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Frank Moore: "Being so visible that it creates invisibility"
Interview with the man behind decades of brilliant art.
Frank Moore is Art, plain and simple. From his passionate musical performances to his highly erotic live performance pieces, to his oil paintings and digital artwork and the volumes of movies he's written, directed, and acted in, books he's published, lectures he's given, television and radio shows he's hosted...his profound insight, purity and wit set a high bar for artists of any kind.
Moore's creative forces are so powerful, his body is spastic like he has cerebral palsy. As everyone knows that women can't resist spastic men in wheelchairs, Moore can often be found surrounded by beautiful naked women, usually with one straddling him in his chair.
But then you look closer, and see the humanity in this connection, this deep form of communication way beyond mere words and vocal patterns. At 65, he continues to perform live near his home in Berkeley, CA, with his partners Linda Mac and Michael LaBash.
He calls himself a dangerous Player and a shaman; he writes like a modern-day Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, but with a sense of humor and more charisma. His impact can be seen across the globe...yet he still comes off as a funny, humble guy, happy to be alive, still excited about creating art after all these years.
In his new book (10 years in the making) - Art of a Shaman - he explores performance and art in terms of how they can be a magical way to effect change in the world.
Talking with him, it's easy to forget that he holds two master's degrees, one in psychology, and the other in performance/video. He masks his brilliance by slowing down to our level, even if for only the time it takes him to know you've caught up.
Before I go into this interview, I should add that Moore recently watched my first film, B0b Freville's Of Bitches & Hounds. I play a man sold as a pet to a woman played by my girlfriend. Yes, this means I crawled around on all fours in my boxer briefs for 50 minutes as The Pooch. So now you know what Moore is referencing when he tells me to "fetch."
Check out some of his work in the gallery to the upper right. Ladies and gentlemen, Frank Moore:
What would you have done if you weren't blessed with cerebral palsy?
Frank Moore: That is an interesting question. I always say I could be a lawyer or an ad man. Probably not, considering the kind of nonconformist guy I am. I probably would have been drafted for the Vietnam War, but I wouldn't have gone. So I would have either gone to Canada or gone underground. I would probably have been a revolutionary. Hey, I am a revolutionary! I would probably have been an underground journalist.
That's where I started in 1965, when I was nineteen. Before that, I didn't have any direct way of communicating with the general world. So I read, watched, listened, and waited. But when I was nineteen, THEY finally tried my idea for the head pointer for typing. Actually THEY first tried a paint brush. So I was an artist before I was a writer. THEY wanted me to type the NORMAL way with my fingers. That didn't work! But with my head pointer I was typing within five minutes, writing radical political opinions! That spring our special ed. class moved from a grade school to the regular high school campus in the first experiment in mainstreaming disabled.
Well, I got a political column in the school paper. I got into a debate in my column with a GI in Vietnam about the war. I, with a couple of radical students, put out an underground paper. So I was sat down by my teacher and told that by my expressing my radical political opinions, I was ruining the opportunity of the crips who would come after me. I, because of my high grades, was THEIR poster boy. But my radical political opinions didn't match that image. I replied I thought the goal was to get equal rights for the disabled (and for everybody) to be fully human and that included the right to express political opinions. SO…
In college I also had a political column in the school paper. The deal in the journalism department was the student with the highest GPA would be the editor of the paper the next year. When I was that student, they changed the deal! So I switched my major to creative writing. But I continued to write for the local underground paper. And that continued when I moved to Santa Fe in 1970. My column there was Unicorn Speaks (I was known as Unicorn because of my head pointer).
In reality I probably would have done pretty much the same things I ended up being and doing. I pick up things easy and know how to adapt to do things. And I am flexible. So I am a jack of all trades! Let me see…I am or have been a dancer, writer, poet, performance artist, painter, composer, promoter, director, actor, activist, producer, father, film/video editor, singer, piano player, television talk show host, publisher, critic, philosopher, dj, manager (of bands, singers, a night club [The Blind Lemon], etc., presidential candidate, shaman, relationship counselor, business counselor, clothes designer, interior decorator, journalist, teacher, lecturer, hole digger, distributor of music and publications, founder and general manager of LUVER, minister, among other things! So if having cerebral palsy slowed me down…the world should thank its lucky stars!
