Fifty-Four Fab, Boss Questions
From Frank Zappa
Exciting, Trippy, Super, Even Not Bad!

By Michael Vosse

TeenSet, January, 1967

I first saw Frank Zappa last winter when David Anderle, music world “court painter” and also manager of Danny Hutton, called to invite me to a Freak Out recording session. The studio was opened at 1 a.m. on a Friday, and it was soon filled with a couple of hundred kids from the Sunset Strip, the Mothers of Invention, “chorus leader” Kim Fowley, and various guests like Paul Butterfield and Les McCann. It went on for hours and everybody participated – some singing, some moaning, others popping gum into speakers – I don't think there has ever been anything like it!

Well, that session and subsequent visits to concerts, and finally the release of the lavish two-lp “Freak Out” album sold me on Frank's iconoclastic group. Meeting and talking to Frank personally three or four times always resulted in heavy talk and listening to his amazing collection of electronic music. One day I found out that everybody takes Frank so seriously no one has ever asked him the usual “fan” questions. So one night Frank and I got together with a bunch of fan magazines and picked 48 questions which he answered. So here they are, and here is the incredible living ZAPPA!

1. What is your full name?

Francis Vincent Zappa, Jr. II (The second means junior which means I have the same name as my father.)

2. Where and when were you born?

December 21, 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland.

3. How tall are you, what do you weigh, what is your coloring?

Six foot tall and 135 pounds. Dove grey complexion, jet black hair, jet brown eyes, jet pink gums – the rest all matches.

4. Do you have brothers and sisters?

Yes. A sister named Candy, and two brothers – Carl and Bobby. They all lived.

5. Where do you live?

I live in the middle of the great hallucinogenic wasteland – Laurel Canyon – on one of the hot streets with the rest of the stars ... lotsa action, having a wonderful time, wish you were here.

6. What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I like a snappy sports ensemble – something neutral and easy to care for, wash 'n' wear mostly.

7. What is your conception of your Dream Girl?

She is an attractive pariah, with an I.Q. well over 228, with complete mastery of “Br'er Rabbit,” any five Indian cookbooks, the Dead Sea Scrolls, The Pat Buttram Story (she gotta know all the words to the album!); no interest whatsoever in any way in sports, sunshine, deodorant, lip stick, chewing gum, carbon tetrachloride, television, ice cream ... none of that stuff!

In short – a wholesome young underground morsel open to suggestion!

P.S. I don't even care if she shaves her legs. Just about anybody will do if they can dance. I'm not really sure any of this is true. I'll have to check it out a couple of times. Wait! Any girl is all right as long as she doesn't have hair like Bob Dylan, or maybe she could even have that if she knows how to ride a motorcycle. I might even like her better if she can play Stockhausen on the piano – Klavierstück XII.

8. What is your favorite record in 1966?

“Revolver” – Our first album (Freak Out) is a hoax, in case you haven't noticed!

9. Who is your favorite actress?

Ida Lupino.

10. Who is your favorite actor?

Herman Rudin.

11. What are your favorite movies?

The Killer Shrews, Beast from Haunted Cave, The Wasp Woman, Mothra, Dead Of Night, Freaks and Alice in Wonderland.

12. What do you do when you are alone?

I am never alone. I have a house with six dwarfs who take care of me. The dwarfs change from week to week so I don't get bored. But if I ever was alone, I'd probably dance and sing and play my guitar, oh boy, would I! I might sew, I might read, I might draw – I might do all of that stuff simultaneously. Maybe someday I will be so rich I can hire people to help do all those things when I am alone ... maybe not; I have a lot of fantasies, you see.

13. Do you have any secret longings?

I long to turn Sunset Boulevard into a parking lot.

14. Do you ever date fans?

Of course, they are the only ones who like me!

15. How would you describe your personality?

Infinitely repellant.

16. What do you like to do on a date?

Well, mostly I just like to hold hands, intimately sharing conversation.

17. Who are your closest friends?

The ones that are still alive. I keep to myself mostly, jes me and my pup dog, Po Po – walking alone together all through the canyon, what care I for friends?

Seriously now, my friends made me promise if I ever got famous not to tell their names – it might get back to them. Something like that on your record could keep you from getting a civil service job.

