Shaken Deep to the Core - Part One

I arrived in San Francisco in the early afternoon. Got a cab to take me to the bus station where I kept my baggage and then I walked around until I was to meet up with old college friends once they got off work.

I walked straight up Market St. to get to my old neighborhood around Divisedaro and Fulton just around the corner from Café Abir. It was a long walk but I had the time. The first 2 people I encountered were a black man who was dancing by the tap dancer where the trolley cars turn around. The tap dancer has been there for a long time and he makes a tall basket full of cash, his wiry taught chocolate muscles making his feet feel every beat. He’s good. The guy dancing around him was working the crowd and he caught my eye and we started talking about groovin and stuff. Suddenly he got serious and then he touched my face gently and told me how he was gonna die, from high blood pressure from doing too much crack.

It was a subtle realization when I looked around that I had entered the 'bad part of town' yet I was on the same street. I passed over the invisible border that keeps them from going down there and those others from coming up here. Storefronts were abandoned, the smell of urine pervaded, there were porn theatres and liquor stores and almost everyone walking around was of a darker color and in rough shape. I walked another 30minutes and found myself in the gay part of town with art supply stores and kitchy cafes. Everything seemed to be farther than I had remembered it.

The next guy I talked to was another black guy on a skateboard who stopped by me while I was having a coffee and a smoke at the old spot where Cafe Abir used to be. He bummed a smoke off me and then I asked him if he could do an olie. He impressed the hell outta me when he got on and road about 5ft then launched himself about 3ft into the air with his board under him the whole time, landed perfect. I asked how long it took him and he sheepishly said about a year and I said I knew it took a long time to learn and he smiled and agreed.

After those two encounters I was feeling pretty good. I finally met up with my old college buddies and we had dinner together. Flash back to the days of endless hanging out, but it was a brief visit. I slept well and then the next morning I saw a Bob Dylan cd on my friend's desk. I asked him why he had it because he hates hippies and, well, from what I've heard, Bob Dyan was kind of a big hippie. My friend did not believe Bob Dyan had ever been a hippie.

I went by myself to a gallery that day and saw some cool graffiti inspired paintings, prints and photos but it was in a yuppie part of downtown and when I later told a graf artist that I had been there he just scoffed and called it a fucking yuppie joint. I met up with another friend from college and it was nice chatting and having lunch with him. He took me to a girl's place where he needed to help her with the subtitles to some film they were involved in making. I was amazed at how easy it was to talk to her and how comfortable I felt around people in general. However, when I started to feel the old reality creep up and suck me back into smoking and loafing around, I really wanted to get to Berkeley. I immediately decided to get up and go. It was time.

Just like my first visit to Frank, Linda and Mikee's place got deeper as it went, this next stay went deeper than the first. Deep to the core.

I got off the Bart and asked a woman which direction Gilman St. was. She pointed and I started walking. Not even a block from the station, I heard someone coming up behind me fast. I turned to see a slight dark middle aged man jogging. He stopped beside me and we walked together and talked all the way to Gilman. He even helped to carry one of my bags.

When I entered the little gate on Curtis, I saw someone peering at me through the window. I said hi and then was greeted by Kirsten at the door who introduced herself immediately. I said "hi! I'm Jen!" and a cheer went up from the living room! Kirsten has a great laugh, and right then and there I knew it had been a very good decision to come.

Mikee was laid up in the living room due to his back going out and Kirsten rubbed his feet. Our great adventure started to show its own plan for us! Adaptability is needed to get things done, and I knew we had much to do.

Talking with Kirsten was fun. We seemed to pack a lot of information in considering how little time we actually spent together. I was totally interested in her and I felt many similarities but then I realized our archetypes as witch (Kirsten) and warrior (me). Both archetypes equal in energy and power but fundamentally different. I felt that both of us wanted to dive into the other and see it all, why we did what we did, why we were both there and how we got there. I asked her about her tattoo which is an ancient runic symbol having to do with connection to another and sex magic. Far out shit considering she is now studying with Frank and giving body work sessions herself.

When I watched her first session with Frank, one of the first installments of the Deep Core Magic program on Luver, I was amazed at her. I couldn't keep my eyes and ears away! It was very deep and so open like I was actually there talking to her. Watching her eat was great! She was great. I couldn't wait to see her for our first session together.

The sessions went pretty much the way I remembered them. One of the first questions Frank asked me when we got into the cave was why I was there. I told him that I wanted to feel more relaxed with life. That I wanted to relax and calm down about things and just dance with life rather than fight it. This has all become clearer since leaving. Last year’s visit was more of an intense shock whereas this time was like having the ocean tide gently washing over getting me wetter and wetter as it went on. I am sustaining the feeling of being with you because that is where I feel very good and confident and sexy and I find that I am extending that feeling towards others, that my feeling this way makes others feel this way too and I can always feel this way because I always do feel like I'm with you! Just like I'm always with Nic and Julie and Peter and Isabella and Katie.

So, we had our first session and I had a very good time! Frank saw that I had made all my shirt collars lower, but he said LOWER! Like, show off that funky hair between your breasts! It is my responsibility to show that, to be that woman who can show that off to the world with a smile. And I have been ever since I got back. I am pulling anything out of my closet that has a zipper down the front so I can zip it low, real low. I am moving buttons on shirts so that they are lower, much lower. This is a crazy transformation that is changing me and everyone who connects with me. I’m feeling looked at but I’m noticing the reactions and, apart from the blank stares and uptight look-away’s, the response is positive from all the positive people. Nic said that he has heard hairs are like antenna on the body that channel energy. Then he said that my new low cut styles made me look more open and less defensive as if I have nothing to hide, oh yeah, and more feminine than ever before.

I seem to be reading stuff faster than Frank can write it, so he pulled out all his readers (an excellent comprehensive series of letters, articles, reviews, you name it, on his work and related topics). That was great! But when he started me off with Schechner I knew I was in for it.

Playing with Frank was more intense, more explicit and I just did what was coming naturally. It felt deeper and left me all wobbly and smiling. I could feel how I had incorporated a lot of what I learned from last year into myself and I was still aware of this being the beginning, how it goes as deep as you go.

On Monday, Kirsten came over again. She had gone sailing that weekend and was telling us her tale. While we were commiserating bodily injuries, old defenses of mine started to crowd my mind. Paranoia that I wasn’t as good, that I was an outsider and that I didn’t belong anywhere. I tried to hold this back but it was just happening so I kept quiet. Frank said he wanted me to videotape Kirsten nude in the magnolia tree. She asked me if I had done that and I just shook my head no. What was he up to? Trust is vitally important in this work. I knew that there was a reason and we would find out soon enough, but I had an inkling. When I got outside after Mikee showed me how to use the camera, Kirsten told me that Frank said this shot was to show the spirit of the character.

I have always had an affinity for trees. Just after I moved back to Toronto after college, I had a very profound dream of feeling like a tree, growing intricate branches in both directions for eternity. Then a few years after that, I was hanging out in a cemetery park when I found a secluded spot by a tree I had been sitting near and I felt so turned on that I masturbated in front of the tree, for the tree. Not exactly ‘normal’ behavior but I always thought ‘normal’ equaled ‘boring’ anyway.

Filming Kirsten in the tree was beautiful and I was just moving the camera around in slow sweeping motions over Kirsten’s body and around the tree. I forgot about my problems while I was doing that. When we went in to start our session they were creeping back along my periphery.

One of the first things Kirsten asked me was, “Don’t you just feel like you’re gonna be an old woman someday living in a shack in the woods because no one can take you? You’re too much of a freak?” and then that laugh, and I can’t tell you how many times I have had that thought, but I didn’t seem to take that bridge over the expanse my mind was creating. I just nodded in awe probably looking at her strangely.

Then Frank asked her to tell me about the long hair on her arms, how it was always there and she always tried to cover it up until one day her co-workers from an Asian country started making a fuss over it and told her it meant she was a wise woman, a shaman. The floodgates opened and all my fears rushed in. I felt very stuck with nothing to say. I felt weak and small in light of such a profound revelation. Then Frank asked me to show her the hair between my tits. Of course, she could hardly see it because I had plucked a lot of it out recently.

I started really putting myself down saying that I got it during puberty and it probably means the opposite of what hers means. My body movements became aggressive. Frank was going crazy saying “Tell her what I told you 1 year ago!”. During my first intensive last year, Frank said that hair gave clues as to where your power spot was, and that mine was there on my heart chakra. Kirsten said this and I felt like I wasn’t being honest to myself or them. I refused to see the worth of it. Frank told me not to pluck it and that I had to wear lower tops to show the hair.

My mind froze and I didn’t know what to say, my mind filling up with all kinds of negative thoughts about myself. I was sitting there with both of them looking at me and waiting and I didn’t know what to do, so I did the only thing that I felt I could. I tried explaining how I felt right then, just grasping at threads of truth around the boom in my head. I said I didn’t know what to say. That I felt really small. The sympathetic look on Kirsten’s face overwhelmed me and I burst into tears while she came over and rubbed my back. It felt really good to release that shit. To know that I could just forget about that stuff and be myself, that I did belong there, my worth seeping back as I cried the pain away. They patiently waited for me to get it out and then I started talking and we talked for a few hours just getting lost in each other’s stories.

After a little break, I got to videotape Frank and Kirsten tanpan playing together. Wow. I tried to keep back and creep in as it got more intense. That was an incredible experience. I am amazed at their openness and how close I feel to them and I wanted to join in the fun! But instead I stroked them through the lens and was just a different part of the fun this time.

After Kirsten left, we watched a video while eating dinner as always. I think it may have been Alice in Wonderland, the x rated version. Good stuff. And after that I crashed as usual. Although it may not seem as though the intensive would take a lot of energy, it really does. Of course, getting to bed at 4am may have something to do with it.


Shaken Deep to the Core - Part 2

My intense stay started on Friday and all through the weekend Frank and I had our time in the cave talking and playing. I read a little Schechner to begin with but then I was introduced to Julian Beck and Judith Malina of the Living Theatre, as well as Barbara Smith and Rachel Rosenthal, all who produced art that seemed to be very similar to what Frank does. Concepts such as life being a performance and of performance uplifting life, blurry or non-existent performer/audience line, and using art as a political and/or spiritual forum.

I was asked whether I wanted to concentrate on art or spirituality, and I said spirituality because I thought it would help all around. We talked a little about my photography and I just said that I love taking photos the way I take them and of what I want to take photos of. I don’t go by anyone’s rules other than my pure enjoyment to do it. I have started to see something in my past differently, that my leaving the photo side of school and transferring to the motion picture department was actually a boon in that I kept innocent about photography. Working in the film industry as I was taught seemed pretty unappealing as a long-term career after a few years out of school, but I missed being trained all the commercial aspects of photography and was able to pick up a camera and continue to take pictures for my own enjoyment. Then Frank asked if I ever considered taking erotic photos. I couldn’t think of anything except either predictable nudes lying on rocks or porn and neither seemed like anything I would want to do. When I thought of Mapplethorpe and Helmut Newton, photographers I like but don’t necessarily want to emulate, I said it had all been done.

