years ago, I actually got Dirk to come over to the house for the following
interview. It was supposed be Part One. But he died before Part Two.
He is that kind of guy.
Interview with Dirk, Pt. 1
(In the late 70s, Dirk Dirksen “produced”/booked the shows
at the North Beach new wave club, The Mabuhay Gardens.
During the rehearsals of Glamour, when the strip joint got
unbearably boring after hours upon hours, I took a walk along Broadway,
into what then was the West Coast hardcore punk center, the Mabuhay
Gardens or the "Fab Mab". Since I did not have anything else
to do, I asked the gruff manager if I could do my next production at
his club. To my surprise, Dirk Dirksen was a visionary who, instead
of seeing a crip asking for a hand-out, saw me somehow as a misfit artist
perfect for his new wave cabaret. Dirk gave me a sheltered theatre for
six years, with complete artistic freedom and moral support. The first
production was a raping of a high-brow comedy, Meb, which I
turned into a multi-media farce, full of camp, nudity, sex, violence
and rock n'roll. The straight playwright walked out in horror, the club
owner wanted us out, and only a handful of people came. But Dirk wanted
to extend the run. He loved it.)
9/6/95 Curtis St. 1:19
Dirk: ... made unless five of my attorneys have approved it, as well
as my deceased mother.
Frank: And I don't have any m -
Dirk: Ha, he's gonna say "money". (laughs) See, I can read
you like a book, Frank! Except it's much shorter than your WORDY BOOKS!
(everyone laughs) Cut to the chase, baby! (F wails) Or I'm pushing you
on the freeway. Remember folks, if you're seeing this, it's unauthorized!
If you're reading it, it's a different thing.
Frank: And you are ...
Linda: ... watching it? (F - yes, laughing)
Dirk: Allright Frank, let's get to the interview here! (F screams)
Linda: Allright, so I'll be -
Dirk: OH, this is just me and Frank. If, by the way, you know, if anything
happens to Frank, I didn't do it!
Linda: I'll be back with some [trails off] ...
Dirk: O.k., now we're alone.
Frank: How did you get started?
Dirk: Harassing you? First time I saw you, it set my wheels in motion.
Remember folks, (cracking up) this is unauthorized if you're seeing
this. Only the written word. Ah, when did I get started? Ah, well, I
believe it's when the doctor spanked me as I was coming out of my mom.
(F screams!) Yes, indeed, that's when it started. I immediately began
scheming on how to produce the world's biggest show, which up to this
point was the Outrageous Beauty Pageant, for Frank Moore. Ahh, how did
I get started. Well, of course, the usual making a circus with the kids
on the block, followed by using a 35 millimeter box camera to make black
and white pictures for my social studies classes in the 4th grade. That
didn't particularly work. Then trying ... I conned the nuns into letting
me rent films from the public library in the 5th grade and run it on
an old projector, 16 millimeter projector. That gave me a thrill of
seeing people respond to stuff that I was presenting.
Frank: The nuns may have warped you.
Dirk: I may have warped, I know I warped them more than they warped
me. Ummm, the Sister Superior, name of Sister Boniface used to walk
around the recess, the playground at recess with a bat hitting the guys
on the knees for laughing dirty, which to this day (chuckles, Frank
laughs), that has wonderful connotations for me. Uh, did they warp me?
I don't think so. I think even at an early age I had a good dose of
... I don't want to use the word sarcasm, because, or cynicism, because
that has a negative connotation. I think "questioning" ...
questioning kind of mind. So, in school, I can distinctly remember taking
my eraser and sticking like toothpicks in it with little strike posters,
creating little placards with messages like, "On Strike".
Because some of the concepts that they were pushing, in a sense, or
presenting, that I took exception to, in terms of when I asked questions
and I wouldn't get satisfactory answers. So, I got a shock a couple
of weeks ago, I was going through some of my personal papers and I ran
across some of my grade school report cards. And it was interesting
seeing the reality of the grades that they had given me. The few A's,
some B's, predominantly C's and an occasional D, which now I can see
must have terribly distressed my father and mother. My father was a
PhD in physics and math, so a very brilliant guy, and I can see that
that must have been frustrating to them, because like I always thought
of myself as quite intelligent and possessing a relatively high IQ.
I was terribly bored in grammar school, and even worse so in high school.
So did they warp me? Well, I think I wouldn't give them credit because
I think we have to take responsibility for ourselves. So I've had to
fight certain personality, let's call them minuses, or defects. I wouldn't
wanna really call them defects, but things that I have tried to turn
into positives, that ...