Actually, I do have my problems. As one "art expert" once wrote, I "seem to have a compulsion not to take 'no' for an answer under any circumstances." I do have this disability of not knowing what is "impossible." So, I just figure out how to do it.
When I was born, the doctors told my parents I had no IQ. Obviously the doctors were wrong. So I don't pay any attention to the supposed limitations; I just do what is needed.
When I was growing up, I struggled to get educated, struggled against discrimination and prejudices. I really enjoy the righteous struggle. This enjoyment of struggle gives me an advantage when struggle is needed. When Senator Jesse Helms tried to blacklist me, when the Berkeley City Council tried to ban my public access cable show…there have been so many struggles! My enjoying righteous struggle has been a winning element. I also enjoy when struggle is successful!
And being spastic has shaped my piano playing, blues singing, etc., giving me techniques of freedom!
How has cerebral palsy hindered your art?
FM: Mmmmmm, I can not think of any way that it has hindered the art. But how do you actually know I have cerebral palsy? I had to prove I had cerebral palsy (brain damage which happens at birth) before I was twenty-one to get Medicare. They require medical or school documentation. But nobody keeps records anymore! So how do you actually know I have cerebral palsy?!
It is aging that is challenging! Like, I have grown up in this great body of mine. It is normal to me. But aging! When I used to dance, I reared up in my wheelchair so that it tipped back on the back wheels, almost tipping over, and then jamming back down. Arthritis in my knees (caused by too many nude women sitting on my lap!) put an end to such moves. But it didn't put an end to either dancing or nude women (or nude men) sitting on my lap!
You just have to adapt! Adapting is the name of the game of life. In performances I used to be on a mat on the floor in a tent/cave and blindfolded people would explore my nude body with their bodies. This became more and more painful for me over the years. But art and pain, they go together, don't they?
But Linda and Mikee are getting older too! It was getting harder and harder to get me on and off the mat. So that bit is gone!
The actual having cerebral palsy doesn't hinder. But the societal attitudes are what cripple. I never have done crip art. I'm an artist who just happens to be a crip, and I use it as one of my tools to get to deeper targets. But it pisses off a lot of people (including the disabled community) that I don't do crip art. Gays should do gay art; women, woman art; blacks, black art. BULLSHIT! I knew I had made it when, two years into The Outrageous Beauty Revue, the papers stopped referring to me as THE DISABLED ARTIST and started calling me THAT STRANGE WEIRD ARTIST! And nowadays the papers just call me THAT SHAMAN ARTIST!
How has cerebral palsy enhanced your art?
FM: Yes, I always have been lucky. I have a body that is ideal for a performance artist, and I have always wanted to be a performer. When I was a kid, my younger brother used to get mad when people looked at me when he pushed me to the movies or to the teen club. He cried. But I liked people looking at me.
That is what I mean by "I am lucky." I am lucky I am an exhibitionist in this body. One time, I was working out on the jungle gym outside of our house---a kid came by and asked if I was a monster. I just roared like a monster. It was fun.
But on another level, the cultural expectation had won by shaping reality, making me into a physically ugly cripple, a burden that no woman would want. No matter what I accomplished, no matter how smart or warm or giving I was, I would still be an ugly black hole always taking more than I gave. I was stuck in that piece of the cultural frame that I had accepted.
The cultural expectation had won. I and everyone had lost because I bought into it.
But there was a point when I was around 28 when one day I decided that I did not want to be in a reality where I was ugly, where I could not give all I needed to give. It simply was not how things should be, not just for me, but for everyone. So I decided to act and think as if I were beautiful. I did not tell anyone of my decision. But within two weeks people started telling me that I had physically changed. I used this feedback, this sign, to deepen the reality shaping. This new reality opened up new possibilities for everyone.
I was lucky. I was never under pressure to be good at anything, to make money, to make it in "the real world," to be polished – and the other distractions that other modern artists have to, or think they have to, deal with. So I could focus on having fun, on going into taboo areas where magical change can be evoked.
My art is rooted in breaking out of isolation. Until I was 17, I did not have any way to communicate except through my family members. For a couple of my teenage years, I was very hard of hearing. My hearing cleared up. I invented my head pointer when I was 17. My communication isolation was then dispelled. But it took me another ten years to shake off the isolation caused by my attitudes and self-image. This early isolation allowed me to observe life and people as an outsider. I always wanted to break physical, emotional, and spiritual isolation - first for myself, but then for other people.
