Last night was a great birthday present. At the end of the performance, I kept saying it was the “best “ performance we have done… Which is really a meaningless statement. What is “the best”? But it was equal to the UCB performances and the one in Brooklyn. In some performances you have to squeeze possibilities out of rocks! Other performances are a flood of possibilities and potential paths that you need to weave together the best you can. This was that kind. Some of the potentials slipped through without being fully developed… Such as the woman who did non linear non verbal art therapy. But it was a feast of willing people hungry for going deep within experimental play together. Of course the night started with an uptight woman. This time she was in a wheelchair. Her attendant brought her because she said she wanted to participate. But it was quickly revealed that she wanted to keep on being a crip. But the space quickly filled up with people who wanted to play and to sing with her. It became obvious that she did not want to drop her mask!
And there was the future minister made dense by dogma.
But the rest were ready to jam and dance and play, ready to put on almost nude costumes. Even the conversation was aroused making love. Ava Bird, the poet, read some of her poems about pussies, backed up musically by Tomek and Kene-J, while people undressed one another and put on the costumes. Then the musicians created a sexy musical ecstasy in which people danced into a tansexual trance, quivering flesh of pleasure of deep contact. Carol Swan began to vocalize non-verbal eerie wails, destroying time. Ava did an immensely rich full amazing reading of the first twenty pages of my novel, THE INNER MAZE, understanding everything, giving context to the ever changing dance. Everything meshed together! To put it simply, everything kept getting deeper, showing what is possible. And it was so much fun!
This series is clearly building!
it was a trip going over on a Friday evening ... we hustled to get the car unpacked and start the set-up. Tomek was there almost immediately, loading in his stuff! We were in a groove with set-up, and were ready just as it turned 8-o-clock. There were folks already there, Carol Swann and her friend, Charles, a woman in a power wheelchair, Chloe, with her young blonde assistant, Rae ... The guy who later told Frank he is studying to become a Lutheran pastor was there early on too, with a girlfriend ...
The very beginning of the performance was Frank talking to Chloe and Rae ... Linda said later that it was perhaps the most intense part of the performance ... Chloe obviously was very capable, could talk, sing, etc., and there is Frank, in a wheelchair too, and can't talk! They had no idea that it was HIS performance before they showed up! Chloe just clammed up, and Rae spoke for her ... Linda said later that they imagined it was going to plant some seeds in their relationship ... Rae knew that Chloe could have participated much more, but she just closed down ... Rae told Frank that Chloe is a whiz with song lyrics and loves listening to music and singing along ... so Frank said, "Let's test that!" Linda asked Alexi to come up with a song, and of course on the spot, his mind went blank! All he could come up with was "Help!", since she had mentioned "Beatles" ... Pretty soon, the whole crowd, of maybe 18 people, plus us, were singing "Help, I need somebody ..." But Chloe didn't make a peep ... They stayed a while though ... and we saw Chloe at times with a huge smile on her face, and she was really fascinated when Unru-lee and Nell undressed each other and put on costumes ... but Chloe and Rae left just as the dancing was starting up ... It is amazing how quickly and directly Frank's work calls people to their core, gives complete freedom and total responsibility, and then to see what people do with that ... We were all saying later that Chloe hid behind "crip", rather than following Frank's lead ... even as he spelled it out for her ... how he could sing, and could fake not knowing the lyrics, or the tune!
Then Frank talked to Charles and Carol ... Charles wanted to ask a question ... he had seen Frank around from the 70s on, and wanted to know where he might have been seeing him ... it turned out that Charles is a dancer, and Frank invited him and Carol to dance with him erotically later ... Carol said she was shy! Charles was willing! He said that he felt all dancing was erotic, really. Frank said that all of life is erotic ... if it goes deep. Talking is erotic, if it is not just on the surface ... It felt like a lot of people in the group really got this, and loved it ...