Dirk: Umm, getting depressed. I feel that probably the only thing that
I would say, like is a philosophical absolute, is: Never allow yourself
to despair. Therefore, to get anything, to get negative, or upset, or
paranoid, those are the kinds of things that I try to get rid of, o.k.,
you're pointing to "or" ... "b", the letter "b"
Frank: ... bitter.
Dirk: Bitter is horrible. Horrible. You got to totally stay away from
being bitter. Umm, you're saying yes. I, that's ... yeah. I think, I
would say the greatest gift that my mother passed on to me was that
she was called the eternal optimist by all that knew her. My father,
because of the fact that, as I said, that he was a physicist and a mathematician,
was more questioning. He had a good sense of humor that was very sort
of based in satire and irony. So in, that sort of presents the picture
of someone who is a little bit sarcastic and cynical. And I think that
cynicism is sort of a tangent of a little bit of negativity. And though
I find it stimulating to have a, like a smart remark readily available
in my quiver of things to shoot at people, that it's better to be a
nice, to have nice things to say about people.
Frank: That is irony.
Dirk: Yeah, irony. Yeah, no he was very, everything was irony. He saw
life in ironic terms. I do that too, and it's, that I believe is self-depreciating
Frank: Me too.
Dirk: Me too. Yes, yeah, yeah, yeah. I agree. No that was why when you
proposed your play, some of the things, the concepts, that you presented,
and I think that's where our affinity comes from. So, yep. Anyway, so
where did I get started? I'm saying that I don't separate, of saying,
"I started with this particular event in my career." When
people say, "Well, what do you do?" I don't say, "Well,
I'm a producer." I say, "I live." Producing or writing
or directing or promoting, it's just a part of my life. I try to enjoy
this adventure that is life. O.k.. Does that explain where I got started?
Frank: But in show ...
Dirk: Show business? Uhh, well, the kid's circus in my backyard, when
I was five, which would have been Germany in the last years of the second
world war. My professional things, what were some of the first things
to get paid for?
Frank: Me too.
Frank: I was in G-e-r
Dirk: Grammar? No. Ger - ma - ny. When?
Dirk: How old were you at that point?
Dirk: 13? You visited Germany when you were 13?
Frank: For 3 years.
Dirk: Hm, interesting. Did you have any problem with the language?
Frank: We were on base.
Dirk: Oh, military base. Good, good. Makes sense. Was that with your
Dirk: How many brothers and sisters were there with you?
Frank: One ...
Dirk: Brother, sister?
Frank: ... brother.
Dirk: Hm, didn't know that about you.
Frank: Why were you in ...
Dirk: Born. My family is from Germany. Been there for many many many
many many hundreds of years. Came over here after the war, my father
as a mathematician and physicist, was one of the rocket scientists,
one of the German scientists. That brought it up, that's what brought
us over here. I came in 1947. Didn't know that, did you? (Frank wails)
O.k. folks, remember, this is an unauthorized tape, if Frank is merchandising
this thing to you, cause he had NO authority, NO license, nnnilch, zilch.
O.k., what's next?
Dirk: No. He asked if I was a Nazi. (Frank screams) My attitude? Come
on. Un-compatible. Besides, I was just a little kid. (Frank laughing)
Uh, family? My father was part of a pan-Europe movement before Hitler
came to power, so wasn't exactly popular in that clique of people, because
the very word "Nazi" is derived from nationalistic, and pan-Europe
would have been [a] very international movement, so they were the antithesis
of that. Like much of my family were in other parts of the world. My
aunt was the wife of the ambassador, I think from Belgium to Finland.
My godfather was the English Air Minister, so it would have been like
the Secretary of the Air Force. So, just didn't fit the role of a German
Frank: Your uncle was a ...
Dirk: ... Senator. Great-great-grand uncle, Everett Dirksen, yes. Also
a show business [can't hear]. Yes. Too conservative for my tastes, in
some ways. Wrong side of the aisle as far as political parties. But
an interesting man, and very bright, both politically and a frustrated
actor. That's what he, he had wanted to be an actor. He made a number
of recordings, albums, that were, that used his ability as an orator,
because he was considered one of the best orators that [the] Senate
has seen, and ... the interesting thing with Dirksen was that he probably
gave the only legislative victory that President Kennedy had, and that
was the atom bomb test ban treaty. And he was very criticized at the
time because he was a leader of the Republicans, and he got Kennedy
the votes that were needed to pass that piece of legislation. And when
he was confronted on having flip-flopped, so to speak, from the conservative
view of that day, and the more militaristic view, to one of banning
the bomb, at least testing of it, he said, "Well, there are only
two kind of people that can't change their minds. They are either in
insane asylums or in the cemetery. And I'm not in the one yet, and I
don't think I'll end up in the other." Something to that effect.
So, he said it makes sense, and that's why ... and that was pretty much
near the end of his career, so that's the uncle story.