My personal roots are in the idealism of the 60's. That was when I broke out of personal physical isolation. I looked for a way to bring about the ideals for me and for society as a whole. The normal channels obviously would not work for me.
So all I had were my fantasies. I read novels like The Magus and Steppenwolf. I started wanting to create other alternative/altered realities just like the magicians in those novels. I read the Beat writers and the French Surrealists, Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl and Abbie Hoffman, listened to Dylan, and watched the hippie movement grow. I wished I could be a hip artist living in San Francisco instead of being stuck outside San Bernardino reading, listening, watching, waiting. All of this brewed inside of me.
But I didn't think I could get people to let me direct them in the rituals in my head. It was not until 1970 that I started trying to live out my inner visions. I tried to get the ok at Cal State, San Bernardino, to produce my all-nude play on campus. To my surprise, the college said yes. But I couldn't get actors.
I was offended by such things as body doubles for nude scenes in movies and actors in live plays wearing flesh-colored tights in lusty scenes. My play was a statement against this perverse attitude. I wasn't really into sex itself in my art. I just wanted to see nude bodies on stage - not sneak them in to a love scene - and see them do things like paint their bodies with baby food. I learned it can be hard to get people for weird things.
Also in college, I started doing political pranks, like rolling into the Marines' recruiting office to join, wanting to push "the button."
During the time of the Kent State killings, I saw my life was heading back into isolation if I did not make some radical changes. I dropped out of college and hitched to hippieland in Santa Fe.
Thanks to the gentle guidance of Louise Scott, I started to see my body as a tool. I could get away with things that others couldn't. I can stare at people, laugh at them, and touch their asses on the street...because they don't think I understand. I can park myself next to them and observe them close‑up without them realizing or changing. That is being so visible that it creates invisibility.
But there are other advantages to my body. People project onto me certain mystical powers - like the ability to see through their fronts to their real selves - to see the past and the future - and what they should do. They are reacting to some symbol of the deformed medicine man. They use me as a medium for getting through to other dimensions. Because of the slowness of my communication board, they were forced to slow down. They could project whatever they wanted, misread me when it fit them. I was a symbol. I used all of this in my art.
My body gives me a tool that other artists spend years to create. Most artists are not as lucky as me. They do not have the built-in advantages and shields that I have. They need to resist the real world, the normal world, more than I do. They need to be sneakier to avoid being seduced by the business and politics of art. Moreover, I don't need to do much to reach the state of transgressive art like other artists have to do. I don't try to do transgressive art. By just getting on "stage," it calls into question everything because somebody like me SHOULDN'T be on stage. THEN I start to do my thing!
I just included films of Otto Muehl and his German commune in the seventies on my Berkeley community public access show. They had to do extremely violent and explicit sexual tactics to reach where I start at!
What is the longest performance piece you've done?
FM: I am assuming you mean in one time/space. I'm assuming you don't mean something like my presidential campaign which lasted for two years and which I consider my most effective performance.
I have done a number of performance rituals that have lasted forty-eight hours. But that was in my younger days. Nowadays they are normally from three to five hours. I like to play with time.
Once I was booked in Toronto to do a seventy-two hour duration piece in the '90s. It was booked over a year in advance. During that year I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. Then I took months to recover. So the Toronto performance was looming. I have a thing about not canceling. So I called it Dying Is Sexy just in case!
I shortened it to forty-eight hours. I had the promoter have a hospital bed and an old fashion bathtub on wheels in the space. I did a lot of the piece from the hospital bed (when I wasn't doing things like having my nude body being twisted into strange positions by two nude male dancers). And everyone took baths in the tub!
There are tons of photos, videos, and write-ups of my performances at http://www.eroplay.com/Cave/shaman.html#PerformAnchor.
Where is the line drawn between performance art, and somebody just trying to get attention?
FM: Mmmmmm, and why do we need to draw lines? And why the "just"? And what is wrong with getting attention? Getting attention to/for what? All I can say is you made a great hound! FETCH!
What is "The Uncomfortable Zones Of Fun?" It sounds like it freaks people out - does it? Why?
