The Uncomfortable Zones Of Fun - February 2010

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

at Temescal Arts Center, Oakland, California
Friday, December 17, 2010


Sunday, December 19, 2010                                   

Ah, the last performance of the year and the first full out performance since May when I almost died.  It is like riding a horse or a bike [I have done both]…  You never forget how to do it, they say.  But the large crowd tested that theory.  Usually when it is stormy outside, we don’t get many people.  It is the same for over the holidays.  But both didn’t keep people away this time.  So I was faced with a rug full of people eager to play.  It was like sitting down to a complex instrument, trying to figure out how  to play it.  And drums and violins appeared in the audience to play with Kene-J and Mark [where was Tomek?].  But there were too many possibilities within the crowd, so it took most of the time opening the packages so to speak, and we were just getting started playing when it was time to wrap it up [and it was a very satisfying powerful wrap up!].  There was a lot that happened.  But it was the tip of the iceberg.  That is why it is a series!  If I was driven by my own expectations, judgments, bits I have thought of years ago but time/space for which has not appeared yet, etc, I would get in the way of the performance.  My main job of the night was to guide things away from casual, social, judgments, and other blocks to getting deeper.  It worked.  We curved away from “democracy” where people vote on their judgments and desires, curved into the tribal body where serious fun could occur, which was why most people were there. 

As our T-shirt says, I SURVIVED THE UNCOMFORTABLE ZONES OF FUN! 

Da Boyz:
It was the first "Uncomfortable Zones of Fun" we had done in 7 months!  The last performance was near the end of May, and then Frank went into the hospital about a week later.  It was also forecast to be the rainiest day of the winter season so far.  The three of us headed out as soon as we were ready, Erika in one car, and us in the other, carting all the performance stuff ... the rain had held off for most of the loading of the cars, but now it was raining, but not too bad.  Frank's weather karma was working!

When we got to the space, it was all parked up, but soon we had spots right in front.  We loaded everything in very quickly in the rain, and then Corey ran over to Peet's to get Mikee a small latte, and the set up was in full swing.  Alexi got the large heater going to get the space nice and toasty, and we ended up using that primarily for the performance.  They seemed to have fixed it so it worked very well, and was much less noisy ... what a wonderful space!  It was really great to be back there again!

Almost right away, Mark (Phog Masheen) was there, up from L.A. to do several performances in the bay area, and would be in the band for this performance.  Mark helped us set things up.  Even with the extra time, we were setting up right up to 8pm!  And by that time, there were already a whole bunch of people arrived and ready!  Alexi counted 14 people at the beginning, and it grew to 22.  Amazing!  On the rainiest day of the year, and during the xmas season.  Last December's performance had been very small.  Plus, it had been gone for 7 months!

Like always, Frank started going around the room ... how did people hear of the performance, what attracted them to it?

There was a young guy in front with dark curly hair, and a girl next to him, they came together ... he said that he had been to a previous performance and really liked it, but the girl he came with did not feel the same way ... he said that it freaked her out, and she just said it was "weird, weird!"  But the girl he brought tonight had a totally different response to coming to the performance ... when he told her about it, she was into the whole idea.  Frank asked him what he does, and he talked about a spiritual practice that he is creating ... he said it was a kind of tantric practice, but also based on role playing games ... he talked about people choosing to play a certain role, and just playing it ... like he wanted to go with a group of 4 people to Albany Bulb to do an art piece where each person would be a different character ... one person would predict the future, etc. ... Frank asked him something along the lines of "Would it be for real?"  And he said something like that it could be ...  We weren't sure if we ever got exactly what he meant, but it seemed to be about playing in reality, and being whatever you want to be ... choosing to create a reality ...

His friend had just gotten out of school in Sonoma, and was now working ...  Frank told a story about performing at Sonoma State in the 80s, when they brought the OBR there ... how the response from the students was really enthusiastic ... people taking off their clothes, climbing onstage, etc.!  But afterward, a feminist group on campus, who had not actually attended the performance, got very uptight about what had happened, and lobbied to create censoring rules for future performances on campus!  Frank was proud of that!  People liked the story ...

