Well, sometimes I have an actor planted in the audience as an extremely uptight and extremely irrational person. This person sucks up all the hesitation from the room, making being afraid look so silly to the rest of the audience that they jump fully into the meat of the performance if only to not to be like him. "The artist's model" played this role perfectly! But this group didn't need such a plant. They came to play to change society! Quite a few had come to past performances and understood what was happening on deeper layers. And the new people were using art in their lives as their means to change society. So this just took them to a new level. The artist's model just provided the right amount of resistance so that we could explore important issues.
Frank’s birthday performance! June 25th! We did the usual set-up, and even before Frank, Linda & Mikee arrived, an older man with a younger woman arrived, asking if it was ok if they came in while we were still setting up? Sure! … We recognized him from a previous performance … he had sat on the risers on the sidelines, and had not stayed long. But now he was describing the whole set up to the gal, where Frank would sit, the technical details … they were not there long, but left so that she could go to an ATM … they (Gerald & Nat) were back again before the performance started, when Frank was there, and he invited them, and another guy sitting on the risers reading a book, to come into the performance space and check out the full totes of free zines, CDs, books, etc. while we finished set-up. Gerald and Nat came into the space, but this invitation perhaps made the guy with his book uncomfortable, and he left! Nat offered to help set-up, but we were nearly finished, and Frank said she could help “after the performance started.”
In addition to Gerald and Nat, there were a number of other people who came in right as the performance started … but Frank started with Gerald and Nat … how did Nat find out about the performance? It turned out that she had been in San Francisco, at the Women’s Building, and saw a flier for the Uncomfortable Zones of Fun, and thought it looked really interesting, but it had already happened … and then Gerald had started talking to her about it, and she realized it was the same performance, and wanted to come!
Frank asked how they met. They had met outside a Peet’s in Oakland, he recognized a graphic on her shirt, and they got to talking … Frank asked both of them what they do? Nat works in a café, but is a visual artist and a singer. What kind of singing? Frank asked. She said she is from Brazil, and likes 70s style Brazilian music, but also folk and tribal … Gerald works for the state in the workman’s comp. bureau, dealing with ergonomics, but is also an astrologer … “What’s your sign?” he joked! This was the occasion for Linda to tell everyone that it was Frank’s birthday today. Gerald said that he was a Cancer too, and Frank said, “Why am I not surprised?!”
Frank asked Gerald to talk about the performance he came to before, and Gerald described how he came and sat on the side, and only stayed about 45 minutes … Frank seemed to be telling a story, and that seemed to be the only thing that was happening, and he was impatient, so he left. In the meantime, however, it sounded like he had been checking out Frank’s videos and writings online, and getting the picture that he had probably missed the good stuff! So this time he was going to stay until the end, was going to help us pack up!
Frank and Linda talked about the time Frank was invited to lecture at Art Institute of Chicago, at students’ request. The people organizing the series were afraid of having Frank there, and so they scheduled him as the first lecturer, because no one usually came to the first one of the series. They also tried to tell him that the students had a short attention span, that no one would stay for the 3 hour lecture that Frank was planning. But the first thing Frank did when he started the lecture was to tell the crowd that the good stuff will happen after everyone leaves … so no one left! Everyone stayed to the end! And the organizers were shocked!
By now, there was a healthy crowd in the room at Temescal, and they were enjoying this story. We were later to meet John the film-maker and his friend, a girl whose name we didn’t get, the artists’ model, the two guys from Norway, the art critic/writer and her husband, the drummer, and more … And Tomek came shortly after the performance started and began his 3 hour long amazing music jam!
Now we think Frank turned to the girl who came with John … she had heard about it from him. He had seen a flier, he thinks at Rainbow grocery in SF. She had not even seen the flier, or knew exactly what it was about, but John had recommended it, and we found out later that the two of them were working together on a documentary. She is in health studies … John said that he has been seeing the flier for 5 months or so, and finally decided to come. He is working on a documentary about the idea of “re-creating culture” from the beginning. Frank said, “Like this.” John said yes.