FM: Well, it is the title of my monthly performance series I have been doing at The Temescal Arts Center in Oakland for over two years now. The original title was Reality Playings: Experiments In Experience/Participation Performance. But after I got tired of people yapping about participation didn't fit their zones of comfort, I changed the title!
Art should take you outside of your "zone of comfort" (which really is a prison of fragile control and isolation, not real comfort). They came even though (and often because) right on the flier it said:
The Underground Hit! REALITY PLAYINGS: experiments in experience/participation performance
Frank Moore, world-known shaman performance artist, will conduct improvised passions of musicians, actors, dancers, and audience members in a laboratory setting to create altered realities of fusion beyond taboos. Bring your passions and musical instruments and your senses of adventure and humor. Other than that, ADMISSION IS FREE! (But donations will be accepted.)
But a lot of people got their dirty underwear in bunches because it actually was what was advertised! And they were righteous about their comfort zones rather than just leaving if this was not their thing. So I changed the title so I could directly confront the concept of comfort zones.
By the way, folks can always go to http://www.eroplay.com/events.html to see when/where I am performing next.
It varies how many people freak out and why. I don't try (except in rare occasions) to freak out or shock or offend. But I do what the art calls for, and I'm willing to deal with any reaction. That is my job as an artist.
Another part is to protect the art from censorious limitations. Most people who come to the performances don't freak out, but feel a deeper freedom and more connection with others and juicy fun in the tribal community which is called forth during the performance. At least that's what they say at the end of the piece.
This isn't to say people don't walk out. They do, sometimes en masse. And some of them are freaked out. But others just absorb their fill and leave. I learned that when they have come back, sometimes years later, and tell me how the performance was a turning point in their lives, art, music, whatever. Who am I to judge the audience or the art? My job is to do the art!
The nudity and eroticism are the standard hat rack to hang the challenge to the audience on. But I think it is the intimacy and the total improvisatory nature of the performances that is scary to a lot of people. I totally improvise the performance around who comes to the performance. So I never know what will happen. I like finding out!
How do you get girls to get naked with you when you're all spastic, or is that all part of the performance?
FM: Guys always ask that. And while being spastic is sexy, that isn't it. Even before I got on the track, beautiful women got into my bed to sleep with me starting during my hippie days in Santa Fe. We cuddled, played and actually slept together. But I didn't take it to the next step because I couldn't believe that they would want a full sexual relationship with an ugly duckling like I thought I was. I was that dumb! So I was careful to keep it like a brother/sister kind of thing, basically not taking responsibility for my end of the relationship because I didn't want to be a burden. That changed when I decided to act like I was beautiful!
Basically, I get the girls because I love and enjoy life and people. That attracts people and opportunities to you. I am outgoing. I want to be with people (girls are people) in a deep and intimate way, playful.
For years I was on the Berkeley community public access cable channel every night for up to six hours a night. So guys in Berkeley saw me with all of these women. When I went out guys gave me the thumbs up sign (they still do)! But when they asked me that question, they didn't like my answers.
So I put the question to my friend/presidential running mate, Doctor Susan Block, the nationally known sex expert, television personality and a hot babe. Here are her answers:
Here are 12 of the many-splendored reasons why Frank Moore gets so many "hot babes":
1) He's a musician. Musicians always get laid.
2) He has deep, warm, soulful, intoxicating eyes that always look right at you when you're talking to him, and seem to understand whatever you're babbling about. Eyes like these are incredibly seductive. Some women feel that he "undresses them with his eyes" (literally and metaphorically)...so why bother to keep their clothes on?
3) He has a way with words. Frank is a poet, a seducer, a charmer with words on paper, as well as words "translated" through Linda. He is a deep thinker, but his concise, eloquent phrasing makes it easy for everyone to understand. His depth and eloquence surprise some people, because when they first see him, they assume he's a dribbling idiot. Surprises like that are very seductive, because they cause you to let your guard down. Moreover, he is not stingy with praise. Hot babes love this. So do hot dudes.
4) He smells good.
5) He has a regular, very cool girlfriend who has been with him a long time. Women are always attracted to men who already have women.
6) He's a good dancer. Women love to dance, and too many men won't dance, for one reason or another. Also, his wheelchair is fun to ride and straddle.
7) He's a theatrical impresario. He'll make you a star! Everybody wants to be a star.
