The Playhouse

UC Berkeley, 125 Dwinelle

Tuesday, April 24, 1984

As Steiv rigged up his new music/sound machine, as Linda and Mary fixed up the room, I rode the hallways, talking to people before they went into the room. Clancy, who has become a regular spectator at these pieces, is torn between going into the performance or going to his Marxism class of three people. He dropped in for the first few minutes, and then dashed off to class … returning later.


In the hall you can hear the mixture of spacey, distorted electronic music and real American Indian chanting from the room … never stopping. I like talking to people before they enter the room. There was Inez, a straight, proper real estate saleswoman who Steiv invited. Kathleen came, she was at the last piece and appeared to the regulars to be a shy girl with a sense of humor. But things are not what they appear to be.


After a while, I rode back into the room, people were listening to the sound/music. I talked to Kathleen and Inez for a while, then invited them to play with, try on, the 1950s – 1960s costumes and sexy designer originals from the two big boxes. I had Linda take my clothes off, except my shoes, and wrap a mini of ribbons around my waist.


Before I went back into the hall, I asked Mike to go to a local outdoor coffeehouse with his guitar to sing his circus song … we had planned for him to sing in the hall … but there were no people in the hall … so the coffeehouse. But, although Mike is a juggler and a musician, going up to someone in a café and singing was hard for him to do. He pulled Mary, my photographer, along for moral support. After much hesitation and much pushing from Mary, he, red-faced, sang his song to two co-eds, also red-faced. He came back, still blushing, but with the strong air of accomplishment. I never know which thing will set people off. I like these subplots that take place away from the “main” performance but are connected strongly to it.


Meanwhile, I was riding the halls … sometimes watching people peering through the paper fringe on the door, deciding if they wanted to enter. Sometimes, I parked in front of the door to watch Kathleen and Inez trying on costumes. At first, they just put the costumes on over their street clothes. But slowly Kathleen took off more and more of her costumes, and became sillier, sexier, more outrageous in the costumes she picked.


As I came back into the room, Inez – who up to this point had mainly been fingering the clothes – put on the “Cher dress” … a long, white, skin-tight, low cut. She took off her skirt under it … but not her top and bra. I said it would look better without her bra. She said she wished she could take it off, but she couldn’t because she was shy. The bra became a symbol of freedom and risk-taking. It was obvious that Inez wanted this freedom … not of showing her body, but doing something she wanted to do even though it was hard. After she made several attempts, I gave everyone pieces of cake. I said that the cake contained a drug that lowers limits so the people will do what they really want to do. Inez wolfed down her piece of cake and waited for the drug to kick in.


I made a fun game out of it. I said I would wear her bra. I suggested that Kathleen could sit nude on my lap and we would be wrapped in ribbon and we would rock together to the music. Cautiously Kathleen agreed to the silly arrangement. Inez slipped off her bra and gleefully put it on me. As Linda wrapped ribbon around Kathleen and I, Inez deeply thanked Kathleen for teaching an important lesson in risk taking. She posed in her white, sexy dress proudly for photos.


As Kathleen and I rocked, I showed a special 45 minute video … silly, corny, surreal, stoned. The sound was patched through Steiv’s machine, so he distorted it. Linda and Mike gave each other back massages.


The rocking back and forth of Kathleen and I was silly and sexy, but not at all sexual. All of a sudden on the video Kathleen and I were rocking too … but in slow motion. It was the last scene of the video … and the video and live action became one reality. Obviously, Kathleen was an actress. I asked Inez if this fact made what she got from it less. She said no … she was still grateful to Kathleen.


Kathleen said she thought Inez was an actress too. A rule of magic is never reveal all the illusion.


Frank Moore, 1984





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