Obituaries

Frank Moore: shaman, artist, teacher, writer, musician

Frank_Moore_-_Chicago_Art_Institute

Frank Moore in front of the Art Institute of Chicago 1991 where he was a Visiting Artist. Photo: Linda Mac

Frank Moore, June 25, 1946 – October 14, 2013, Berkeley, California

Frank Moore, shaman, performance artist, teacher, poet, essayist, painter, musician and internet/television personality, who had experimented in art, performance, ritual, and shamanistic teaching since the late 1960s, died on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 in Berkeley, California.

Moore is perhaps most well known as one of the NEA-funded artists targeted by Jesse Helms and the GAO (General Accounting Office) in the early ’90s for doing art that was labeled “obscene”. Frank Moore was featured in the 1988 cult film Mondo New York, which chronicled the leading performance artists of that period. He is well known for long (5-48 hours) ritualistic performances with audience participation, nudity, and eroticism. But he had also become well known for his influential writings on performance, art, life, and cultural subversion, for his historic influence on the San Francisco Bay Area music and performance scene, and, more recently, for his performance/video archive on Vimeo.com that has been viewed by over 7 million people worldwide.

Moore coined the word, “eroplay” to describe physical play between adults released from the linear goals of sex and orgasm. He explored this, and similar concepts in performance and ritual as a way for people to connect on a deep human level with each other beyond the social and cultural expectations and limitations, and as a way to melt isolation between people.

Moore was an underground counter-culture hero and artistic inspiration for decades. He was born with cerebral palsy, could not walk or talk, and wrote books, directed plays, directed, acted in and edited films, regularly gave poetry readings, played piano, sang in ensemble music jams, and continued to lead bands in hard-core punk clubs up and down the West Coast until his death.

He also produced a large collection of original oil and digital paintings that have been shown across the United States and in Canada. Moore communicated using a laser-pointer and a board of letters, numbers, and commonly used words.

Performance artist Annie Sprinkle considers Moore one of her teachers, and Moore performed with a host of performance and punk figures of the underground since the 1970s like Barbara Smith, Linda Sibio, The Feederz, and Dirk Dirksen – The Pope of Punk.

Moore first came to be known in the 1970s as the creator of the popular cabaret show, the Outrageous Beauty Revue. In the 1980s he became one of the United States’ foremost performance artists. In 1992 he was voted Best Performance Artist by the San Francisco Bay Guardian. In the early 1990s he was targeted by Senator Jesse Helms. From 1991 to 1999 Moore published and edited the acclaimed underground zine, The Cherotic r(E)volutionary.

In addition to his books, Cherotic Magic, Art of a Shaman, Chapped Lap, Skin Passion and numerous other self-published pieces, Moore was widely published in various art and other periodicals. In artist Pamela Kay Walker’s book, Moving Over the Edge, Moore is one of the artists featured as having “greatly impacted me and many people through their artistic expression and their lives.”

Moore’s award-winning video works have shown throughout the U.S. and Canada, and since 2001 Moore had been producing shows for Berkeley’s public access channel, Berkeley Community Media, Channel 28. His shows continue to play weekly, throughout the week.

In 2011, Moore launched his online performance and video retrospective on Vimeo. At the same time he created the EROART group featuring videos by eroart artists from all over the world.

Moore’s Web of All Possibilities features a growing archive of his audio, video, visual and written work, as well as the work of other artists. He founded Love Underground Visionary Revolution (LUVeR) in 1999, a webstation combining live streaming and on-demand libraries of audio and video programming, described by Moore as a “non-corporate, d.i.y., totally uncensored, noncommercial, nonprofit internet-only communal collective with 24-hour ‘live’ programming (by amazing people) with ‘no-limits’ content.” LUVeR ran until 2012.

In 2006, Moore announced his candidacy for the 2008 election for President of the United States. He became a qualified write-in candidate in 25 states. His campaign was responsible for reforming the write-in candidate qualifications and procedures in many states. His platform videos are available on YouTube.