Frank asked the two of them more about the documentary at different points, but they said John was really only starting on it, just beginning … he was going to be heading out on the road soon to begin shooting … he talked about it in a very free way, like it seemed that he was creating it as he went. Frank said at the end of the night that he wants to see his documentary! He asked if the performance was going to be in his film. John said that he had started to think that their experience at the performance with Frank might be part of the documentary … and Frank suggested they could get together with him after his travels, since they would be doing the bay area shooting last …
There was another guy sitting close to John and his friend … we soon found out that he is an artists’ model … he had also seen a flier, on a pole near the north Berkeley BART. He has been reading a book called “Blink”, about the idea that your first instinct is often the best, before you have time to “think” about it, that the thinking gets in the way. So he had seen the flier, and came up to it on his bike, and decided he wanted to go, and that was it, he would go! Frank asked him, “Did you think about it after?” He said no … not really, except maybe only an hour ago … he was sitting watching soccer, very comfortable, and thought for a moment about not coming … but decided, no, he wanted to check it out. So here he was. He said he was an artists’ model in SF, among other things … So Frank asked John’s friend if she would undress him, and put on any of the costumes/jewelry laid out. She said sure, and he said ok … and as they moved over to the costume area, Frank turned to talk to someone else … but he soon saw that she had not really undressed him much, and was putting the costumes over his clothes! Frank pointed out the undressing part. So the artists’ model took his shirt off, and she continued to put costumes on him … then they sat down. But when Frank saw that he only had his shirt off, pants still on, he came back to him, asking about the pants. The art model said something like he felt “good”, i.e. where it was at … he said that it should be democratic, if he is going to take all his clothes off, everyone else should too. Frank told him, “I need an ice breaker. You are the ice breaker.” But he said, “Well I think it’s getting nice and warm in here … why don’t we go around the room, and introduce ourselves, play a game …” as in, this would be the ice breaker …
When the art model said that it was getting warm in there, Frank said all the better reason to take his pants off!
Frank said that if the art model took off his clothes, it would make it easier for everyone else. But the model was not swayed …
Frank turned to Nat and asked her if she would sing a song? She said sure! She took the mic and sang a long expressive song in Portuguese. It was passionate and lively. After she finished, Frank said it was very good, and asked her what it was about? She said that it was sung by a very well known Brazilian singer in the 70s, who had died of an overdose … it was basically a song about traveling circus performers in the 20s … a fun song, describing the trapeze artists, tightrope walkers, etc.
Frank then talked with a woman in the back of the room, who had come in with her husband. She had known about the performances … she said that the East Bay Express says that it is the “thing to do” in the bay area. Frank said, “And they would know …” which we all laughed about after the performance! When Frank found out that she is an art/music critic, a journalist, he asked if he was auditioning?! For an article …? But she was not forthcoming … she said something like at this point as an artist, Frank did not need to audition for anything ….
Frank returned to the art model … he said at some point that the soccer game was looking pretty good now, eh!? He pointed out that the art model undressed as an art model, so …? But the guy said that the art modeling was a different context from the performance, a “professional” context. Frank also asked the art model if he would undress him, Frank. He said no. He said that Frank was really bringing out all of his issues/boundaries, like public nudity. He felt comfortable with nudity at work as an art model, but other than that, just in the shower or with a partner … He said it was different in different contexts. Frank asked him how it was different. We can’t remember what he said, but Frank said that it was the same … (the unspoken implication of the art model seemed to be that the difference was that he was being paid for it in the “professional” context.)
Frank asked the art writer if he was a professional. She thought about it and said, “Yes.” How? Frank asked. Well, she said that Frank obviously knew how to stage a performance, knew how to get things going with an audience … he was taking donations … Frank pointed out that he pays much more to put on the performances than he ever gets from donations, so is he still “professional”? She thought for a bit, and then said that it seemed that Frank was “chafing” against the term “professional”. And Frank said that he was “chafing” against the art model’s definition of “professional”.
