Sunday, January 23, 2011
Well, the first performance of the year was the kind that would spoil me if I expected every performance or most performances to reach the depths of this one! Everything went there! In my performances there is an invisible hidden secret state of erotic friction of arousing human intimacy rubbing between bodies without limits or glamour. Because it is invisible, you can not see it, only feel it. For example, we didn’t enter that state at the performance at the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco last summer, even though that was very erotic, visual, communal, tribal, etc. In fact, we last entered that state last February at Temescal.
The first couple to arrive actually set the tone, anchored /rooted the performance. The guy, Bobby, did that just by being there. Vicki turned out to be an actor. Her reading /acting out my poems throughout opened the door into the holy madness. Everything worked! It was possible to do a lot of the rituals [GESTURES, ROCKING, DRESSING, PROJECTING SLIDES ON NUDE DANCERS, etc] that have either set upon the shelf or haven’t reached the depths of arousing unknowns for awhile. And new rituals were introduced [UNDRESS THE CAMERAMAN, THE SIAMESE WAIST BANDS, TAKING /READING NOTES, etc]. There was just the right amount of resistance so that important issues could be explored, and to reveal that zones of comfort are silly and really prisons. [I am imagining the shit about being a homophobe a straight guy would get if he gave the reasons for not wanting to undress the cameraman that the Lesbian gave!] But a woman and her friend stepped up and by being actively lustfully abandoned willing to play and trust, broke everything open for everybody. And they did it as just fun, no big deal. I liked exploring his butt! Everything started floating into that juicy secret space as the woman started rocking on my lap, prickly freedom going all the way into both fusion and infusion of arousing magical pleasure erotic friction of comfort. Tomek’s surreal music created waves connecting the holy dancers together as they [us] webbed and flowed into different combinations and forms and roles without limits or judgments. The woman and her friend [he obviously hadn’t done anything like this before!] made it possible by simply trusting… Trusting so deeply, they could reshape the dance without avoiding anything. A whole band appeared at this point to join Tomek [they would disappear when the dance was over!]! Things got hot and surreal, while staying simple and human. Intimacy, closeness among everybody who stayed welded us into a cozy tribal body. Our skin [the organ of connection] webbed all of us together as the rubbing went all the way deeper into calm pleasure, as Vicki threw herself on the floor and rocked and belted out the words of the poem. I wish I could take credit for creating such a dramatic, erotic turn-on of an event. But I just followed the possibilities that the willingness people brought to the space created.
We arrived to Temescal a little earlier than usual, which turned out to be a good thing because there was a snag with the lights! After the performance, Herb, who does a lot of stuff at Temescal also, helped Mikee figure it out. So we did a last minute lighting adjustment, and Frank got going. He had to tell some of the early arrivals to hold onto their stories ... "Save it for the performance!" He told Vicki, an actress who was the first to arrive with her German husband, that he sometimes is not even visible when performances start. He is hidden!
There were two new wall hangings for this performance: banner versions of Frank's recent computer paintings, "Falling In Love" and "Let's Twist Again". They looked beautiful!
Right at 8, more people came in and Frank started talking with Vicky ... he said, "As you were saying ..." She had seen a flier for the performance up somewhere on Shattuck in Berkeley and went to the music & arts section of the Berkeley Public library, and had the librarian there google it! She said it was in her neighborhood and easy to get to ... She said she is an actress, and has always wanted to be on stage, with an audience ... never wanted fame, but to be on stage, with that audience reaction. Frank said that she had told him, before things started, that they spend half the year in France, and that he had just read the biography of Jean Genet.
Then Frank turned to a guy next to her, wearing a green Marvin the Martian Looney Tunes shirt. He said he loved the big backdrop, that it reminded him of Zap Comics. He had also seen the flier on a pole, near the Ashby BART, and had taken a picture of it. He had remembered seeing Frank on TV maybe 10 years ago ... Frank asked him to describe what he had seen ... He said he didn't remember a lot from that time period, because he was practicing illegal forms of "meditation". But he did not watch a lot of TV, and was picky about what he watched, and this really stood out ... you went from one channel, "Fantasy Island", to Frank's show: "Fantasy". He said it was a bunch of people in a room, he remembered Frank was there, and he thought Linda too ... he said, "how should I put this" ... it was very relaxed, and people were all naked, together in a very relaxed way. Frank asked, "A room like this?" He said perhaps ... but it didn't seem that the room was what was important about it ... Frank asked him what was important ...? He said it was the feeling of everyone there, very relaxed. Frank asked him about himself too at some point ... he is studying psychology, and works at Options, a recovery center. If he gets a degree, he said he could get paid for what he already does.