On Sunday I took the Bart into San Francisco to meet some graffiti artists who were painting up Bar 6 near Market and 6th St. I arrived around 11am and found it easily. I took some pictures of the graffiti in the alley outside and then let myself in and found Alex. He was a nice guy who was taking graffiti into the bars of San Fran. With about 5 other artists (or more) they transformed the walls of a slightly dingy club into a graf doodle pad.

Alex worked on two circular pieces above the bar, one old school style and the other new school, while the others drew faces and designs all over the place. I took a few rolls of film as I talked to many of them. They were really friendly and open. I feel comfortable around them because we know we are all misfits and that we are all together doing something fun and dangerous like mischievous kids. We talked about the responsibility of an artist to take negative realities/emotions/feelings and transform them into something positive. We talked about seeing faces and characters in daily mundane things around us like patterns in concrete and stuff like that. We talked about dancing and music. I even met a guy who stuck his tongue out and crinkled his nose like I do sometimes for expression, like Gene Simmons or something. I picked it up from bike couriering and maybe he was a bike courier too, but it was cool to see and so I think I started doing it a little during my stay.

I was excited to get back to Frank’s and tell everyone all about it. I wanted to take other photos while I was there, like at our upcoming L.A. performances, but my intentions to take photos of anything that caught my eye became apparent that graffiti and skaters and basic underground urban living is what does it for me. I just smile inside every time I think about it.

Shroomy Shroom were coming by for the Shamen’s Den that night and I didn’t want to miss that! I had read Barb Golden’s Greatest Hits and was anxious to finally meet her. Of course, just before they arrived, I was in total disarray. Frank and Linda asked me if I was planning on renting the car for the whole time I was in L.A. I hadn’t. I guess I didn’t plan well enough to get to and from the performances. I forgot the gigantic size of that city and that Redondo Beach is not very close to either Santa Monica or Huntington Beach. I felt pretty bad about it because as Linda was going through the options of how this would work, I was freaking out saying “No! I never expected you to drive me around! I was going to find my own way there!”. Total defense mode followed by intense self-berating for not planning well enough. Just as the band came through the door, there I was apologizing while Linda gave me a big hug telling me I did nothing wrong and that we would figure it out. I got it together to take pictures that night.

The band was cool! They offered, and some did, drop their pants even before starting! I could feel the atmosphere open up and their songs were really good. They were all joking around and taking clothes off the further they got into their hot set. So, here’s Barb Golden sitting at a multi-colored piano in her black panties and bra singing Boner Boys with these 3 cute guys backing her up. How could anyone not envy her?

At one point Frank asked Barb how she manages to continue with her art. She said she always has a day job but doesn’t work more than 24hrs a week. I asked if she liked what she did, whatever it happened to be at the time, accountant, caterer etc. She said yes. I know what Frank was trying to say by asking her that. He was trying to point out that staying open and alive with art (like Barb was) means finding another way of supporting yourself – more specifically, that I should not look for an art ‘job’ but that I should instead look for a job to support my art.

I understand his concept, but this has been a particularly sore spot for me considering my conservative parents’ request of me to “get a good job and keep art as a hobby”. Well, it never has felt like just a hobby to me and we’ve had many an argument over it. I never could find a ‘good creative job’ but am now looking at that as a blessing in disguise, however, I do think it is very important to like what I do, especially if I have to do it every day! What I’ve been doing, temping in practically every bank, insurance, government and corporate office around town, is not helping me. So, I struggled with Frank’s advice all night. I tried not to worry about it the next day after telling Linda the night before what was up. In the morning we went for a walk and talked about creative stuff. I told her I’ve been getting e-mails from Europe about my work, just people finding my site and then sending me a note telling me that they liked it. We talked a bit about promoting work, the underground and the internet. She and Frank said that the response I’ve been getting is rare for the length of time I’ve been doing it (about 3 _ years) and that some people go 10 years or more without any recognition at all.

When we got back, Linda read me an email Frank received from one of the band members of Shroomy Shroom after the performance. The musician said how much it meant to him to be there and how amazing the experience had been. It was a really great letter!

I felt pretty good after that and didn’t talk about work again until Frank and I met up in the cave that night. I mentioned what I had been thinking about and said that I most definitely did not want to sell out my art, but that I really hated it in the office and did not want to do that type of work anymore. I told him I was thinking maybe a smaller company, more independent, would be better and then he recommended that I try restaurants as a waitress. That really made sense to me on so many levels: meet more interesting people, do something simple and real, work irregular hours, etc. He also kept looking at my low neck line and said a lot would open up for me. One thing I was worried about is that I don’t have much experience but he looked at my cleavage again and said to go in person. That’s what I’ve been doing. So far, I’ve had one interview at an organic juice bar, and dropped off another 3 resumes to independent healthy food restaurants. I admit it scares me because I’m afraid of rejection even though I’ve experienced it before. In spite of that, I’m following through and I hope that I will be working somewhere enjoyable.

Some of the videos we watched on that weekend other than Alice in Wonderland X-rated, were the 2 videos taped at last year’s New York performance at Surf Reality. They were of the same performance but showed completely different aspects to the many layers being created. One was a larger overview of the scene, picking out the more erratic movements and following most of the action throughout the 1hr 45min video. The second was a little more edited in camera and tended to show more of the intimate things going on, smaller movements like someone deciding what to pickup and play next, scratching of a chin, the hesitation in a step. The 2 videos complemented each other perfectly.

After I videotaped Kirsten and Frank on Monday night, we watched a performance that Frank and Linda did with Barb Golden, Yoshi, Xtian and a couple of others back in the 80’s. I liked it and it was fun to watch them all singing and having fun. I thought the best part was the wrapping ritual done at the end. Linda was rubbing and rocking on Frank with her tampon string visible, which was totally amazing in itself, and then the strobes go on and the slides start projecting all over their naked skin while Mikee wraps them with tinfoil and toilet paper and then extends the wrapping out into the audience. It was trippier than a Dead show and totally put me in a trance.

During the intensive, everything I do is part of it including eating, talking with everyone and even helping Linda take Frank to the ear doctor. On Tuesday, Frank, Linda and I took the Bart to downtown Berkeley. As we walked to the doctor’s office, Linda showed me some places where they used to live and hang out. All the stories are so interesting and I just wanted to hear more. Like about the time Frank got around by himself in San Francisco with no brakes on his chair. I asked about their family in the 70’s and 80’s and how it broke up. I had them talking the whole time we were at the doctor’s and all the way to the organic Arab deli.

We ate lunch as we chatted about the state of affairs in the US and how it is a bad time for anyone to move there but that those born there should stay and fight the fascism going on. I told them about my family and how after college I moved back home and had a major falling out with my folks. Linda and I traded info on horoscopes and it was a lot of fun to talk to her about that kind of thing. I was amazed at how comfortable I felt when I was with them and wondered if I could feel this relaxed and at ease all the time.

When Frank and I talked in the cave that night, he had me read some letters from Rachel Rosenthal, a performance artist who does similar work to his.She had received a substantial grant for her work, which she made a living off of, and had decided to forgo the money if the council didn't revoke a contract in which she was to sign saying that she did not do and would not do or endorse any work of an 'erotic' nature. Pretty gutsy of her.

He also had me read some writings from Barbara Smith. Her performances consisted of things like her sitting nude in a tent and having anyone come in and do anything they would like, or having a crowd parading a winter squash around town like a holy being. I really liked her writing and what she was doing as both were clear and clever. After reading Schechner, I got the sense from his elaborate writing that he was saying everything was performance. After reading Smith, I understood that concept more.

Playing with Frank was changing for me. The first time I ever eroplayed, in the 2001 NY performance, I experienced an extremely powerful sexual urge every now and then but managed to suppress this because it freaked me out it was so strong. Then, during the entire first intensive last year, I was so in awe of what was going on and it was terribly exciting that I felt tripped out the whole time. This time the sexy trippy feeling was not so intense but seemed to linger longer. I could sense the same power but it was less urgent, like the doors were now open and there was a steady flow. My mind stopped sending me the usual sexual images. I noticed that my breath got much deeper as we played and my mind calmed a lot.

That night we watched an interview conducted at Annie Sprinkle’s apartment in NY by a couple of people from a magazine. I love watching Frank communicate. He packs so much into what he says either with his alphabet board and pointer or just with the movement of his eyes and the lurch of his arm. I used to think that Frank was a man of few words because he had to conserve energy and thus pick his words carefully. This may be true since he told me that his neck does get sore from using the pointer, but I noticed while watching and talking to him that he does say whatever he wants even if it’s responding to “No Way!” by spelling out “W-A-Y”. He puts in little things like “Well…” and “darn” and once you get to know him you don’t even notice that he doesn’t use his voice to speak words. Another thing I really like about him is his wit. I see that sometimes when people ask him a question, it’s as if they’re testing him to see what he’ll say, see if he’ll come up with an expected response or what, and he always gives them a juicy answer or comment that usually makes them laugh or nod in profound agreement. The next day I took a little bike ride. I went down to the train tracks and spotted some graffiti. While I was crossing the tracks, I noticed a couple of hobos sitting under a tarp waving to me and I waved back at them. I wasn’t analyzing anything about the intensive, just soaking it up by living it. I was jotting down my crazy dreams into a little journal I brought but I didn’t seek any deep meaning into them. When I noticed that the initial rush I felt last year wasn’t coming and great insights weren’t blossoming in my mind right away, I just decided to relax about it and let it come. This is something I have been experimenting with over the past months and it really works for me. If I just relax and let it happen, it happens, just not in the way I would’ve expected.

When I stay at Frank, Linda and Mikee’s, it is almost like staying at a health camp. I eat better than ever, all organic and tons of greens (I even have vinegar on the greens, which I don’t like very much but eat all the same because I know it’s good for me), drink lots of water, get good sleep and hang around doing whatever I feel like until Frank is ready to go. Of course, I’m on holiday and don’t have many day-to-day responsibilities, but I help out when I can and when it’s needed.

After the intensive that night, we watched Frank as Extreme Elvis and it rocked! I wish I could’ve been there to see the madness up close. Everyone was going along with it and it got intense! I am a total fan of E.E. and I am so inspired that I’m bugging him to let me be a backup singer someday. I am very turned on by things like that and the dedication Frank, E.E. and everyone else in that performance showed. Piss and sweat and beer and groovy Elvis tunes with a funky band and Frank with sexy singers was just too much for me to ever pass up! I started planning my next trip right there. (Part 3 is next and who knows when it will end!)

Shaken Deep to the Core - Part 3

On Thursday, Kirsten came by for a session. She had asked Frank about Annie Sprinkle and Karen Finley, so he had a bunch of articles printed for us about each.

