The Uncomfortable Zones Of Fun - February 2010

Frank Moore’s
The Uncomfortable Zones Of Fun
experiments in experience/participation performance

at Temescal Arts Center, Oakland, California
Saturday, September 24, 2011


This one was about process rather than about erotic juicy visuals.  And the process came into the performance and definitely flowed out into the people’s everyday life after the performance.  Moreover, everybody, except for the middle class high school counselor, pushed themselves.  The high school counselor actually called his wife BORING.  But when she actually joyfully got into the performance, he made them beat a quick exit, after refusing to donate anything [not to mention scaring out a group of young people who would have added juicy possibilities to the night].  Everybody else donated something even though they didn’t have much money.  That guy was that kind!  Hey, he was a high school counselor after all!  Embarrassing!  A performance costs us over $200 in theater rental, fliers [Btw, Corey and Alexi spend five days fliering for each performance], etc.  We never get a fraction of that from a performance.  That is the reality of the addiction of art.  And for the most part people give what they afford.  EXCEPT FOR MIDDLE CLASS ASSHOLES LIKE THIS GUY! 

Everybody else pushed themselves.  The musician played even when there wasn’t an audience.  The retired construction guy let himself be undressed.  The dancer did a nude dance with me.  And his girlfriend pushed against crippling boundaries which let assholes in her past control her actions now.  She said she would come back to continue the pushing beyond the boundaries even when it was hard.  Now that makes for a successful performance, even when Erika didn’t get nude [that never happens!]!  But I need to send out two PS’s to this.  One is my poem BOUNDARIES KILL to the braless vixen.  And my essay about how to create a masterpiece to the dancer.  His best move was falling! 

DA BOYZ AND ERIKA:

We pulled up to Temescal a bit earlier than usual, and had two parking spots right in front, very nice for loading out all the props!  We did the usual set up, and Frank, Linda & Mikee arrived, and we were all finished with everything ready at about 5 minutes to 8pm.  And no one had arrived!  We were used to people showing up while we were finishing the set-up, putting the gels on the lights, etc., some folks coming in at 7:40-7:45 …  But not tonight!  Hmmm …   Frank giggled and asked, “Is the door unlocked?”  Because last month, the door had been locked accidentally when people first arrived.  He wondered if college was back in session …? Yes it was.  Were there other events happening the same night?  We had only heard of a festival in northern California, but Frank said, “You would think at least a couple people would have stayed …!” 

It was another one of those nights when we started saying, “Maybe this is the one …”  The performance where no one shows up …  There had been others in the series that started like this, but then the door would open, and a bunch of people would come in, and then more, etc.  

While we waited, someone mentioned the post Frank had just received on vimeo from a loyal viewer, who has been keeping track of our performances, wanting to see the videos of them afterward!  He had written saying that he was sure there would be lots of nudity in the next performance!  Frank had written back to him, saying that he never knows what is going to happen, and does not go into the performance with pictures.  Frank said now that that kind of comment is the “kiss of death”!  A sure fire way to not have nudity in the performance! 

And so, at about 8:15, the door opened, and in came a guy who looked like he might be in his 50s, perhaps 60 …  He had a backpack with him, and Frank and Linda said, “Come on in …”  He sat on the mat, and Frank asked him how he had heard about the performance.  He had seen it listed in the East Bay Express … Frank asked him what he does, and he said that he works part-time in health care, working with two people who have MS.  And then he also teaches clarinet.  Frank asked if he brought his instrument with him, and he said yes he did.  Frank asked him if he would play a duet with Frank, and Frank would vocalize … At first he seemed a little hesitant, “Right now?”  Frank said yes.  So he started unpacking his clarinet, and Frank got set up with the headset mic …

But now a couple entered, and came in and sat on the far edge of the mats.  Frank asked the guy how he had heard about the performance.  He said that he had seen it online, SF Gate.  What had attracted him to it, Frank asked.  He had been looking for something to do, and he had never heard of it, didn’t really know what it was, but it had seemed weird, and he liked to do weird things.  Frank asked him, “How weird do you want it to get?”  He said something like, “We’ll have to see when we get there!” 