Frank also talked with a couple, who were among the first to arrive.  They had seen the flier on San Pablo, and were attracted by the look of it, the description, and the guy said there were great reviews on the flier!  The idea of "uncomfortable" fun was attractive to them.

Frank asked her how uncomfortable she was willing to be?  She said well she was willing to be pretty uncomfortable ... she noticed the big backdrop with all the nude bodies, and didn't know if it was going to go that far, but ...  Frank said it usually does go that far.     Her partner said he did urban farming ... Frank told them that Mark (Phog Masheen) had brought them seeds that his wife saves from their home garden, and he said he had seeds out in his car that he could give them. 

At some point, Kene-J came in ... Frank said, "Get to work, son!"  Kene-J started playing with Mark ...

The first person Frank actually talked with was a guy who had just met Mark next door at Lanesplitter pizza.  Frank turned to him first, and said, "George Clooney!  What brought you here?"  He looked a lot like George Clooney!  Mark was carrying his trumpet, and had told the guy about the performance, and he seemed attracted by the idea of improvisation ... he ended up playing the drums for most of the night.

Next to him was a group of 4 friends, 2 guys and 2 gals ... Frank asked one of the guys how he ended up coming to the performance?  He said he had seen the fliers around for a long time, and then didn't see them for a while, and then saw the latest flier up on Shattuck and Prince Streets, and decided to come!  Frank asked him what he does, and he talked about dancing (ecstatic, contact improv ...) ... Frank asked him without clothes?  He laughed to himself ... well there was one time ...!  He also liked to sing ... Frank asked him what kind of singing?  He said karaoke, and then sang, "It’s just more fun to sing things ...!"  Frank said, "Go on ..."   He started singing about the weather, improvising ...  Frank sang along.  Frank suggested that he sing without words, and they did a short duet, vocalizing ...  Frank turned to Miriam, who was also there from the beginning ... "How did I do?"  Miriam was Frank's swallow therapist, who worked with Frank for months after the hospital stay to get him back to a "normal way of eating", but then corrected it, saying, well, "Frank's way"  She said he did great!  Frank said that singing, he still felt the trach ... Dr. Kerbavaz had said that there was scar tissue there from where the tracheotomy had been, which Frank was feeling.  Miriam called it a "phantom trach."  She said he could do vocal exercises ...

There was also a guy in the audience who had come from an internet listing ... he was an older man, perhaps from the middle east ... he had been attracted by the description ... had never seen anything like it.  Zorana was also there ... the Bosnian journalist that Corey had met at BNG, shopping for her neighbor ... she would be translating the Russian article about Frank.  Frank asked her about the article, was it good?  She said it was very good, very complimentary, and she also talked about how they were impressed that Frank, a disabled man, could do what he does ... that in Russia and Eastern Europe, the economy is so poor, and the way things are set up, "handicapped" people do not have any opportunities, live in poverty ...   Frank also asked her what she thought of the photos in the article?  She had basically told Corey before that they had gotten her curious!  She told Frank that the photos were what had brought her.  Frank asked her too how uncomfortable she was willing to be, and she said something like that it was all new to her, she wasn't sure ... maybe she would watch first ...  Frank said, "the quicker, the easier", which she did seem to get.  Later, when Frank returned to talk to her, she actually said she had to go ... she had to pick someone up at 10 ...   Frank said to come back, and she said she would.  And, Frank said, next time, without anything to do afterward. 

Ken Cheetham was there too, the guy who maintains the Bay Area Progressive Directory ...  Frank asked him to define underground, and then progressive ... he said trying to maintain a more egalitarian society.

And Phillip Huang, a performance artist, was there too ... Frank said, "About time!"  He agreed!  A little later, Frank had him do a piece, and he did something from his latest show, which he said was an exclusive for Frank, because it had not been performed in public before.  It was a sketch between what seemed to be a disabled girl making balloon animals and an uptight woman passer-by.  It was intense ... the disabled girl has the woman wear a funny balloon hat that she makes for her, and dance silly ... Frank played with Phillip as he danced around as the uptight woman ... and then, after she has gotten the woman to dance sillier and sillier, the girl says, "Who is the freak now, bitch?"  The woman is crushed, takes off the balloon hat ....

