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
Saturday, March 27, 2010

Funny.  Saturday’s crowd was the polar opposite of last month’s crowd.  Last month people came willing to risk and go into risks that were uncomfortable in the way expanding is uncomfortable.  They did it because they wanted to get to the deeper freedom and fun which they realized was beyond what is now popularly called COMFORT ZONES.  So they took personal responsibility for doing whatever was needed to get there.  And in doing that, a magical fun was created within a real flexible comfort which was not limited by fragile zones!  I really didn’t have to do much! 

But Saturday most of the people seemed to have come to be entertained with tricks which would somehow lead to them being transformed in someway without them having to do something, having to go through being uncomfortable, risking, pushing, etc.  So they kept saying NO…  I AM NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THAT!  Not all did this.  A few pushed themselves and had fun!  But most didn’t put their chips into the experience.  This is especially true of the people who had come before and had a fun, life-changing experience.  They came back to have another amazing experience.  But they weren’t willing to give, to push on from what they did last time, even to read GESTURES!  So for them, things obviously felt flat.  They would have ignored this flat feeling.  But I stopped the performance to heighten this flat feeling!  To have a transforming experience, you need to put yourself into the pot!  And I know when to play ‘em, when to fold ‘em, when to walk away, and when to run…  Especially when this performance series is clearly becoming a popular thing to go to, I will play some poker! 

We caravanned to the space, double parked and unloaded everything lickety split, then parked the cars and got going on set up!  We hustled, and then you guys arrived, and the hustling continued!  But we were able to get it all set up by 8, as people started to arrive, including the CCAC gal, who had brought another friend this time, a young guy ...  Others came in too, an older man with a cane who sat on a chair behind the mats ... other people hovered and were invited to come sit down on the mats ... as more and more people came in, a number of them grabbed chairs, or sat on the benches behind the instruments ... Frank had to keep getting people to sit on the mats on the floor, to come closer!

 The beginning was Frank talking with the CCAC gal, and asking her to talk about the last performance ... this was interspersed with talking with others as they came in, how/why were they drawn to the performance, what did they do ...?  There were two couples who came on the recommendation of the med students who had come to the January performance ... they were two women who had brought their boyfriends ... and the original med student couple had really talked up the performance.  One was a dancer, who said that they had told her that it was a life changing experience ... the other, a med student herself said that they had kept telling her how unique an experience it was, and she was interested in experiencing things like this, out of the ordinary ... something like that ...   Others had seen fliers on poles, including the older man in the back, who turned out to be the son of one of the residents at the Claremont House, and recognized Erika.  He said he was taking some courses at community college, but he liked to experiment with gibberish singing ...  Frank started singing!  And they did a gibberish vocalizing back and forth for a bit ... 

 There was a guy off to the side who said he was a musician, and had brought his guitar, but when Frank asked him to join Tomek playing music (and soon Kene-J was there too), he was hesitant ... so Frank asked him then if Linda and Erika could undress him instead?  which would he rather do?  He said he would play music, get one of the girls undressed instead ...   Frank said, "How NOT to get a girl to undress!"   But he did get up and play one of the toy instruments .... and later he started playing guitar, and could later be seen dancing with the older guy in the back, who had taken his shirt off ...

Meanwhile, Frank had asked the CCAC gal if she would play with him later?  She said she would ...  Her friend, an art student as well, came up and showed Frank some of his drawings ...  Two women came in, one with a drum ... a psychology professor and psychology student ... they had read about it on some "things-to-do in Oakland" site ... it looked like the best thing going, they said! 

 Frank asked the dancer to dance!  She described the different kinds of dance she did, one being ecstatic dance, which needed a certain kind of music ... so she would just freeform ...  she started doing a little bit of dancing in the back of the room ... Frank asked her if Erika could undress her and put some of the costumes and jewelry on her ... she would only let Erika take her shirt off ... it was the beginning of a night of "no"s ...  Frank asked the psychology professor if she would undress Erika and put Erika's clothes on, and she would, but she put Erika's clothes on over her own!  When Frank pushed the dancer to go further into "uncomfortable", she really wasn't willing ...   Another woman was there on recommendation from a fellow student in Expressive Arts Therapy ... she was going into a final project/performance, and her friend told her that Frank's performance would be inspiring ...  But when Frank asked her to create an erotic piece with him, she had to "think about it", and basically never really did it.  More than one person said they had to "think about it" throughout the evening, which all turned out to be "no"s.  Later, the expressive arts therapy woman came up on her own accord and started dancing with Frank, at a distance ... but when Frank had Linda and Erika undress and start to dance with her, she all but ran away! 
Frank asked the CCAC girl to come up and read gestures while he and the psychology student did the gestures together.  The psych student had said that she didn't think much made her uncomfortable, but she would only let Erika take her shirt and pants off before putting one of the net costumes over her, and then kept trying to cover up her butt because she was wearing a thong!  The gestures appeared to stall, and we heard later that at some point the CCAC girl had just decided to stop reading them. 