Frank asked him what he does, and he asked, “For work, or for fun?”  Frank said, “Both …”   He said that he does a lot of things for fun, but for work he is in education …   Frank asked, “What kind …?”  He said, “Well, I am a high school counselor, to be precise.”  Frank giggled and asked him, “Good or bad …?”  The counselor replied, “Well, you would have to ask the customers!” 

Frank said his ex-mother-in-law was a high school guidance counselor …   The counselor asked if she was good or bad.  Frank said, “Need I say more …?”  And then Frank added, “I am glad I was not in her high school.  

The counselor said, “Well, no one has left in an ambulance, yet … the kids seem to like me …” Frank said he gets that. 

Now Frank turned to the woman and asked her how she had heard about the performance?  She had heard about it from him, and Frank asked her what he had told her about it?  She said that he had told her that it was in Oakland, and that it was going to be weird, different … she didn’t really know much more about it than that, she had had the impression that it was a comedy show, and had just said, “Ok!”  So Frank had Linda read the description of the performance from the flier.  The counselor said that he had seen the flier with the listing …

He asked her what she does, and she said that she hangs wallpaper.  Frank asked her what the most popular wallpaper is these days.  She said that it would most likely be “grass mat” or something like that … textured fabric types of wallpaper are most popular … she said she works in houses in SF and Marin.  Frank asked her what she does for fun, and she said that she likes to read … she said she is kind of boring!” 

Right about now, a group of 4 young people came in … two guys and two girls.  They came and sat on the mat...

Meanwhile, we can’t remember how it came about, but the counselor quipped, in response to something Frank said, that “she really is boring”!  Frank turned to him and asked him how she is boring.  He said he was just joking, she isn’t really boring … Frank said, “But you said it, you walked into it with your mouth … So, how is she boring?”  The counselor didn’t answer the question, he just said that she’s not boring, “she came here, right?!” 

Frank said somewhere in there that he didn’t see that she was boring.  He asked the wallpaper woman, “Does he always put his foot in his mouth?”  She said, “Well, he likes to get a laugh, and will say things whether they’re true or not, just so it will get a laugh …” And we think Frank then said something along the lines of, “Thus, high school counselor!”

But meanwhile, the group of 4, as quickly as they had come in, was gone again.  We all had the impression that they had looked around and seen “a bunch of old fogies” sitting around talking, and thought, “What is this?!”  Frank told the couple, “You scared them off!”

Another guy had come in, and Frank asked him how he had heard about the performance.  He had seen a flier on a light pole.  He said it had looked interesting, different … he also said that he had known a grad student perhaps 20-30 years ago that was involved in something with an artist who was quadriplegic who put on “happenings” … and it occurred to him that this might be the same person.  He said, “Maybe it was you, or maybe it wasn’t …” Frank said that he has been doing this for 40 years.  The guy said then it probably was Frank, but added that Frank was not necessarily the same person he was 30 years ago.  But Frank said something along the lines of that he was the same …

Frank asked him what he does, and he said that he is retired, that he was a contractor …   Frank referred to the wallpaper woman, and said, “She hangs wallpaper,” introducing the two of them in this way. 

She reached over and asked for the contractor’s mic, and said, “I have a question … I want to know who you are … What do you do?”

Frank said, “This.”  Laughter!

“Is this your art?” she asked.  Frank and Linda pointed out Frank’s digital paintings, and then Mikee’s panels and backdrop, and she was really impressed. 

She then said, “The flier talked about you being a shaman …”

Frank said, “That is what they tell me …”

She asked, “How are you a shaman ...?  Were you born with it, did you learn from training, is it a feeling that people get from you when they are with you …?”