Frank asked her if she would come up and read his poem, “Art Is A Bitch”. She said sure, and came up and did a great reading of the poem, featuring the lines:
“I can only answer
art is not a career
not a money maker
but a money taker
a life long master
who does not give
a flying fuck
what I "THE ARTIST"
what I want do,
where I want to go”
You could see that she really enjoyed the poem. By this time, you could feel that the art model had really dug himself into a hole, and did not seem to be having that great a time. However, he stayed a long time after, eventually going over to the musical instruments and playing along, but never really seeming to just fall into what was happening, to let go, and enjoy … even when it turned out that most everyone else who stayed took their clothes off! Linda said later that he thought he had outsmarted Frank with his explanations for why he would not take his clothes off, but in the end he had outsmarted himself because he took himself out to the sidelines of the performance, became a “watcher”, and Frank always talks about how much harder it is to be a “watcher” than it is to participate directly.
Meanwhile, Marc, another returning Uncomfortable Zoner, had taken his shirt off. It seemed that he did it in response to the art model not taking his clothes off. Erika said later that she felt like he was ready to take everything off, and she kept expecting that he would do so. He was the “depressed” guy from a previous month, and had been one of the few remaining people at that performance, since most everyone else had left, and it was a great performance!
Frank asked Nat if she had been uncomfortable when she sang. She said a little at first because she was singing in front of a group of people she didn’t know … but then she just got into it, and it was fun. Frank said she surrendered. She said yes. Frank asked her if she would undress the cameraman. She said yes, and came over and undressed Corey.
At some point, Frank talked to Marc, and asked him if he was still depressed? Although he did not look it, he said yes. He said something along the lines of how we all have our patterns, routines that we get into … but he said that when he came to the performance, he got “knocked out of his orbit”, things were changed up, put into a different light, which was good. Frank noticed his hair was long. He looked loose, relaxed, even more than the last time we had seen him. Apparently his hair had been tied back last time. Frank asked him to describe the performance he attended … He said, “I was the audience.” He talked about how all of the “decent” people left, and how they did a parade around the space. Frank said even the CIA guy left! Frank also said, tonight there are no decent people here! Everyone laughed.
Frank made the rounds … he talked with a guy who had come in early on, who said he had also seen a flier, and was attracted to it especially because it mentioned playing music, and he was a musician. Frank asked him what he plays. He plays drum kit, and also African instruments, xylophone, conga drum … Frank invited him to play the roto toms, to join Tomek, and he went over to the music area, and started jamming with Tomek, and it was really really great!!
Frank also talked with an older guy who had come in a bit later than the others, and sat off to the side, wearing a baseball cap … we think he had seen a flier too … And it might be at this point that Frank and Linda told the recent story about the Downtown Business Association’s email to Frank about his fliers in downtown Berkeley. They were bullying him to stop fliering in downtown, and wanted to talk with him to discuss other ways for him to “get the word out”! Obviously fliering was the best way! Almost everyone there had seen a flier!
Throughout the night, Gerald played with Frank, quipping one liners that related to the topic at hand. Earlier on, the topic of trouble-makers/outsiders being the ones who will re-create culture came up around talking with John about his documentary, and Gerald said something to Frank about his being a trouble-maker! The story that Frank was telling when Gerald had come to the previous performance was about when Frank tried to enlist in the army in the sixties during the Vietnam War, rolling into the recruitment office. Obviously he was a trouble-maker, Gerald said!
Frank and Linda told that story again. Frank couldn’t understand why they would not enlist him! Finally, when they asked him what he could do, Frank said he could “push the button”!
Frank asked Gerald, “Do I look like a trouble-maker?” And Gerald said yes!
Now, Gerald revived the trouble-maker theme in the context of the fliers. And others took it up. The guy Frank was talking to in the baseball cap also said something that made it clear that he watched Frank’s shows on BTV. When Frank talked to another guy in the audience, he said he had heard about it from a flier “illegally posted in his house!” by the guy in the baseball cap!
We can’t remember the context, but we think Frank asked this next guy how he liked the performance thus far? He said that he was enjoying it, that it reminded him of workshops he has been involved in in the past, where there is an element of fear among other things … which he felt. Frank asked him if it was “fear” or “uncomfortable”? He said for him they were pretty much the same thing … Frank said that “fear” is linear – you fear something … but “uncomfortable” is nonlinear, and comes from an expansiveness … We don’t think that this thread of conversation ever came back to him, that something else happened at that point … but it did seem to make him a little uncomfortable to talk about it in this way!