Frank came back to the group of 4 ... he talked to one of the girls ... why did she come?  She said she had not actually seen the flier herself, but was attracted to some of the words that she had heard from it ...  Like what? Frank asked.  "Fun" ... she said ...  "Uncomfortable?" Frank asked.  No, she said, that wasn't one of them. 

The other girl in the group had not seen the flier either, but had come along because it sounded fun.  She is a singer too, and in a band called Omnicircus, which Frank later talked to her about booking for the Shaman's Den.  She said she also worked with teenagers in after school programs, and generally fought the good fight against fear in the world (something like this).  She described Omnicircus as robotic opera, and Frank asked if she would sing?  Sure!  She went right into a bluesy funky jazzy song, and the band played with her, and Frank sang with her.  Afterward, Frank asked Miriam again how he did?  Both she and the girl from Omnicircus said he did great.  It was a fun song. 

Frank then turned to another group of 4 that had come in more recently.  It was quickly clear that they were a couple, guy and girl, and two guy friends.  Frank asked them what brought them to the performance.  The girl said that they were looking for something to do that night that was free, and this came up!  They all pointed to one guy, who they all indicated was the one who really wanted to come to this, was the one who was interested in getting uncomfortable.  When Frank asked the girl how uncomfortable she was willing to be, she pointed to the friend ..."He's the one, ask him!" 

Frank of course kept on with her ... he asked her if the friend could dress her in only the costumes and jewelry?  When she established that this meant taking her clothes off, she again pointed to the friend, no but he will do it!  She mentioned her comfort zone.  Frank suggested that she could dress the friend in only the costumes, but then she would have to let him do the same.  They weren't going for it.  Frank pointed out that since the friend was interested in "uncomfortable", it really was more uncomfortable for him to dress the girl in the costumes, then to be dressed himself, which they all agreed with ...   At some point, the friend asked for a vote from the crowd as to what they should do, and Frank said, "This is not a democracy!" 

It was already established that the girl was not going to get dressed in costumes, but this is when the gal from the first group of 4 said that she objected to a girl being the first one to take off her clothes.  This was the girl who said that "uncomfortable" was not one of the words she had liked.   

In response, Frank asked Unruhlee to take off his clothes.  He took them right off and sat naked on the floor.  So there, the first person undressed was not a woman!  Back to the uncomfortable group ... the girl was willing to dress the guy up in the costumes, and they came up very uncomfortably and he quickly undressed himself, and she quickly covered him up with costumes!  But Frank said he wanted her to undress him, and then put the costumes on him.  He gave a short protest, "I thought we were doing it, but guess it wasn't good enough!"  But he reluctantly put all his clothes back on, and meanwhile Frank turned to something else ... perhaps this is when he asked Miriam to talk about their relationship. 

Miriam talked about being assigned to Frank through home health to do swallow therapy, and help Frank get to the point where he could get the trach. out.  She described coming to the house, meeting Linda and Mikee and Frank, the art on the walls, and how much fun she had talking with them.  They would do the swallowing tests, but then most of it was just talking about movies, life ...  She said that knowing she would be coming to be with Frank made it worth getting out of bed in the morning!  She then asked Frank how he would describe their relationship.  He said "fun" and "sexy", which she liked a lot!

Back to the uncomfortable pair ... were they ready to go again?  The guy was surprised that Frank came back to him, said something like he had hoped maybe Frank forgot about him.  Oh no, Frank was just stalling!

So they came up again to the costume area, and very uncomfortably, the girl undressed the guy, and then he danced around nervously, obviously trying to hide his cock, and trying to get her to put something on down there!  But she wasn't doing it quick enough, was draping necklaces around his neck!  It was very uncomfortable!  Once she had some costumes on him, Frank asked him how he felt?  He said something along the lines of feeling uncomfortable, but expanding through that feeling ... Frank asked, "into comfortable?"  He said yes ...   Frank said now, and again later, that "comfort zone is fragile",  that real comfort is in willing to be uncomfortable. 