Frank said, “All of the above …”

She said she thought it was a lot more interesting to hear about him than to hear about them …

Frank said, “Keep asking questions …” And then asked if she would read the first chapter of his book, Art of a Shaman.  She said sure!  Frank asked the clarinet teacher if he would play while she read, and he said yes, and stood up at the back of the room, and played accents to her reading, so as not to drown it out, which was fantastic!

She came up and sat next to Frank with the mic, and read the first chapter, obviously enjoying it a lot. 

While she was reading, another couple came in, a young guy and gal, who we were later to know as Allison and John.  They both wore glasses, and looked to be in their early 20s …

After the wallpaper woman finished the first chapter, she asked if the book was for sale.  Frank and Linda said that it was, for $29, and Frank would sign it, and Frank added that if you could not afford that, he had “reject” copies available for discount. 

We all thought that there was going to be at least one Art of a Shaman sold that night, but we were to be wrong!

We talked later about how her reading of the first chapter was the perfect thing for what she had been asking Frank, and that she obviously was really getting into it, and enjoying herself.  Frank asked her to read the second chapter, and she launched into it, accompanied again by the clarinet teacher, and also showing photos from the book as she went. 

Somewhere in the middle of the second chapter, Frank broke in to ask the contractor if he would take off the cameraman’s clothes.  The contractor was surprised, wasn’t even sure if Frank was asking him … he said, “Me?”  Frank said yes … He kept looking from Frank to Corey.  And then he finally said, “No.”  Frank asked him, “Would you undress Linda?”  He said, “No.” 

The wallpaper woman got an enormous kick out of this, was laughing and laughing in that way of a release …   Frank said to her, “You did come for a comedy show!” 

Frank then turned to Allison and asked her if she would undress the cameraman.  She looked to Corey and asked if he would like to be undressed.  Corey said, “Why yes!” 

Frank asked John if he would undress Linda, and he said yes.  So Allison came over to Corey, and John started taking off Linda’s clothes. 

Before she started undressing Corey, Allison asked him something like, “What is your limit?”  Corey said there was no limit …   She took off his shirt, and then his socks, and then stepped away …  Corey asked about his shorts, since she had not finished undressing him, and it wasn’t clear what she was doing, and she said, “That is my limit.”

Meanwhile, Frank had the wallpaper woman continue reading chapter two, but when he saw that Corey still had his shorts on, he said that she was supposed to undress him completely, and Allison said, “No thank you.”  So Frank turned to John and asked him if he would take off the rest of Corey’s clothes.  He said sure.  And just having finished taking off Linda’s as if it were a dance, he spun over to Corey, and did a pirouette as he pulled the drawstring of Corey’s shorts, and then danced them off of him. 

So the wallpaper gal finished chapter two, and then Frank turned to Allison and John to talk to them.  Almost immediately, the counselor and wallpaper gal got up to leave.  After the performance, Mikee and Erika were saying that it was clearly the counselor who wanted to leave … he had been looking very uncomfortable.  She obviously had been enjoying herself.  They whispered for a few minutes, and then got up and left.  Alexi ran after them with the donations basket because he had not had a chance to hit them up for a donation before this point, especially because she had been reading.  He caught up with them as they were walking toward the door, and asked if they would like to make a donation before they left.  They both shook their heads and said, “No.” 

Frank said later that it was embarrassing because they had obviously enjoyed it, and had gotten a lot out of it, and were most likely the ones out of the group who actually had money.  Plus, they were being asked directly! 

Frank asked how they had found out about the performance, and John said that they had seen the flier on a street pole, and it had struck him as something very interesting that he wanted to go to, but he couldn’t remember what it was about the flier that made him think that.  So Frank had him read the flier.  We think after he read the flier, Frank asked her if this is what she expected, and she said that she didn’t really know what to expect …   Frank asked, “If you were to expect something to happen, what would it be …?”  She thought for a minute, and said that she might expect, gesturing toward the costumes and jewelry, that those “props” would be used in some way. 