Frank had Linda and Erika go around to each person and ask them if they could undress them and put on some of the costumes and jewelry, and almost everyone said no!  It was really only two of the guys who were willing ... the guy who came with the dancer was a bass player and set up sound systems for outdoor concerts.  He had a great vibe, and was into jamming with Frank when he heard that Frank played piano ... he was totally willing to be undressed and got a net pair of pants to wear!  When he showed them off to his dancer friend, Erika heard her say, "those aren't pants!"  Another guy, Erika dressed up like a Roman in a colorful net toga ...  But otherwise, it seemed to be all "no"s!  And it started to break up into social conversations ...  A student of psychedelic experiences, who shops at BNG, and who Corey had told about the performances, came and stayed only a very short time ... at first she asked if she "should just go pick up an instrument," as if there was some format that she was supposed to follow ... Corey said she could if she wanted to!  Then not too long later, she came back around and was obviously leaving, and seemed to want validation that this was ok ... Corey didn't really respond to that.  She said something about having just went to some energy workshop ... and this was supposed to explain why she was now leaving!

At some point, Frank called Kene-J to come up and do a few songs, which were great!  And then they presented him with his cupcakes and the "Reality Playings/I Survived the Uncomfortable Zones of Fun" shirt.  This was really fun!  He really liked getting the presents, it felt like it meant a lot to him. 

The performance ended early ... it felt like Frank really couldn't do anything ... no one was willing ... some people did little things on their own, but avoided Frank when he tried to engage them directly ... and afterward, Frank talked with the bass played guy about jamming, and he said he would come back ... Frank and Linda explained that they are usually much better ... that people are more willing, and they go deeper. 
There was a feeling as the performance "ended", that it was clear that it was over because no one was willing to do what they supposedly came for ... to go into uncomfortable zones, to go beyond limits, into fun ...  it felt like that recognition was somehow in the air ...

There was another woman who came, she worked at Safeway in their offices ... she was willing to help undress Frank, but then she wasn't willing later to be dressed up ...  She was one of the people who Frank asked what they thought about the performance ... she said that she enjoyed it ... she said that it was liberating to her because she considered herself a very shy person, but saw that night that a lot of people who seemed to be more outgoing and confident, really had limits to what they would do.  Frank and Linda said that it was usually those people who seemed the most "artsy" or "outgoing" who really had the most limits ... that it was the people who might appear "straight", that were the ones who took the most risks ...

Afterward, we talked a lot about it as we broke down the set ... Tomek had really liked it, and had a take on why things turned out the way they did ...  but in the end, after talking a lot about it there, and on the ride home, Linda said back at the PH that it really was a success, that it really was on par with the last performance, but it was the flipside.  Frank said that in the last performance, everyone who came took responsibility for why they were there.  This time, it was not that people didn't know why they were there, they understood full well what it was about, and why they were coming ... but they were not willing to take personal responsibility for that, for why they were there ... they wanted to sit back and somehow get an experience without actually putting themselves out.  But it was a success because in the end it felt very tangible that this came back into everyone's faces.  We did not make it "ok" that people had said "no", had set up all these limits, and in the end, they were faced with the fact that it was themselves who had created what happened by not taking responsibility for being there.  They knew that we were just like them, there was no difference, and we were willing to go anywhere ... but they had said no.  They couldn't really see it any other way.  And so it was left with this feeling ... and this had to be uncomfortable!  A major success!

We got everything set up for the performance and people started arriving.  A lot of people.  Many people came in and sat on the sides or in the back even though we had put away all the chairs.  Frank told everyone to move up closer.  Frank went around and started talking to people.  There were people who had come to other performances recently who were back again.  A woman who went to CCAC art school came back and brought a friend with her and then a couple of nursing students who had been before were back again this time bringing friends with them.  Frank asked the woman from CCAC to talk about what had happened last time.  She talked about how it had been the most amazing night of her life.  She said that a group of people from the performance had all spent time with each other afterwards. Frank said to talk about what happened during the performance and she said that we had paired off and done gestures like exploring each other knees and some things that were much more intimate.  Frank said that we were "nude" when we had done gestures.  Frank said that he was trying to get her to scare people. 