He went right from the uncomfortable pair to the first group of 4, and asked them if they would put on only the costumes, and they were all willing without any real hesitation.  They all got up and stripped and went over to the costumes and jewelry, putting stuff on, having fun with it.  Frank asked them if they would do a dance with him?  Sure!  As the band played on, they improvised a dance with Frank, who had his clothes taken off too.  It was a fun dance.  But one of the girls didn't join the dance ... as she was heading off with her friends, she noticed the video camera, and went up to Corey to ask him if he was filming this?  Yes.  "Is it going to be shown anywhere?"  Yes, Corey said, on Frank's show on the internet and on Berkeley Public Access.  "Is there any way you can just not film me?"  Corey said, "I don't think so ..."  So she sat it out ... but when her friends came over to dance with her and tried to pull her into the dance, and she danced with them from where she was, Corey filmed that!

It might have been around this point, after the dance, that Frank asked Kene-J to come up and do 3 of his rap songs, which is always really fun.  Linda was saying later that it felt like Kene-J risked a lot coming to the performances and doing his songs in that context, that you know it had to be "uncomfortable" for him, but he trusted Frank, and this had a real effect on people ... judgement transformed into enjoying, bopping to the music, having fun, enjoying Kene-J. 

At some point, Frank returned to the young couple in front, and asked them if they would put on only the costumes, and they said sure ... they took their clothes right off and put on the costumes, and then sat back down again in front ...  Frank asked them to talk about how the performance felt so far, and he said that he enjoyed it, and talked about how last time he came, he felt that the performance, like in Frank's warning sign, had effects that happened afterward, for days and weeks ...  he felt like it was going to be that way again.  She said she really liked it, liked people getting undressed, putting on the costumes ...   Frank said that she reminded him of Kat from Kat & Reuben, Plate & Dr. Rectangle ... Linda talked about how they met them in North Carolina, and what they were like, and what their LUVeR show was like ... how creative they were ...

One of the first group of four, a big guy with a beard, raised his hand to say a few things he had been thinking about.  He referred to people's discomfort with undressing, nudity, etc., and said that our bodies are just matter, physical, just "meat" ... we are not our bodies, we are soul.  Its not who we are.  It doesn't mean anything to be nude, it’s just playing with bodies, and that it was definitely a different context for being naked than for instance, Harbin Hot Springs ... that here, there was not an accepted rationale for the nudity, so it seemed to be more challenging for people, more direct, more "uncomfortable".    Frank said it was connected, the same (body and soul)... and that our bodies are for playing.  After the guy finished what he was saying, Frank told the story of performing at Harbin, where the guy who booked him tried to censor what Frank would do ... whereas a bunch of the people who saw Frank's piece and heard that he was not able to do what he originally planned on doing, wanted him to do it anyway!  So Frank ended up doing a second piece afterward for them! 

The guy went on to say at some point that to focus on the differences in our bodies, color, sex, etc., is off the track, that it gets in the way of healing the bigger world issues ...  Frank said it was the same, it is nonlinear ...

Now Frank continued going around the room and asking people what they thought of the performance thus far ... there had been a kind of exodus during Kene-J's set, so the group had gotten smaller ...

Frank asked Unruhlee to talk about his experience of the performance ...  Unruhlee said that he had taken off his clothes, which felt liberating, but then after sitting there for a while, he felt alone, and didn't have the same experience that he usually has, and has come to expect from a Frank Moore performance ...  It felt like he had come in with a lot of expectations, and wasn't really just melting into the experience, following, enjoying ... he had wanted something to happen a certain way, and when it didn't, he seemed to pass judgment ...  Frank said, "Wait until you leave the performance."  It felt like Frank just saying that immediately changed Unruhlee's experience! 

Miriam said that it was about what she had expected, and that it was like being at Frank's house, with all of the colorful art on the walls, sitting and talking with Frank, and never knowing what was going to happen next, who might stop by, etc.!

The girl who came with the urban farmer said that the performance actually felt very serious to her, as opposed to "fun" ... she described herself as a "sponge" for other people's emotions, and said that she had really taken in how uncomfortable some people were during the performance, and that this had become a lot of her experience ... she said she felt that when she was able to shake off that feeling that she had picked up from others, she would better be able to experience what had happened.