Frank asked him what he does.  He said that he does a lot, too much, is very busy.  He said he dances … and to illustrate he got up and did a series of dance moves, concluding with crumpling to the ground.  Frank said, “Great fall!”  Frank asked him if he would do a dance with Frank?  He said yes!  And he got up to do it, and Frank said it would be later, so he sat back down. 

Frank asked Allison what she does, and she said that she used to be a student, make coffee, sing …  

Frank asked, “Would you sing something?”  She said she couldn’t think of what to sing … she used to just sing “what they gave her”, and it was usually something “baroque”.  She asked Frank what kind of songs he liked, to give her an idea of what to sing.  Frank and Linda said that Frank started an internet station, luver.com, which plays everything, so Frank likes a wide range of things …   She was still kind of stumped for what to sing, and said, “I can’t remember any single song all the way through …” Frank suggested that she could string songs together …   She sang two verses of “You Are My Sunshine”, which was great!

Frank then asked if she would undress John and put on any of the costumes/jewelry.  They said sure, and she began to take off his clothes.  She took off everything but his red underwear, and when Frank pointed this out, she said that John could take them off himself, communicating that she was not going to do it.  So John took off his own underwear with a flourish, and she started dressing him in a tube boa which she pulled over his head and he wore like a halter top, and a black miniskirt, and other miscellaneous dangling items … While they did this, Frank asked them how they met.  John spoke first, saying he couldn’t remember the first time, he remembered a series of meetings, and that it must have been at an event that she was hosting …   He looked to her for confirmation, and then she took the mic and very definitely said exactly how it was that they had first met … it was in the International Student House, in the basement, she was hitting on him, and he was posting photos of his ex-boyfriend on the internet!  She patted his head now, as if to say, it’s “ok” that he could not remember their first meeting!!

Frank told John that the jewelry came from Betty, and told him about Betty …

Now Frank asked if John could undress her in the same way, and put on the costumes …   She said, “Everything but the underwear – bra and panties.”

Frank asked, “Why?”  And this started a long conversation, which carried through to the end of the performance, resuming at various points, about her reasoning for not taking off her bra and panties. 

She said that she preferred to keep those areas covered up in public, that she reserved them for private, for certain individuals who she trusted, who she was intimate with. 

Frank asked, “Why?” again.  She talked, in vague terms, about not wanting to be used or hurt by people who would not have the right intention … she mentioned the internet … 

At some point in this conversation, Frank and Linda talked about how they have been videoing Frank’s work since they have had recording equipment and no one has ever had any problem from somebody seeing them later, either on a video, or on the internet.  Frank said that the usual response is “you are so free, brave, liberated.”

Frank asked Allison regarding being hurt by people seeing you in this context, “Could people do that to him [John]?”  John was sitting next to her in his boa, playing with some of the jewelry … 

She said yes, they could.  Frank asked, “How?”  She said that in certain public situations, with him dressed that way, there are certain people who would impugn his sexuality, his morals … 

At some point, John broke in, saying to her, “You are forgetting, we are in the bay now.”  And then to Frank, “We used to live in Oregon, up until about a month ago …”

Frank asked Allison what “they” would say …   She said that she would rather not say the kinds of things “they” would say, because they are hurtful, and she doesn’t talk that way …

Frank asked John, “Do you know what the things are that she is talking about?  Is it like, ‘Hey dude, you’re hot!’?”  John said, “Well if I was out in public, dressed this flamboyantly I could imagine … “faggot”, “queer”, “tranny”, things like that … and then perhaps requests to do certain acts which I actually enjoy doing with kind people.”  He said then that this kind of interaction might lead to a fight, but he didn’t really think it would, especially “here”.  Someone said, “Here in the performance?”  And John said, “Well definitely not here, and I really wouldn’t imagine that it would happen in Berkeley or any of the adjoining cities …”

Frank asked him, “Could you be hurt by assholes saying these things?”  He said basically that if someone he didn’t know was saying that to him, yelling that at him, no, he wouldn’t really be affected by it.  He said that it was always possible that being seen in such a context could affect his possibilities later with other people, if they were to see him, but he couldn’t think of anyone in his life now that this would come up with.  And Frank pointed out that if people know him, they have a context already for seeing him like this. 

