NYC Interview

Frank Moore, Linda Mac, NYCThis needs a set up. The interview took place the day after the performance we did at The Sixth Sense Galley in the East Village and we had done our first performance at Franklin Furnace the week before. The crew was at the Sixth Sense and did an impromptu interview at the end of the performance as Veronica Vera and I sat nude together. It was a great ending to the three hour performance. But they were not the only film crew filming that performance. The other crew was for the film, MONDO NEW YORK.

I got in that film by a fluke. They were thinking about having Annie in it. She was in my cast for Franklin Furnace. She talked me up to them. They decided to film my performance. I made sure she was in my cast.

They wanted to film my Franklin Furnace piece. But that was a five hour performance with over fifteen people in the cast… A complex ritual. I had experienced big movie crews shooting my OUTRAGEOUS BEAUTY REVUE in the late Seventies and how they change [to put it nicely!] the experience in the ritual. So I did not let them shoot at the Furnace. But we set up another performance at Annie’s friend’s intimate gallery for them to shoot. This was a good call! As we were setting up for the show, the film‘s director and the producer tried to bully Linda into changing things for the film. She just directed them to talk to me. I matched their N.Y.C. energy and had them carefully eating out of my hands. They agreed to no bright lights. But then when the performance started, they blasted the lights, washing out the slides projected upon the nude bodies, not to mention the dreamlike quality of the performance. But after ten minutes they turned off the lights and packed up and left. So the audience settled back for the three hour experience! When you watch that movie, you now know the real story!

Back to the interview. For years I had been pissing off “the art world” by warning that the political correctness pressure put on artists by other artists would invite outside censorship. This was years before Senator Helms targeted us artists for doing “obscene” work. Funny, it was the script of my Franklin Furnace performance that got me on the targeted list. Reporters from a N.Y.C. Moonies’ newspaper got into the Franklin Furnace’s archive looking for sexy hot pieces for their expose on the n. e. a. And they found my script! Not only erotic, not only nudity, but shamanistic! Also funny… In the next room Annie was interviewing Karen Finley for an adult magazine. So in the apartment that afternoon there were three of the original five Helms targeted performance artists. At the time Annie was seeing herself as just an adult star… Even when I predicted that she would become an important performance artist. It would be little more than a year before she would do her first one-person show. Karen was known as an underground artist. But it would take her a couple more years before she would break through to fame. By the way, it was Karen who got me the Franklin Furnace gig.

Well, that is the historical context for this interview. Enjoy!

Linda: To clear up his problem was to stop drinking coffee for a while.  He said it wasn’t forever.

Q2: Right.  It’s very hard.

Linda: Frank said fine.  He just stopped right away.  He said I won’t drink it until I get back.  So he hasn’t had coffee for a couple of months.

Q2: That’s good.  I have a pre-ulcer condition.

Linda: So you don’t drink it at all?

Q2: Well, the last 2 weeks it’s been acting up, ever since we started this video business, and the strain.  Going shooting at midnight is not exactly good for your health if you have ‘til 2 or 3 in the morning tapings.

Linda: That’s what it’s been like for us all week.

Q2: Yeah, running around.  New York is conducive to a certain unhealthiness.

Frank MooreFrank: Media blitz.

Linda: Yeah, we’re just adjusting to it.  It’s just different than what we’re used to.  Is this half inch?

Q2: It’s half inch.  Everything’s auto on it but we found out the auto functions don’t work so well.

Linda: Why’s it so big?

Q2: For stability.  We could’ve gotten one of the smaller ones but they don’t…this can go on the shoulder, it can cradle a camera.  It’s a little more stable for shooting.  It’s also very low light.  You can shoot under a candle light, a single candle light.  It’s very good and it’s got stereo sound.

Frank: Last night all the lights they put on.

Q2: They didn’t need that.  We knew that that would happen and we thought it would upset him.

Linda: He told them no lights.  We told them just a slide projector and they said fine, but when the performance started they started putting the lights on.  They’re bad.

Q2: Yeah, they are.  They’re film people.  I’m rolling.  You can just talk.  We’re just having a party here.

Q: Frank how long have you been in New York

Frank: One week.

Q: And how long are you going to stay?  Do you have any more performances?

Frank: No.  Tomorrow we leave for Philadelphia for a performance there. 

Q: How many performances do you have in Philly?

Frank: One.

Q: Who are you going to stay with in Philadelphia, friends?

Frank: Yes, she’s a friend and she’s also the person that booked us at the gallery there.

Q: Can you tell our viewers about your theory of eroplay?  What is eroplay?

Frank: Playing physically but not sexually.

Q: When does it become sexual and how to you keep it from becoming sexual?

Frank: What your intention is, is how you keep it from becoming sexual.

Q: Is that your intention to keep it from being sexual?

Frank: When I eroplay, yes.

Q: When you eroplay then you eroplay.  When you have sex then you have sex.

Frank: Yes.

Q: How do you think eroplay can be helpful to others?

