This one is hard for me write about because it was mostly under the surface level. It was preparing for the private performance between Ava and me later this month, plowing the field for potential depth. And also there was inter- personal trash going on, making doing the performance like driving a truck! [And I don’t mean between Ava and me.] But I am a professional and people [except for one or two] came ready and willing to risk, and go deep into the unknown. And this was what the performance was. So I will let the others below write about it.
But since when did “performance artists” [for that matter, “actors”] develop such active distasteful vomit fear of improvisation? It is to the point where they deny that an improv performance is in fact a real performance. They run away in fear… where everyday Jane and Joe jump lustily in!
When I arrived at the space everyone was already there and a lot of the set up was done already. Linda said that she was doing my job so I lifted up my skirt for a smack on the ass. The space was cozy with all of the back drops of Mikee's paintings, Christmas lights around the ceiling and a display table with Frank's poetry, fliers for the next performance, etc.. There were mats on the floor and all the instruments including the toy instruments were laid out ready to be played. The first guy to come in sat and watched as we were finishing getting ready and then Frank said that he was open for business. Frank asked how he found out about the performance and he had seen a flyer. Just about everyone who came had seen the flyers up around town. Frank said, "Flyering does work!" Some people said that they had been seeing the flyers up for years!! The guy was an actor and part of a all male band. "Frank said an all Mail Carrier band! Now that is dangerous! He later joined Kene-J on the musical instruments creating magical journey music throughout the performance. Nancy returned from the last performance, this time bringing some of her poems with her. Frank asked her how the last performance was and she said that she had stayed at a distance and had been guarded so she wanted to come back as a do over. Frank asked her how much further she wanted to go and she held up her fingers to say a little bit. Linda said that Frank doesn't do a little bit but jumps in and goes all the way. Later when we all traded articles of clothing Nancy took off several layers of clothes and her bra ended up on Frank's head becoming a fluffy hat that billowed out. It was a cozy small group. There was a woman who was a performance artist. Frank asked her what kind of performance she did but she didn't really say much except that it was very scripted. Frank asked her if she would show us what her performances were like and she said that she was terrified of just getting up and doing it. The guy that was with her seemed to have some ideas after he blurted out that her performances were awesome but she said she did not know what to do. Frank asked her how long she needed, five minutes! Jen and Ava traded shirts and Frank asked Ava if she would take off her bra which she did. Frank was filling time while the performance artist came up with something. While she was still coming up with something Frank asked her if she would come up and read from his writings. It was amazing to hear Frank's words again about how performances do not need audiences but have the power to create change through doing hidden private performances. After reading the woman couldn't get back to her seat on the mat fast enough. When Frank asked her if she had come up with something to do she said that we could continue with exchanging clothes and everyone could take something off and put it in the center of the room and put on someone else's clothes like Jen and Ava had done. It was not long after that that she left, she was out of there! Linda said that it was always the people who were artists who had the hardest time with the performances, letting go of how they looked rather than just following and that it was the regular working people who would just jump in. Frank talked with Ava about their upcoming scheduled private performance and asked her to talk as if she was Frank telling Ava what would be happening during the private performance. Ava was not sure what to expect and said that they might take off bras, read poetry, eat food. Frank kept on about erotic play and being lovers and Ava would say that they loved each other and that Frank gets turned on by physical touch and that she did not know what was going to happen and that it was private so she did not want to talk about it in public. Her wheels were churning and she was going through changes. There was a couple who had also seen the flyer up and the woman said that he was always taking her to different things that she had never done before like creating dances to modern art pieces and soon they were undressing Linda, Jen and Erika and dressing us in sexy costumes with jewelry. Frank said that Betty would be watching this later and would give him shit if we did not have her jewelry on so we went back for another round of jewelry. Turned out the woman who had dressed Linda, Erika and Jen created video games that had to do with different creatures. Soon she was coming up with creatures for each of us to be and we became them. She was really great at coming up with creatures that fit each person and also stretched them. She just jumped in and it was really fun to become