Frank also talked with two guys who had come in later as well, and were sitting in the back. It turned out that they were both from Norway, visiting, and had found out about it online, as something to do that night in the bay area, and one of the guys said he was a musician, so that was what had attracted him to it. Frank invited him too to join the jam, and he was happy to do so! His friend went over there too.
Now Frank asked Nat if she, with Linda, would undress him. Yes, she said. She seemed eager to participate more! They undressed Frank and she stood up there with Frank.
At some point Frank asked if John and his friend would undress each other, and put on the costumes and jewelry? Yes, they would … at first, they left their underwear on … and when Frank noticed that, and pointed it out, they basically said, “what the hell!” and they both took their underwear off, but she left her bra on … they were having a lot of fun with the costumes! After they were sitting down again, all in costume, Frank asked how they felt. John said he felt energized, more alive! And she echoed him. He said that he had been feeling a little sleepy, but now he was very awake, ready for whatever was next …
She felt the same way, but we think this is also where she asked Frank why he seemed to focus on people getting undressed? Frank said that it is a fast way to get deep. She asked why did he think that was. Frank said after a pause “I do not know why, but it works.” It felt like she and everyone really appreciated this answer. Frank and Linda went on to describe how they have found that it is often the people who say they are comfortable with nudity, or sex workers, who have the most problem with his work. Linda described how when they toured, and could not bring a full cast, Frank was often set up with local people to be in the cast, and it was often strippers or sex workers. But they were often really uncomfortable with what Frank was doing. One woman even said that she would have sex with Frank on stage, but would not rock on his lap nude. Frank said that the sex/nudity for them is a mask to hide behind, whereas here it is intimacy.
Now we think Frank asked if Nat and Linda would undress each other, while John’s friend read at random from Frank’s writings binder. Nat was very willing, and John’s friend read several pieces, including Tortures. Afterward, Frank and Linda told the story of how he came to write it, a poem that details all the terrible things that happened to Frank when he was growing up! He wrote it for a workshop with a local theater group, who it turned out were “whiners”! When he met with them prior to the workshop, he found that each of them could only talk about their terrible childhoods, using it as an excuse for why things were the way they are now. So Frank wrote the poem to out-“terrible” them, and it worked. He read it as the first part of the 24 hour workshop, and there was no whining afterward!
Now we think that Frank asked Nat if she would rock on his lap nude. He asked if she would read “Wrapping/Rocking” first to feel what he was going for, and she read it, sitting next to Frank, and obviously really loved it! While Nat read the poem, we think this is when Frank asked if Erika and Gerald would undress each other, and put on the costumes. (It’s all blending together!) They had fun, and Erika put Gerald in Frank’s skirt, etc.
After Nat finished the poem, Frank told her that they would rock together in “friction pleasure”. Meanwhile, Frank said, the rest of the group could do Gestures, and he paired John and his friend together, and then Erika, Gerald and Marc were a trio. He had Alexi rock with Drake, who had come in much earlier, but from whom we had not heard much until this point.
Frank had Mikee turn on the slides, and off the lights, and Linda read Gestures while Nat rocked passionately on Frank’s lap. The images of the slides projected on Nat’s body and on Frank were amazing! John and friend were having a lot of fun with the gestures, giggling and laughing a lot … and it looked like Gerald, Erika and Marc were having fun too. At some point, Marc left the trio, and Erika and Gerald continued. At some point, Frank had Linda and Nat dance with him erotically, which also seemed to morph in and out of doing the gestures as well … it was really fun and turned-on! The gestures ran a range, but tonight there happened to be a fair bit of rubbing genitals, both your own and each other’s! There was also licking ears, rubbing backs, breasts, stomachs … a girl came in on her bike at one point when there was a string of the more explicit gestures. She looked at the table full of free materials for a bit, and then left …
Then Nat rocked on Frank’s lap again while Linda held them and rubbed Nat … Linda said later that Nat totally abandoned herself, threw herself totally into it.
Frank said after the rocking/dancing that this was the best birthday! He asked Linda to talk about the dance, and she said that it was rare to find someone like Nat who is able to just let go and enjoy like that. It was amazing.
Frank asked Nat what she thought of the performance so far. She said that she was entranced from the beginning … She said that she felt totally fulfilled, and that there was a lot of love and caring for each other.