Frank: I remember that.
Dirk: Oh, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, that was a big big moment
in history, of the atomic era. And, I mean, here we are, a replay, with
France doing it in the Pacific. I'm involved right now in a, what is
called a Rolling Petition, which is employing the modern technology
of the web pages and the FAX too and it's in support of what Greenpeace
is doing. A gentleman by the name of Robert Manning has proposed this
petition. He had a great success during the Persian Gulf War. Before
the war started, when they were making, rattling sabers, Robert in three
days collected over 55,000 signatures against America entering into
a war against Iran, to resolve it peaceful. He stopped the moment that
the actual invasion took place because he said, "Well, I am an
American and it would be seditious for me to, once that first shot is
fired, to give aid and comfort to the enemy. And he stopped the petition.
And it was using an 800 number and Faxes. And now he is acting as a
consultant to Greenpeace, in an effort to stop testing in the Pacific,
because we, all of us concerned with this issue feel that boycotting
the French in terms of the products that French citizens are manufacturing
... well, some of those citizens, the polls that have been taken would
indicate that 60% of the French population is against the tests. So
if we are, if we would boycott their products, we would probably hurt
the very people, that the majority of those people are against these
tests. It's quite often that it's not the individual. Like when you
were sort of half-kiddingly pecking out the word "Nazi". A
lot of people in every country, whether it's Japan and Pearl Harbor,
whether it's Germany and the concentration camps, whether it's America
and racism, or, you name it. There isn't a country that is without its
flaws or its sins. But the individual citizen, in many cases, isn't
the guilty party. It's the power structure. And it is ignorance on their
part. It is fear. It is despair on their parts. It is greed. And most
of the vices of man, whether it's greed, anger, lust, whatever, whatever
the vices are. They're really all based in ignorance. Because if you
are well-educated and hopefully secure in your knowledge, then you're
not going to freak out, and you will take the attitude, "O.k.,
I'm going to try to figure out how to solve whatever problem I'm on."
Sometimes I'm amazed that people will spend literally fortunes to go
on trips to Africa, to go on Safari, where you have mosquitoes, where
you have snakes, where you got insects, scorpions and whatever. Heat,
humidity. And they'll go and bust their butts climbing up mountains,
facing avalanches, sandstorms. But what is it in search of? Adventure!
And yet, if you look at, hey, riding the BART can be an adventure! I
mean look at it, couple of days ago somebody tried pushing a woman under
the thing. I mean, that's pretty hairy. Of course, I mean urban life
is pretty much an adventure to survive in. I think you've made an adventure
out of the lot that was handed to you. In terms of the physical problems
that your body gave you. It imprisoned you. But you've made an adventure
of them. And you've become an inspiration to people. You're definitely
an inspiration to me, in terms of whenever I feel badly, I've been lately
going to visit an outfit called Recreation Center for the Handicapped,
have been working for them for about four years, out in San Francisco,
by the zoo. It was founded some forty years ago by a woman who felt
that people with disabilities should have the ability to participate
in recreation, and to experience the nice things, of seeing the parks
instead of being locked up. And Janice founded this place, and to me
it has become like a happy drug. I go out there, where a lot of people
say, oh it's depressing to be around people that are, that have to be
lifted by pallets, or that are in wheelchairs, or that are drooling,
or they can't communicate. But boy when you see a human that's trapped
in that prison, that is refusing to give up -- that becomes an inspiration.
And I think the same thing is, last year we did a satellite link-up
from Golden Gate Park, an interactive video link-up, with Sarajevo.
And to see ... there were four or five people in a theater that were
performers and artists that we had communications with. The U.N. peace-keepers
had brought them there because of the snipers were acting up very actively
at that point. So they had to be brought in by armored personnel carriers.
And we were communicating with them. And they were talking about the
ingenuity that it took by the doctors who were working without electricity
in the operating rooms, and very little medicine. And they were talking
about the performers that had to overcome the lack of electricity, but
they were still doing theater. So they make it an adventure.
Frank: That is where I get the best.
Dirk: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. In adversity, by taking on adversity as
an adventure ...
Frank: And not seeing it as a p-r-i-s-
Dirk: Prison. Yes. Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely. The, I think
in the book "From Here To Eternity," one of the characters
who is incarcerated, Pruitt I think is the character's name, he gains
his strengths from going into his, into himself, into his own brain
or mind, and shutting everything out. Because he was caught in the physical
cage, he couldn't. I ... and that's the way that he survives. To a degree,
that is like people who, in the face of adversity will fantasize. I
try to remain realistic to a degree because if, in my position of trying
to put on a play or, like we did, or to run a club or a theater, or
to write a book, you have to have deadlines, you have to have discipline,
and sometimes you just can't do all of that in your head. You have to
physically get around. But the thing is, in your, as I've observed you,
you've created relationships with people. You've contributed to them
in inspiration, and thereby gotten them, like myself, to support your
endeavors. And it becomes a mutually beneficial adventure. And therefore
you're using leverage as ... I thoroughly believe in that. That, for
instance, with the recreation center out there. We do their videos.
