about how the mind and the world interpenetrate each other ... that the self is really a combination of these, a relationship ... Frank said that the skin is the connecting, rather than the dividing organ ... It was really an amazing conversation ...
The "last" part of the performance, Frank invited the poet to come up and read randomly from his book of writings while Linda, Jen and Erika "got" the audience. But before this, the Traveling Clubhouse announced that they would have to leave, and Frank asked them to come up with one last thing to do before they left ... Charlie's husband suggested that someone tell a story, and Frank asked each of them to tell the story of their experience that night at the performance. Charlie's husband started ... he really liked the performance ... we can't remember what he said, but it felt like he got and appreciated the reality-altering nature of the performance, and how it challenged all of them to go beyond their expectations. Almost all of them said this in some way or another. Charlie said that it was the most challenging thing that the Traveling Clubhouse has ever done. Frank said that was good! Or he would have to amp it up more! Nicole said that part of what affected her experience was the feeling of responsibility for bringing a group of people to the performance, and she was curious what it would be like for her to come by herself. Frank invited her back. Charlie later said that she didn't feel that ... she felt like she was opening up possibilities for people by organizing these tours, but that they could do what they wanted with the experience. She was not responsible for that ... Frank said that this was his philosophy too. Even though most of the Clubhouse left, Charlie and her husband stayed until the end.
The reading of Frank's writings was amazing. The poet turned out to be the woman that Erika had met and invited to the performance, and it felt like she really sunk into Frank's writings, really felt them ... it was a really good reading. Meanwhile, the people that remained were, one at a time, "got" by Linda, Jen and Erika. Jen later said that it felt like people were really open to being "got" ...
After the performance ended, the philosopher tried to get Frank to not put any photos of him up on the web ... he said that where he worked, they were unfairly trying to push people out, and would use anything to discredit him, and try to push him out of his position ... He talked to Frank a long time. He obviously liked the performance and liked Frank, and he knew he had no real grounds for asking Frank to do that. He knew what he was in for, he knew that the camera was running, he knew about Frank for years and what he does, and still he came and stayed the whole night. Frank told him that he always does what is morally right, and the guy knew this was true. Frank wouldn't edit or delete anything from the performance, and it would play in its entirety on BTV too! But the professor didn't seem to worry about that! Frank also gave him some really good advice about his situation. Frank said that he always takes responsibility for everything he does, and does what he wants to do, and that this protects him. It wasn't clear if the philosopher really got this. Frank said later that the philosopher needed to be logical!
Breaking down the set, talking and eating popcorn was fun as always ... we were blown away by the performance ... this write-up seems to really only capture a fraction of the experience. We tried the cell phone thing on the drive home, but it was hard to hear Linda ... we did get that Frank was saying that there were a lot of levels to the performance ... the philosophy level, the physics level, the hip hop level... ! That's right, Kene-J did a set too! Amazing ... It was really incredible how much gets packed into these performances. Linda also said that it felt like there was this deep well to draw from for these performances, and how important that well was ...
We were also saying on the ride home and later that it was so amazing how there are always, in every performance, these moments, sometimes a lot of them, of being blown away by things that people say, or simply what is happening in the performance. Corey said that it was often, behind the camera, a sensation of a historical moment. Something that one could look back on and really see how important what we do is, in a broad historical context ... and there were so many of them ... month after month, year after year ... archives full of these moments. And what made it especially poignant, videoing, was that it was often this combination of the music and the words and what was happening, that just gave you a jolt of this feeling of "historic".
I got to the space and Corey and Alexi where unloading the car. I jumped in and joined them and soon Frank, Linda, Mikee and Jen arrived. I set up the mats and blankets and then all the costumes and jewelry, really fun! There was a lot of jewelry. It was really fun setting up together and then people started arriving before 8:00. Before we knew it the performance was off and running. At least 10-12 people where there from the Traveling Clubhouse an adventure group that singed up to go to unknown events for the day. The leaders of the group had found the performance online when they were looking for events that would challenge people and would be free or almost free. Frank had had email contact with the leaders of the group beforehand and suggested that they feed each other at a restaurant before coming to the performance. Many of the people in the group said that they had found it very challenging because of the intimacy and had wanted to do it with people that they knew. Frank said that is why he had said to pair up randomly. The leader of the group Charlie said that she had only wanted to feed her husband and a couple of the guys who knew each other said that they had had a lot of fun doing it.
Saw Tom today who was at the performance. He was the guy from Long Island who is traveling. He was People's Park eating food. He said wow about the performance and looked like he was still churning it. Later I went over and gave him some handouts for next months performance so he could give them out to other people. He said that he was still trying to figure it all out and that afterwards he felt emotions that he had never felt before, emotions that did not have words. He said that Frank's writing were right on and that when he was being embraced by Linda, Jen and Erika the words of the poems changed. He said he would come next time if he was around and he wanted to know what kind of Shamanism Frank does. I talked about the direct experience of reality and that he could email Frank to talk with him more. He asked why the performances did not happen more often and I told him about checking out the web site, the Shaman's Den and Luver and how great it was that there was a performance workshop series right now. He said he would tell people about it and come again if he was in town.
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Last modified November 18, 2013