8) He's not in perfect shape, so women feel that they don't have to be either. They think: "if he can take his clothes off and parade around in public, why can't i?"
9) He is extremely confident, despite what some call "handicaps." Everybody is attracted to confidence.
10) He has a big beautiful smile. Smiling is contagious.
11) He is very childlike. People of all sexes are attracted to that, because it makes them feel young and playful. It can also make them feel motherly, like "taking care of" him.
12) He is very funny. He makes you laugh. Laughter is a mental orgasm.
Okay, there you go! It's all true, and then some. Now, Linda, you better soak Frank's head in ice water before it swells up like a big balloon!!
Dr. Susan Block
Also, women like my modesty. Just kidding!
Are men or women more likely to drop their pants for your performances?
FM: It varies according to what is happening within the society as a whole. Sometimes women are the hardest; other times men. In the '70s it was the easiest for both groups. In the late '80s it was the hardest to get anyone to do anything!
But it has always been amazing how easy it really is to get people to leave the normal inhibitions and to play. You just have to create an alternative artistic context for them to play in and don't have expectations.
In the mid-'80s I went out onto the streets and asked people to be in a video I was making that contained nudity and erotic play. Linda did not think many people would give me their phone numbers. But I kept coming home with bags of phone numbers of all kinds of people!
We ended up videoing people for two years in two-hour shoots of an individual or a pair. The person usually came in saying "no nudity." But within five minutes they would have their clothes off, playing with sexy costumes, taking showers, posing like centerfolds, dancing, singing, playing with me erotically, crying uncontrollably for joy, talking intimate and open. Linda and I were blown out. The straighter the person looked (we got a lot of secretaries) the freer they turned out to be. A lot of times two heterosexual female friends (roommates, co-workers, etc) came together to be filmed. These never had a problem playing together naked. I couldn't get male pairs of friends.
But the hardest, the most inhibited turned out to be artists and punks!
I edited the footage into two feature-length videos. Erotic Play turned out to be a documentary about the process of the shooting of the two years. The Nude Cave is an abstract erotic visual journey with a musical soundtrack I created by playing with my head pointer on a couple of Casio keyboards while watching the video.
I did the music in several layers. I couldn't hear the previous layers because I was editing it, again with my head pointer, on two vcr decks with two remotes taped on a table before me.
You can watch those videos and a lot more videos of mine at http://www.eroplay.com/intimatetheater/intimate.html. Those two videos were among the ones we made and put in our closet, waiting for the Internet and for Berkeley to get a public access cable channel to have somewhere to show them on! When technology caught up with me, I was ready!
Three of my more "mainstream" films can be watched at http://www.eroplay.com/feisto/index.html.
In a lot of your videos, the women don't seem to trim their pubic hair. Is this just a coincidence, or do you specifically pick hairy women so you're not fully exposing their genitals? Or, do Berkeley women just let it grow wild?
FM: Mmmmmm, should I assume your girlfriend trims her pubes? Why? Is that why there is no nudity in your Of Bitches & Hounds?
Ok, seriously (is that the right word for this subject?)…from what I have observed, most women by an overwhelming margin (except in Los Angeles and in the porn world) don't shave or trim to the degree you are talking about. But I am willing to be proven wrong in this. Women, send close-ups of your crotches to this magazine!
Don't get me wrong. I like pussies of all kinds. So I don't ask actresses about their pussies (do you?). I ask if they are willing to be and do what the role requires with abandon.
I don't believe in fig leaves. I don't use in my films camera framing to hide the action from the viewer. And I always have thought using a body double for scenes that the star actor refused to do for "moral" reasons, getting somebody else to do the "immoral" scenes, was unethical. Either cast someone who is prepared to do the role or do a PG-rated film.
Once I was acting in someone else's film. The director cast a bimbo who couldn't act and wouldn't do nude scenes (although she did walk the streets in a little bikini blindfolded licking an ice cream cone, go figure). She would barely touch me, her co-star (it was a love story).
One day she just didn't show up for the shoot and disappeared. And the director had to go back to Los Angeles. So I ended up directing the rest of the film as well as editing it. One of the things I did was to get a great actress for a body double. She looked and felt nothing like the bimbo. I wanted it to be clear it was a different person. Then we cranked up the heat! In the credits I gave the body double top billing. I have my ways!