We do it pro bono, meaning that all we charge is for the cost of the
tape, or the money it takes to drive out there for the gas or whatever.
And we've created I think three full-length documentaries that they
use in fund raising and securing jobs for people in their supportive
employment. I've acted as a consultant, saying, "Boy, how about
going to ... this person has a real good idea ..." And the specific
thing is, I suggested some couple years back to, since they have a lot
of land, to grow vegetables for use in their kitchen, as well as maybe
selling it to gourmet restaurants. And, lo and behold, I made the suggestion,
and about six months later, Ruth Brinker [sp.], the founder of Open
Hand, who's now doing a gardening project for homeless people, was doing
the same, was proposing the same thing for use in the city. So, it's
those kinds of ideas that I enjoy exploring, of taking the energy of
one person and giving it to another. That just because you may not be
capable of growing the groceries, if you have the land, somebody else
may have the hands to plant and till and pull the weeds, water and all
of that. But that person may not have the capabilities, like the speech,
if a person has the disability of not being able to speak for, effectively
for selling something. But somebody else who may have had their limbs
crushed or whatever and is now in a wheelchair, may still have the total
capabilities of communicating verbally. But because of the fact that
they're confined to a wheelchair, society sort of goes, "Well,
we don't think we want to hire this guy." But if those three people
... it's not the blind leading the blind. But if you have a blind man,
and one that can see, somebody else that may not be able to speak, but
they all get together, and pretty soon you do have a whole human being.
And I think the same holds true in the arts. Somebody may be a marvelous
painter, but an absolute disaster when it comes to being a business
person. They may be a great painter, but not have the vision of how
to merchandise it. Or they may be a great painter, and not have sufficient
self-esteem to be able to put a value on what their doing. And so if
people of good-will come together, and of talent, and of creativity
-- and you're certainly an example, with everything that you see in
Frank's environment, you have been able to turn around, and it may not
be that you did all of it, but you attracted the people, that love you
and that have come to respect you, that you interact with. And I think
that's a wonderful lesson. That someone who, after all is confined to
a wheelchair, like yourself, has been able to give to people. And that
is why when you came, those many moons ago ... boy it must be almost
twenty years, '95, 18 or 19, how many? Do you remember?
Here I'm interviewing this guy ... and remember folks, if you're seeing
this tape, Frank has no license to do it. He's stolen it again and ripped
me off again. My good naive intentions coming out here.
Dirk: So 19 years. Yeah. Yeah. Boy, you certainly survived. Did you
ever think you were gonna be this old?
Frank: No. I did not want to get, when I was 25.
Dirk: 25, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, you learn. And you gotta keep surviving
to be in the game, so that's the main thing.
Frank: One time I was talking to Bill Graham. I said I was doing a show
at the M-a
Dirk: Mabuhay? What did he say?
Frank: He said, "Shit." (Dirk laughs.)
Dirk: Well, he had colorful language. Command of the language.
Frank: And I said, "Well, it is the only place that would book
Dirk: Yeah, book me. Yeah.
Frank: "Will you?" (screams)
Dirk: Did it shut him up?
Dirk: Well, in many ways he was a great guy. And in some ways he was
myopic in his view. He once told me that you either expanded or you
contracted. And if you contracted, you eventually ... this was in response
to saying, "Why do you keep, you know, why do you have to keep
going bigger and bigger?" And he said, "Well if you don't
expand, you contract and then you die." This was in a discussion
that we had about ... I felt that at a certain point, that if you made
a venue too large, it defeated the purpose of setting up the show in
the first place.
Frank: I have worked hard not to get big.
Dirk: Well, everything except your head. You've always had a big head,
right? Yeah. No, no. You've done good shows, and you can't do what you
do if there isn't the personal contact. 'Cause that's what it's all
about, in your kind of theater. The only thing that, in my comment to
... and maybe this is where I'm touchy when people say, "Well,
you were the only guy that would book us." Well, good for me. It
wasn't just that I was desperate to book anything, because I turned
down a certain ... I mean, I turned down some acts. So what was my criteria?
Well, my criteria was that you had to have something that was basically
original. I wasn't interested at, per se, cover bands. And ours was
obviously, a heavy percentage of the theater that we presented was based
in music. A lot of the rock 'n roll theater, let's call it that, or
humor, was based in music.