Frank came to a girl who had sat through the whole performance, and Frank had never had a chance to talk with her until now ... she said that the performance had made her uncomfortable ... she was uncomfortable the whole time.   Frank asked how?  She explained that it not being used to seeing people nude in public.  Frank said how not?  She said, "Well, I am from Ohio"!  Frank said that he was too!  He was born in Columbus, and lived in Dayton.  She said she was from a small town near Dayton ...  Frank asked her why she moved out here?  She said to get out of Ohio!  She wanted to move to another country, and California was the closest to that, being from Ohio, without actually leaving the country. Frank said something like people come from Ohio for things like this!  He also said that a lot of his cast have been from Ohio over the years.  Maggie was her name, and she went on to say that she does art, and she tries to bring people together, she was really impressed by the way Frank just did it, with so much confidence, seeing his vision through to reality, and that it really inspired her. 

Frank asked her if she would come up and read one of his poems?  "I Came To Play".  She said yes.  She came up and sat next to Frank and read the most powerful reading of the poem that we think we have ever heard, and was visibly moved by reading it.  She looked like she was going to cry.  You could hear murmurs in the audience ... Linda said later that it felt like the poem was bringing the experience of the performance to a deeper place, making it more concrete and giving it a name ...  Maggie was very warm toward Frank, and it was clear that the poem had really moved her.  Frank said, "The End"   But he asked Maggie if she would want to get together with him, and she said yes, and Linda exchanged cards ... 

Frank turned to the young couple in front, and told them they did great jobs as plants!  And would they come back next time to do it?  They acted mystified ... but said yes ....  Frank said that its great the way they are acting like they're not plants!  They laughed!!  Then Frank turned to the first group of 4 that had danced with him, and said the same, thanking them for being such great plants!  And would they come back too to be plants again?  They would see!

Afterward, Mark Phog Masheen came up to Frank, and Frank asked him to talk about his experience ... he said that the big teaching lesson he was going to take back with him was how the way that Frank asked questions opened everything up.  People don't want to be told to do things, but by asking the questions, it allowed people to come into the experience themselves ...

People hung around for a while talking, and talking with Frank ... we were really amazed by the performance!  We did it!  Like always, we talked about everything as we broke down the set, amazed at all that had happened in the night ... and we had sold out of Frank's poetry chapbook, "Chapped Lap"!  

It felt so good to be back, to see Frank up there, doing so great after the whole hospital ordeal.  Frank was back in the saddle, was amazing.  Always had the perfect thing to say, conducting the performance into another amazing transformative experience for everyone ...  It was a really really good feeling to be back there together.  


Erika:

This was the first performance in six months since Frank had been in the hospital.  There was a 100 % chance of rain but the rain cleared when we were loading all the stuff in and out.  We arrived early since we had not set up for a while and Mark from Phog Masheen was there and helped us set up.  Frank, Linda and Mikee arrived and we did the final set up and then streams and streams of people started coming in.  They would come in and stand over by the door so Linda and Frank told them to come in and sit down on the mats.  Frank said that he should get sick more often because there were so many people coming to the performance.

Frank started going around asking people how they had heard about the performance.  Most people said that they saw fliers.  Some people just saw the flyers today and came and others had been seeing the flyers for a long time.  Frank asked people what they were attracted to in the flyers and one guy said because there were good reviews about Frank on the flyer. Others said they were attracted to the naked people, and the words on the flyer like fun, shaman, and uncomfortable.  One woman said that she was ok with being uncomfortable and Frank asked her how uncomfortable and she said, well I saw naked people on the flyer and I'm not sure it's going to go that far. Frank said that we usually do go that far.