Frank asked Gerald the same … Gerald said that he had not had a sensual experience like this in probably ten years. He said that he wasn’t worried at all about what he was doing or not doing or should be doing, just doing what he wanted to do. He said that “artist” is too small a word for what Frank is. He said that in another context he would not have been able to do what he did there tonight, but Frank made it SAFE! Frank was not an artist, he was a shaman, and this was a sacred ritual!
Frank just said “wow”.
Frank asked John and his friend what they had thought of it. She said that she had been laughing at the irony of their being there together at the performance when they had just been trying to set up “boundaries” in their relationship with each other. And then they come to this together! Frank said, “Not romance…” She said, “Right.” Frank said, “Just fun … intimacy … closeness … friendship …” It seemed like she was digesting all of this, and then really getting what Frank was saying. John agreed … he had really enjoyed everything. She said that the performance gave them the feeling of “freedom” together that they were looking for.
Frank told them this (what happened in the performance) is the real world.
Marc had brought examples of his art which he passed around. After Frank saw the artwork, which was beautiful, vibrant, colorful, dynamic “abstract” paintings, Frank said, “You are depressed …. NOT!” At some point, Frank “rescued” Alexi and Drake … they could stop rocking now … he told everyone that Drake had brought him out to Wisconsin to perform years ago, and he has not been able to get rid of him since!
Frank hawked the new book, Art of a Shaman, also offering “damaged” copies at a discount, and of course his autograph!
After the official “the end”, Frank asked Nat if she would like to work with him, and she said, yes, she would love to!
Tomek came up to Frank and wished him happy birthday! Frank said it was a great birthday because Tomek was there, which meant a lot to Tomek!
Nat came up and hugged Frank and Linda before she left. And John and friend also came up and hugged them. They said it was really great to be there, and thanked Frank.
Drake was in a much gentler, quiet, soft mode than we were used to … and he came up to Frank after everyone else had left … he asked about the discounted copies of the book, and Frank said he would sell one to Drake, normally $29, for $18. Frank’s inscription to Drake was, “You have changed for the better.” And as Linda wrote it in the book, Frank asked Drake what he thought of the performance? Drake started to say that he really liked others of Frank’s performances better—Frank cut him off, saying, “Remember what I wrote …” Before he answers that question, Linda explained, remember that Frank just wrote that he had changed for the better! Drake paused … then asked how had he changed for the better?
Now Frank had to pee, so that was what he would do now … Drake slowly meandered out, saying goodnight … Ah, talk about shooting oneself in the foot!
The rest of the night, breaking down the set, was talking about what an amazing night it had been!! The things that people said, Nat’s total surrender and erotic abandon … Frank said he knew it would be good when Nat and Gerald arrived … Another amazing transformative performance and a night of more gems for the quotes sheet from the things that people were saying about their experience.
Frank had gotten what he asked for his birthday! When he sent out the announcement, he wrote, “Hey, it will be my birthday! I will be sixty five. So come and rub bodies with me for luck and pleasure! Last year at this time I was lying dying!”
We got to the space and set up the cozy floor mats, Christmas lights, art on the walls and Frank's new book, "Art of a Shaman," was set up with the new poster for it behind where he and Linda would sit. We were still setting up when a guy and a woman came in and asked if they could watch while we set up. It turned out he had been to a performance a few months ago and was describing it to her. He told her where Frank would sit and where the donation basket would be and that Frank would ask the audience questions for a while. Later we would find out that they were Gerald and Nat. They left not long after that and would be back again after Frank Linda and Mikee arrived. When they came back they sat on the edge and Nat asked if there was anything she could do to help set up. We were close to being done at that point but Frank told them they could look through the boxes of free zines and cds. Frank said that she could help once the performance started. A few other people arrived and Frank told everyone to come closer. He began talking with people and a steady stream of other people kept coming including Tomek who set up his equipment and started making music.
Frank talked to Nat and Gerald first. Nat had seen an old flyer for a performance at a women's space in SF but that performance had already passed. So when Gerald started telling her about the performance that he had gone to a few months back and that he was going tonight she definitely wanted to come. Frank asked Nat what she does and she said that she works in a cafe, is an visual artist, and she sings. He asked her what she sings and she said that she was from Brazil and sings Brazilian songs from the 70's, Brazilian folk songs and Brazilian Tribal music.