Frank: But you had things like The J-a-p-
Dirk: Japanese dancer. Yes. Have you followed Koichi Tamano ? I just
did a show with him at the Anthropology Museum up here at UC two weeks
ago for Hiroshima day. He's still going strong, and as a matter of fact
I'm gonna go and do some video with him. And remember folks, if Frank
is selling you this video, it's an unauthorized version! He SAID he
was only going to use it for the audio for this article he's writing
on me. I don't think I'll ever see this article in writing, but anyway
Frank: And maybe is on TV.
Dirk: This tape? (Frank screams) No way, Frankie! No way. No, no. No,
no. You haven't got a release. Folks, if you see this tape in public,
he's breaking his word. And Frank never breaks his word. So I got him.
Frank: I did not ...
Dirk: Nope, silence is consent. Silence is consent.
Frank: When (laughing) have I ever s-i-l-
Dirk: Boy, you got me. Try it again. Start fresh.
Frank: S-i-l- ...
Dirk: Try another word. That one I don't get.
Frank: I am always noisy.
Dirk: Nosy or noisy? (laughs)
Frank: And I did not give you my word.
Dirk: Heh, heh. Well, Frank, I won't give you any more words! So we're
at an impasse. This is an interview, folks. If he uses this video, this
guy, Frank Moore, is conniving me. Anyway, keep going.
Frank: How did you get the idea for the ...
Dirk: ... Mabuhay? That was the ...
Linda: Wait, hold that thought.
Dirk: That was a concept to give me the ability to document emerging
performers, to document them at the time that the seminal moment occurs,
when somebody is first trying their act, or their piece. And I wanted
to document it. I had had this concept of documenting it through the
use of Super-8 film. And I had sold that concept, or had pitched that
concept to CBS, and it just didn't work in terms of ... I had thought
that because people were using Super-8, that they would have used the
medium to record some interesting things. But it was really all poor
quality, the stuff that I got after asking for submissions. The formula
now, of course, is very successful with video of, you know, funniest
home video. The material that we got, and this was like mid-60s, was
just really, people couldn't relate to it. And the structure of television
sort of requires thirteen weeks, or ninety days of programming times
four, so that you got a whole year of programming. And after about a
year, all that I could come up with was less than for two hours, or
two and a quarter. So that would have been less than five episodes,
instead of thirteen. And all of that was, much of that seemed inferior,
so I went back to the proverbial drawing board to try figuring out how
could I get that? And I figured, well, if I had a theater in which I
could set up the mechanisms or the systems of documenting, either through
audio recordings, film ... this was pre- the small video cams. They
were black and white, and they were very poor quality. So we really
didn't think that video would be the right documentation medium. But
that film would be. And that's why, and I felt that I needed a theater
to do it in. And so we went looking for theaters ...
Frank: Who we?
Dirk: Who we, who we ... oh when you say we? I use the word "we"
interchangeable with "I" or "me". I guess it's the
imperative "we" or "he". Because of the fact that
I always had people that worked with me. The same way you have Linda
and your friends that helped you with the Outrageous Beauty Pageant.
Some of these friends have been with me for literally twenty years,
twenty-five years. And some, a great number of my friends are deceased
because of either as a result of murder, plane crashes, AIDS, drug-overdosing,
car accidents. Unfortunately like in the last probably six years or
seven years, I think that I've buried some 67 or 68 people that at one
time or another were involved with me or employed. So the thing is the
"we" has always been sort of a loosely knit group of people
that have worked with me ... some of whom have held positions of being
called partners in business arrangements, and who still are.
Frank: How did that get started?
Dirk: I moved up here from Los Angeles where I was working as a TV producer
and writer and producer of concerts and things, and said, "Well,
I like San Francisco because it's a very tolerant city. I like San Francisco
because it's beautifully, geographically beautiful. Because in Los Angeles
at that time, the smog was at its worst in years. And it was just depressing
getting up and seeing brown sky.