There was a guy who had come to a performance before with his roommate and they had left because she really freaked out and thought that it was weird but when he told his friend that he had brought with him tonight about it she was very interested.  He had been studying the Kabala, Tarot and Tantra and was coming up with a role playing game that was about life and following life.  Later in the performance Frank asked him if the performance could be part of his game or role play and he said yes.  He said that he read the poster on the wall behind Frank warning people that they might experience the effects of the performance weeks and weeks after the performance.  He said that he felt that that was true, that had been his experience from the last time that he came to a performance.  The friend that he brought with him had graduated from Sonoma State and Frank and Linda told a story about when Frank's Outrageous Beauty Review had performed there.  They did short sexy acts.  One was to a song by Devo.  A guy in a wheelchair would come out with his nurse.  Then his nurse strips her nurses uniform off and reveals a black leather S & M outfit and starts whipping him and tearing him apart, there were body parts flying, blood and she peed on stage and poured it on him and did an enema and smeared that on him too.  It was two hours of acts like that and the audience went wild taking their clothes off and really enjoying it.  Then after the fact a feminist group on campus who had not attended the performance heard about it and they were very upset.  Out of Frank's performance a list was made of things that performers could not do at Sonoma State.

There was a group of four friends who had all seen flyers for the performance individually. They were singers and dancers and one woman worked with kids. Frank asked a couple of them to sing and they did.  The guy started singing with words and Frank told him to sing without words. Frank said much better.  Later Frank asked the four of them if they would dance nude with him and they said yes.  One of the women got undressed but once she saw Corey with the camera and wanted to know what was going to be done with the video she sat down and didn't dance.  The three other nude dancers danced and played around Frank, touching him and then making sounds and singing.  It was beautiful to see Frank with only a fluffy red boa on, which he looked great in of course, with some nude people dancing around him. The two guys were dancing around Frank and touching him on the arms. The nude dancers would go over to the woman who had decided not to dance and interact with her so in the end she was in the camera quite a lot.

There was another group of people who came in together.  They just heard about the performance the day of and were looking for something free to go to.  Frank was asking them if they would like to be uncomfortable and they said no but that their friend would.  Frank asked the woman to dress the guy in the costumes and jewelry that we had and nothing else and then the man would dress up the woman in the costumes with nothing else.  The guy hesitated and was nervous and uncomfortable.  He wanted to take a vote to see if that is what everyone wanted him to do and Frank said that this is not a democracy.  He tried to ask everyone again after Frank said that. He said that he didn't know what to do.  Frank asked Unrulee to get undressed and he did.  The guy finally came up and he undressed himself jumping around nervously.  Frank said to get dressed and start again, that his friend would be undressing him and dressing him in costumes.  She undressed him and put on some costumes and jewelry and he was jumping around making a spectacle of himself.  Everyone was cheering him on and Frank said not to feed his ego. Once the guy was all in costume and jewelry Frank asked him if he was uncomfortable.  He said that he was at first but he wasn't so much anymore. Frank said that real comfort is expanding what is comfortable, being willing to be uncomfortable in order to expand what is comfortable.  The guy thought about it for a minute and he said yes and his flouncing around seemed to settle a bit.  Frank said that he could go sit down again.

Frank's speech therapist Miriam came to the performance. At one point Frank asked her to tell everyone about their relationship.  She said that she was a visiting speech therapist who visited with Frank, Linda and Mikee at home after Frank had gotten out of the hospital.  She said that she loved being with them, looking at the art on the walls, never knowing who would stop by when she was there or what would happen.  She told Frank once that he was the reason she got out of bed in the morning, that he was the best most fun patient that she had.  She would come to the house and watch Frank as he swallowed and taught him things so that he could eat like Frank again and not use the feeding tube.  At the end of the performance she said that the performance felt just like coming over to Frank, Linda and Mikee's house. There was art on the walls to look at and you never knew what was going to happen next.

Frank had this guy named Phillip, who is a performance artist, come up and do a short piece.  It was an intense piece in which he played two characters.  The first one was disabled and asks the other character if they like balloon animals. The other character says yes and so the disabled person blows up a balloon animal that doesn't look like an animal and tells the person to put it on their head.  They hesitate and then put the balloon on their head.  Then the disabled person says now put your hips into it. Frank stuck out his hand at this point and starts rubbing at Phillip's butt causing the character with the balloon animal on its head to move the hips more. The disabled person then said, Now who's the freak, bitch?