What are the key ingredients to a great piece of performance art?
FM: To answer this, here is what I wrote about our performance in January:
"Well, the first performance of the year was the kind that would spoil me if I expected every performance or most performances to reach the depths of this one! Everything went there!
In my performances there is an invisible hidden secret state of erotic friction of arousing human intimacy, rubbing between bodies without limits or glamor. Because it is invisible, you cannot see it, only feel it. For example, we didn't enter that state at the performance at the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco last summer, even though that was very erotic, visual, communal, tribal, etc. In fact, we last entered that state last February at Temescal.
The first couple to arrive actually set the tone, anchored/rooted the performance. The guy, Bobby, did that just by being there. Vicki turned out to be an actor. Her reading/acting out my poems throughout opened the door into the holy madness. Everything worked! It was possible to do a lot of the rituals (Gestures, Rocking, Dressing, Projecting Slides On Nude Dancers, etc.) that have either set upon the shelf or haven't reached the depths of arousing unknowns for awhile.
And new rituals were introduced (Undress The Cameraman, The Siamese Waist Bands, Taking/Reading Notes, etc.). There was just the right amount of resistance so that important issues could be explored, and to reveal that zones of comfort are silly and really prisons. I am imagining the shit about being a homophobe a straight guy would get if he gave the reasons for not wanting to undress the cameraman that the Lesbian gave!
But Amy and her friend stepped up, and by being actively lustfully abandoned, willing to play and trust, broke everything open for everybody. And they did it as just fun, no big deal.
I liked exploring his butt! Everything started floating into that juicy secret space as Amy started rocking on my lap, prickly freedom going all the way into both fusion and infusion of arousing magical pleasure, erotic friction of comfort.
Tomek's surreal music created waves connecting the holy dancers together as they (us) webbed and flowed into different combinations and forms and roles without limits or judgments. Amy and her friend (he obviously hadn't done anything like this before!) made it possible by simply trusting…trusting so deeply, they could reshape the dance without avoiding anything.
A whole band appeared at this point to join Tomek (they would disappear when the dance was over!)! Things got hot and surreal, while staying simple and human. Intimacy, closeness among everybody who stayed, welded us into a cozy tribal body. Our skin - the organ of connection - webbed all of us together as the rubbing went all the way deeper into calm pleasure, as Vicki threw herself on the floor and rocked and belted out the words of the poem.
I wish I could take credit for creating such a dramatic, erotic turn-on of an event. But I just followed the possibilities that the willingness people brought to the space created."
You were harassed by Jesse Helms in the '90s for obscenity. Do you still get strife for your content, or have people grown accustomed to your madness? Do you find people are less shocked by your performances & artwork than they were twenty years ago?
FM: No, I haven't lost my edge yet! As an artist when Senator Helms targeted me, it gave me a platform on which I could do battle with the powers that be! I loved it! And it lasted for years! Really I had nothing to lose! The established spaces wouldn't book me before, booked me BECAUSE Helms was after me.
I am the kind of artist that people (in many subcultures) wait for to die before they fully embrace my art. They teach about my work in their classes. But they get extremely nervous when they work up the nerve to have me talk to their classes. Operators of performance spaces who will not book me in their galleries (because they are "personally afraid of the work" I do) often, when they are on committees for festivals and for galleries other than their own, vote for me because my work "is important and should be seen." I am flattered that they think I am so dangerous!
Do you have a favorite medium?
FM: I never met a medium I did not like! But I like live, intimate improvised performance the best.
What was the spark behind Love Underground Visionary Revolution?
FM: Even before personal computers, in the mid-'70s I wormed my way into having time on the big university mainframe. When personal computers came out, I started hanging out on the BBS of Ralph's Record Store (a front for the band The Residents).
Then I got on the big pay BBS, GENIE, run by General Electric. On there, I quickly became a controversial figure, pushing the limits, breaking the rules in such a way that made it very hard for them to censor me. They even had me as a guest on their live chat room. A real love/hate relationship. Like, it upset them that I talked about Annie Sprinkle on the NEW AGE room. They deleted my posts about Annie. So of course the topic became why Annie was NEW AGE!
GENIE folded when the web became accessible. Two GENIE friends and I converted our relationship to e-mail. When I made friends online, I added them to the e-mail relationship. This grew into The E-Salon, a community of a couple hundred creative people.