Gerald said that he had been to a performance a few months ago. He had only stayed for the first 45 minutes because there was a lot of talking about a previous performance and he had become impatient but this time he was going to stay for the whole thing and help break down afterwards. He had seen some videos of Frank's other performances and read some things to. Frank said that he had done a lecture at the Chicago Art Institute. The students had wanted him to come for years but the organizers were hesitant. They booked him as the first lecture of the school year thinking there would be less students. Frank wanted to do a three hour lecture and the organizers said that he wouldn't be able to hold people's attention for more than 90 minutes. Frank asked them if the space was available after that and they said yes. At the beginning of the lecture Frank told everyone that the best stuff was going to happen at the end and so everyone stayed for the whole three hours. The teachers who had booked him were really shocked that everyone stayed the whole time.
Frank asked Gerald how he met Nat. He said that they met at a Peet's in Oakland. She was wearing a jacket with a symbol on it that he recognized and he went up to her. Frank asked Gerald what he did and he said that he worked part time for the government in the workers comp department focusing on ergonomics in the workplace. He said he was also an astrologer. He asked Frank what his sign was and Linda said that Frank is a cancer and today is his birthday. Everyone said, "Happy Birthday Frank!" Gerald said that he was a cancer too and Frank said why am I not surprised?
The woman sitting next to them came with her friend John. She had not seen a flyer and did not know anything about the performance but said that it felt right to come. She was studying health education and helping her friend John with the film that he was working on. John her friend had seen a flyer up at Rainbow months ago. He was sitting across the mat and Frank asked him what his film was about. He said that it was about people who re-create our culture. Frank said like this. John said well yes. Gerald said so people who change the culture are all trouble makers like you Frank. Frank said do I look like a trouble maker and he said yes. Gerald remembered the story Frank told at the last performance that he was at about going into the recruiting office during the Vietnam War to enlist. The guy in the recruiting office asked what Frank could do and Frank said that he could push the button. Frank asked John how far along he was on the film and he said it was just the beginning. He was thinking a lot about it but had not yet started shooting it. He was going to be traveling in a couple of weeks and would start filming people on this trip. Frank asked his friend how she was helping him with the film and she said creatively and helping to look for funding. She said that they had come along way already. Frank said that he could get together with John when he was back from his travels.
Frank asked the guy who was sitting behind John the filmmaker how he had heard about the performance and he said that he saw a flyer up near the North Berkeley BART. He had seen it a few times over the last week. He was reading a book about not thinking about things too much and following impulses. So he saw the flyer and felt it would be good to come and so he did. Frank asked him if he thought about it later. He said that he did about an hour ago when he was comfortable on the couch watching a soccer game but he thought it would be good to come. Frank asked him what he did and he said that he did a lot of things but for money he was a model for artists. Frank asked the woman who was helping her friend with the film if she would undress the model and dress him in the costumes and jewelry. They got up and she began dressing him up.
Frank said see it's all those flyers that get people to the performance and Linda told the story about how the woman from the Down Town Berkeley Business Association emailed this last week and said that they had been "cleaning up Berkeley and taking down flyers. They wanted to suggest other ways that Frank could get the word out and suggested that Frank putting his flyers up was possibly illegal. Frank responded to her and also sent his response to City Council Member Kriss Worthington. Kriss Worthington wrote back that not only was it not illegal for Frank to be putting flyers up but it was against free speech and potentially illegal for her to be taking them down and that his office would be forwarding Frank the actual legal documents that stated this. Frank had not heard from the woman again.
Frank looked over at the model and saw that he was not actually undressed but had costumes and jewelry on over his clothes. Linda clarified that what Frank meant was for him to get undressed before putting the costumes and jewelry on. Oh, he took his shirt off and the woman continued to dress him in costumes.
The next guy said that he also saw a flyer for the performance. He said that it was posted illegally in his house by that guy over there and he pointed to an older man wearing a hat. Frank asked him how it was so far and he said that it reminded him of a familiar feeling he had had in other workshops. He had come because he thought he would learn something and that it would push him in some way. He felt some fear about the unknown of what was going to happen. Frank asked him if it was fear or uncomfortable. He said that he didn't know the difference between the two. Frank said that fear is linear, fear of something specific whereas uncomfortable was non-linear and what was actually uncomfortable was staying in the safe and known. Real comfort came from expanding into uncomfortable.