the creatures. There was a lot of laughter as we became different creatures. Frank was a squawking parrot so he squawked and talked like a parrot. Linda was a swimming dolphin, Jen a gerbil, Erika a spider, Mikee a ground hog, Corey a fly, and Alexi a pelican. We went around the whole room including the band becoming different creatures. Kene-J came up to the front and sang a few songs while Frank had a piss break. He sang some of his hip hop licks and plugged his web contact information. Soon Frank was back with the bra on his head bopping and singing along with Kene J. Nancy came up and read a few of her poems and then Ava read some of poems while Erika and Jen undressed the video game creator and put a costume on her. She said that she was ok going down to her underwear and we put on a fun sexy costume with jewelry. The video gamer said that the performance was awesome and like nothing she had ever done. Corey undressed Alexi and soon Alexi was up front and Corey was ready to whip him. Frank said that the black whip hurt while the other one was a little more mild and asked Jen which one Corey should use. She said lets be honest, "the black one". So the whipping began soft and then a little harder. Jen and Linda also did some whipping of Alexi. Frank got undressed, Erika and Jen put a skirt on Ava, the lights went down low and the slides came up. Ava rocked on Frank while she read Frank's amazing deep juicy funny novel. While Ava was reading and rocking Linda, Jen and Erika did a juicy, hot, melting dance together. Ava did an amazing job reading Frank's novel and it was fun to hear it read out loud all together. It is amazing what Frank weaves together. After reading the novel Frank said to Ava that his novel was what the personal performance would be that they would be doing and was she willing. She said that she did not know because she was not sure what it all meant. She was churning it all and going through changes. At the end of the night people felt that the warning sign was right, that it would take some time to process the performance, and that they would feel the effects of it changing their realities! One guy said that he did not know what to expect coming to the performance and that during the whole performance he never knew what was going to happen next and that that was really amazing. The video gamer said that it was really fun and great to do things she had never done before. It was a really fun night of creatures, hip hop music, poetry, exploration of the private performance, whipping, and juicy hot dancing into unknown passion. It felt really good to be with everyone and to dance juicy, soft and fun with Linda and Jen.
I did enjoy watching Erika put the jewelry and costumes out on the blanket.
There was a guy who came in and sat back as we finished setting up. Then when the lights were all set, Frank said that he's open for business. The guy came over and Frank asked him how he found out about the performance. Flyer! All the people there tonight said that they saw the flyers on the street. It really works even if they get taken down all the time. Then Frank asked him what he did. He was a handyman and he was also in a band. What kind of band? An all male band, but Frank spun this around and said a band full of postal workers would be a very dangerous band! The guy was enjoying Frank's responses. Eventually Frank asked him to join the band when Kene-J arrived, so we had some great music again. Really fun.
There was another guy who arrived and he loved the quotes on the flyers. He was a poker player who didn't want to work for an employer. Then there was a couple who arrived and the girl was a performer and was interested in the participatory part of this performance. Frank asked her to do something with anyone in the room, but she said she needed to think about it. Instant resistance to something so simple, that would have been fun just to fall into. Which is what a girl from another couple did. She said that she was brought by her friend who always takes her to interesting events. She worked in video games so Frank asked if she could create a creature for everyone to be. She went around the room telling each of us one by one what animal we were and we acted it out. Frank's parakeet was great, and Linda's dolphin. Mikee's groundhog was super funny as he keeled over dead. It was really fun!
Ava was there too. Frank asked if she would exchange tops with me so we did that, but then he asked her if she would take off her bra. The top I gave her to wear was see through, and she said yes and took off her bra. Frank talked with her about their private performance that was coming up. Frank had her be him and describe what it would be like. She mentioned some things about being creative, painting, poetry etc. Then Frank asked her if it would be erotic and she asked what erotic meant. He said that was a good question, so what does it mean to Frank? She said that it means love because it comes from the word eros. Then Frank was Ava and he said that she was nervous to do the private performance because she knew that it was going to be erotic, but that she would do it because being nervous turns her on. It went against all performance 'rules' to talk to Ava so personally in that space with the audience there. Ava was nervous about that but it did bring everything in, more intimate. The audience became a part of this intimate dialogue and even part of the private performance that's to come.