Karen and Annie are both performance artists and are/were friends of Frank’s. I don’t know much about Karen except for some small bits of info I found on the Internet. I read her poem Black Sheep and also saw one of her latest performances, 1-900-Karen or something like that. She made a name for herself in the avante garde art world by smearing chocolate on her naked body but as she got more popular, her work became less powerful and effective. Now she plays the fame game posing with Dr. Ruth and writing books about Martha Stewart.

I admire Annie Sprinkle since reading her book Post-Porn Modernist (or is that Post Post-Porn Modernist?). Her work was amazing as she opened herself up and invited everyone in. She used her power to help people feel relaxed and more accepting of their bodies and sex in general. Of course, this would make those who were determined to be closed uncomfortable, but that is how you can tell the work is powerful as well. It seemed to me that through her work she was everyone’s lover. But as the years went on she became bored or “burnt out” as she once told Frank.

As I was reading Frank’s reviews of their work, something made sense in my mind about time being non-linear. I have read many times from various different sources that time is non-linear and that the past and future are part of the present, affected by what happens in the present. Now this is very clear to me that what Annie and Karen ended up doing changes the effectiveness of what they did in the past and what they will do in the future. By becoming “famous” or “burnt out” the meaning of their early work is compromised and I wonder if what Karen did to inspire others really was just a stepping stone to get to the top. Or was Annie just letting us in because she is angry and upset about her past? Seeing it this way puts a totally different spin on what they did and what they will do. The past, present and future are happening all the time and it is a dangerous game to compromise past values that got you where you are. This can mislead many underground artists into thinking that the underground is just where you start before making it in the ‘real world’. This undermines the power of the underground.

As I was reading aloud, my throat was getting dry and my sinuses were filling up. I don’t know why, but this seems to happen when I do a lot of talking. At one point, Frank asked me to tell a story about when he and Linda saw Karen at a bookstore where she was promoting her Martha Stewart parody but every time I started, Frank would start giggling and would place his pointer on a letter indicating he had something to say. He was filling in details when I could barely get a sentence out so I finally told him to stop interrupting me! It was funny.

Kirsten was fading fast as she lay on the floor rubbing Frank with her foot. Since I was reading, she had the task of rubbing. The lights were bothering her eyes and she was very tired. Her lifestyle seemed pretty full of work and social activities and we were becoming worried that she may not have the energy to go to L.A. As I could feel her exhaustion, I kept asking “should I buzz for Linda?” and Frank just ignored me until he was finished. When she left, Frank and I talked a little more and then we decided not to play that night as we were pretty pooped.

During dinner, we watched the documentary of the Living Theatre which I was very interested in but didn’t quite understand at first. Both Judith and Julian were such amazing characters to watch, so animated and joyful. As I watched I started to understand what they were saying with their work and I noticed how they were doing many of the same things that Frank is doing only more politically directed and perhaps a little more socially acceptable. I could barely keep my eyes open though, and we stopped halfway to watch the rest tomorrow.

The flowers in Berkeley are very different from what I see in Toronto so I decided to take some photos of them. I also took a quick bike ride to get more film and had a nice chat with the guy at the photography store. He asked me what I took pictures of and I told him graffiti, breakdancing, skateboarders, bands etc. I asked what he took and he said landscapes and portraits. I realized that I am doing something a little different than the norm. When I rode back along Curtis, I tried to spot the “ex”-CIA guy’s house.

One morning I wanted to take a shower but Frank, Linda and Mikee just had Alexi install a new bathroom window and the plaster wasn’t dry, so I walked over to the blue house. I told them I like to take showers in the evening but that was rarely the case when I was there. Maybe I just like to take showers in the evening when I’m working because then I’m not in a big rush in the morning. Here I had a lot of time to kill in the mornings as they are pretty much night dwellers.

The blue house renovation is coming along very well. All the windows are done and look great against that magnificent blue. The archive room looks stunning with the pink walls and green trim. I can’t wait to see it all done! I couldn’t help but remember last year when Teresa and I eroplayed on the couch in front of the webcam. I miss her.

The intensive was longer this year but seemed to be whipping by just as quickly. Frank and I had reached a deeper level in the cave as we were now tanpanning since day one. The difference between tanpan play and eroplay is subtle and has to do with being more explicit, more direct, more intense. I watched some of the UCB performances that were held earlier in the year and was in awe of what they were getting away with. Looked pretty racy with Kirsten tanpanning with Frank and Linda tanpanning with Maria. Watching Kirsten helped me to relax into what I was doing.

I also enjoyed watching the UCB performance where Frank whipped Adriana and e.e. sang some songs. It was magical watching the couple in Linda and T’s costumes dancing. Once it started to get deep many of the spectators left. This is an interesting phenomenon, how Frank can clear a room. He always tells people that the good stuff starts once everyone has left, and then they leave. Funny that. Like no one wants to see the good stuff. I figured that some of the people leave because they are in a very obvious position of being voyeuristic. They are the voyeurs of the performance and that can be uncomfortable.

Even though I didn’t have a lot of money to spend while there, I did make a few phone calls back home. I missed Nic very much and really enjoyed talking to him. I thought that we could deal with the phone bill later, and we are. E-mail was very important to me as well. I keep in touch with many people that way and it was great to be able to use Linda’s computer for that.

The L.A. performances were getting closer and closer, and from what Frank and Linda kept telling me about tours, I admit I was getting nervous. They have lost many people on tours due to the stress of it all and I was worrying that it would break me too. What could possibly be that stressful about it? I didn’t understand. All I knew was that it would take up a lot more time than I had expected as they wanted me to eat with them and told me that it is part of the experience. They had e-mailed me a link to one of the restaurants before I came out just so I could budget. Well, I misunderstood and thought that we would be going there for one special meal and the rest of the time I would be eating at my friend’s place in Redondo Beach or buying cheap tacos. Now that the meals were part of the experience, I was calling my friend telling her that I wouldn’t be able to spend much time with her while I was there. She was cool with that.

Last year was a whirlwind of excitement while this year was a deeper experience all around including being more comfortable in front of each other and letting the scabs show. Suddenly I was seeing OZ behind the curtain as I noticed more of their daily living and it was great! I even got Linda to pull out her photo albums. I was tired that night but the photos perked me up as I sat with Frank and lingered through them. Really great stuff!

I’m starting to realize that a lot of my problems start when I start to worry. I can get pretty worked up about stuff. Once I get on a roll about my parents it’s hard to stop. I have been bitching about them since I was about 12 and most people find some of the stories hard to believe. Then Frank mentioned that it sounds like a masochistic relationship – we like to fight. Hit the nail on the head. Well, what if I stopped? What if I just never saw them again? Then Frank said that a lot would open up for me if I kept my distance. I have an intolerance to wheat and Nic has an intolerance to refined sugar so Frank said that my folks are wheat to me and sugar to Nic. When I got upset and said that I have been holding on to get them to like me, he asked why. Why should they like me? Because, I said they made me. No, I made myself. Then I said that it was just so mean for them not to like me, what’s not to like? Then I thought about it and the logic did a 180 in my head. THEY are mean! So who cares if they don’t like me, I don’t like THEM!

Sunday I took the Bart back into San Fran to see my friends again and take some photos. Dave knew of a place where skaters hung out so we went there. Once we arrived I pulled out my camera and first took some photos of the bus yard nearby to get warmed up. Then I turned my lens to the skaters as I made my way closer to them. I asked one of them if it was ok if I took some photos and he said yes. Then I started talking with him and his friend about Toronto and stuff. They were nice and friendly. My friends just walked around the periphery of the action as I took pics and chatted with the skaters. When they finally came closer, I asked Dave if he could do some of the moves they were doing and he basically panicked as if I had asked him to drop his pants in front of these young guys flipping on their boards.

When I got back to the purple abode, I found Linda all excited. The previous day I had told them about my plan with Nic to go to the south of France. Just a dream we have but one we figure isn’t too impossible. We know some French and I think that we could afford a modest living in the French countryside. Linda was asking me all kinds of questions about it and I wondered why she was so curious. Turns out they started flirting with the idea of moving there too and were exploring how they were gonna sell their stuff and move their pets etc. I was astonished and asked them why this was going on. What about fighting the rising tide of good ol’ fascism in the land of the free? What about the battle on their soil that needs everyone like them they can get? Frank said FIGHT FASCISM IN FRANCE! Well, it ain’t a bad idea considering how bad it could get. Of course, they weren’t really planning on moving, just testing out various options and seeing how viable they were.

When Frank and I were in the cave that night I talked a bit about my day and what a great time I had just going up to these guys and talking to them. I was kinda nervous about it but that was nothing compared to the urge to do it. As far as I could see, I HAD to take their pictures and doing that would mean approaching them and asking.

I always feel very lucky when people let me take their photograph because behind the camera I feel voyeuristic, as if I’m staring into a secret part of them and capturing it. I feel as if they are giving me something precious. I also like talking to people who are involved in exciting anti-establishment youthful urban activities such as skateboarding, graffiti and breakdancing. I had been ingesting information in the past couple of weeks that mentioned life as performance but Frank had to spell it out for me – my photography is my performance, my con to get close to these people to talk to them and hang around watching what they do. I feel a part of it.

Then it all came together. I am a part of it. The new renaissance is happening now with low tech and d.i.y. and photos mixed with music and dancing and costumes and painting and poetry. They are all amalgamating together. When I take photos of those guys skating at the pier I am part of the action. Even my friends meandering around the periphery are part of the action, but who wants to be meandering on the outside! I like to get in there! When I take photos of my friends’ band I am a part of that performance, and sometimes there’s another girl taking video too. We’re all doing it because we want to and we don’t have a lot of money. Beg, borrow or steal to get what we need to pull it off. Low tech is cheap and effective! Re-sew your clothes or bang on pots and pans! The show goes on whether we like it or not.

After watching the 2nd half of The Living Theatre bio I was very intrigued by what they were doing. I especially like the Dismantling of the Money Tower, and the last performance (which I can’t remember the name for) which was done in a mental institution and had each cast member pair with an audience member as each one entered the performance space. The line between
performer and spectator was hardly distinguishable as they were directed to make noises and movements around the room. Then they all joined hands and made more noise together and the last portion is really heartening as they walk out of the space in small groups holding hands. Into the city they go affirming life as they walk hand in hand. It reminded me of Frank’s performances.

I noticed in the reading material Frank was giving me that The Living Theatre and Frank’s work ran parallel to each other. Neither had met the other and yet they seemed to be on a very similar trajectory as far as what they were doing. We then watched Paradise Now which blew me away. It was a 1968 production in Germany and there were so many people there. The cast was dressed in as little as possible without getting arrested and they shouted and groaned and played. They moved into the crowd and verbal confronted people with radical ideas of the day. They took objects from audience members and gave them to strangers sitting in different locations. They started doing bodywork and eroplaying, convincing audience members to come up and join them. People were going up on stage and taking all their clothes off. One guy was getting so excited he started throwing people’s clothes off the stage! It was vulnerable, magical and spontaneous. This reminded me the most of Frank’s work.