Next Frank turned to a pair of women in the center of the room. He asked one first what had brought her to the performance. She said her girlfriend had told her about it, had seen the flier, and said that it would be good for her to see "Live Art". They were attracted by the part of the flier that said, "Bring your sense of humor" ... Frank asked her how uncomfortable she was willing to be? She said it depends on to what degree? Frank asked what degree was she willing? She said she was willing to be uncomfortable as long as it was positive. Frank asked her if being uncomfortable is negative? She said, no, not necessarily ... Frank then asked her if she would undress the camera guy (Corey)? She said, right away, "No."
"Why?" Frank asked.
"Because I'm gay," she replied.
"What does your sexual preference have to do with it?" Frank asked.
"Well, its more that I am in a committed relationship, and don't feel the need to do anything like that with another person ..."
Frank asked her, "Is he gay?"
She said, "I don't know ..."
Vicki chimed in, "Only the cameraman knows ..." And Frank said, "Not necessarily!" Everyone was laughing!
Frank turned to the girlfriend, and asked her if she was willing to be uncomfortable? She said, "No." Frank asked, "So why did you come to the Uncomfortable Zones of Fun?" She said she really didn't know ... Later in the performance, he came back to her, and asked if she was "comfortable"? She said yes, but her back hurt from sitting on the floor ... Frank suggested she could lie down, but she said she was ok ... The two of them left later when things started getting juicier!
So now Frank talked to another pair of women who had come in, one with glasses, and her friend. Frank asked the first one what had attracted her to the performance. She said her friend had told her about it ... "What lies did she tell you?!" Frank asked. She said, "Well, that I wouldn't have to speak!" It turned out that she hadn't actually seen the flier, or heard what it said ... Frank had Vicki read it aloud. Her friend said that she had basically told her that it would be "weird". Frank asked the friend why she had wanted to come? She said that really it was because she had a school project where she needed to write a page describing a performance. She had seen a flier for this, and had thought that this would be a challenge to write about.
Frank talked to several others who had come in ... one was a dental hygienist from West Virginia, who just moved here ... she had come with two others, an unemployed soccer player who liked to read, and a waitress/bartender who was studying to be a massage therapist. They had all been together at the Albany Bulb, drinking wine and watching the sunset, and had wondered what they would do that night? They looked online, and found this! It had sounded interesting and it was free ... They were all willing to be uncomfortable ...
We think at this point Frank returned to the girl who was writing the page for school ... he asked her if she would undress the camera guy? She said, "No." Frank again asked why? She said that it was because her first choice for coming to the performance with her that night was her husband, and while she did not personally feel uncomfortable with doing that, she knew that he would feel uncomfortable hearing about it, because she would tell him about it, and she didn't want to do that. Then she added, "Also, the camera man looks like my husband." There was a roar of laughter! Frank asked, "Is that good or bad?" More laughter! She said, "Well I married him ..."
Then Frank turned to the Marvin the Martian guy, and asked him if he would undress Corey, but in the midst of what we think was a "yes", the waitress in back piped up, "I'll undress him just to get rid of that shirt!" So Frank said, "Be my guest ..."
She introduced herself to Corey, and took off his shirt and shorts ... she asked about the socks? Frank asked if Corey's feet were clean? He said he didn't know! They left the socks on!
So now Corey was nude behind the camera, and Frank had noticed that the one woman was taking notes for her school project ... he asked her to read them. The notes took everyone back through the events thus far, through the first girl who would not undress Corey because "she was gay" ... everyone was laughing, even her! It showed up how absurd it was! Very fun to hear it recounted this way. In the text, she had written that Frank was "goading" the audience to undress the camera guy! Frank asked Corey how it felt for him to be "goading" the audience to undress him! And then he said, "I could not come up with this ... or did I??" "Maybe you are a plant?" he asked the note-taker. She said, "Maybe ..."