After Ava and I exchanged tops, Frank talked to the performance girl asking her if she had come up with any ideas. She said that her stuff was heavily scripted and she didn't understand how this was a performance if Frank just made it up as he went along, did not have a frame. Frank had her come up and read his little booklet The Magical Act of Doing. Frank's writings do sound different when different people read them. What a great piece to have her read! When she was done reading, she said that we should go with the exchanging clothes theme. She said everyone should take off one article of clothing and throw it in the center and then someone else should wear it. Everyone took something off, and then we all grabbed a piece from the center and put it on. I picked Linda's pants and couldn't even get them up to my knees, whoa! So I wore them on my arms. The video game girl had us be the animals then, and the performance girl and the guy she was with quickly left after that.
Then Frank had the videogame girl and her friend undress Linda, Erika and I and put jewelry and costumes on us while the girl that Erika invited, Nancy, read some of her poetry. She had come to the last performance as well but didn't bring any of her poetry then, so she was asked to come next time with some. Here she was! She read as the couple adorned us with Betty's jewels and netting and skirts. Frank called for more jewelry as Betty would give him shit. It's really fun to have her be the excuse to get people undressed. Frank uses everything! Then Frank asked the videogame girl if she would undress and let us adorn her in costumes and jewels. She said ok as long as she could keep her underwear on. Ok. Her friend did not want to undress so he didn't do it. We put all sorts of things on her and that was really fun.
Kene-J sang a few songs as Frank went to the bathroom, and then we were back and he asked Ava if she would read some of her poems. At some point Frank had Corey undress Alexi. Then Alexi was brought to the center of the room and whips were given to Corey. Frank asked me to pick which whip to use. The black one hurt more, and I chose that one. It was an obvious choice. Corey was told to start off slow and then build to what Alexi had been begging for. He did that and got to the point where you could see Alexi flinching. Then Frank said for me to take the whip. I whipped him good and knew it must have hurt but there was no reaction. Then Linda got the whip and gave him some good ones. Frank then said it was boring so moving right along. There was nothing from Alexi, and when he went to sit back down he just sat on his own against the wall.
Frank then had Ava come and sit on his lap and rock while reading the last chapters of his book while Linda, Erika and I danced together. That book is amazing and touched on so much of what was going on in the performance. It was a description of the private performance that was to come. Linda and Erika and I melted together in dance, flowing and rubbing in hot friction. It felt very good.
When the reading was over Frank asked everyone what they thought of the performance. Everyone really loved it. The videogame girl said that it was not anything they had done before or could expect. Her friend said that he thought Frank's warning sign was right and he would probably be feeling what went on for a while afterwards, trying to process it. Ava said she really loved to read Frank's book. Nancy said that she felt a general feeling of acceptance that she really enjoyed. She felt that the performance had gone deeper than the last one. Then the performance wrapped up and we started to take everything down.
It was great that everything was ready in advance of 8pm. And Frank said he was open for business! He started talking with the first guy who had showed up, early. He, like everyone else who came that night, had seen a flier. In fact, he had it with him, and pulled it out of his bag. He was a musician, among other things, and Frank asked him what kind of band he was in? He said a "male band", it was a joke. Frank said, "All postal workers?" Now that was a scary thought! Frank had an instant fan. The musician stayed through the whole performance. It was neat to hear what had attracted him and others to the performance, and because the flier was out on the floor, different people pointed to different elements of the flier that had attracted them. Several people had seen the fliers up at Ashby BART. It was really neat to hear where people were seeing them.
The next guy to come in had seen the flier at the 8th St. dance jam, a regular stop for our fliering. Cool! He was unemployed, and an online poker player, saying he wanted to be able to make a living doing it, never having to work for anyone else. Then there were several couples who arrived. One girl said she was a performance artist, and was there with her boyfriend. She had come because she wanted to see how someone else approached participatory performance, because that is what she did. In the other couple, the guy said he had come because of the fascination with the whole flier, and the amazing reviews listed on the flier. Frank said that he had tons more reviews ... but a lot of them came from people who had not actually come to his performance! He was always attending interesting, provocative events, and often brought her to them. She said the last one was an interpretive modern dance thing that was participatory ... she had liked it, but it was challenging, because she isn't really a dancer. They too stayed for the whole performance, and loved it. Nancy, the poet, and friend of Erika's, also came again, and Kene-J showed up too!