I flipped a little through Judith Malina’s and Julian Beck’s books and I think what they did was very courageous and admirable.

Monday came and Kirsten was coming over. Frank wanted to see if she was up for the trip to L.A. It would require a lot of energy and she would be staying with them in the hotel room so there would be little privacy. They had asked if she could stay with me at my friend’s place but I stay in the livingroom and it is a loft apartment, not to mention a 1 year old who wakes up early, a nasty living situation with a live-in mother-in-law, and a house being constructed next door.

When she arrived, Frank talked with her in the studio alone. After about an hour or so, Frank buzzed for Linda and I came along too. We knew she wasn’t coming the moment we stepped in. She had been crying. Linda went to get her schedule book which was in the house so her and Kirsten could set up a future appointment.

As soon as Linda left the studio, the tension mounted and then Kirsten let loose all of the frustration she was feeling at not being able to go. She had not been sleeping well and was still nursing a cold. She started saying that her mother always pushed her and that she almost died once due to a fever her mother thought would just go away. When she sat on the bed and cried I needed to comfort her so I went over and put my arm around her. She kept saying that she fucked it all up, but I was saying it was just the beginning and that there would be more tours and other performances. I don’t know if that was helping or not but it was all I felt. I wanted her to get better and get lots of rest. I wanted her to know that even though we all wanted her there so much, that there would be other opportunities. She really had to take care of herself. Frank and Linda left the studio and we hugged and I told her how glad I was that we met. Frank and Linda came back in and then we all left the studio together.

That was the last time I saw Kirsten. We didn’t get to play together at all and that was a bummer but there will be other times. It’ll be fun! After that I was too hungry to play with Frank so we talked a little and then went in and ate.

Shaken Deep to the Core - Part 4

On Tuesday, Frank helped me pick out a costume for the performance. He said it had to be soft and accessible. The first thing that caught my eye was this red and orange sheer top with cats printed all over it and the cat’s eyes were all different colored gems. I was told it was one of Jesse Beagle’s pieces that she gave them. Classic. It tied up in the front as a halter top and had huge billowing sleeves. I felt like a Mambo Queen! The area between my breasts was totally visible and Frank said that should be the example of what I should wear on top from now on.

For the bottoms I first picked a sheer scarf that I tied around my waist. Frank pointed out that it was a scarf and I took this to mean that he thought it wasn’t appropriate, so I dug into the dress-up trunks further and found nothing. Skirts were either too girly or too tight around my waist. I wasn’t supposed to wear pants. So, after a while I just put the scarf on again and Frank said he liked it.

We talked a bit and read. As I was reading an interview Frank did for a skin mag in Europe I thought of some dirty photos that I could take. Just like that, naughty pictures came into my head involving a businessman and a conference room.

When I got this realization, I suddenly told Frank “remember when you asked me if I would consider taking erotic photographs? I could do that and sell them to skin mags!” He laughed and said “exactly!” It would be a way to make some moolah with my photo skills and a way to meet cool people and do something dangerous and fun. Right up my alley!

Sometimes I like to think of myself as a quick teach, but I also realize that it takes me a while to really truly understand something and I usually have to have it repeated many times over as I make a lot of mistakes at first. My friend Julie used to give me very good advice when I was in college. I was very neurotic and paranoid and she got frustrated enough, but she did help me when I really needed it and I never forgot the things she said. I would keep those things in my head for years always pondering the advice as if it were a puzzle I couldn’t figure out. I knew that there was tremendous value in relaxing and not worrying about it and taking life as it came without trying to shape it but I didn’t understand how to do this.

I told Frank that I feel the same way about my (long distance) apprenticeship. I do these things like performing when I don’t even know what is really going on. I read things and listen to Frank even when I don’t really understand it all. I just go with it and try to live it without thinking about it in any rational linear way. I told him that even though it may seem that I do not understand everything immediately, this is really what I want. I am dedicated to the work because I accept it as life. Linda told me that has been her experience as well and they all agreed that it was pretty much the way it goes.

I just called Julie last week and told her that all the advice she gave me way back then is making sense to me now. In fact, I feel as though I’m living it and I feel very rich because of this! Now I am starting to understand how this enriches everything else.

While Frank and I were in the cave, Linda and Mikee were doing lots of packing and getting ready to go. Mikee’s back was going to be out of commission for a few months as we found out when Francine came over to assess the situation. She is a friend of theirs who does physical therapy work. A very strong and outspoken activist in the 60’s, today she focuses that boundless energy into her community.

They figured Mikee could come to L.A. because he wouldn’t have to do a lot of physical work while he was there but the problem was getting him there, so the solution was to rent a huge SUV so he could lie down in the back while Cory drove in L.A. I was renting a car for the whole time we would be there so I could get to the performances without any trouble. They were spending way more than expected and they even scraped together a hundred bucks to pitch in for my rental. This was turning into an expensive trip.

That night we watched The Living Couple which was an improvisational piece featuring two characters, one with Aids and one who had a stroke, who are in a Hospice together. They talk about being gay and putting things up yer bung hole. The woman who had the stroke shows off her nude body and the guy can’t stand to look. They argue and fight but it’s all kinda funny and poignant at the same time. Then they eventually agree to make love. I liked it. Frank said that they did this video during a half-time break in a long performance and that many of the people at the performance left because they couldn’t believe they would do something so tacky in the middle of something so profound.

I feel very close to Frank and Linda and Mikee. I am amazed at my patience with everything as I tend to want everything quick (or did). I did not understand the concept of slow for a long time. Living with these guys really drives it home as many things take a long time like just getting Frank to the toilette. They don’t waste time but they’re careful and do things at a steady pace. This allows time for everything that needs to be done. Occasionally a thought slips into my mind that is buzzing and agitated about how long everything takes but I really enjoy not listening to that nag which is just a waste of energy on my part. What’s the rush?

I’m taking that slowness and applying it to my life right now. I’m enjoying all the little things that can be perceived in slower time. I’m letting things just happen instead of trying to force them and I’m finding that many things happen at just the time they are supposed to happen. Even if it appears that something is holding me up, when I relax and just do what needs to be done at an even pace, with patience, it all turns out better than expected. I just try to enjoy things no matter how contrary to joy they may seem and I’ve realized that the world isn’t as bad of a place as I thought.

We all woke up early and I think I was the only one who got to bed at a reasonable time. Alexi drove me to the rental place and we chatted a bit on the way. I drove back to the house and started to put my things in the trunk and then I petted Glinda for a while. She is a neighbour’s cat who used to live on the street and who now hangs out under the redwoods in the magical garden and falls into a cuddly little ball at your feet in hopes that you will rub her all over. I took her into the studio a couple of times, if she didn’t walk in on her own, and she would curl up on one of the chairs until I kicked her out. Despite her size and affection, she was a very tough cat who would protect their yard from large intruding cats. She even met a raccoon face to face without any animosity, and killed a couple of mice while I was there.

I helped Linda and Corey get Frank into the monster truck the next day as we were really getting ready to leave. I heaved his butt into the seat and I thought it would be fun to help out like that more often. Corey was helping out where Mikee’s back couldn’t and he was being called on every night to help with dinner, with lifting Frank and feeding of the fury fuzzballs; Kittee, Sasha and Cyb. I kept wondering if he was tired because he was working during the day too so his sleep was intermittent.

Earlier in the week I helped Linda clip Frank’s fingernails. She and Mikee told me that Frank squirms and yanks when this is done and I thought it must be because it hurts. When I gave that suggestion, Linda looked at Frank and he was saying “yeah, that’s it!” but she saw the twinkle in his eye and showed him up as we all laughed at his cunning tricks. I wore a revealing blouse to give him a good view while I held his hand the way one would hold a cat while trying to clip its claws. Mikee was impressed with my “awesome cat holding technique” as Frank was being well behaved. Only a few weak attempts at escape while Linda donned the metallic tool and it was over. Almost like an S&M session!

I loaded up my car and they got everything in their vehicle, including a newly painted bright red toilette chair strapped to the roof. The Berkeley Hillbillies! We said our goodbyes to the pissed off pussies and started to roll. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out Corey would be coming with me for a good part of the drive. I popped in Joni Mitchell’s Hejeira and Corey and I followed Frank, Linda and Mikee onto the highway.

I was a very aggressive driver back in the day. Many people told me this but I denied it. Then I moved to downtown Toronto and I didn’t have a vehicle or any money to renew my license so I let it expire. Eight years (and many of those spent riding bikes through busy urban streets) later I got my license again which was last October. Since then I’ve rented a car twice and my driving has substantially improved, however, I’m still not very good with some of the stress.

It was easy getting on the highway and following Linda. Corey and I were talking the whole time so I just remember a lot of scenic California countryside scrolling by as I kept the wheel steady and my eye on the toilette chair changing lanes ahead of us. We talked about the organic grocery store he works for and how the owner is making compromises with the products he carries. We talked about our folks and our familial challenges. We sang to Dufus.

When I saw the SUV signaling to turn off, I wasn’t sure if it was just a false alarm until Mikee pointed to the turn off through the back window. Frank was thirsty and most of us had to pee. It was hot and I asked when we would be stopping to eat. They said Harris Ranch was just about an hour away. Mikee said I would probably smell it before I saw it.

Harris Ranch is a place halfway between San Francisco and L.A. and it is a cattle ranch and farm that grows a lot of vegetables. I actually saw the cows on the field looking like so many ants from a distance before the smell hit me. There is a restaurant about a mile away that cooks up all this stuff and that’s where we were headed.

In the parking lot, Corey and Linda setup Frank’s chair and then we all strolled into the refrigerator like air-conditioning past the tacky Americana gift shop to a big round table with a fireplace next to it with a huge deer head above that. We all ordered meat except Linda who brought salad from home and some brown rice she kept offering to no avail. The fries were the best and she couldn’t keep away from them. We all got stuffed and I think Frank beat us all out because he was actually considering dessert!

I like sitting close to Frank when we eat out despite his warnings that I am in the danger zone due to flying projectiles of food from him. I always say that I have fast reflexes.

After dinner, we all made our trips to the bathroom. I don’t know what it was but the bathrooms seemed to be more popular than the gift shop. I kept passing the dessert trays set out everywhere and we had agreed that the desserts must be fake because they were so perfect looking and yet had been sitting out there for hours. Seeing a particularly fake looking cake I decided to touch it and see if our conclusion was correct. When my finger sank into the cream I realized out mistake and we all giggled about it when I got back to the table. I don’t remember why but I put my finger in again as we were leaving because I guessed I was still not convinced. Despite everything, I really am just a little punk.