Frank looked over at the model and he still had his pants on! Frank said pants? He said I'm really comfortable and feeling good the way I am. Frank asked him if he models nude as a model for artists. He said sometimes. Frank said so.... He said that if he was going to get undressed it seemed like everyone should get undressed. He said that it was getting warm in here and Frank said all the better reason to take your pants off! He said why don't go around and play a getting to know each other game. Frank said that he needed someone to be an ice breaker. Linda said that if he got undressed others would follow.
Frank asked Nat if she would sing a song and she said sure. She sang a beautiful Brazilian song. It was really amazing and touching. Frank asked her what it meant. She said that it was a song by a popular star from the 70's who had died of an over dose. The song was about circus side show performers in the 1920's like tight rope walkers.
Sitting next to Nat was Mark who had also been to a previous performance. He was wearing a "Persephone’s Bees" tee shirt that he had gotten out of the FREE box the last time. Frank asked him how this performance was so far compared to last time. He said well, last time I was the only audience member. We paraded around. This time he said there was much more back and forth involvement from the audience. Mark said that last time all the decent people had left. Frank said including the CIA guy. Yes Mark said. Frank said this time there aren't any decent people here. Everyone laughed. Frank asked Mark if he was still depressed. He said yes, but that he liked coming to the performances because they mixed and moved things up inside of him.
There were two guys from Norway who were visiting the Bay Area and were looking for something to do. They saw a listing for the performance and decided to come. One of the guys said he was a musician so Frank said he could join Tomek who up until this point was the band. He said sure and got up. There was another guy who had been attracted to come because he was a musician. He also saw a flyer up on San Pablo near a cafe that he had been to earlier in the day. Frank asked what kinds of instruments he played and he said drum set and some African instruments, a xylophone and an African drum. Frank asked him if he would like to join the band and he said sure. He tried out the rototoms and then explored the toy instruments.
Behind him there was a man who said that he came because his wife said that they were going to go out to the Uncomfortable Zones of Fun tonight. She was an art critic who wrote about movies and music and some visual art. Frank asked if he was auditioning for an article. She said he was beyond auditioning. Frank asked her why she had come and she said that the idea of uncomfortable and fun fascinated her and she had read that the East Bay Express said that this was the best thing to come to in the East Bay. Frank said and they should know.
Frank turned to the model again and said that he was still waiting for the ice to break. He said I bet that soccer game is looking really good now. Frank said that he just follows. Nat said that she sings so he asked her if she would sing and so when they guy said that he was a model for artists he had asked him to get up and be undressed and put the costumes on. The guy said that this was a totally different context. He said Frank was really bringing up his issues about public nudity. He is ok getting naked in a professional context but not publically in front of a bunch of people, only in the shower or with his partner. Frank turned to the art critic woman and asked her if he was a professional? She said well it seems like you are. You are very good at setting the space and drawing people in, weaving things together and you get donations. Frank said well I put out more money than I make for the art that I do is that professional? She thought for a moment and said well? She said that Frank was chafing up against the term professional. Frank asked her if she would come up and read "Art is a Bitch." She said sure and came up and read the poem. She really enjoyed reading it.
Frank asked Nat if she would undress the camera man, Corey. She said sure and got up and undressed Corey. Frank asked John and his friend if they would undress each other and dress each other in costumes and jewelry. They said sure and got up and undressed down to their underwear. Frank said underwear?! Linda clarified that Frank had meant for them to totally undress and then get dressed in the costumes. They said ok and John took off his underwear and she took her underwear off and left her bra on. They dressed each other in costumes and jewelry. Frank asked them how they felt. They said great. John said that he was starting to feel tired and now he felt awake and energized. His friend said that she felt the same way. She asked Frank why he focuses on people getting undressed. Frank said it is the fastest way to get deep. She asked why and Frank said he did not know but it works. It is usually the people who say they don't have issues with nudity who have the most trouble with Frank's work. One woman said she would have sex with Frank but would not rock on his lap. That was too intimate. When people started getting undressed some people left at this point including the art critic and her husband and they guy who said he saw a flyer for the performance posted in his house. The model who did not want to get fully undressed moved over to the band where he looked miserable. Being an observer was harder than joining in. Even after most everyone who was there had taken their clothes off he did not join in.