Allison then talked about how she actually has been hurt by this kind of thing in her past … that she had gotten close with a group of people, who she felt that she could trust and be intimate with, and she let them take off her clothes, and her bra, but found that they just wanted the skin beneath the bra, not the person beneath the skin beneath the bra. 

Frank asked, “Do we feel like that kind of person to you?”

She said, “No…” 

We think it was here that Frank then asked her again: would she let John undress her and put on the costumes and jewelry?  She said yes, but she would leave on her “underwear”.  So John undressed her, but she was left with her bra and panties on, and a sheer net outfit over those …  After they were finished, Frank said he thought she had said she would just leave her “underwear” on.  She said, “My underclothes.”  Meaning, bra and panties.

Frank asked her to talk about her bra.  She described the make and style in detail, and talked about how she liked how it matched most of her panties …  

Meanwhile, Frank had asked the contractor if Erika could undress him and put on the costumes/jewelry.  He had said “fine” … Erika undressed him and put on a mesh miniskirt and Betty’s Hawaiian necklaces and some bracelets. 

After Allison described her bra, Frank asked her if she would take it off now that she had the costume on.  She said no. 

Frank then asked her if she would help Linda undress Frank.  She said sure, and the two of them took Frank’s clothes off.

We think it was at this point that Frank turned to the contractor and asked him if he played music.  He said he didn’t.  Frank asked him, “Would you play …?”  He said sure, he would bang around on things.  Mikee would show him the different instruments available to play on … 

Frank asked John if they could do a dance together, nude.  John said sure!  Frank asked if Allison would sing nonverbally while they danced, and along with the clarinet teacher playing his horn.  She said yes, but she didn’t end up singing at all, but the clarinet teacher was great!

John took off his costume, and Mikee wheeled Frank into the open space in front of the big backdrop, and they did a great dance together while the contractor played percussion instruments and the clarinet played different melodies …  John moved around Frank, waving and spinning and barely touching Frank, following Frank’s hand movements with his own …

The dance ended with John sitting on his butt, next to Frank with his back to the rest of us … it was a natural ending! 

Now Frank asked if John and Allison would dance?  “With Frank?”  No, Frank meant with each other.  But Allison said no, she just wanted to put her shirt back on.  She actually ended up putting all of her clothes back on. 

So Frank was wheeled back to the mat area, and he asked John what he thought of the dance.  John said it reminded him of the contact improv he has done, both the kind where you always stay in physical contact with your partner, and the other kind where you are following the moves of your partner, but making a conscious effort not to actually touch. 

Frank said he liked the kind with always physical contact.  John said that he understood that, but that he actually likes the other kind because it is a challenge, makes him work harder.  Frank asked him, “Why do you want to work harder?”  He said because it was about getting better at new things … he demonstrated a physical move, and then said that a short time ago he couldn’t do that, but that now he can.  Frank said, “Ahhh, the Greek curse!” the concept of getting “better”.  Frank asked John if his move was “better” than this?!  And Frank made a sudden wild gesture, tipping his chair back! 

John went on talking about practicing getting better at new things, that it was fun to be able to do new things, a wider variety of things … he didn’t quite get Frank’s point …

Frank turned to the clarinet teacher and asked him what he had thought of the night so far?  He said that he had enjoyed it, had not really had any idea what the format would be before he came …   Frank giggled and asked him, “Is there a format?”   The clarinet teacher said that he guessed that the format is: Frank talking to people, and moving with the flow of what happens … Frank told him that his playing was great!