A woman who shops at BNG where Corey works came to the performance.  She is working on translating an article about Frank that had just recently been in a Russian magazine.  She said she was still going to do the translation. She said that it was a good article, that people with disabilities were blown away by what Frank was doing with his life. She said that many people in Russia who were disabled did not have such opportunities because of the state of the country and for financial reasons.  Frank asked her what she thought of the photos in the magazine article and she said that the photos were what made her want to come to the performance. There were full page spreads of photos from the performances in the magazine. Later it turned out that she needed to leave the performance early because she had to pick someone up.  Frank told her to come back to another one and to not schedule something afterwards so she could stay the whole time.

There was a woman from Ohio who said that she was uncomfortable the whole performance.  Frank asked her why she was uncomfortable and she said she was not used to seeing naked people in public.  Frank asked her how so and she said that she was from Ohio.  Frank said that he was born in Ohio and that there had been people in his cast from Ohio so there were people from Ohio who liked to get naked, but they moved away from Ohio. Frank asked her why she left Ohio and she said that she wanted to go to a different country and California was the closest she could get to that was still in this country. Frank said California, where people get naked.

One of the guys who had danced around Frank naked in the group said that it was about context.  He said that people are comfortable being nude in front of each other in public places like at harbin hot springs, and other times like in a public performance such as this people are not comfortable. He said that bodies are just flesh. We are really spirits.  Frank said that they are connected and that it is fun to play in the body.  Frank had a harbin hot springs story too.  There was a guy there who was putting on a performance festival and he wanted Frank to be a part of it so he showed another guy at Harbin a video of one of Frank's performances which was Frank nude and erotically dancing as Linda read one of his poems.  Then a woman in the audience feeling turned on by it took her clothes off and started dancing too.  So the people at harbin saw that and wanted to censor what Frank could do. Ordinarily Frank would have not gone to do the performance because they were limiting what he could do but this time he decided to play with it and included poems he had written about censorship addressing what harbin was doing.  Afterwards the guy who had invited them said that Frank always challenges him.  He was red faced and Frank was never invited back to Harbin again.

At the end of the performance Unrulee said that he felt alone.  He said that he never felt alone at one of Frank's performances before.  He said that he was happy to get naked but tonight he had not gotten to play, explore with anyone.  He had pictures. Frank said to wait until he left the performance. Another woman said that the night had felt less like fun and more serious. She said that she was like a sponge and had felt other people getting uncomfortable and that once she shook that off she would be able to feel more clearly how the night had been.

Frank asked Kene J to come up and sing three songs.  Some people started putting costumes on and dancing around getting into his music.  Throughout the performance the band played in the back ground made up of Kene J, Mark from Phog Masheen and various others who would get up throughout to play an instrument.  Some people brought their own instruments. We were all blown away.  After all we had been through with Frank in the hospital, there he was, conducting a performance not missing a beat.  Many people came to play and Frank had much to work with.  It was a great night!

At the end of the performance the woman from Ohio said she was blown away by Frank's self confidence, by the way that he created his art with everyone who was here and how he brought people together. Frank asked her if she would read his poem, "I Came to Play."  She went up and sat next to Frank and read it powerfully and beautifully.  At times it seemed like she was going to cry as it touched deep chords within her.  After the performance Frank asked her if she would like to get together and she said yes.  The reading of "I Came to Play," summed up the night and seemed to touch deep chords of the many people who were there.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Me again!  At the performance, we didn’t do the Harbin story justice.  So below is the complete story! 

Friday, July 18, 2003

We have survived another performance! It was a weird one. It was another EARTHPEOPLE COMEDY CLUB show. We were in an ECC show in Berkeley a couple of months ago where I sat nude beckoning to the audience as Linda read my poem BOUNDERIES KILL. After 2 minutes, Kirsten who was sitting in the audience, slowly undressed then joined me in a slow, sensual, soft dance as Linda read my two poems about bodies merging. The whole piece was just 10 minutes. Afterward the producer, Mur, booked us to do the dance in a show at Harbin Hot Springs, a clothing-optional resort/retreat/community 2 hours north of here. We got 24-hour passes to be at the resort as payment. A good deal.

 But on Tuesday we get a call from Mur. He broke a basic rule of doing shows. He showed a video of our piece to a higher-up at Harbin…who vetoed it…can’t have such an “x-rated” dance at “family-friendly” Harbin!
                   