Then Frank moved on, talking with the guy who said he was studying community-building through art, and had found Frank from a poster or an online listing ... and had read up about him a bit ... he said he had found that Frank was very "influential". Frank asked how "influential"?? He talked about the NEA grant, and Jesse Helms, and Frank and Linda told the story ... it was always interesting to hear the story, especially in this context, with people who were hearing it for the first time ... But this guy, who was also going to become a Lutheran pastor, didn't seem to get what Frank was getting at, when he talked about churches giving out cookies or potluck ... in reference to community building, and Temescal. At Temescal, they weren't supposed to give out any food now, were never technically allowed to, without a certain license! It was a crackdown on community building, but this guy didn't seem to connect it all, especially not with himself ... later, we were all talking about this, and how he seemed to limit things into a particular box, not able to see the bigger picture Frank was painting ... it was one of those times when Frank's words went over like lead balloons, not because of Frank, but because the Lutheran was not taking it in ... Meanwhile, we saw that the rest of the folks there were really taking it all in ... it felt like people really "got" Frank right away at this performance ...
Then Frank was talking with Unru-Lee and the girl he brought with him, a hands-on sex educator, Nell, and soon had them undressing each other and putting on costumes ... then talking with the woman who was studying Expressive Arts Therapy at CIIS, and her boyfriend, who had seen Frank before at DadaFests ... she really resonated with the flier for the performance because of the emphasis on solving problems through play, art, physicality ... Frank said that this is why he focuses on the physical, and that we needed a new word instead of "therapy", which always implied "goals" ... She said that "shaman" had also drawn her to the performance, because she saw that what native cultures did to heal their tribe, through shamanistic art, music, dance, etc., was what she was going for ... Her boyfriend created social adventures for corporate types! He also created games for friends, with obstacles, treasure hunts, "plants" ... Frank asked him if he could guess who the "plants" were at this performance? He said everyone except for the Lutheran! Frank said, "Very good!" And then thanked his girlfriend for bringing him, as if she were in on it! Frank said, "But I might be lying!"
Then there were the two guys, one of whom had seen us at the Temescal Street Fair, and the girl who we ran into in front of MoJoe Cafe ... who liked to dance! And her friend, who was building a house ... Frank was beginning to spin the plates! Soon he had a bunch of "plates" in the air at the same time! Meanwhile Tomek was playing an amazing soundtrack to the whole piece ... Frank's "son" Kene-J soon joined him ... Ava Bird was there too, with a friend from Venice, CA, and Frank had her reading her poetry while the Lutheran undressed Linda and Jen ... He also had Charles and Carol dance together ...
Then Frank had the house-builder undress him, and then had Unru-Lee join Ava at the mic, the two of them reading Frank's novel together while Nell danced with Frank erotically, and the MoJoe girl danced with Linda and Jen ... the slides and strobes came on, the amazing music continued ... the lights went out ... the trance building ... This is around the time when a number of people left, in small waves ... Later Alexi was saying that he always wished he could hear what all these folks thought too! The trance got deeper and deeper ... Unru-lee joined Nell, dancing with Frank at one point, and then went down to lie on the floor ... Linda, Jen and the MoJoe girl danced and danced ... the girl becoming softer and softer, letting go into it ... we said later that it was really neat to watch! At some point the two dances melded together around Frank ... the MoJoe girl slowly drifted away at a certain point ... Linda, Jen and Nell danced with/on Frank, erotic, liquid ... the slides creating amazing combinations of images and bodies together ... At one point, Charles came up to dance with all of them ...
At some point, Nell left the dance, and lay with Unrulee on the floor for a while, and Jen, Linda and Frank danced deeply warmly erotically together ... Almost everyone at this point had left ... Ava continued reading Frank's novel, chapter after chapter, an amazing reading ... creating the trance along with everything else ... she said later that Frank's words fit her ... she was really blown away by the performance, by being part of that feeling ... Her friend from Venice really loved it too, had just melted into it ... and said afterward that he was ready to "move in"!
At some point, Nell and Unru-lee came back up to dance with Linda, Jen and Frank ... it was beautiful, soft, warm ... and as Ava came to the end of the last chapter, the dance "ended" ...
Frank asked Nell and Unru-lee to talk about their experience of the performance ... They both really enjoyed it ... Nell said something about the trance-like feeling of it ... Frank said, "Come back!" Kene-J said that anything that combines art and nudity, "I'm there!" Frank said, "And rap!" Ava talked about how amazing it was for her to read Frank's piece with the dancing, etc. She really loved it, and kept saying, "Thank you for all the fun!" Linda talked about how good it felt ... Frank said it might have been the best performance ...
Then we got to breaking down the set ... saying goodbyes to Ava and her friend, Unru-lee and Nell, Tomek ... Frank would be jamming with Tomek on the streets of Oakland the next Friday!