So I basically finished what business relationship I had in L.A., came
up here and sort of, not bummed around, but slept on floors of friends
of mine for about a year. Got the layout. I had come up here, the first
time that I came up, I mean when I started to come up, I had gotten
myself a booking for a friend of mine at the Playboy club. And that
brought me to the North Beach area. Because I wanted to get, I wanted
to have a project that would lead me into the various media contacts
and such. And I booked him at the Playboy club. And when that first
day, while he was doing the show at the Playboy club, went up and had
dinner up on Broadway, and ran into the Mabuhay. Had checked out, I
had primarily gone to check out the On-Broadway, which was the second
floor, above the Mabuhay, but had found out from the guys up there that
they had just signed a renewal of their lease, and that they had a play
in there, so it wouldn't be available. And they said, "Well, why
don't you go downstairs and check out the Mab. They look like they may
need a hand," in terms of that they had just started, weren't doing
too well. So that's when I met Ness. And after a few months, found out
that his Monday nights were, Monday and Tuesday nights he was closed,
and talked him into giving me the Monday nights, and that we would,
or that I would guarantee him a hundred and I think seventy-five a day
at the bar. And in very short order, we put in a group of, a female
comedy troupe, feminist comedy troupe called Le Nicolettes, which were
sort of a guerrilla comedy troupe. And they did the Monday nights and
Tuesday nights. We'd schlep in the stage Sunday night. And they would
perform, and we'd schlep in the backdrops and the whole thing and then
schlep it out Tuesday night, store it next door in a warehouse behind
an art gallery on the other side of the alley. And that went on for
about a year and a half. Or a year. And in that time, we would have
bigger successes on Monday and Tuesday night than Ness would for the
weekend nights, the Fridays and Saturdays, in his ... what he was running
was a Filipino piano bar and supper club, using acts from the Phillipines.
One of them was an Elvis impersonator, [can't hear name], and another
was a very popular performer in the Phillipines a few years before,
who had, I think, left the Phillipines because of disagreements with
the Marcos government, and was living in San Francisco. And she was
a very talented singer. And her husband had asked if I'd be interested
in doing a television show because she had a Filipino sort of community
show on channel 20, which was "Kimo [sp.] TV". So I created
a show for her which employed a lot of comedy, slapstick sort of blackouts
and a few songs. And I said, the couple of requirements before I would
undertake the show, 1) would be she should lose 20 lbs.. The other was
that she shouldn't sing every song in the show because I felt that that
would take away from her being the headliner. And that I would choose,
that I would have the say-so on what dresses she would wear, in terms
of the wardrobe. She would submit the wardrobe and I would select what
she would wear for the songs. And that I had, in essence, artistic control
on the program. We did 27 episodes, and some of those were run 20 and
30 times on that station, with great results. And in the interim, the
things at the Mabuhay, the Filipino audience kept getting sparser and
sparser, and my sort of avant-garde rock theater became more and more
the in-thing. And because of the policy that we had sort of set up,
which was - you send us a cassette with at least three of your songs.
They all have to be original. A picture, an 8 X 10 black and white.
And the name and ages of your band or your group. The reason for that
was so that if we wrote a press release that we could say, "...
and so and so is the bassist, and she or he is 26 years old, or they're"
... whatever. It wasn't a question of trying to control any particular
age bracket. But because of the fact that there was a liquor license
there, they had to be over 21, and that's what we were trying to find
out. So that if the person said, we had to believe them, if they said
they were over 21. So that there would be no prior restraint, that we
would know what kind of music, so that the genre ... because people
sometimes would mis-explain what their genre was, but if you hear it,
you have a rough idea. And that would give us the idea of the sound
problem because we had a theater above us. And the theater was in, they
would perform up until 10:45, 11 o' clock, so we couldn't start before
11:00. So that was the reason we gave you the early time slot, because
you didn't have any really live music. Yours was mainly recorded music
or very acoustic music. Every once in a while when you guys would turn
your amps up too much, the people from the theater would come down because
we would trespass on their sound space. So it was the early after-hours
show in essence, because we started when most places were closing down.
Around 11:30, 12 o' clock, most performance places in those days were
The other unique thing that we did is we did three acts, three full
bands, in a matter of three hours, from eleven to two. And that required
a really adroit, high energy stage crew that would get them in and out,
because there weren't any big gaps in between. So by this compression
of cramming three bands, sometimes a couple of comedians or other acts,
fire-eaters, you name it, jugglers, in between, it was a constant non-stop
of entertainment. So, in a sense we delivered a three-ring circus between
these hours of 11:00 and 1:45, when we'd have to collect all the drinks,
and start getting them out. This lead to a number of sort of things
where I became the host, or the ring-master. And the only way to deal
with the age bracket of the audience, the audience of this age-bracket,
was ... you couldn't say, [goofy voice] "Now, ladies and gentlemen,
it's time to go!" So I began insulting them and berating them,
used a police whistle, a little plastic bat and an assortment of everything
with helmets with lights flashing on ...
Frank: Remind me of wrestling.
Dirk: Yes, yes. Oh yeah. I mean, it was absolutely, we tried to push
the envelope in terms of physical, slap-stick, music, you name it, it
was all sort of ... Everything from industrial ...
Frank: And c-a-r-
Dirk: Crazy, crazy. No ...
Frank: ... carnival.
Dirk: Carnival type of thing? Carny? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yes. Yeah, absolutely.
Yeah, no that's why your Outrageous Beauty Pageant fit well into that.