In 1996, we started THE WEB OF ALL POSSIBILITIES, http://www.eroplay.com. I'm the big idea guy. Mike LaBash (who has been with me for over 20 years) actualizes my big ideas…usually by pushing into something new. Linda (who has been keeping me on track for over 35 years) makes everything run!
At first we just put up writings, art, and photos…of course LaBash's and my work, but we started adding the work of other artists of all kinds. We kept adding to it. We added the Chero Cam. That brought the live performance element into it, giving the world access to our everyday life. Other people such as Susan Block started putting my writings and art on their sites.
In 1997 we added streaming audio to the site, and later that year our first streaming video. But we didn't have the bandwidth to archive much audio or video. But in 1998, Joey Manley who was the director of the Free Speech T.V. website gave me free and unlimited space on their site to create an audio/video archive of my work. "Unlimited Visions" gave people access to my videos which had sat in the closet for years waiting for a pipeline!
1998 was really when the streaming media became a major channel of my work. I was a guest on Susan Block's live internet/cable TV show and on "World Of Woz" on Fakeradio.Com. Fakeradio asked me to do a 2-hour Internet radio show, "The Shaman's Den."
In 1999, Fakeradio and I had some of those "creative differences." So we set up our own web station, using Fakeradio as a technical model. We did this extremely quickly. One week I was doing the show on Fake; the next week - on Valentines Day - we were on LOVE UNDERGROUND VISION RADIO, http://www.luver.com.
LUVeR's first show was a live experimental music program from Japan. My guest on that night's "Shaman's Den" was Annie Sprinkle. LUVeR quickly became a 24/7 way of life, attracting creative people around the world, either doing live shows or sending their art to us to play. Within a year, we added video. We started covering news events as well as art, music, and cultural events.
This January we added a second channel, Frank's Deep Roots Music (basically my personal favorites, goddammit!)
My main drive - or one of them - is to create communities and pipelines for art. So we have the works of many artists in the archives. It is a trip realizing that a piece that had a live audience of ten people is being watched by thousands now on the Web!
I use my Internet shows on my cable show, Frank Moore's Unlimited Possibilities...along with my videos, videos of my live performances, other artists' works, etc. The cable show is 2 & 1/2 hours long. So I can get a lot of material out there! Each show plays 4 times a week!
Freedom is what you demand and fight for, not what THEY "give" you. This fight is a part of being an artist (and a human!). So I enjoy the fight! And so far I'm batting 1.000 with the censoring forces. So the word "problematic" doesn't fit! Life is struggle! Art is struggling lustfully!
It is much harder for them to get censoring control over the website because it's OUR site. This doesn't mean they will not/can not. They will try. They can go after our I.S.P. or take our computers away. But we enjoy the fight…so they don't have a chance! This is also true in the cable fight. We won. But we had to work around "reasonable" people who avoid struggle…who give up freedom to be comfortable.
So people, bands, artists, film/video makers, and other freaks should send me their creations! My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And my snail mail address is:
P.O. Box 11445
Berkeley, CA 94712
Do you still fuck with military recruiters when you're bored?
FM: Me, bored!? I don't have time to be bored! I am so busy enjoying my rich life! But a part of my rich life that gives me a special pleasure is fucking with the powers that be! They don't understand how much I enjoy it!
That Marine forty years ago actually believed I wanted to join. I was acting like I couldn't get in my head why he wouldn't sign me up when I was pushed into the campus recruitment office. Then, spelling out with my head pointer, I said, "Well, I can push THE BUTTON!" Only then the poor guy realized he had been had!
Is Art of a Shaman still available in print?
FM: Funny you should ask that! Here is a scoop for you! After ten years of work, we have just put out a paperback, full color illustrated with photos version of it as well as a downloadable version. Both are available from Lulu.com.
Art of a Shaman was originally a lecture I presented at N.Y.U. for a week-long conference about performance as subversion in 1990. So to subvert the conference, I had nude Michael sing all of it, while Linda blindfolded people and led them into the tent to explore my nude body.
In the book, I explore performance and art in general terms of them being a magical way to effect change in the world. I look at performance as an art of melting action, ritualistic shamanistic doings/playings. By using my career and life as a "baseline," I try to explore the dynamic playing within the context of reality shaping. I bring in concepts from modern physics, mythology and psychology.