Frank asked Nat if she would help Linda undress him and she said sure. Nat and Linda undressed Frank. Frank asked if Gerald and Erika would come up and undress each other and dress each other in costumes and they did. Frank asked the woman who was helping John with the film if she would come up and read randomly from his book of writings. She read a piece about everyone being superheroes. Frank asked Nat and Linda if they would undress each other. They came up to the costume area and undressed each other. The woman read Frank's poem "Tortures." Linda said that Frank wrote that poem for a workshop he was doing in Seattle. He met individually with the 11 people who were going to be in the workshop before doing the workshop and they were all whiners focusing on all the bad things that had happened to them in their childhoods as reasons they couldn't do things now. So Frank decided to write a poem about all the terrible things that had happened to him growing up leaving out the good things. He read it at the beginning of the workshop and nobody in the workshop whined during the whole workshop.
Frank asked Nat if she would rock on Frank's lap and she said yes. First she sat next to Frank and read his poem "Wrapping and Rocking," to get a feel for it. Frank said that they would rock together in friction pleasure. Frank said he would pair people up and everyone else would do the gestures that Linda would read. Frank paired John and his friend up to do gestures and Erika, Mark and Gerald would do gestures together. Alexi would rock Drake. Mikee got the slides set up on Frank and Nat and dimmed the lights. Many of the gestures that were read were about exploring each other’s bodies with all of your body and exploring your own and each other's genitals, others included licking each other’s ears, rubbing backs, breasts, and stomachs. Nat and Frank did a hot sexy deep juicy dance which Linda joined and Mikee took over reading the gestures. Later Linda told Nat that it was very rare to find someone like her who would surrender and dance so freely with abandon. There was a woman who came in with her bicycle at this point and looked at the handout table. She came in just at the point when there were a lot of gestures about exploring each other’s genitals. She stayed just a short bit and then left.
After the juicy dancing and gestures Frank went around and asked people what they thought. Nat said that she was entranced from the beginning. She felt totally fulfilled. She said that it was a total pleasure experience and there was so much love and caring for each other. Gerald said that he felt totally safe. Frank was a Shaman and tonight was a sacred ritual. In another setting he would not have felt safe to do what he had done but Frank had made it safe. He said that he did not think he had had such a pleasurable and erotic experience in at least 10 years. He wasn't worried about what he was doing or not doing he was just having fun in a free way and that was really amazing. The woman who was with John the filmmaker said she had a lot of fun. It was ironic because she had been trying to set up boundaries about her relationship with John and now they ended up here. Frank said not romantic, just fun, free playing and being together. She described it as feeling free together which is what they wanted. John said that he had a great time. Frank asked him if this would be part of his film. He said that his experience of being here and everything that happened would definitely be a part of his film.
It was really amazing what people had to say about Frank and the performance. Frank asked Nat if she would like to work with him and she said, yes! Mark brought some pieces of his art, amazing colorful abstract pieces that were full of life. Frank looked at them and said depressed? Not! Tomek came up to Frank at the end and said that he came tonight so that he could wish Frank a happy birthday. Frank said it was a great birthday because Tomek had been there. As Gerald was putting his clothes back on he said he thought Frank did performances that were hours and hours or days long? Linda said not anymore now that we are getting older. Once Frank was booked in Toronto and he got pneumonia. Instead of cancelling the show he renamed it "Dying is Sexy," just in case he died during the performance and he had the space get him a hospital bed for the whole performance.
Nat hugged Frank and Linda and thanked them and so did John the filmmaker and his friend. Frank said that autographed copies of his book were for sale. Drake said that he wanted to buy a copy. Frank autographed it saying, “You have changed for the better." Frank asked him how the performance was and he said that he honestly liked some of the other ones better. Frank said think about what I just wrote and then Frank had to pee.
What an amazing performance! Frank said that it was his best birthday ever. People rubbed deep skin to skin, surrendered into deep sexy cozy playing together.
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Last modified July 25, 2011