We got back on the road and planned to stop again before getting to L.A. so Corey could take over driving the SUV and we would go our separate ways since they were staying in a hotel near Hollywood and I would be staying with my friends in Redondo Beach. I thought we were stopping at Van Nuys but we stopped a little before that and that’s when I started getting confused as to where we were. My memories were telling me that Santa Barbara was right around the corner, when in fact I forgot that we had to turn onto a different freeway to get there so I kept thinking that we were at least an hour from L.A. We were closer than that and Linda wanted to trade off driving before we got into the thick of it.

I just didn’t know what was goin on and I was a bit nervous to be driving by myself on unfamiliar roads so I guess Linda could sense that and said that Corey could stay with me and we would stop again at Van Nuys. When we got back on the freeway though, the traffic was getting denser and I was worrying that Linda was getting stressed. I realized my mistake as to how close we were and thought that I should’ve just gone on my own back there. Nevertheless we stopped at Van Nuys without any problem and then I managed to get to Redondo by myself without a major fatality. Along with the size of L.A., I had underestimated the stress of driving there.

Shaken Deep to the Core - Part 5

I arrived at Julie’s house just after sunset. The drive from the Van Nuys exit was too stressful and I was glad to get out of the car. From the highways of hell into Julie’s arms. Ahhh, back home. Whenever I’m with Julie I feel like I’m home.

We met in Santa Barbara during my first year of film school. She was my next door neighbour who had moved in with Tucker, one of my parents’ friends sons who was attending the same school as me. She was attending the city collage and she had a horrible relationship with the other guy she lived with. One day she just came over and asked if I wanted to go the movies. We went to the movies and ended up talking into the early hours for the next 3 nights in a row.

Later we became roommates. The boyfriend left and Julie and I shared a room for almost a year. One night I made her come to a party being thrown by some film students and there she met Peter, her husband. They just had a baby girl in 2002. Julie and I discovered a lot together. We really trusted each other through it all. I just like to be with her.

We went inside and talked a bit about what was going on in our lives. I told her about being at Frank’s. We laughed and just got lost in each other. If Nic helped me find Frank, Julie helped me find Nic and it just weaves in and out because she is a big part of why I even went looking for someone like Frank. Julie has another girlfriend from Brazil who is a healer and shaman but I have not met her. Julie is amazing.

I awoke to the sound of Isabella crying. She turned one year old earlier in the year and was just starting to speak. Julie and Peter got ready for work and then left with Isabella in tow. Then the hammering started. The house next door was being built and the workers started pounding at 7am sharp. No matter. I was meeting Julie for lunch at 1pm so I slept through it – lightly.

When I met Julie I was wearing way too much. A sweater and a jacket; what was I thinking? That cold Canadian winter we had must have really got to me. We went to a Mexican restaurant and chatted about Julie’s mother-in-law issues. Peter’s mother moved in with them last year to help with Isabella but it turned out less than favourable. Isabella was now in daycare and Peter’s mother is getting ready to move out. Julie had also been feeling like she had no time for her own needs what with a baby and the fact that she was working about 10hrs a day. Things needed to change there.

After lunch, I dropped her off at work and headed to Santa Monica where the performance was being held. Taking great care to stay on the appropriate freeway, I made it there earlier than expected and safer than expected. I parked and had to find a bathroom so I went inside. I saw a woman in the room we were going to set up in and asked her where it was. She was the curator, Lauren, and was very nice. She started gushing a bit when I told her who I was with and that felt a little uncomfortable but what the hell. Looking at it from her perspective I was with the ultra cool cutting edge underground performance artist Frank Moore!

After a quick walk to find the coffee shop, which I never did find, I spotted the truck pulling up and was very glad to see the smiling faces of Corey, Frank, Linda and Mikee. The first thing they did was show me the local paper where the “Legendary Frank Moore” was the Pick of the Week to see. It was becoming clearer to me that I was involved in a full-fledged avante garde performance art piece. This was a world I had rarely seen.

We pulled all the stuff out of the monster truck and I was right in there helping Corey put up the brilliant murals and lights while Frank and Linda talked with Lauren and Mikee got up and laid down and got up and laid down. At one point Frank asked Lauren if he could target her. He was daring her and she laughed and said yes but looked suspicious. We all laughed cajoling her suspicion. He had her right there. I knew she would stay for the whole thing, which is rare from what I was told.

After setting up the room for our performance at Flophouse, the Berkeley gang met an old friend from EZTV who was residing in the room around the corner. We went into the studio to say hello. They hadn’t seen him in many years and the last time was when he unexpectedly bailed from taping one of their shows. It was sad to find out that his no-show was due to the death of the founder of EZTV. They reminisced about the aids epidemic in the 80’s and how Carlos, a student of Frank’s, played a very powerful role at one of their performances by wearing a sign that said “I Have Aids” and then talking to people about death telling them it was a metamorphosis rather than a gruesome end.

I was getting hungry but everyone else had eaten a gigantic meal before set-up so I drove back to Redondo Beach to eat with Julie and Peter. We just hung out together and talked about stuff until bedtime. I was anxious about the performance but I knew what to expect…the unexpected! That’s what gets the butterflies really going mad inside my belly. I don’t even think Frank knew what was going to go on in that beautifully decorated room that felt more like a cave.

Julie took Friday morning off of work. I awoke to the sounds of Isabella again and couldn’t get back to sleep at all. Hammering away – no problem, but the sound of a baby waking up – forget it. When she came downstairs with Julie I tried to pretend that I was asleep to see what she would do. Julie was hushing her and then pointed to my body splayed out on their living room floor. Isabella was instantly quiet. She approached very slowly and quietly and then just stood there a safe distance away watching - something I remember doing as a very young person watching my uncle sleeping on our floor one morning. When I opened my eyes and smiled she ran back to mom.

Going to the daycare was a little overwhelming. The bigger kids were ok but when I stepped into the room of 3 and under’s I felt like I was on another planet. All of them so intensely feeling whatever they were feeling. One was always crying but she would look at me and I would smile a goofy smile and wave a goofy wave and the tears would turn to sniffling until she looked away again. Some were really cheerful and others were just stumbling around with blank expressions. They all looked so different and weird and they all looked at me that way too. What a trip!

I was meeting Frank, Linda, Mikee and Corey at Real Food Daily. Didn’t think it would be so swank, even though Linda sent me the link to their website. It was very trendy with model waiters dressed in black. I wondered if this was really the place when I talked to the hostess and said that I was waiting for some people. I arrived early again because I was freaked out about the freeways and how far everything was, so I sat at the juice bar and waited as posh people pushed past.

What a great feeling when Linda came up silently behind me and pressed her cheek to mine! I withheld the urge to whip around because the touch was so soft and cool and I relaxed instantly. Linda has that effect. I was so glad to see her that my whole body sighed.

It was a great meal and we pigged out. Linda said they liked looking at the babes. One of the waiters had been talking to them the night before and went by saying “Frankie” giving him a loving shot in the arm. At the end of the meal, two women walked in, one of which had twisted legs and used a cane to walk. Frank was mesmerized. Linda saw who he was looking at and said he was flirting with her. She saw us but didn’t look at us. When this woman got up to go to the washroom she left her cane and swished past us back and forth down the aisle. Frank looked on and Linda said she shakes her booty. I smiled.

With full bellies, we headed off to Santa Monica for the first performance night of the tour. What a rush! When we got there the food had arrived and there were plenty of chocolates and drinks of all kinds. A man who does nude modelling, and who wrote Frank an email telling him that he would love to be in the performance and was up to doing anything, arrived. Frank asked him to be nude and dance in slow motion around the space for the entire 4 hours. He agreed but I did not think that he understood.

Linda and I went off to the ladies room to change. We were in the midst of changing when some other women came in and were a little shocked but carried on regardless. We walked back to the cave together and people were already sitting inside. The crowd grew to be quite big and we were getting them to sit on the pillows and fill in the space. They were apprehensive but they trickled in and Frank began to talk to them one by one. “What do you do” was the usual ice breaker and many people pointed at themselves and looked behind them and then asked “me?”.

I sat on the floor with everyone close to Mikee where he lay down beside the sound board. There were microphones set up and instruments. Dr. Oblivious and Lob started playing funky hypnotic music. Corey was behind the video camera. I took a few photos and then watched the man who was supposed to be dancing in slow motion as he walked around everyone in normal speed looking slightly awkward. He had just been standing there but then I looked at him like he should start and he came over and asked me “should I start?” and I said yes and he said he wasn’t sure because the music was playing and Frank was talking to everyone.

I was stuck on the fact that he wasn’t dancing and after watching him for a while I asked him if he was dancing in slow motion. He said “well, considering I have to do this for 4 hours, yes”. I let it drop.

At one point Frank was talking about his work and he suddenly asked me to explain to everyone what tanpan is. I said something like it is the state of sexual energy without the intention or expectation of an explosive ending/orgasm, just the intense excited erotic feeling that can fill you up forever.

The performance had long started but people were still not sure what they were seeing. It was as if they couldn’t conceive of actually being a part of the performance themselves but Frank was pulling them in. At one point he went in front of everyone and sang a song. This was interesting because he gave them what they wanted, a performance, but it’s questionable as to whether this made them feel more comfortable at all. Then he continued talking to people asking how they heard about the performance and then would ask more questions based off of their answers. One woman mentioned that she came because it wasn’t the usual boring thing and he asked what was boring. She said being depressed. He asked if she gets depressed and she said that she did. She left shortly after that.

Lauren, the curator, was there and Frank targeted her right away asking her if she would put on the purple dress. She took off all her clothes and slipped it over her head. He kept asking her if he was making her do things she wouldn’t do. She said no and that she expected to do things that would make her feel uncomfortable and he asked what she would be uncomfortable with. She said being feminine and he asked what was feminine. She said wearing dresses and being all passive/submissive. He pointed out that she was wearing a dress but that being passive had nothing to do with being feminine, that she could not be that way no matter what sex she was. I don’t consider myself submissive either so I knew exactly where he was coming from. That must have made her think a little.

He asked another guy whether he would put on Linda’s dress and he said to give him 5 minutes and then he left. Frank timed him and when he came back he was a little late. He said he had one question to ask first. Why did Frank always target females to get nude? - or something like that. This was truly magical for me because I had been hung up on our nude model man not dancing as if that was really important. I suddenly realized he was there not necessarily to dance, but just to be there. Almost as if he was meant to be there for the exact moment that this guy asked this question. It just so happened that he was the only nude person in the room as Linda and I were in costume. Frank pointed at him and said that the only nude here was a male and that many people don’t even notice the nude males, only the females, and they get caught up in that. Well, the guy never did get into Linda’s dress and he left shortly after that.

Frank and Linda planned on calling Kirsten at home during the performance. She was carrying on the performance at her place and it was called The Rest of the Performance since she was to rest and relax. The phone was brought out and Linda made the call. She was there! She was doing a lot of work to unwind and get well. Frank said her part was very important to the performance.