Do you still host "shaman workshops?" If so, what do those entail? How can someone join one?
FM: It has been years since I have led a group workshop. Mind you, if a group of whatever kind came to me wanting me to lead them into a cozy tribal channel of direct experiencing of reality and life (which is the definition of shamanism), I am available and flexible!
But nowadays people usually work with me individually. If they live in the San Francisco Bay area, they usually come to my studio once a week for "The 10-Session Personal Intensive." If someone comes from out of the area (they have come from as far away as Toronto, Ontario!), they usually stay at The Blue House and have a session with me everyday for two weeks.
I guide the person through "The Introduction To Cherotic Magic," a 10-session journey of readings, intense conversations, and intense bodyplay rituals. Within the magical reality that is called forth I can bring out the magical keys hidden in the dense poetic mass, keys directly cast for that person's life, thereby greatly expanding the magical effect. The doing of private performance rituals with me prior to the intensive greatly increases the intensity and the magical possibilities of this training. Each session is 2-4 hours.
Some people, who have taken this intensive, have gone on to be apprentices. But for most, this introduction to the backstage of living existence became a highly personal exploration of dimensions long half-hidden in their lives, using me and this training as a channeling medium.
You ran for president in 2008 - how did that go?
FM: Realistically/practically a write-in candidate can not "win" the presidency, because the odds are stacked against such an independent candidate in various ways. The lack of money is the least of it. Almost half of the states either outright do not allow their people to write somebody in, or make it virtually impossible for somebody to become an officially sanctioned write-in candidate. You can't "win" when half of the states are off limits to you no matter how much money you have.
Add to this the freezing out of both independent and third-party candidates by the mainstream (and most of the "alternative") media coverage and so on, it becomes obvious "winning" is not a sane goal for someone in my position to have.
Historically, independent and third-party candidates have induced new possibilities, expanded our freedoms, and introduced fresh concepts into the society, which the mainstream then absorbs. The process is very similar to that of the artist in society. I have operated within the process of an artist in society focused on inducing change in society for 40 years.
So I'm used to, and comfortable in, the process, operating with little/no money, getting the message (the dream/vision) out despite the blocks, getting things done in new ways, etc. The European mainstream press gave our campaign serious respectful coverage. We qualified in most states where that was a possibility. That was amazing for a campaign that had no money or an army of operatives! But the real fuel for me was seeing people fill up with hope when they read my platform, which is at http://www.frankmooreforpresident08.com.
Running for president gave me a powerful position to outline our dreams in a direct, clear, practical way, thereby exposing who is blocking those dreams, and how and why they have been blocked. In the late '90s Sen. Jesse Helms provided me a similar position when he targeted/blacklisted me and four other performance artists. When you are given such a position, I think it is your responsibility to take the ride, to fully use it to expand freedom for everyone.
I never know when something appearing to be trivial will bloom into an important channel for change...be it a show, a magazine, a web station, a series, a political project, or whatever...which takes years to realize its potential. This has always been how my life has unfolded.
This campaign started with a Three Stooges shirt! Mikee, one of the 5 people who I live tribally with, had a Curly for President shirt. For Christmas they made me a "Frank Moore for President" shirt. Fun. But when I wore the shirt, people started seriously asking me what my platform was.
So I wrote up a blueprint of how we can create the society we have been dreaming of. The platform was clear, direct, and practical. When people read it - even people who at first thought it was an arty joke - they changed right before our eyes, filling up with hope...saying things like "THIS WOULD WORK!" "FINALLY!" and "SO WHY DON'T WE HAVE THIS NOW?"
Their reactions, and their deep seriousness and longings, placed on me the responsibility to put on a real campaign. This set up a feedback cycle, attracting European coverage, support of a wide range of people, opportunities to address the issues in ways candidates rarely, if ever, do. I always follow openings! We forced quite a few states to refine their election procedures by working with the top national expert on ballot access issues. I ended up being an official write-in candidate in twenty-five states and got votes!
Are you going to run again for President in 2012?
FM: Nope! It was two years of hard work! And to do it justice, you should start at least three years before the election.
Where do you find inspiration?
FM: Life! I do only about two percent of the projects, etc. which go through my brain!