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Byron Shire
May 24, 2022

Mullumbimby a ‘heart-opening experience’

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Frank before and after his transformation during the documentary May I Be Frank. Photo supplied

For a man who had already turned his life around coming to Mullumbimby was a ‘heart-opening experience’ for Frank Ferrante, who was the subject of the documentary May I Be Frank.

The documentary follows Frank as he transforms himself from a miserably obese drug addict to a man who not only learns to love himself but also gets new body and a fresh start on life.

Here for Wanderlust

He came to Australia as part of the Wanderlust Festival on the Sunshine Coast in November and was invited down to Mullumbimby by his friend Victoria Castles.

‘I came to Australia to attend a screening of the documentary May I Be Frank and I was interviewed by James Colquhoun of FMTV and also participated in panel discussions with Lee Holmes and Joe Cross,’ said Frank in his Brooklyn drawl.

Once here in Mullumbimby and its hinterland Frank’s plans to visit Melbourne evaporated as he realised ‘There’s something special about this place.’

‘The movie was a rather underground grassroots kind of thing but as I was walking through the Mullum Farmers Market and a young lady recognised me from the movie, she started crying. It was shot ten years ago and it is still touching people.’

Off the drugs but still fighting demons

‘The movie has turned my life into something I never thought it could be.’

Frank got the heroin out of his life in 1977 and stopped drinking in 1989 but it wasn’t until he walked into the vegan Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco that he really began to turn his life around. Yet even following the film he felt he still needed to deal with his demons.

‘It is one thing to stop using something – it is another to confront the demons that led you to that place,’ mused Frank as we sat in the garden of the Other Joint cafe.

Two years ago Frank had a ‘shattering’ break up, ‘I was thinking about suicide and planning it,’ he said reflectively.

Then in a meditation and sound healing at the Crystal Castle he had a realisation.

‘I realised I wanted a mystical death – not an actual suicide.

Frank relaxing at the Crystal Castle in the hinterland of Mullumbimby. Photo supplied

Embrace fear

‘I had to face them and embrace the demons and integrate them into who I was. I had to embrace the thing I feared most. I also realised my addiction was a misguided attempt to know God.’

Since the film ten years ago Frank has been coaching and working in treatment for drug rehab and reflecting on possibilities.

Helping others

‘We are walking examples of what is possible. These insights were liberating but also an invitation to a deeper conversation and led me to spiritual practices to be more effective in helping other people.

‘Primarily I’ve been an entertainer and storyteller. It is now about having something tangible they can take home. The next step is to heal certain aspects of myself and that will produce self-worth. It is that part of myself that I have to reclaim and heal. It is there for all of us. Every positive thought helps.’

Frank has just completed a screenplay based on the book and film documentary.

‘It is a film about drugs, relation and redemptions,’ he said with a big smile.

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