After the call, the room began to clear. Frank even said that the good stuff starts after everyone leaves, and that’s exactly what they did as if they were supposed to. With a few people left, Frank then asked another male if he would put on Linda’s dress. He hummed and hawed and then Frank offered my costume. I modelled it for him and he said yes. I took it off and put on a pink skirt. He put on my costume but wouldn’t take off his underwear and he wouldn’t tie up the top. A little later he asked me if he looked gay. I said he looked like a mambo queen and he said it was the same thing.

I was only wearing the pink skirt when I stepped past the heavy dark curtain into the glaring light of the hallway to make my way to the bathroom. There were a couple of people standing there whose eyes got wide when they saw me pop out. I automatically smiled at them and said hi and then walked past as if everything was normal. I have since found out that this is a great way to stun people. If anyone is looking at you, it’s great to see what that person does when you suddenly smile at them and say hi.

When I got back to the cave I crept in and was immediately greeted with lovely warmth and body smells like a lover’s bedroom. At one point a woman in a motorized cart and her partner entered and were immediately asked “What do you do?”. They were both internet pioneers who had been linking people virtually since the whole thing started. Now they were in the process of archiving their work and shared their woes about it.

Lauren read a poem and Frank asked her if she would dance with him in the spirit of the poem. The poem was highly erotic and the male half of the internet pioneers asked if Frank meant that he wanted her to lap dance with him. Frank just repeated that he wanted her to dance with him in the spirit of the poem. Then he asked Linda and I to dance together as well. We all got up and took off our costumes.

I focused on Linda as we started moving slowly together. As we got more intense our bodies merged into one moving in rhythm. Linda is very gentle and sometimes I feel like I’m moshing with her as my body tends to want to jerk and flail about. I just focused on her and on our soft motions and we did melt into one another. It reminded me a lot of when Nic and I were falling in love. We would place our hands together and as we stared into each other’s eyes our hands would move around and dance together.

We were dancing for a while and I noticed that my legs were shaking. My mind started wondering why. Was I nervous? Was I tired and hungry? As soon as I worried about it I felt as if they would just give out from under me so I tried to keep focused on Linda and dancing. Oh, they were shaking so bad! Finally, we just got down on the floor and I was grateful. I lay down and Linda got on top. It was so much fun!

Occasionally I would peak over at what Lauren and Frank were doing and it looked like they were having fun too. They guy who was in my costume was one of the only spectators left, other than another man fully clothed sitting on a chair near the entranceway. We were essentially performing for 2 people but to me the room could have been full. Then they guy in my costume got up, took the costume off including his underwear, and started to dance with us. When this happened I could feel everyone become a little less relaxed as if the antennae perked up just a bit but this was hardly noticeable. He moved in close trying to get deep into the dance but we were so focused on each other at this point that he could only really caress us both as one. Then Frank wanted to dance with me, and Mikee to dance with Lauren and Linda. Mikee immediately got up and shed his clothes.

Dancing with Frank was very explicit. I didn’t know how to start so I just jumped right on. I was channelling Kirsten because I had watched a couple of intense performances they did together and really liked the way she moved. I was focused on the way Kirsten dances with Frank and was trying to do the same things but found that the chair was hurting the inside of my thighs and I stumbled around when I tried to climb it. How does she do it? I rocked back and forth on him and whipped him with my long hair. It felt very good.

The music mellowed and the dancing came to an end. Everyone beamed smiles and the energy was really incredible. Peaceful yet very powerful. The man who had been in my costume lay on the floor with Lauren as they continued to stroke one another until Frank told us all to attack the band. Lob and Dr. O stood there while we crept over and mauled them. The man who had been sitting by the entrance had left at some point. We were all naked except for the band and we all gathered around to talk.

A woman came in who told Frank that she was a performance artist and that one of her upcoming performances had to do with Sars. I could feel Linda and Frank’s eyes turn to me and someone said that I was from Toronto. I turned my head and coughed and we all had a good chuckle. I remember being introduced to many people as Jen from Canada.

I went to the bathroom again and when I came back, the man who had been wearing my costume was sitting outside of the cave. He asked me if this was along the same lines as Schechner and The Living Theatre. I was amazed and said yes! Then preceded to tell him about the video of Paradise Now. He told me he had been to a Schechner performance.

Back in the cozy warmth we slowly got ready to leave. I think Frank and Linda were talking to Lauren. I can’t remember if anyone else showed up as I put my clothes back on. Lob and Dr. O said they were very glad to be a part of this. We walked out to our vehicles with big smiles. They were going to eat at a famous all night Deli. I was going back to Julie’s place to eat and sleep. We all agreed to meet at Real Food Daily the next day. I asked if it was the one in Santa Monica and they told me that it was the one on La Cienega. Then Linda asked the guys if there was a map for me and then I just kinda snapped and said that I could take care of myself. It sounded much more aggressive than I had intended and I think it was a bit of a shock. Linda just looked at me with half frown half smile and then walked over and hugged me and said “can’t we just take care of you a little bit?” This was just what I needed, someone to rub the softness under that hard armour I hide behind. I am fiercely independent but that is just a lie. I want us to all take care of each other and that means trust, and trust means no armour.

The drive home was surprisingly relaxed and I knew that I could survive more than just the freeways of L.A.

Shaken Deep to the Core - Part 6

The next morning Julie, Peter, Isabella and I hung out together and took our time getting ready. I had invited them to eat with us at Real Food Daily for lunch and they agreed. We were meeting at 1pm so I was anxious to get out the door because I knew how long it took to get there. Peter said that traffic would be really light since it was Saturday. I don’t know if he remembered that we were driving into a large shopping district. We stopped at a bank machine on our way out of Redondo and I couldn’t get any money out. I started to panic just as we got off the freeway onto La Cienega Boulevard and headed straight into gridlock with 5 minutes left. Julie saw me panicking from the rearview mirror and when she had the chance she ran back and jumped in beside me.

We got there about 20 minutes late and as soon as we walked in they saw my face and started with damage control saying not to worry and stuff like that. They just ordered so we really weren’t that late. But more was on my mind at that point as I couldn’t pay for my meal. I was really wound up and talking fast and almost crying because this was it, I had screwed up. I didn’t even know why I had no money as I had left the country with a little in my bank account. I felt stuck and stupid.

Despite the way that I felt, everyone was telling me not to worry and that they would all help me out. Sometimes it’s hard to accept graciousness, especially when you’re busy beating yourself up, but I had to give in. It was simply too dangerous to stay in that frantic, desperate place. Frank met my eyes and it was very hard to continue being a victim of my circumstance. He looked right at me and I wanted to smile. He said he needed me and very shortly after that I relaxed and we all had a great lunch.

Isabella was entertaining everyone in the restaurant. She was flirting with Corey and walking in front of waiters. She wiped the table with the money and discovered the swinging glass door that she had to inspect. Peter brought her up to Frank and her face lit up and then coyly turned away going all shy. It was amazing to watch them. Julie and Peter really let her experience life as it came and you could actually see the learning on her face as she did something and then figured it out in her own way.

I feel very blessed to have such wonderful friends and I feel very close to them. Nic and I live together in Toronto, but Julie and Peter are in L.A. and Katie is in New York. It’s just worked out that in the past year I’ve been able to introduce all of them to Frank, Linda and Mikee. And the best part is that they all really like each other! There was instant rapport and our meals together have been filled with great stories and much laughter. I love them all so much!

Julie and Peter left and we headed back to the Santa Monica arts building to perform for the second night at Flophouse. There was a different energy in the air when we got there. More people. More expectations perhaps? Lauren told us that she was up until 3 in the morning talking about it with her friends. Now I guessed everyone wanted to see it for themselves.

The first night was called the Audition and Frank kept teasing Lauren that she had made the cut. He asked her if she was ready for tonight, the Performance, and she said that she wasn’t. She said she felt ghastly, but she was laughing a little and I thought that she was just teasing. We weren’t sure what was going to happen, as always, but this was the second night. To me, the pressure felt on as if we were being graded. Linda and I got changed, the nude ‘dancer’ showed up again to do his thang and before long there was a crowd squeezing in through the door. There was no stage or space for the performers so most people just sat together facing Frank. Then the questions started and he asked one girl if she would be a singer. She said she was a horrible singer. So, Frank got Mikee to put on some music and he sang. Afterwards, he asked her if she was worse than that. She said yes and impressed the hell out of Frank! He wanted to know what worse than him sounded like! She left shortly after that.

The room filled up quickly and for a while it was standing room only. One of Lauren’s art teachers was there as well as another female friend who had a twist in the right side of her face. She talked to Frank telling him she nearly took a job as a sex surrogate for people with physical challenges. He said that they had the same soul. She had to leave but said she would be back later. Frank was still talking to people when suddenly Barbara Smith appeared at the entranceway with a friend. Frank got out his poem that he wrote for her and had Linda read it. What a great poem! All about not giving up / giving in to the negative powers that be, about being whole and alive regardless of the strong arm of power and how it may try to stop you. And victory! They have succeeded because they are still here! Still planting the seeds of freedom in playful creation.

I read so many things that everything was blurring together so, even after Frank read the poem, my mind was still trying to match her name up with the memory of writings and certain ideas and performances. Frank introduced me to her and told her I had been reading a lot of her stuff over the past couple of weeks. I told her about how I realized that photography was my performance, my con to get closer to others and really be a part of what was going on. She smiled and nodded. Although she couldn’t stay, she wished us all well and the two slipped out as they had come in.

Frank asked me to explain tanpan again and I figured this was a good sign that my explanation the night before had been adequate. I said that it is the feeling you get when in an erotic state but with no expectation of release or climax, just a full feeling of erotic pleasure that you can ride for as long as you want. I find it very difficult to explain but when I looked around everyone seemed to get what I was saying

Frank had Linda dial the phone to Kirsten again. She was there and made us laugh with all the acronyms she devised for the word R.E.S.T. like Relaxing Ecstatically in Shamanic Trials and Reaching Ease Sharing Tenderness and stuff like that. She was really working on The Rest of the Performance and Frank said she was saving lives by being there doing that. I don’t really know what he meant by that but it sounded good to me. I look forward to spending more time with Kirsten and learning more about her.

There were so many people to talk to. One was a musician. He seemed very attentive and open to the experience. He stayed for the whole performance that night. Shortly after talking to him, Frank said that anyone in the audience was welcome to join the band by using any of the instruments laid out on the floor by Mikee. I saw the musician eyeing the xylophone before this and he immediately headed straight for it. This was amazing to me because, although nothing was planned and none of us really knew what was going to happen, it still seemed that everything was going just the way it should.

For some reason I had the urge to sing. I asked Frank if that would be ok but he said to wait because he maybe wanted me for something else. People were coming and going like there was a big party going on and we were one of the attractions. At one point, Frank realized that as people dwindled on the inside they were joining a growing crowd out in the hall who were socializing, drinking wine and sucking chocolate balls. Linda and Frank immediately went out in the hall and told everyone that Frank goes where the people go.