Other people said that they came because their friends had been talking for weeks about how life changing an experience they had had when they came to one of the performances.  The nursing student said that after coming to the performance things had really opened up and she started doing art just to do art and it was really great.  There were a couple of women who had come to the performance because they saw a posting on a "what to do tomorrow" listing online and it sounded like by far like the best thing to come to.  They said that they did not feel uncomfortable yet and that it would take more for them to feel uncomfortable.  There was a guy who brought his guitar but was hesitant to get up and play with the band who had by now already started jamming with Tomek, Kene-J and the nursing student.  Frank said or he could take off his clothes instead of jamming with the band, so he chose to jam with the band. 

There was an older guy who's mother lived at the Claremont House.  He came in with a cane so sat in the back on a chair.  He said that one of the things that he enjoyed doing was making sounds and talking in gibberish so he and Frank made sounds together and later he joined the band and danced, striped some of his clothes off and played musical instruments.  A woman who worked at Safeway came up and undressed Frank with Linda.  Frank asked one of the women if she would undress Erika and put Erika's clothes on herself.  She undressed Erika and then put Erika's clothes over her own so Frank asked if she would just wear Erika's clothes which she did and later she took some of them off and was dancing around without her shirt on and trying on other costumes.
There was a woman who was studying yoga and dance and she got up and did some dancing and then Erika dressed her in a costume with jewelry.  She only wanted to take off her tank top so the costume went on over that.  Linda and Erika dressed up a woman who was a psychology student in a purple dress that was shear and had an open butt.  Linda and Erika gave her pearls and a matching purple boa to wear.  She let Erika and Linda take off her pants and dress but not her bra and thong underwear.  She kept trying to cover up her butt with what little dress she had on as she did gestures with Frank.  It didn't last too long as the woman who was reading the gestures just stopped at one point saying "she knew she wasn't support to stop but she was going to anyway."  She was the woman from CCAC who had been there a few times before and who at the beginning of the performance said she would play with Frank.  From then on there came a lot of NO's!  Linda and Erika went around asking people if they would like to be undressed and dressed in costumes and jewelry and almost everyone said no or they would think about it, maybe later.  There were a couple of guys who wanted to though.  One guy who was a sound guy for festivals and bands was really enjoyed being undressed by Linda and Erika.  They put him in some blue mess pants that he really liked and then put some beads on him.  There was an older man who Erika dressed in a mesh toga with beads around his neck and jingly bracelets on his wrists. 

Another woman was an expressive arts therapist who was working on a final performance piece at school.  When Erika and Linda asked if she would like to be undressed and dressed in a costume she too said that she wanted to keep her clothes on but we could put jewelry on her.  Frank asked her if she would direct an erotic piece with the two of them and she said she would think about it.  He asked her how long she would need to think about it.  She later came up and started dancing with Frank.  Then when nude Linda and Erika joined them in dancing she moved over and practically ran away. So, then Frank, Linda and Erika danced and when Linda invited anyone who wanted to to come up and dance with us nobody came.

The band was jamming away.  A lot of people had joined Kene-J and Tomek.  Frank asked Kene-J to come up and he did a couple of songs. It was his birthday.  He sat next to Frank and then we gave him his birthday presents.  Two homemade black bottom cupcakes and a "Uncomfortable Zones of Fun," T Shirt.  Kene-J really liked getting his presents and said he would have the cupcakes for a late night snack. After Kene-J got his presents Frank said that was the end of the performance.  A few people talked at the end of the performance.  The woman who worked at Safeway said that it had been quite an experience for her to see people who seemed outgoing have limits about what they were willing to do.  Linda and Frank said that in their experience it was often the people who seemed like they were open to doing anything were actually the people who when it came down to it were not.  It was the people who looked really "straight" who would just take off their clothes and have fun.  They did not seem to have pictures of themselves that they were holding onto.  The two psychology women said that they thought the performance was great but that it ended too soon.  Frank and Linda said that Frank ended it because he could not get anything going with anyone.  Everyone was saying no.  The performance last time everyone said yes and were willing and it opened up possibilities.  In talking about it afterwards Frank and Linda said that the difference was that last time people took responsibility for being in uncomfortable fun and taking risks and this time they did not.  It felt like most people who were there got that, got that they did not take risks, did not jump in and therefore what they came for or thought they had come for did not happen.  Many people came because they wanted a life changing experience but they were not willing to take the risks to have that and they knew it. Therefore they did not get off the hook and there was success in that!

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