Frank: In a lot of ways, like before people just had sex.  If they wanted to be at all physical with another person their only option was to have sex with the person, so they just jammed all their needs for intimacy and play and physicalness into sex even when sex did not satisfy those needs.

Q: Have you ever read a book by Wilhelm Reich called The Function of the Orgasm?

Frank: I have heard about it and read about his theory.

Q: In his book, The Function of the Orgasm, he talks about the orgasm in relation to a bladder. You fill the bladder up and you have tension then you release the bladder and it’s fulfilled and happily satisfying.  He got to the point where he said that fascist Italy was a lack of satisfying orgasm.  What do you think of those things?  He said that if you weren’t satisfied then you had what he called a secondary impulse.

Frank: He was still influenced by Freud so he focused on the sex act.

Q: Rather than play.

Frank: But what he is saying is basically true.  Look at Reagan, at what he is going after - any erotic.

Q: He has a lot of missiles.

Linda: What do you mean?

Frank: I mean Meese.

Linda: The anti-obscenity type panels?  You’re saying that that kind of oppression, that there’s an oppressiveness coming out of the government from Meese affecting that, trying to repress any kind of release of anything that has to do with erotic or sex or physical stuff.

Q: Have you felt repressed at all in performing your pieces?

Frank: No, but I am waiting.

Q: You’re waiting for someone to come and nail on you.

Q2: Have you seen Paul Cotton?  You know Paul Cotton’s performance?

Frank: Yes.

Q2: Paul has been arrested several times.  I think they finally gave up.  He was so persistent.  Paul at Easter would do a performance as an Easter bunny with his genitals exposed and got popped a couple of times in Berkeley I remember. 

Frank: We did a performance together.

Q2: Very good!  I’d love to see that!  What did you do?

Linda: Basically Frank invited Paul to be a guest at Frank’s series at UCB and he told Paul to use Frank as a prop and whatever Paul came up with was ok.  So he used Frank as a prop.  Paul came in with a costume he had made for Frank which included spaghetti hair and basically not much, just a few strips of things around Frank.  He painted Frank’s fingernails and then he held Frank on his lap always dressed as his Easter bunny and they just kind of rocked there together, and Paul had some spiritual kind of speaker talking on a tape recorder.

Q: How do you think being in a wheelchair and not being able to talk has helped or hindered you?

Frank: It is one of my tools.

Frank MooreQ: I was thinking after I saw your performance last night, how would you feel if you came to a performance and you saw what I saw last night.  What if you saw a fellow like yourself in a wheelchair, that couldn’t talk, or you saw a person like myself, that can talk and can walk, doing what you did and you were in the audience?  What would you think of that?

Frank: I obviously would like it.  I would no do it if I did not like it.  In fact, I do it partly because no one else is doing it and I want to see it and so I have to do it myself.

Q2: That goes back to “if you want something done then do it yourself”.

Q: And what did you do before this?  Why did you think of doing this?

Frank: To be with people, like I took an intensive film course.

Linda: He took an intensive film course and learned how to make movies and then when he was finished with the course he couldn’t afford to make movies.  So he did what he called the non films before there was video stuff, and he would have people come over and he would do non films with them.  That’s how he got started.

Q: So you like to be with people.  Before that you felt that you weren’t with people?  You were alienated or alone?

Q2: You spoke about being a voyeur I remember.  I thought that was nice though because I’ve always thought of myself as a voyeur, particularly when I’m behind the camera sometimes.

Frank: Not by choice.

Linda: You were a voyeur not by choice.

Q: How can you be a voyeur not by choice?

Frank: I did not have my board and pointer until I was close to 20.

Q: You had no way to communicate before that?

Linda: He could communicate with his family.  They had their system of going through the alphabet which he uses even now at home when he doesn’t have the board and pointer on, but anybody other than his family couldn’t communicate directly to him, and if they wanted to then it had to go through his family, his mother or brother, and that didn’t happen.

Q2: That’s an amazing thing because even though you were a voyeur not by choice, within your body is an incredible person with this mind thinking and seeing and feeling everything that everyone else sees and feels.  The difficulty is it might be frustrating to express that for Frank but it’s like one up.  It’s all happening and yet you know it’s happening and no one else may know it’s happening.

Frank: It gave me a base so when I finally got into the action…

Linda: You had a lot of ideas about being.

Q: How did you create the board or did your family help you make it?

Frank: When I was 17 I had an idea for the pointer.  The board was not the key.  It was my pointer that was the breakthrough.

Q: When you communicated with your family, how did you do that before the board?
Frank: But they did not want to let me use a pointer.

Linda: When he was a child they wanted to make him normal and so they tried to get him to walk, they tried to get him to use his fingers to type.  So when he was 17 and he had this idea of the pointer to learn to type because he saw that the other stuff wasn’t allowing him to communicate and it was just such a struggle.  He didn’t really have any desire to be normal.  He was more motivated by wanting to just be able to communicate.

Q: His family didn’t want him to use the pointer?

Frank: The doctors and the therapists were the ones that wanted me to be normal.