Well …at the Berkeley show Kirsten did rock on my lap for about a minute in the dance between other moves, circling me, lying on the floor, playing with my hands, looking into each other’s eyes. I hope it was sexy. But it wasn’t SEXUAL. It wasn’t meant to be SEXUAL! We did not have time to be SEXUAL! Never fear….THE NEXT 3 PERFORMANCES WILL BE HOT PANTANIC DANCES! 10 minutes just ain’t enough time to get HOT!
                 
Anyway…Mur then broke a second rule of doing this kind of show. He actually told me what I could do [read poems “with heart”] and what I couldn’t do [dance!…with Kirsten!]! Normally I would just say HELL NO and not waste time. But there was some question about whether he was just a dumb guy in way over his head or what! So I decided to read poems that address the censorship… IS THIS APPROPRIATE?, Out of Isolation, and Family Friendly Poetry Reading. Truth be told, we all felt grossed out. But we four drove to Harbin.

Once there, things got much more fishy. Harbin is the ultimate of hippy-new age culture…for good and bad…very white! It was very enjoyable…if fragile…very pc-laden. But the nudity was laid-back. People were heavy petting on the lawn…HEY, HOLD THE PHONE! WHAT HAPPENED TO PG-RATED? I wasn’t on the poster, but a “SEXY CAVE DANCE” was on the poster! We couldn’t get satisfying answers from Mur, who kept trying to get Kirsten alone to “explain the changes.” She kept side-stepping him…getting grossed out being seen by him as “the weak link” of our unit, our tribal body. It was obvious that the problem that MANAGEMENT had wasn’t really the content of the piece, but my body! They didn’t think the people could handle it! Frankly I didn’t feel this from anyone there! Just management’s bigotry [and probably just one asshole!]! Ron Jones, who was the “headliner” of the night, encouraged us to dance anyway, after we told him the story. Over dinner [the food there was exceptional!] we decided that Kirsten would read the first poem as Linda and I dance, that Linda would read the second poem as Kirsten and I dance, and that Mikee would read the third poem as the 2 hot babes and I dance together…all nude of course! We did not tell Mur this! So if the shit came down from the management, he could say he told us not to dance…also so he couldn’t stop us. We ended up going on second after a keyboard player because the SEXY CAVE DANCERS got sick at the last minute. The keyboard player backed us. People loved our dance. Mur was livid after our dance, just saying “That’s enough, Frank. We’ve got to move on!” but the theme of the rest of the show became “inappropriate behavior.” By the time the show was over, Mur was speaking to us! He was saying, “Frank, you always stretch my limits, and I like that!”

At dinner before the show, I looked at the woman at another table. She looked very familiar. It was Tami [now a.k.a. Luna], my co-star in FEISTO! She ended up coming to the show, topless of course. After the show, she and another woman rolled around the floor together sexy contact dance style as people packed up and left. When only us and the keyboard player remained, she asked how the dance we did was different than the banned dance. She has always been mischievous…so she demanded to see the banned dance. So the keyboard player set up again…and Kirsten and I did a 10-minute dance. It wasn’t “sexual.” But it was more direct, focused, “personal” than what we did for the show…for a quite a few reasons.

 The trip was really another 24-hour performance. Usually Linda, Mikee, and I are a tribal body, a unit that functions very smoothly, etc. But Kirsten merged with us, even/especially on the practical/mundane level. We are a very good team! This is very rare. Makes a lot more possible!

After we came to our senses about sleeping on the deck up a very steep hill in the dark, a kind security woman let us bed down in the room of the show. In the morning, after a big good breakfast, we headed up to the pools. There is a warm pool, an extremely hot pool, a cold pool, and a swimming pool. We ran into another of my co-stars…Sabina from FAIRYTALES CAN COME TRUE. She got in the warm pool with us and told us what she has been doing for the past 20 years. Me floating in a raft…what a life! Then, when I was baked real good, I laid in my lounge chair in the shade, watching nude people go by, Linda and Kirsten taking turns giving me cold water, as the other went into the hot and the cold pools with Mikee. WHAT A LIFE!
 

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