There's an interesting ... you know who Flea is, of the group ... you
Dirk: Well, Flea, one day was telling me ... I'm trying to remember
the name of his group. Chili Peppers! Red Chili Peppers, Red Hot Chili
Peppers. Flea first saw your act when he was in a group called Lee Ving
Fear, Lee Ving's Fear group. He was the bass player in Lee's, in Fear.
And he had come up here, I think ... he was like fourteen years old.
The bass was bigger than he. And he came in early in the evening, did
his, or the afternoon, did his sound check, and then you guys came in
and set up. And in those days, the Filipino restaurant was still there,
the Filipino kitchen was still available. So we used to feed all of
the performers that were either too poor or didn't have money or wanted,
we'd give 'em either a spaghetti dinner or some of the Filipino dishes.
And there was chicken assad- whatever. And so he got, he was sitting
there, and you guys came on and you did the Sympathy for the Devil routine
where, for those of you that didn't see Frank's show, Frank would come
out, or would be wheeled out painted up as the devil in his wheelchair.
And the music would come on, and he would lip-synch the music, and sing
it also, right? And they had a couple of pregnant women in the chorus,
is that correct? Yes. And ... no, no, the pregnant women were, I'm sorry,
all of these people were in semi-nude stage, with all sorts of trippy
costumes and Frank singing away, with dry-ice on the floor, fog, dry-ice
fog and strobe lights, you name it, very good theatrical effects. And
the people would come in and, this was the early-dinner show ... so
there would be these tourists with some Filipinos ... (Frank screams)
... in between, and me running up and down the stairs saying, Oh yes,
I'm sorry, theater owners. We'll keep the noise down. And we'd be turning
down Frank's amps. And the music would be getting into it, The Rolling
Stones Sympathy for the Devil. And, all of a sudden, two of the women
that were dressed sort of like banshees from hell, would run into the
audience, kidnap these two pregnant tourists, who of course were shills,
some of Frank's crew. And these women would be protesting, saying, "No,
no, no. I don't wanna sing. No, I don't wanna get involved." And
instead, the cast members would kill them and tear out two baby plastic
dolls out of their stomach wrapped in various cow entrails and others,
as if these poor women were being slaughtered for their fetuses. Which,
at that point, many of the audience who had come to get the dinner,
would be throwing up and running out. Well, Flea just loved it. He said
it inspired him to become (FRANK SCREAMS) the performer that he is today,
Hot Chili Peppers. So anyway, there you are. Now ...
Frank: My cast gave me s-h- ...
Dirk: Ahh, some poo-poo. Yes, they well should have, Frank. You were
just a disgusting pervert. You always have been. And the only way, the
only reason you get away with it is because you're in the wheelchair
and then you claim that people are discriminating ...
Frank: They thought it was too v-i- ...
Dirk: ... o-l-e-n-t. Violent? Well, it was more disgusting than violent.
It was just pure shock theater.
Frank: It was like Dawn ...
Dirk: ... of the Dead. See, I can just finish your thoughts for you,
you don't even need your Ouija board. Yeah, it was. Yeah. It was terrible.
Yeah. But it was definitely cutting edge, and it gave you the ability
to pursue your ... your demons. (laughs) And you did a great job.
Frank: My cast saw the Mab as a d- ...
Dirk: Dive. I think that was short-sighted of people. Because it had
a great amount of freedom. And sometimes the chaos ...
Dirk: Yeah, yeah, yeah ...
Frank: Most a-r-t ...
Dirk: ... art is ...
Frank: ... -i- ...
Dirk: ... is?
Frank: ... t ...
Dirk: ... his. No. Start again.
Frank: Most artists ...
Dirk: Most artists! O.k., most artists ...
Frank: ... would kill ...
Dirk: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
Frank: ... to have a theater for three years.
Dirk: Like you did. Yeah, absolutely. (Frank screams) Yeah.
Frank: To do anything ...
Dirk: Yeah. ... they wanted to pursue. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Agreed, agreed.
Frank: But they would not listen.
Dirk: Yeah, yeah, yeah ... No, I agree. That was a unique situation.
I don't take credit as the sole influencing ... I mean, as the ... I
put a certain energy into it, created the peripheries, which was the
concept of giving artists, create the peripheries, act as the steward
of the door, which brought in the money for the advertising, and the
pit-tance of the bands getting, sometimes at the most, five bucks or
ten bucks. And on some weekends, some acts would get eight, nine hundred.
Probably, the most that an act probably ever made up there was like
3000 bucks for a single performance. So it was a system of where 65%
of the door came to the show from, and 35% went back to the club for
the expenses ... 65 went to the acts, was split up amongst the acts.