The guy who danced with us the night before was there to stay and he joined the band for a while experimenting with various percussive instruments. When Frank went out to the hallway I sat against a wall just waiting to see what would happen. Dr. O and Lob played on with their new additions while Mikee laid down. Then the guy who was there the night before stopped playing with the band and came over to sit beside me. He said that he was ready to wear my costume all the way tonight and I said that he could if Frank asked him to. Then he asked how he could become more involved with what was going on, that he had felt sort of distanced a little the night before. He also said he had been holding himself back so that he didn’t lose control. I said something like he would have to see what happens tonight, that anything could happen and that last night was a lot of fun. I said that he should just be open to whatever goes on.

Out in the hallway, a woman challenged Frank on why he always got women to dance naked with him. That got him back into the room where a friend, Thomas, was more than willing to strip and dance with Frank. At this point it was alright for me to sing so I got up to a mic and did not face the small crowd that was growing again. I didn’t see much of the dance but what I did see seemed to be a light sample to quench the woman’s thirst for proof.

I sang softly. No words, just rotating soft sounds as if teaching a baby to speak. I sang lullabies for Kirsten to sleep. I sang in whispers. I was pretty nervous at the mic so I sang very quietly and gently and tried not to think about anything but that it would be nice to sleep.

There was a guy with long blond hair and a lot of tattoos. Frank asked him if he would take off his clothes and he said that it took a lot to get him out of his clothes. Then Frank asked to see his tattoos and he pointed some of them out by lifting up his shirt but he refused to take anything off other than his jacket.

A middle-aged couple entered the room at one point and Frank asked them what they did. She was an office assistant and he was in the Airforce. They seemed very nice. Later we learned that the woman was Dr. Oblivious’ mom! Too cool.

Then Frank got out the book of poems and had Lauren read the one with all the negative shit in it. Powerful stuff that you could feel affecting the small crowd. Then I read a poem. The woman with the twist in her face had returned and Frank had her read a poem. The words of the poem were vivid and erotic like kissing, sucking, licking and rubbing. He asked her if she would dance with him in the spirit of the poem and she said yes, but then there was the question of clothes or no clothes. She said she didn’t feel like getting naked tonight. Frank thought about it but wanted to dance with her so badly that he said yes, she could keep her clothes on. She took off her jacket and danced with Frank. Afterward his belly had red marks all over it and he told her that he gets rug burn from clothes.

I could feel that it was getting later and wondered what would happen next. I was sitting in front of Frank and there were still about 10 or so people there. Finally he said that me, Linda and he would dance. Again, I just jumped onto his lap and started grinding back and forth, the music taking me away. Linda was at my back and circling the chair while I wiggled and rocked on. I didn’t know whether to take my costume off but nothing was said so I just kept it on. While intimately close to Frank, I thought he was trying to tell me to take it off, but I didn’t want to interrupt the dance with a..b..c, and I guess I just ignored what I felt he was trying to say to me.

Communication with Frank is something very special, but it really is just the way we all communicate with everything, only it seems more obvious when doing it with him. There is no spoken verbal language. There are noises and gestures and facial expressions, but the eyes tell volumes. Also, there is something psychic going on but I’m not sure what it is because it has to do with complex feelings and can’t be explained very clearly with words. While I was in Berkeley one night when Kirsten came over, we were both sitting in the living room with Frank while Linda and Mikee were in the kitchen serving up some really great homemade ice-cream. Kirsten knew that Frank wanted to say something by the way he looked at her. Maybe he moved his hand too. She then started with the a..b..c..d..e watching to see when he made a move because that is the letter he wants. He spells everything out letter by letter. It’s slow and you have to have a good memory, or a pen and paper ready in order to get all the letters to spell out a word. A sentence is killer.

So, Kirsten started with ‘A’ but then Frank nodded and this usually means to go to ‘L’ so that you don’t have to waste so much time going through the whole alphabet all the time. When she said ‘L’ he nodded again and this got her mega confused. She started over again with ‘A’ and he would nod and then she’d say ‘L’ and he’d nod again. Stress and panic set in. I was watching him the whole time and then I said, “I think he means ‘L’”. Linda started to crack up in the kitchen when she heard that. She’s been communicating with Frank like this for more than 20 years so it must have been funny hearing us stumble about. Kirsten and I finally managed to figure out what he was telling us, which I can’t remember what it was right now. Funny that.

Because it takes so long to communicate with language due to having to spell it all out, he only has to spell out a few words, or in Linda’s case a few letters, before what he’s saying is so evident. After a while you don’t even realize he doesn’t actually talk. I think a lot of information transfer is done through psychic images but I’m not sure exactly how this works. He can move his whole body so anyone who calls Frank a quadriplegic or immobile is wrong. He just doesn’t have a lot of control over his body, but he does have some control and he can gesture well. Of course, you have to be open to receiving information in this way. You have to be an active participant, but like I said, when we communicate with everything we are actively participating, only with Frank this is more obvious because he really does make you think. If you choose to ignore him, this is easy and I can imagine what it may have been like for him when he was isolated.

I ignored him during the dance that night. Maybe I was afraid of taking my top off. I told myself that I was afraid that wasn’t what he was telling me, but that is a lie to myself. I’m sorry I ignored you Frank. I guess I was being a wimp. I asked him if he had wanted me to take off my costume later on and he said he just wanted me to undo the top just to open things up.

Despite that, our dance was pretty hot and inviting because all of a sudden a group of people got up and started dancing around us! Lauren, her friend who had danced with Frank earlier, the guy from the night before, Thomas and another man who was an old friend. Only Thomas and the other friend were nude, all the rest were in their underwear. Maybe if I had undone my top they would have felt less inhibited. All in all, it was an exuberant ending as they all danced around me, Frank and Linda as if we were in the center of a whirlwind. It was over much too fast.

When we finished, we hugged and there was elation in the atmosphere. We made it. The band reminded us to attack them again and we were happy to oblige. It was early, only 11pm, and many people started showing up after the end. I changed and then went to the washroom. When I came back the room was positively packed with people I hadn’t seen before. It seemed like Frank was surrounded. I just stood back and watched when all of a sudden I recognized one of the women walking by. We attended the same photography school years earlier but were never in the same class. She was going out with a mutual friend at the time but we hardly knew each other. I couldn’t remember her name but I approached her anyway still high from the dance. She was a little surprised when I approached her as she didn’t recognize me at all. When I mentioned our mutual friend she suddenly remembered who I was and we asked how the other was doing. I gave her my website address and then I started to help Corey clean up.

The crowd was gone soon and the place was cleaned up in no time. We had all the water and chocolates left over to devour. Frank, Linda, Mikee and Corey were headed back to the all night diner and I was ready to seriously crash. We were meeting at a beach restaurant in Redondo the next day and I was excited about playing at the Liquid Den on my last night there. We all hugged goodbye in the parking lot and I drove home. I was finding that the key to getting anywhere on the freeway was to relax and not worry about it at all and I was kinda enjoying the late night rides.

Shaken Deep to the Core - Part 7

I felt uneasy on Sunday. I knew this was the last day I would be spending with Frank, Linda, Mikee and Corey until next year. I was nervous about my money situation and I was feeling like a bit of a failure, but I just let the day’s magic unfold. Despite my worries, I was determined to rock out at the performance that night.

Julie, Peter, Isabella and I played around in the morning. I was meeting Frank and co. at a restaurant on the beach, which wasn’t far away so I invited them along again. Julie said they couldn’t really afford to but we drove down to the beach together and Peter brought the bikes along.

I almost choked on the acrid vanilla car deodorizer in their car. Went straight to the sinuses. When we got there, the picture of a calm pleasant beach was totally destroyed. People were everywhere and all the small tacky homes were millions, if not billions, of dollars. After we found parking, which was a feet in itself, we got on our bikes and headed to the path. As we rode along we realized that there was a beach volleyball tournament going on. It was pretty obnoxious.

The sand was expansive all the way to the misty ocean, a dirty smear of blue on the horizon. There were a few people on the sand, but it was practically empty compared to the path. Peddling past huge groups of people, we couldn’t help but notice the tanned rich people serving martinis and barbequing on their porches that butted up against the path. Amidst the silicone and hair dye, kids were running around and older people were strolling slowly while I was getting cranky.

I tried to keep my mood in check and did pretty well other than the occasional snide remark. We made it back to the car, put the bikes on the rack and I said goodbye to them as they drove back home. I got to the restaurant and found all the merry pranksters sitting at a big table and my mood began to lighten, even though Julie and co. didn’t stick around.

I was feeling a whole lot better. Real hippy food, almost the same as Mikee cooks at home! Linda was in heaven! All the rice and beans and greens you could eat. While we got stuffed on vegan delights, we watched a bird fly in and steal crumbs. We tried to befriend it by laying out crumbs of dense corn bread on the table. The wait staff probably wasn’t too amused. When we asked them if it had a name they said, “We call him trouble” or something like that. Everyone else was shooing the little fella away, but our friendly gesture must have been too obvious because the bird was only ignoring us.

They treated me to lunch and it was delicious. Best tempeh I’ve ever had and now I cook with it. I still haven’t managed to make it taste as good though. The tempeh tacos I had tasted better than real meat. Everyone had strawberry or peach cobbler while I scraped the cheesecake of the crust. I don’t eat wheat because my body is very sensitive to it so my deserts have to be pastry free. We got stuffed and had a good talk about lots of stuff like what I was like while living in San Francisco, and Suzy Block’s show which I want to catch when I come back next year. They also told me that the slow motion dancer from the previous night’s performance had sent Frank an email telling him that he was going to masturbate during the second night of the performance if it wasn’t for his friend showing up and him chickening out. We were all glad that he did chicken out. That would have been really uncomfortable. But I wonder what I would’ve done had he had the guts?

It started to get dark as we drove to Santa Monica. I was following Corey on the freeway and we were really getting the hang of staying together while changing lanes. He would signal and then I would signal and move before he did keeping room ahead of me for him to move into, thereby insuring that no one would get between us. Sometimes it can be stressful following a vehicle at night when all the lights look the same.

We were just coming up to the exit. I was looking at my little map and knew it was close. And then I saw Corey drive by it and I wondered if they knew a different way to get there. When we pulled over the next exit along I realized that we were lost. They got directions from a local driving past and we headed out again. In about twenty minutes we were there. I couldn’t believe how far apart everything seemed.

We finally pulled into the parking lot of the Liquid Den. It looked like a downtown bar in a suburban setting. There was a lit up sign with a mermaid painted on it in the parking lot and the building was painted black. I think there was another store in the other half of the building. The thick door was propped open as we lugged in the gear.

The Counting Crows were playing through the sound system and we all had a chuckle. Where are they now? Mikee said they’re still together. I haven’t heard about them in a long time. Frank talked to me about our tanpanic play on stage. He said to undo my top, that we would play/dance/tanpan for a long time, and to go deep. I said I would. At one point I really screwed up what I thought he said and I asked him to clarify and then told him what I had heard. Frank looked up at me like “what? Where did you get that?” Linda came to the rescue and we figured out what had happened. I laughed because I really got his simple messaged totally confused.