We think now Frank turned to a girl with dreads ... she was an acupressure student, and had also seen the flier on a pole and taken a picture of it ... she had been attracted by the idea of being uncomfortable, how it can be a good thing ... she had been a sociology student and had been fascinated by taboos. She talked about how there are very simple things that can be taboo, like standing outside in a public space and doing nothing for 10 minutes. Many people only think of the extremes when they think of "taboo", but it was interesting to her the many simpler things that become taboo. She asked Frank what he thought was the most taboo thing in our culture? Frank said that it depends ... For example, he told the story of a performance at Passion Flower, an adult store that hosted several of Frank's performances ... Linda described how they did "Gestures", and Frank said that when it came to the gesture of rubbing feet, foot to foot, the guys freaked out. That was more taboo than anything else. The sociologist asked, so its the context then? Frank said yes ... She asked if he could describe what is behind what he does? In response, Frank asked if Vicki would read his poem, "I Came To Play". Then he turned to the woman, the waitress, and the soccer player, and asked if they would come up and dress only in the costumes and jewelry that were laid out? They said yes, and came up .... Frank wanted to be sure that they understood the "only" part. They got it, and they were willing!
So while Vicki did a very enthusiastic and dramatic reading of "I Came To Play", the waitress and the soccer player came up and picked out things to wear, and then took off their clothes, and put on the costumes and Betty's jewelry ... Frank told them about Betty, and the waitress thanked Betty for the beautiful jewelry. She said, "She has good taste!" We think it was also here that Frank asked if the sociologist would rock Unruhlee ... so she rocked him in her arms while the rest of this was going on.
After the poem had been read, and the waitress and the soccer dude had sat down, Frank asked them how they felt? The waitress said, "Alive!" Frank asked if she could expand upon that? She said that she was not really uncomfortable getting undressed in front of people, was comfortable with her body, but she really liked the experience of going through that with her friend, doing it together, and she thought that they would be much better friends now.
Meanwhile! Tomek had come in and was playing during most of this, an amazing dreamy electronic soundscape behind everything that was going on.
The sociologist spoke up ... she said something along the lines of noticing that Frank facilitates who does what during the performance, and she wondered if there were certain things that were more uncomfortable for certain people, and not for others. For example, the waitress was not uncomfortable with getting undressed in front of people, but maybe there was something else that would be uncomfortable for her ...
It may have been right around this point that Frank brought up his new "thing". Linda described the double elastic band that Erika had sewed together ... it was something that Frank had come up with for two people to get into, and dance together. So they would be connected with elastic at the waist ... He asked the waitress and her friend if they would come up and try it? Sure they would.
So they danced around in the double elastic, which was a lot of fun. Frank told them after the performance that they really opened things up in the performance, their willingness. Frank asked if Erika would rock Unruhlee, so they rocked together for a while ...
After this, Frank asked if the waitress would undress him, and if she and her friend would do Gestures with him? Linda described Gestures ... Frank also asked if Erika and Unruhlee would undress and do Gestures, and did anyone else want to do Gestures? No one spoke up ...
So Unruhlee and Erika, Frank, the waitress and her friend did the Gestures that Linda read ... the music continued ... After a while of Gestures, Frank asked the waitress if she would be the rocker ... rocking on his lap while Linda danced with them, touching them, and the waitress's friend could join Unruhlee and Erika, dancing together. Would the waitress undress Linda? Yes. And would Vicki read Frank's poem, "Wrapping and Rocking", repeating it, as they rocked and danced ...? Yes she would. Frank had Mikee lower the lights and turn the slides on, and the waitress rocked on Frank's lap while Linda danced soft with them, and the three others danced very playfully! While they rocked, a group of musicians arrived who had come to previous performances in the series. A trumpet player started up, jamming with Tomek, and another guy was on the tom tom drums, and another friend played various toy instruments. The music was incredible! The rocking and dancing was beautiful! When Vicki's voice gave out, Herb volunteered to sing the poem, which was really wonderful. The rocking and dancing went on ... at some point, Linda took the waitress's place, and the waitress and her friend danced around Linda and Frank rocking ... And then a little later, Frank had the waitress and her friend dance together while Unruhlee and Erika danced, and Linda rocked on Frank .... Frank asked Vicki if she would read "Wrapping and Rocking" one last time? She did an amazing reading of the poem, falling onto her knees and acting out the various images that the poem brings out of rocking ... like,
"the boys rocking
It was really amazing! And shortly afterward, Frank had Linda say, "The End."