And 35 was for the advertising, the door security, and the equipment,
the lighting and sound staffing. O.k., now, you were gonna say something
Frank: But even when Zappa came and loved it, they did not believe him.
Dirk: Believed him, uh huh.
Frank: They did not b-e-l-i ...
Dirk: Believed or beloved by ...
Frank: ... e-v-e that he really liked it.
Dirk: Oh yeah, it was tough. People, because they got too hung up in
the fact that the place didn't have plush seats, it wasn't a traditional
theater. But in order to take the opportunity of spontaneity, you know,
pursuing, exploring, it couldn't be set up like a traditional theater.
Somebody, a filmmaker, once did an interview -- let me just share this
thought and then I'll go back to your question there. A filmmaker was
saying it was interesting for him to see that people would get up, move
the chairs, the table, wherever they wanted them to be, or they'd put
'em up on stage, all of a sudden interact by sitting on stage. And even
in your Outrageous Beauty Pageant you sort of promoted that kind of
attitude for the people in the audience to get involved in the Outrageous
Frank: To break the stage ...
Dirk: Yeah, yeah, yeah ... Absolutely. It was a constant challenge of
seeing somebody get, start what looked like that they were destroying
something. And, you know, did you ...? We'd have to make the judgment,
or I'd have to make the judgment. This individual is gonna do some damage
... or they're just, you know, pursuing an idea. But it was definitely
a very interesting thing to see because it was pandemonium, it was crazy,
it was anarchy.
Frank: It is on the edge.
Dirk: Yes, it was on the edge. Absolutely. I agree. Ahh, Frank, it is
now 7:30. How much longer do you want to go tonight on this? I can give
you another time, because I sort of gotta be back by 8:00, 'cause I
got an appointment. I know I'm running late. You tell me what you wanna
Frank: We can do it again.
Dirk: Next week?
Dirk: O.k., so I'm gonna call ... or I'll work it out with your schedule
with Linda, and then we'll do another session like this. Do you figure
that that'll do it for you, for the article, that you got enough material?
Dirk: Good going. Did we, did the interview go the way you wanted it?
Dirk: Good. All right. Should we holler for ...? (goes to the door)
I QUIT! I'M NOT GOING TO DO ANYMORE! BECAUSE HE'S JUST NOT BEING NICE!
Dirk: Ah, the reason I, I was pointing to Frank that I sort of gotta
be back by eight, 'cause I had figured I would be here earlier.
Dirk: So, he would like to do it again. He says we did all right. So
Linda: (laughs) I heard a lot of screaming.
Dirk: Well it's getting too dark. My picture won't turn out.
Frank: Flea ...
Dirk: Oh, Flea story. Is that what you want me to tell? (Frank - yes)
Linda: Yeah, yeah.
Dirk: Oh, it's Flea of Chili Peppers, Hot Chili Peppers, one time told
me of the impact that, when he came when he was fourteen, he was in
the group Fear with Lee Ving. And they had sound check, and then you
guys came in and we were feeding him dinner. And that's when you guys
did the Sympathy to the Devil number, you know, with the girls, I mean
the pregnant women being dragged out of the audience. And he just thought
that was the greatest theater because, I think he said, "Oh, I
was on acid, and I just thought it was wild ... this Filipino piano
bar and supper club ..." Because, you know, if you walk through
it, of, you do a sound-check, there's a stage, there's the rattan furniture
and all of that, you see piano bar, Filipino supper club ... the guy
says, "Oh, let me feed you dinner." He's eating dinner, he
sees some tourists around him. You guys come on ... (Frank and Linda
laughing) ... the dry-ice fog, they rip the women up. He said that made
such an impact on him that that's why that theater, the influence of
why he put so much theater ... so ...
Linda: Whoa! (laughs) (Frank wails)
Dirk: This was like, ten years ago, or when he was, when it wasn't Chili
Peppers yet, when it was still Lee Ving. He was up in the dressing room
telling me the impact this thing had had ... the Outrageous Beauty Pageant.
So there you are! (Frank screams) So, this is a publication that a friend
of mine runs up in Mendocino. Just sort of get acquainted with it because
I think we might be able to explore something up there. O.k.? A show,
or something. Because they do a lot of interesting art ... o.k.? All
right! Well, I'm gonna ...
Linda: So are we setting up another time?
Dirk: Yes, I had said ... I think I ought to do it when I have my book,
at the house. O.k.?
Linda: O.k., so we'll call you.
Dirk: Yeah. We'll do a, again another evening, just like this. O.k.?
A little bit earlier. All right? Yes.
Linda: Yeah. Yeah.
Dirk: Good. O.k. One cookie up here. O.k. You be good. All right. O.k.?
(hugs) Okey doke.