Linda and I changed in the little bathroom. She needed help with her shredded dress because all the various holes were hard to find. We walked back out into the bar. The walls were painted black with lots of flyers and stickers around. The sound booth was at the back of the room with the stage at the opposite end. Pool tables and some chairs took up most of the space and then there was a bar against another wall that ran the length of the room. A small gambling machine winked at the blinking pinball machines down at the other end of the bar.

Lob had set up this gig. He was playing with his band, Instagon, and Dr. Oblivious who had driven down from Berkeley. Along with Linda, Frank and I on stage and Mikee and Corey taping, we were the Cherotic All-Stars. I was gonna dance like I meant it. I was nervous but watching Linda sitting there stroking her thighs made me feel alright. There was a group of guys at the bar and a couple playing pool. They didn’t seem too interested in what was going on.

The lights were dim and the room became quiet as Frank started to howl. The audience seemed to be the band waiting to get on stage and a few girlfriends of theirs hanging around. To anyone with fame in mind, the bar was basically empty. That made it all more exciting and intimate and explicit and underground.

Frank’s singing is trance inducing. When I hear him, I feel he is telling us something. As if he is telling us something from the future and the past. I hear his voice coming up through time and defying it. I love his singing and the noises he makes and I think it is absolutely vital that he makes them. I cheer inside every time I hear his voice.

One by one the band joined in. I went up almost last. I danced around the wheelchair to the front and jumped right on. The music was grinding away and Linda was singing. I danced to the beat back and forth rubbing my boobs on Frank’s head. Then I started to grind on his lap. I mean, it is a lap dance, but how else can one dance with Frank? I think the jitterbug or moshing is out of the question. Even the twist would be a little difficult. The dance is a dance of lovers. It is mythical in the context of the performance. It is tribal.

The beat got good and I just kept going. My top opened up and I really got into the groove. Frank was great with his arms thrusting out while Linda screeched and coed on the mic. It was magical and I just concentrated on feeling good. This good feeling wasn’t like the feeling you get when you’re having sex. It’s the kind of feeling you have like when you’re at a concert holding up a lighter and swaying back and forth to your favorite song sung just right. I knew that people must be wondering what we were doing, but the music really helped me focus on rocking out.

When I used to rave I would notice that the harder I grooved on the dance floor the more hard groovers grooved around me. Devoting every movement to the music was like a beacon to others who wanted to be lost in dance and over a short time a mini community would be formed and in sync. That’s what it was like onstage that night. The harder the band rocked the harder I rocked and vice versa. We were a creative community feeding each other.

Linda pressed up against my backside while Frank grabbed my thighs and we all jiggled and swayed together. It was very sexy stuff and so freeing to be doing it right out in the open, onstage, in front of whoever was willing to see. This is a big part of the magic.

There was a guy on a saxophone and a couple playing percussive instruments off the stage. When I looked out into the audience there wasn’t one. The guys at the bar didn’t even seem to be watching us at all as if they were just sitting in a normal bar. I saw all this when I got off of Frank and it gave me even more energy! I picked up the drumsticks laid under Frank’s chair and started with the congo cunt while Frank wailed. I kept turning to the drummer as if mimicking him, channeling his juicy beats.

Then the music sounded as if it was going to stop. Ina Goda Divida wound down and Linda got on the mic. Dr. O led us into a psychedelic trance that sounded like seagulls as I stroked Linda’s arms. Then Lob started in on the mic saying “Frank is the sex bomb!” over and over again. It was trés cool! Then the beat started again and Linda wailed while I went up and down her back.

It got intense pretty fast. I went over to Frank and danced with him for a while wiping his lap with my hair. Linda and I danced together as the funk set in. We were shakin it all across the stage! Lob was a real good sport and watched with a smile as we wiggled in front of him. Then Linda started caressing Dr. O’s head with her dress and I taunted him a bit from behind. Linda and I bumped butts and really got down. It was hot stuff. I could tell Frank was having a good time and I was having a blast!

Once again the beat came to an end, but Frank sang and Dr. O kicked in with his trancey vibes and we continued on. Linda started to sing again and I swayed my hips to the beat that was forming. It didn’t matter how long we were up there. My mind wasn’t blank but it was as if any logical thoughts were being silently observed by the part of my mind that was in charge at the moment. I let the music really take me away. I rubbed my head on Linda’s chest as I swayed with my eyes closed. I wasn’t dancing any more, I was the sensuous music. I was the throbbing beat. I just stayed by Linda and melted into everything.

The music slowed for a bit and then picked up again. The performance breathing. Just another quick one before the end. Before we knew it, one by one the musicians left the stage. I was one of the last off.

Frank sent me the tape of the performance about a month or so after I returned home and Nic and I watched it together. It amazed me. Nic was also amazed as his mouth was wide open with a big ass smile on his face. He kept turning to me and said that he saw me in a whole other light now. I just laughed. But I did feel kinda embarrassed with watching myself near the end all blissed out. I didn’t feel that way at the time but for a minute I forgot that and I felt as though I had been doing something unwelcome. I told Frank how I felt in an email and he assured me that blissed out is what we’re going for.

Instagon played after us with Lob at the head while Mikee and I played many games of pool. I found that I did better when I relaxed and cleared my head but that didn’t stop Mikee from beating me with his awesome fluke technique. Frank said that the music and the atmosphere made him feel like Peter Gun.

When Instagon wrapped up it was time to go. Everyone seemed to feel good and there were smiles all around. One of the members of Instagon came up and told us how much he liked it and that he was really glad he was a part of it. The couple who were sitting on the floor playing percussive instruments were beaming. They were so cute together and they said they really enjoyed it. Dr. Oblivious gave us all a hug and then left to make it to work in Berkeley the next morning(!) and Lob gave us a quick rundown of the performance from the band’s perspective. He said that the first part was the foreplay and then came the hot and heavy sex and then there was a bit of a pause and then the second round of sex and then the cuddling afterwards. We all laughed.

Frank and I were sitting off to the side and he looked at me like he wanted to say something. I started in with the “A” and he nodded which meant to go to “L”. I got to “W” and he nodded. Ok, first letter – w. Then I started again “A”, nodd, “L” all the way to “R”. W-R…”A” no nod so he took me to “i”. Wri could only mean one thing. “Write about my intensive?” I asked and Frank smiled and nodded wildly. I think he likes it when you get what he’s saying. I told him I would and that I had already been thinking about that. What you’re reading right now is the result. It didn’t turn out quite the way I had intended, but neither did the intensive.

Basically, the whole vacation was the intensive. I was with Frank, Linda and Mikee from the second day until the last night. I was enjoying every minute of it but for some reason I was really looking forward to going home. I don’t know exactly when I started to feel that way, but it was like a nag at the back of my mind for the last week or so. I also don’t know why I was feeling that way. I had been looking forward to getting away for awhile and I consider California my second home. So, I just made sure this feeling didn’t hinder my experience, and it didn’t. I had a great time.

When I said goodbye to everyone I couldn’t believe it would be a year before we saw each other again. I don’t think it will feel that long because it still feels as though it just happened. We all hugged and I thanked them for everything. They are all so wonderful. I followed Corey onto the freeway and as I made it close to my exit I got up beside them and waved farewell while honking and trying to keep the wheel steady. I didn’t want to leave them, but I also wanted to get back to Nic and the cats and my broken down basement apartment.

Then next morning I said goodbye to Julie and Peter and Isabella as they left early for work and daycare. I took a shower and got my stuff ready to go. The drive to the airport was a little frantic at the end and I think I just needed to get outta that car. It was a peaceful flight and I saw some cool things out the window but I wasn’t experiencing the same intense internal high like I was after my first intensive. I wondered what it was all about as I took a cab from the airport.

Since I was jobless I had plenty of time to ponder my experiences. I didn’t think about them too deeply but instead tried to feel them deeply. Tried to sink into that bliss I felt on stage. I smiled often and wore my shirts low. For the first few days I was riding my bike with low cut tops and no bra so I was getting a lot of glances. I realized that the visible chest hair does many things and it feels like a magical act now. Not the fact that I have it but just the very act of showing it off opens up possibilities.

I bought Frank’s Cherotic Magic book and he and Mikee signed it. I picked it up about a week after my return to Toronto and started reading. This helped to galvanize my experience into a context since it seemed that everything I was reading was helping to make sense of my intensive. I was becoming aware of the importance of this work and of the relationship between teacher and student. I was waking up.

After I showed Kirsten my chest I began to tell her that when I find myself surrounded with darkness is when I can usually see the light so clearly like a beaming beacon of hope. That is when I feel as if I truly see. She asked me if I knew the literal meaning of shaman and I admitted that I did not. She said that it is one who sees in the dark. Then she smiled and I melted.

For a few days I tried thinking of myself as a shaman but I didn’t feel as though it fit me. During one of my sessions with Frank I told him that I didn’t consider myself anything but Jen, that I just see what I’m doing as living the way I have to live. At first I considered this a shortcoming that maybe I wasn’t strong enough or good enough to devote myself to shamanism, but after rolling it around in the back of my brain I realized that I devote myself to life. I devote myself to anything that is loving and full and magical. I devote myself to be the best human I can and to let life live freely. I devote myself to the peaceful fight for love against all odds. There is no other way for me to be. I may be an artist, a shaman, a daughter, a lover but what I am above all else is alive.

On the summer solstice, Nic and I attended the yearly pagan festival called Om. We tripped out the first night and wandered around enjoying many of the night’s performances. We were mainly in silent contemplation and then when the sun started to rise we talked about what we had meditated on and it was basically the same thing – our new teachers, our work, the paths we have chosen.

I was deep into Cherotic Magic and was contemplating what I had become involved in. I knew that this was a major life change and that it had come at just the right time. From mid-1999 to the summer of 2000 was a challenging time for me as I was unhappy with many aspects of my life and of humankind. I was having frequent nightmares about being trapped in tiny spaces with no escape and I knew I needed help.

When I found Frank I didn’t know how deep we could get. I didn’t fully understand what he did. As I’ve been working with him I realize that it can get as deep as we are both willing. Deep to the core. Now I am becoming fully aware of the work we’re doing and I can’t tell you how exhilarating it is to be a part of.

After the summer solstice, I was waiting for the bus one morning and I meditated a little on all the erotic bliss going on around me and I thought to myself that what I was feeling was blooming, as if I was witnessing a blooming. Another day I meditated on wisdom and got a vision of an old man on a mountain. I have stepped through the door I barely even knew was there a few years ago. Many things are making sense to me now that didn’t before and I’m realizing how it’s changing me to be more patient, more loving. I’m starting to understand how everything effects and affects everything else and now it’s hard to ignore. My mind is becoming more balanced and I’m more relaxed and this in turn is helping the world. And it’s exciting to know that his is just the beginning.

See you soon!!!

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Last modified March 4, 2004