Now Frank asked folks what they thought of the performance ... Vicki wanted to tell Frank and everyone there that she was what they call "bi-polar" and has had some very extreme experiences, including thinking one time that she had become a dog, but that she wanted to thank Frank for this experience, that she had really enjoyed it, had enjoyed reading Frank's poems, and was buying Chapped Lap. Frank asked her to come back, and she said she would, not next month, but maybe the month after. Herb said that it was hard to switch into "verbal" mode after he had been singing, but that he really liked it. Frank told him how much he loved the Temescal space. Herb is very involved in the space, and feels the same way, and wants very much for the space to survive.
The dental hygienist said that she had really enjoyed it too. She said she hadn't been uncomfortable. By the end of the night, the acupressure sociologist, and the note-taker and her friend had both left as well. Vicki's husband said that he really didn't know what to say about the night, but that it had been great, he had really liked it. He just didn't know what to say! The waitress said that it had "revived" her, to do things like this with likeminded people. Her friend said that he had never done anything like this before in his life, but that he really enjoyed himself. Erika said she really liked the rocking and dancing, and loved how the waitress and her friend had been willing to participate.
Next was Unruhlee ... what did he think? Frank made a sound and a face! Linda asked if hearing this made Frank uncomfortable? Yes! Everyone laughed. Unruhlee said that it was a great night ... and he showed everyone a copy of this zine that he had put together about 15 years ago called GAWE, "Gardeners Against the Work Ethic" ... it was a kind of performance piece, creating gardens in people's front yards in Madison, which was inspired very much by Frank's writings, especially his writings about eroplay. They had incorporated eroplay dancing into the gardening events ... He and Frank and Linda remembered how he had come with a tour of people on a bus and Frank had created a performance for them to participate in at 848 space in SF. Someone asked Unruhlee how he got his name? He said it started as a joke, which he tries to live up to. Frank added, "And fails!" "Touche," said Unruhlee.
Frank asked the waitress if she would like to get together, and she said, "Yes!"
Frank turned to Linda, "I did it!" Yes! Linda explained Frank's hospital experience over the summer, and how he had ended up with a trach. and a PEG tube, and how big a deal it was now for us to be here, and for Frank to be performing. Really amazing! And wonderful.
Afterward, Frank and Linda talked more with Herb about Temescal ... Frank kept telling him how much he loved the space. We packed up the props and ate delicious popcorn and talked about the performance. Another amazing performance! Frank had said at one point that it was one of the best groups of people, because of how willing people were to participate ... Linda said that it often only takes one person willing to participate, and then it creates an experience that everyone has together, even if they are just watching.
The January Uncomfortable Zones of Fun. We Are Back!! We got to Temescal and got everything set up including Frank's new blown up paintings on vinyl "Let's Twist Again," and "Falling In Love." They looked great behind where Frank and Linda would be sitting. Frank, Linda and Mikee arrived and we were doing our final set up when we couldn't get the power to work on the light board! While people were arriving Corey and Alexi rigged up some extension cords up to the ceiling to the lights. It worked and we had a few lights!!
There was a couple that spends half of their time in France who came early. The woman Vicki sat right up near Frank and Linda and started talking about how she had seen the flyer for the performance and Frank said to wait until the camera was rolling. Soon more people arrived and Frank started going around and talking to them. The woman who had come early said that she saw a flyer up and had gone to the art/music library where she is part of a play reading group and had the woman at the library google Frank for her. The performance was near where she lived and that made it easy to come. She was an actress who never dreamed of being a star but enjoyed the audience and interacting with the audience. Linda said that they had just been listening to the biography of Jean Genet. Her husband came with her who worked on old cars and traveled around Europe part of the year. They both enjoyed seeing postcards of Frank's oil paintings before the performance had started.