Frank asked the contractor what he thought of the night … He said that he was impressed with the way that Frank pushed and probed people to get underneath the surface, and that he was also “impressed” with how “articulate” Allison was in “defining her boundaries, which was admirable.”

Now Frank turned to Allison.  He asked her the same question.  She said something along the lines of how she had needed to maintain her boundaries, even though Frank’s intentions were admirable.  But she said that she felt “very unhappy”, “worse than when she came in”, but even so that she would attend another performance of the same type in the future.  Frank said that this was a great response … and asked Linda to say why …   Linda said that it was because it showed that Allison was willing to go through things. 

Frank said at some point in here, “And yes, this will be on the internet.”  Linda described how we put lots of videos up on vimeo.com now, including these performances, and how there is an international audience of 3,000-5,000 per day watching these videos, and that people are now writing from other countries looking forward to the next performance, so that there are more layers to the actual physical performances. 

Now Frank asked John what he thought of the night.  He talked about the dance, and how much he enjoyed it.  He said that he hasn’t been doing enough dancing lately because he has been so busy doing other things, and that he has probably not been organizing his time right … 

Frank suggested, “Let her [Allison] organize your time.”  John said that they had actually been talking about that very thing, and they were working on that.  Frank said that Linda organizes his time … Linda said yes, she is the organizer at their house. 

John said that the most uncomfortable thing for him was that he arrived a half hour late!  Frank and Linda talked about how we had wondered if this would be the performance where no one came, and how there had been performances in the 80s at the first UCB series, when no one would come, and since they had set everything up already, they would just stay and play cards for a few hours!

And all of a sudden, Allison had removed her bra from underneath her blouse, leaving her blouse on, and perched it triumphantly upon her shoulder while everyone watched!  Frank said, “How do I do it?!” 

John said, “Practice, I am sure.  And considering that you were making that video in ’84, before I was born, you have had a lot of practice!” 

Earlier in the night, Frank had Linda describe a recent video they posted on vimeo from the early eighties of Frank eroplaying with Nina, a woman who had no problem playing with Frank, except that she had a thing about germs.  So she would take off all of her clothes and play physically with no limits with Frank, but would often have a scarf over her face so as not to get germs!  And of course the scarf would often fall off too.  We think it was in this context again that they talked about how no one has ever had any problem from being seen on the internet in one of Frank’s performances. 

Frank said, “Now can she put it back on …?”  And Allison did, like a magic act, slipping the bra up under blouse again, and putting it on without taking off her blouse. 

Frank and Linda told everyone when the next performances were … October 15th in San Francisco, and the Saturday following that again at Temescal.  Frank told Allison to come back, and she said, “I intend to.” 

We were saying later after the performance that Allison seemed to really like that Frank took her on, that he pushed her. 

Frank said now to her, “Next time, come to the performance with no underwear under your clothes …”   She said, “Well that will just mean that I won’t take my clothes off at all.”  Frank said, “I like a challenge!” 

There was a moment somewhere in here too where we think John asked if anyone else there was wearing a bra?  This was in the context of someone taking off their bra, since Allison wouldn’t.  But no one was wearing a bra.  Frank asked Erika if she was.  No … of course!

And this was basically “the end” … Frank mentioned again that Art of a Shaman was available, and that he would sign it … 

People left slowly … the last to leave was the clarinet teacher.  He said to Frank again that he had really enjoyed being there, and really liked Frank’s sense of humor.  Frank told him, “I am a stand-up comedian!”  He was curious about Frank’s communication board, and came over to watch Frank spell things out, and Linda described how people read his words out loud.  He then said he would like, if he could, to check out the free stuff before he left, and spent a good amount of time going through the stuff, and had a nice pile by the time he was done, including a print of Frank’s digital painting, “Shy”.  Frank and Linda told him about how Frank had painted after the hospital experience as part of his “rehab”.  Frank had almost died, and spent 6 weeks in the ICU. 

And soon he left too, and we broke things down, talking about the amazing night, and eating delicious popcorn! 

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