We all had plums and popcorn and packed up, and were talking about how amazing the performance was, how it felt like everyone had come ready to participate, unlike recent performances, where Frank had to get past the sour actresses sent from "Central Casting"! And then had to work hard to get stuff going with the others that came ... This time, people were open and there to play!
Soon we were locking things up, and heading home, talking more about the performance ... the way people took Frank in ... it was really neat to watch!
People started coming in right away. Carol Swann, our neighbour, arrived with a friend. A woman, Chloe, who was in a wheelchair was there with her attendant Ray. There were many others that kept trickling in as Frank talked to everyone. Frank asked Chloe what she liked to do, and if she sang. Ray had to answer for her because she would not answer, like she was wriggling under a spotlight. Very uncomfortable. Ray said they went to music events and that Chloe really liked to sing, could sing anything in fact, even songs she didn't know! Frank tested her and we all sang the Beatles 'Help!' but she didn't join in.
There was a guy there who was studying to be a Lutheran minister, and was also learning how to build communities. Frank asked him if they served milk and cookies to the kids at bible study. He wanted to make a point about community building. The Temescal Arts Center where we perform is getting pressure from the city and one of the new rules it has to follow is that anyone performing can not give out any food or drink because there's no cabaret license. This kind of thing blocks community building. The minister in training didn't really get it and the point Frank was trying to make kept getting cut short with his confused responses, but Frank kept trying. There was another couple, one woman who did nonlinear art therapy and her boyfriend that did corporate communication and community building. The girl said that her work consisted of mainly nonverbal therapy for people because it can usually get deeper into what is really going on. Frank said that's why he uses a lot of nonverbal communication in his work, but he said that the word 'therapy' implies there is a goal. It was great just to listen to all the dialogue going on. There was another couple and the guy was Unruly who knew Frank from years back. He was there with his sex therapist girlfriend. The place was packed! Frank kept talking to everyone asking them what they did, how they found out about the performance etc. and then quickly getting deeper into whatever with them. Carol and her partner were contact dancers and Frank asked if they would dance erotically with him. Carol seemed shocked but the guy agreed. Frank said he liked to go into uncomfortable places. Then Frank asked Unruly and his girlfriend to undress each other and put on come costumes.
Ava arrived with a friend from Venice Beach. She had brought her poems. Frank had her come up and read some of them while the minister in training undressed Linda and I. Then a girl that the boyz gave a flyer to danced with us. Frank orchestrated everyone. Tomek and Kene-J played really great mesmerizing beautiful music. Carol and her friend contact danced, and it was erotic with them rolling around together on the floor. Unruly and his girlfriend danced with Frank, and Linda me and the other girl danced together while Ava read about pussies and blood and underwear. We all quickly melted together in the dance and the music. It was very transcendental, but it was just the beginning. We danced for a while, and then we all danced with Frank, Unruly's girlfriend rubbing on his lap and then Linda me and the other girl all around them. The music was all within us and we were moving within each other, hips swaying, heads and arms connecting and caressing. The girl left at some point, and then Unruly's girlfriend left as well to go to the bathroom. When Frank Linda and I danced it got very deep intimate small. The focus intensified and we melted into one another warm and sexy. Ava had been reading Frank's novel, all 9 chapters of nonlinear dreamlike stream. That brought it all together with the music and the movement. She was such a great reader and made it make sense because she understood it. She thinks in that nonlinear way. We were deep in trance, one with the space. It isn't like performing, playing to the audience. It's like revealing, opening up in a public space with the performance as a frame. It felt natural up there, like we do that all the time. I didn't think of anyone there watching, I just was there with you and we were enjoying being together in a very deep way.
When Ava reached the end of the novel, Unruly and his girlfriend had shed the costumes they were wearing and joined us until the end of the dance. I lifted my head and saw that the rest of the audience had left. Wow, what a great time! I was buzzing. Frank asked Unruly and his girlfriend what they thought of the evening. They loved it! Unruly said that he had wished to eroplay with everyone there. But when we talked about it later, the way it happened was much more intimate. His girlfriend thanked Frank for the experience. Kene-J said that anywhere there's art and nudity, he's there! Tomek had a great time playing, as always. And Ava felt very honored to have read Frank's novel to everyone out loud like that. Not an easy thing to do! She is amazing. Frank kept saying 'it's building'. He also said it was the best performance he's ever done. It was amazing and the feeling just kept going as we took the set down, packed up and back into the car.
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