When Frank started talking to the performance artist, he soon was asking her to do something. You could tell right away that she was uncomfortable, did not like Frank focusing on her ... wanted to be a spectator. She said she needed time to come up with something ... Frank said, "Five minutes." And turned to the next person ... He soon came back to her ... She was not going to play along ... At some point, Frank had asked Ava and Jen to change shirts, and for Ava to take her bra off. So when Frank turned back to the performance artist, she did say how about everyone throw an article of clothing into the middle of the floor, and everyone pick up something different to wear. Frank ended up with Nancy's bra on his head, Corey had Frank's shorts on his shoulder, the poker player was wearing Mikee's shirt, etc. The musician had taken his shirt off and picked up another ... but as Frank talked with the performance artist, she challenged Frank, saying how could this be a performance without a "frame", because Frank told her that he is making it up as he goes along. Frank asked her to come up and read, "The Magical Act of Doing", which was an amazing description both of what Frank does, and about art and performance in general. Corey said later that it was always amazing to hear someone else read these pieces that Frank has written. It always sounds new, and different things seem to come out ...
But she did not appear to get why Frank was having her read it ... she seemed pissed. They were soon out the door!
Throughout the performance, Frank talked with Ava about their upcoming private performance .... he was basically asking her to explore what it would be, and to be prepared for it, and to express her willingness to go into it open for anything. It was really amazing, because as Jen said today, it was like everyone was part of the private performance, which had not happened yet ... it wasn't that they knew what was going to happen, but had a feeling for it, and the intimacy of Frank and Ava exploring what it could/would be was something that everyone was part of ... really intense.
Frank had the couple who stayed come up and undress Linda, Jen and Erika while the musician joined Kene-J playing music, and Frank had Nancy read her own poems, which she had brought this time. She had said that last time, she felt like she had held back a lot, inside, that she had not let herself really experience things deeply, and she was back to go further ... How much further? Frank asked ... She indicated a smidge! Frank started to say something, and Linda finished it. Basically, Frank doesn't do well with small increments! So watch out asking for more! He said he would remember her as the performance progressed. Her poems were really neat ... erotic, personal ...
Then Frank had Ava read her poems too ... Jen, Linda and Erika were all now costumed ... Frank asked the girl of the couple who stayed what she does? She said that she works in game design ... making creatures. Frank asked her to make creatures from each person there. She was game! Frank would be a parakeet, Linda was a dolphin, Mikee was a groundhog, Jen a hamster, Erika a spider, Alexi was a pelican, Corey a mosquito ... a lot of fun! Frank pointed out that artists always seem to have the hardest time with his performances, while just "regular" people, people who the artists might look down upon, are willing to experience the performance in a very open and deep way. Linda talked about how this has been their experience for years. This was a case in point.
What would the girl be? She asked Frank to pick! He said, "Snake", and she said she knew Frank would say that! She had his number!
Later, Frank asked if Jen and Erika could undress the couple and put costumes on them too. The guy did not want to take his normal clothes off, but she was game, except for her underwear. So Erika and Jen took off her clothes and dressed her in costume.
As usual, Frank made sure that everyone knew about Betty and her jewelry, and that they got put on!
Frank also had Corey undress Alexi, and then had Corey whip him in the center of the room. He had Jen pick which whip to use, the soft leather one, or the harder one. She picked the harder one. Of course! Frank said to start mild, and work up to what he has been begging for. The idea of doing it was fun ... But after having Corey take a crack at it, then Jen, and then Linda, Frank said this was boring. Moving right along. Alexi was not surrendering to the feeling of what Frank was doing at all.
The last section of the performance, Frank asked Ava to rock on his lap and read the latest chapters of his novel, with the strobes and slides, while Linda, Jen and Erika danced together. It was really fun to hear the latest chapters read, and always beautiful the dancing and the slides on Frank and Ava ...
It was also really amazing to hear what the couple thought of the performance ... the game design girl said that she loved it, that she had never experienced anything like it. He said that he did not know what to say ... he really liked it. He said that he felt that it was going to be like what Frank's warning sign said, that the effects were going to be felt over the next days, weeks ...
Nancy said that she felt much more connected to everything this time, and that it felt like it was a very accepting space that was created by the performance.
After the performance officially ended, we broke down the set like always, talking about how amazing it was again ...
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