There was a guy who had also seen a flyer and really loved the art on it and on the back drops. He said Mikee's art reminded him of comics he reads. He was studying psychology and works at Options a recovery center. He said he is going to school in psychology so he can get paid for what he already does. He had seen Frank and Linda on cable TV ten years ago. He said that it was very memorable and there wasn't a lot that he remembered from that time period because he had been doing a lot of illegal forms of mediation at the time. He said he was very picky about what he watches on TV and there was Frank and Linda and some others, nude and looking very comfortable in a room. Frank said much like this room here and he said yes although it didn't seem to be much about the room but how the people were together who were nude and very relaxed and comfortable.
There were two women in the center of the room who came together. One of them had seen the flyer at a BART station and told her girl friend about it. When Frank asked them what had attracted them to the flyer they said that they didn't know but that it was live art and to bring a sense of humor. They were both students, one a nursing student. They had not seemed to notice that the title was "The Uncomfortable Zones of Fun". Frank asked the nursing student if she was willing to be uncomfortable and to what degree. She said that that depended on if it was positive or not. Frank asked her if she would undress the camera guy. She said "no,". Frank asked her why and she said because she didn't want to. Frank asked her why and she said that she didn't want to do it because she was gay. Frank asked her why her sexual preference had anything to do with it. She said she was in a committed relationship and that she did not need to do anything physical with anyone else other that the person she was with. Her girlfriend was there with her and she had been the one who had seen the flyer. Frank asked her if the camera guy was gay and she said that she did not know. Vicki the actress said that only the camera guy knows and Frank said not necessarily!
Another woman had come with her friend who had seen a posting on-line about the performance. Frank asked her what lies her friend had told her about the performance and she said that her friend had told her that she was not going to have to speak at the performance! Frank had Vicki the actress read the flyer "Uncomfortable Zones of Fun," experiments in experience participation performance. Frank asked her friend why she had not told her friend all of that and she said she did tell her that it was going to be weird so she had been warned. She said that she needed to go to some event and write about culture for a school project and she had found the posting for the performance at 5:00. She had a strong feeling to come and to bring her friend with her. She was looking for something that would be hard to write about and Frank said you found it!
There was another woman who had just moved to the bay area from West Virginia. She was a dental hygienist and she had come to meet people and see new things. Frank said clean teeth and he opened his mouth ready for her. There was a guy with them who was unemployed who liked to play soccer. They had all been at Albany Bulb drinking wine together and were looking for something to do so they goggled and found Frank's performance. Their other friend was a waitress and a bartender who was in massage school.
Frank asked a couple more people if they would take the camera guys clothes off. The woman who was a hygienist said "No," Frank asked the woman who came for a class project if she would undress the camera guy and she said no. Frank asked her why and she said that because although she was there and agreed to be uncomfortable her husband was not there and had not agreed to be uncomfortable and she would go home and tell him all about it. And she said besides, the camera guy looks a lot like her husband. Everyone laughed and Frank asked if that was good or bad? She said well it was good because I married him. Then Frank asked the guy who saw Frank and Linda on TV ten years ago he said he would and he said yes. The woman who was in massage school also said yes at the same time just to get that shirt off of him. Corey had a bright colored flowered shirt on with Hawaiian shorts. She went up and undressed Corey. Frank asked her if she was gay and she said no but that she was open to love with all people. He asked her if her sexual preference came into undressing Corey and she said no because Corey was a human being and she did not know him. She would need to know him to be sexually attracted to him.
The woman who wouldn't undress the camera guy because he looked like her husband had been taking notes for her school write-up so Frank asked her to read her notes. Frank said he couldn't come up with this stuff! She recounted what had happened so far including the part about why the woman who was gay did not want to undress Corey. She too was laughing at this point as well hearing the re-telling of her reasoning for not undressing the camera guy. Frank asked her girlfriend how uncomfortable she was now and she said that she was comfortable except for her back. Frank said lay down and she said no she was ok. Obviously they were both uncomfortable and left shortly after that when people stared undressing each other.
