Frank Zappa

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Frank Zappa as a mystery guest in 1971 on What’s My Line?, in conjunction with the release of his film 200 Motels, which was technologically innovative though I still find it unwatchable.

I’ll be coy and say that one person from this video smoked a lot of dope and attended orgies in the Dominican Republic, and it wasn’t Zappa.

Trailer for 200 Motels:


Frank Zappa visits Mike Douglas in 1976 for an interview, a performance and to present a clip from the Mothers of Invention documentary, A Token of His Extreme, which features clay animation by Bruce Bickford. Thankfully, Jimmie Walker and Kenny Rogers were on hand.

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Frank Zappa profiled on the Today Show, 1993, the year he died.


From “Larry Flynt at Home,” Jean Stein’s Los Angeles Review of Books recollection of the puke-inducing pornographer/Constitutional rights champion at the height of his powers in 1983, as he was planning a Presidential run. In this segment, screenwriter and novelist Terry Southern has been summoned to Flynt’s Los Angeles lair, by a wired Dennis Hopper, to work on a dubious film project about Jim Morrison:

“The next guy to arrive was Marjoe — you know, that guy who used to be a child evangelist. And the other person who was a permanent guest for the moment was Madalyn Murray. Madalyn Murray has devoted her entire life to trying to get the Bible outlawed in school. She’s a professional atheist, very courageous. For some reason Larry Flynt was interested in her cause. I think he wanted to fuck her … mind-fuck her I mean.

About 4:00 P.M. Larry Flynt comes in and says, ‘Sundowner time. Time for a sundowner.’ He’s in a wh
eelchair. His wheelchair is motorized and gold-plated, and it has little American flags like on an ambassador’s car. He’s wearing this big diaper he had made up from an American flag.
‘They treat me like a baby,’ he said, ‘so I’m going to behave like one. And if I poo-poo in my diaper, I’ll be poo-pooing on the American flag.’ He’s trying to explain this to this huge Indian — what the hell is his name? He’s a great Indian guy who’s about seven feet tall … Means, Russell Means. He’s there, and meanwhile I hear this shouting, and it sounds like a big argument, but it’s just Liddy and Tim Leary rehearsing their act, I mean their ‘debate.’ About time for dinner, Frank Zappa arrives, you know him. Quite a grand zany. So there’s this very long table of odd people.

After dinner Larry said, ‘Come into my study, Terry, you’re going to need some money for the weekend.’ We went into his office and he said, ‘There’s a briefcase by the couch where you’re sitting. Put it on your lap and open it.’ So I did. It was full of packs of hundred-dollar bills. Larry said, ‘It’s a million dollars. I have this on hand to give validity to the offer.’ And he showed me this circular: A standing offer from Larry Flynt to the following women who are prepared to show gyno-pink. One million cash to Barbara Bach, Cathy Bach, Barbi Benton, Cheryl Tiegs … They were mostly kind of obscure, but there were one or two that were totally out of place, like Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda. He was offering them a million dollars if they’d pose and do a gyno spread, what he called ‘flashing pink.’ And so he said, ‘Take whatever you think you’ll need for the weekend,” and he made a point of turning around to use the phone so I could take what I wanted. When he finished his call, he asked, ‘How much did you take?’

‘Two hundred dollars.’

‘You must be a fool — you could have taken more.’

I said, “I don’t think I need any more than that.’

‘Well, I like an honest man,’ he said.”•


Larry Flynt, the First Amendment champion:

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Zappa transforms a bike into a musical instrument on one iteration of the Steve Allen Show. Invaluable if crummy-looking footage. (Thanks Reddit.)

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Neil Diamond and Carole King were among the songwriters who supplied the Monkees with hits.

Faux rock had four heroes and they were known collectively as the Monkees. A pre-fab Fab Four knockoff, the Monkees were formed as a commercial entity, via cattle call, and Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Davy Jones weren’t exactly selected for their musical talent. The group’s peppy TV show made them humongous teen idols and money movers made sure the best songwriters and studio musicians of the day kept them atop the charts. Then the show got cancelled and the hits didn’t keep on coming. The boys had been tired for some time of being marketing tools and wanted to create their own music and identity, something that spoke to the turbulent times. They hoped to prove they weren’t just children’s entertainers but also the children of Marx and Coca-Cola.

Enter director Bob Rafelson and screenwriter Jack Nicholson. Rafelson had cut his teeth directing the Monkees silly show and Nicholson was then still more of a writer than an actor. Both were headed for gigantic careers, but at this point their assignment was to create a surreal, plotless movie full of trippy, musical scenes that would explode and recreate the Monkees, with the lads gleefully making the kind of contributions that heretofore had not been allowed. Head pretty much accomplishes the task at hand, even if the surrealism isn’t of the Buñuel or Jodorowsky calibre.

There is, however, Frank Zappa and a talking cow, boxer Sonny Liston beating the snot out of the elfin Englishman Jones and soda machines sitting incongruously in the middle of the desert. The band didn’t last much longer than the Head premiere party, so this prelude to their new identity was actually the main act. But it’s one worth watching for its historical value and anarchic energy. (Available from Netflix and other outlets.)

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