Linda: And they were the ones that were kind of encouraging his family to follow in that direction.

Q: If you couldn’t communicate with them then it must have been pretty frustrating for you Frank.

Frank: The school was about to drop me because I wasn’t able to keep up.  Finally my teacher made them try the pointer and after 5 minutes I was typing.  I should have typed “I told you so”.

Q: Those are the perfect words.

Q2: They thought he was a slow learner.

Q: How do other people communicate in your situation if they don’t use your system?  What do they usually do?

Frank: It varies.

Q: None of those other systems of communicating were attractive to you?  You didn’t like them?  They didn’t work? 

Frank: 2 years ago…

Linda: The computer board?  2 years ago the social workers and therapists came up with another idea for Frank which was a computerized board that would talk and print out on a lighted screen and everything.

Q: Did you try that one?

Linda: Oh yeah.

Frank: Because this is too low tech.

Linda: So everybody spent all this money and bought him this board.

Frank: $5000

Linda: $5000 to get him this electronic board without him having a chance to try it.  He tried it on and off for about a month and it was a lot harder.  What would happen is that people would…like when you communicate with Frank like this you have to read everything aloud and you tend to guess and try putting it together.  But with that board, because it had this voice and everything, people would either get fascinated by the electronics and not pay attention to what he was saying, or they would figure they’d just wait until he prints out the whole thing and see it splashed on the screen so they’d stand there and meanwhile he’d have to work to print every single word out rather than having to have them guess.

Frank MooreFrank: And I had to aim.

Linda: And the keys were such that he had to hit them right in the middle so that was really hard.

Q: How did you meet your wife Frank?  How did you meet Linda?

Linda: I was working in a travel agency and he came in to get some flight information.  The way he tells the story is he looked down my shirt and said “You’d be great in a play I’m doing!”

Q: You were type casting?

Frank: Puff Puff

Linda: Puffing on his cigar.  And then we just started hanging out and doing projects together right away.

Q: This was in San Francisco?

Linda: Berkeley.  He had just moved to Berkeley.

Q: Where did you live before that Frank?

Frank: New York City.

Q: How long were you in New York?

Frank: For 9 months.

Q: Why did you move back?  You didn’t like it?

Frank: I could not get in.

Q: Could not get in where?

Linda: Just get in, like into something that was going on, hooked into something.

Frank: Like here you read about things after they happen.

Linda: So he’d read about something after it happened but he wouldn’t know about it before it happened. 

Q: And you feel that in San Francisco, in Berkeley, you are more in?

Frank: Yes.  In New York City I did a workshop and 2 performances during that time, but no root.

Linda: Didn’t get rooted.

Q: So, a lot of who you are, your work, your play, everything who you are is important for you to be in, be intimate with people.

Frank: Yes.

Q: I think you’re doing a good job at it.

Q2: How is it you mentioned when I was reading the book about artists like Chris Burden and where do you see yourself in that?  You referred to him as the older.  Chris has moved onto video.  Chris is actually mainstream at this point.

Frank: Head of the department at UCLA.

Q2: Success has gone to his head.

Frank: I am still a rebel, like I am more tied into the young artists.

Q2: Did you see any of the performances early works by Terry Fox in Berkeley at all?

Frank: No.

Q: Have you seen Karen Finley?

Frank: Yes.

Q: What did you think of that?

Frank: Which time?

Q: The last time?  What did you see the last time?

Frank: She is in transition.  She now has to deal with fame to make sure fame don’t take her power away.  Like before she was famous she could focus on the magic, the shock. 

Q: Why can’t she do that now?

Frank: They accept everything she does.

Q2: That’s true.

Q: That reminds me of something Kurt Vonnegut said.  He said something like “In America it’s almost worse than being in a repressive society because anything you do is leveled.”  You know if you were to be put in jail or suppressed at least it meant something, but if anything you do is just water off a duck’s back it doesn’t mean anything. 

Frank: Yes.  That is the plot.

Linda: Frank often refers to the plot that we’re all victims of and also perpetrators of the plot at the same time.  It’s the thing that kind of keeps us out of touch with our own power and our own uniqueness and keeps suppressing them in a very tiny little way so you can’t quite put your finger on it.

Q: Do you see that happening to you Frank?  I mean since you’ve been in New York people have been interviewing you and filming you.

Frank: They try but I am like Zorro.  They can not quite peg me.

Q2: Good.  Let’s hope they never do.

Frank: That is my job.  Keep it un-pegged so it cannot be muted.

Q: I can’t think of anymore questions.  What’s your area code?

Linda: You can tell we’re local.  I can just put one on there now.  415

Q2: Thank you Frank.

Q: Do you have anything to say in parting?

Frank: No.  It is your job to get me to say something in parting.

Q: I guess there is one question I did forget.  What’s your favorite fruit juice?

Frank: You are doing a shitty job of getting me to say something in parting.

Q: You’re not going to tell me what your favorite fruit juice is then?

Frank: For money I will make something up.

Q: Thanks a lot Frank.

L: That was fun! 

Back to the Shaman's Cave