Moore also hosted his regular internet show, “Frank Moore’s Shaman’s Den.” Moore described it as a show that “will arouse, inspire, move, threaten you, not with sound bites, but with a two-hour (usually longer) feast of live streaming video. You might get an in-studio concert of bands from around the world…or poetry reading…or an in-depth conversation about politics, art, music, and LIFE with extremely dangerous people! But then you may see beautiful women naked dancing erotically. You never know, because you are in The Shaman’s Den with Frank Moore.” Video and audio archives of all of these Shaman’s Den shows are available online.

Frank Moore performed regularly in the San Francisco Bay Area up until his death. His students and the people influenced by his life/work continue his vision.

[Editor's Note: Frank Moore's partner, Linda Mac, shared this obituary with Berkeleyside. It was written by Corey Nicholl, a student of Moore's. A similar version appears on Wikipedia.]

Berkeleyside is always honored to publish, at no cost, obituaries of members of the Berkeley community. Please email text and photo(s) to editors@berkeleyside.com.

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  • Joe

    It always brightened my day to see his flyers around town. I’ll miss him.

  • aperson

    I met Frank several times and even interviewed him once. Yes, he was most definitely a “pervert,” but even a vanilla person like me found it impossible to dislike him. One of the worst decisions in my life was to attend one of his “cherotic” performance-art shows — it scarred me forever — but even so I still had a fond feeling for him because unlike so many other poseurs and fakers and dishonest politicians and dilettante hipsters and shallow trend-followers, Frank Moore was THE REAL THING, a completely unique human being who not only defied categorization but created his own category of what a life could contain.

    What all the phony hippies and pseudo-punks and postmodern poseurs pretend to be, Frank Moore really is. He was the ultimate individualist — and despite being kooky and perverted and a little scary — he is someone we should all admire for exploring the boundaries of what freedom really means.

  • EarlyMorningCoffee

    I never could make it through more than 3 minutes of his public access show. That being said, I liked to brag to folks where I came from that I lived in town that had a public access show such as his.

  • Jesse Townley

    Oh Frank. He was the real deal. Unique in a sea of wanna-bes. We’ll miss you and we’ll be the worse off for your death.

  • Corey

    This is Corey. I was/am a student of Frank’s. After reading through the obituary again, we realized that we wanted to add the circumstances of Frank’s death … Frank made dying look easy.

    Frank Moore passed away on Monday morning (10/14/13).
    Frank was very sick with pneumonia and told us he was at peace with
    dying and, although he told us that he wanted to die at home, after three very
    difficult nights he said he was willing to go to the hospital for us when we
    proposed going just for stronger IV antibiotics and non invasive pulmonary
    treatments that we could not do at home. Once admitted to the hospital when it
    was clear that the only ways to keep him alive were the kinds of procedures that
    he definitely did not want, we put him on Comfort Care and Mikee and I and
    Corey, Alexi and Erika sat around the bed loving Frank for several hours.
    Although he couldn’t talk, he made little sounds and responded to us the whole
    time. He was very present with us. He died at 6:24am with all of us and with no
    pain.

  • Shoshana

    Berkeley is over. Rest in peace Frank!

  • Linda

    To read Frank’s writings, articles and interviews, photos, paintings and his performance archive, you can go to his SHAMAN’S CAVE section of his website at: http://www.eroplay.com/Cave/shaman.html

  • StevenTorrey

    What impressed me so much about Frank Moore was the obvious. A severely physically handicapped person enjoying some kind of sex life with some lovely ladies. i remember Debbie Moore and Nina and their naked shenanigans on Telegraph Avenue; I attended a few of his naked ‘be-ins’– I guess they were. I thought the whole thing silly, a bit much of a much, but a harmless diversion. And hey, if it gave him meaning and a thrill–than so be it. So many websites now devoted to attempt contact with people suggests that there are lots of people who have to take responsibility for their sexual expression, as Frank did. So in a sense, he is more of a model for the lonely heart society we are… That people can take steps to address their sexual needs… I never knew exactly the nature of his handicap–and I had to admire his caregivers for the tremendous leap they made into the world of sexual expression for the handicapped… He lived something like 67 years; considering the handicap, that is a long life. RIP.