Frank talked to a woman who was an acupressure student who had also studied sociology. She was interested in taboos. She said that there are lots of taboos, simple ones that make people really uncomfortable and that it is good to go into what is uncomfortable and taboo in order to be free. Frank asked her what taboos are and she said that there are all kinds of simple ones like being in public and not doing anything. People expect you to be waiting for someone or talking on your phone but to be in public not doing anything makes people really uncomfortable. She said that although it was good to go into what is uncomfortable and taboo she did not want to do that tonight. Frank asked her why and she said that she didn't have a good reason other that it is comfortable not to and it takes a lot to push yourself to do things that are uncomfortable. Frank and Linda talked about the zones of comfort and how people are always talking about their zones of comfort. When you go into what is uncomfortable then there is true comfort which is flexible comfort. The woman said that it takes trust to go into what is uncomfortable. Frank asked her if she trusted, trusted people, trusted life. She said yes for the most part. She asked Frank what was the most taboo thing and Frank said that it depends. Frank and Linda talked about doing gestures with people at Passion Flower, an adult shop and how people would do all kinds of stuff but when it came time to touch each others feet, feet to feet the guys freaked out and became very uncomfortable. And this was at a place where you would think people would be into feet.
The sociologist asked Frank if she could describe what breaking taboos is in her work. Frank asked her to rock Unruhlee while Vicki the actress read "I Came to Play." Then Frank had Erika rock Unruhlee. Frank asked the waitress and her friend who was a guy to come up and undress each other and dress in costumes which they did. Frank asked them how they felt after putting the costumes on. The waitress said that she felt comfortable being nude but that it was fun to do it with her friend. The sociologist said that different things were uncomfortable to different people and because the waitress was comfortable being nude, comfortable with her body maybe getting undressed with her friend wasn't the thing to do to be uncomfortable. Then Frank had the waitress and her friend try the newest costume, a couple of pieces of elastic sewed together. Erika helped them put it on in the center of the room. They danced belly to belly. Frank asked the waitress if she would do gestures with Frank and her friend would join them. Erika and Unruhlee did gestures together. Frank asked if anybody else wanted to do gestures and nobody did. Everyone undressed and Linda began reading the gestures. Look at each other childlike, touch each others knees knowingly, sensually touch each others butts. Then Frank asked the waitress if she would rock on Frank's lap while Vicki read Frank's poem "Wrapping and Rocking," over and over. Unruhlee and Erika would dance together and the waitress's friend who was also in costume would dance with them. At some point Frank had the waitress undress Linda and she joined them rocking and dancing.
Tomek played an amazing jam of music throughout the night. At some point during the dancing and rocking some other musicians came in and joined him with horns and other instruments. They had come to portions of performances before and just jumped right in. Vicki said that she needed someone to take over reading "Wrapping and Rocking." Herb a guy who is involved in the Temescal space took over doing an amazing and beautiful singing of the poem which sounded great with the musicians. The dancing and rocking continued for a long time, bodies intertwining in a soft deep erotic exploration of skin. The waitress and her friend had opened up all of this when they said yes and came up and put on costumes and danced and rocked with Frank and Linda. At the end Linda said that that is all it takes, a couple of people who are willing and then it opens everything up. Even the people who are watching feel a part of it. At some point the guy who came with the waitress joined her with Linda and Frank and Unruhlee and Erika continued dancing. It was a long time of deep dancing.
More people began to leave when the rocking and dancing started. The woman who was a sociologist and her friend left and then the woman who had been taking notes also left. At the end Frank went around and asked what people thought of the night. Herb the guy connected to the Temescal space said that it would take him a while to find words but that it had been a great night. Frank said that he hoped that Temescal would keep a float and that Frank really loved the space. Herb did too and said he would do what he could. The guy who lived in France part of the year said that he didn't know what to think but that it had been a great night. The woman who was a hygienist said that it has been a really great night and that she wasn't uncomfortable. The waitress said that it had been fun and also at times uncomfortable up dancing doing things that she had not done before. Her friend said too that he had never done anything like it and it felt good. Unruhlee said that it was a good night. Frank said that he was uncomfortable with what Unruhlee might say. Someone asked why his name was Unruhlee and he said someone had come up with it a long time ago and that he tries to live up to it. Frank said that he doesn't. Frank said that Frank did it again and Linda told about how Frank had been in the hospital for weeks over the summer and then months of rehab and how we were up against the pictures the doctors had about Frank because he did not fit these pictures. Some said that Frank wouldn't make it or that he would never eat again or that he would not get his trach tube out but he had done all of that and he was back doing performances again and how that in and of itself was amazing and felt so good. Tomek came up at the end and said you did it again Frank!!!
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