18. Where would you like to live if you get married?

What makes you think I'm gonna get married? What makes you think I want to be on any street but this street – where the action is – besides, Po Po likes to roam the hills. Good boy, Po Po.

19. What are your favorite colors?

Avocado green, yellow orange and robin's-egg blue.

20. What are your favorite flowers?

Morning glories, honeysuckle.

21. What is your favorite food?

Shrimp curry.

22. Who are your favorites in music?

In the old days, back before Rock 'n' Roll was what was happening, I used to go for Sacco & Vanzetti. And as I grew up I found that it got harder and harder to dance to them – when you get old coordination is more difficult. I had to switch my preference, and now all I really like is Gary Lewis and the Playboys

23. What do you think of Bob Dylan?

He's nice.

24. What do you think of Barry Sadler?

I think he has a great future in real estate, and I'm sure that even Gary Lewis would agree. Maybe Barry McGuire wouldn't agree, no maybe he would. The person who really might disagree is Sargent Shriver.

25. What has been the biggest thrill in your life?

The day a high official at Columbia Records, in confidence to a close friend, revealed the stunning truth that the Mothers of Invention have no commercial potential.

26. If you were stuck alone on a desert island, name the three things you would most want to have with you?

(l) A dozen assorted groupies.
(2) The complete writings of Cordwainer Smith.
(3) A carton of cigarettes.

27. Describe each of the Mothers of Invention in one word.

Ray – Mahogany
Roy – Asbestos
Jim – Mucilage
Del – Acetate
Van Dyke – Pinocchio
Billy – Boom

I don't know about the rest of the guys – I don't even know about these guys.

28. Would you like to get married?

No, I've already been married, and it doesn't make it.

29. What kind of girl would you marry?

If I ever was to get married I'd prefer a sterile deaf mute who likes to wash dishes. There are so many American women who fit that description philosophically I might as well own one. No, I'd give her to Po Po. Your dad probably owns one; I'll go watch his!

30. How many children do you want to have?


31. What sports do you enjoy?

When I was in corrective P.E. – in California, folks, P.E. means Physical Education – I was really a monster at badminton. Can't say as I enjoyed it much. But if I really had to choose ... really, when you come right down to it – it would be badminton, yes. You know, hit the birdie with the racquet, although volley balls smell better.

32. Do you like Folk Rock?

God, it only existed such a short time I never got to hear anybody except Barry McGuire. I guess the Byrds are pretty good at it when they are all together. For my money, though, kids, it's Gary Lewis and the Playboys. Folk Rock or no, they really send me! You ought to see me dance to them. Actually that is what I do when I'm alone. I didn't say so before 'cause people would think it was silly ... even Gary would think it was silly — me there alone with the record player, dancing!

33. Which place that you have visited is your favorite?

The Traveler's Cafe, a Philippine restaurant in downtown L.A., because squid and rice is only 80 cents, and they have lots of Freddy Cannon records on the juke box.

34. What advice would you give young people who wish to go into show business?

First thing you do is get vaccinated – especially if you live on this hot street – for every known disease. And if you live through the vaccination, go find yourself a rich widow, preferably an ex-P.E. teacher who will help you buy an amplifier. Barring any unforeseen teenage dilemmas, you will probably be relatively unsuccessful and miserable, at the most, in six months. The best thing to do is real estate or plumbing. We need more long hair plumbers and realtors.

35. Do you personally answer fan mail?

I never write letters of any description.

36. Have you ever been seriously ill?


37. When?

The first time I was born.

38. Did you like school?

I liked school a lot better than school liked me. They kept throwing me out. One day I got tired and tried to drop out of high school but then they wouldn't let me – sure did make me mad!

39. Whom do you read?

Cordwainer Smith, Theodore Sturgeon and Cecil Forsyth.

40. Is Suzy Creamcheese (a “Mothers” song title) a real person?

Suzy lives in the hearts of men just like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Lyndon B. Johnson. Many have felt she was a mere figment. But, oh no, she is not a figment, certainly not.

41. Would you and the Mothers like to make movies?

Why yes, as a matter of fact we'd like to so much we have already made three. But everyone is afraid to put them out because a high official at Columbia Records feels we have no commercial potential, not even for release in Red China. We think he's wrong, but we are just a rock 'n' roll band.

42. Are you a worrier?

Not really.

43. Who is Herbie Cohen?

He's a little Jewish man that nobody likes who always wears nylon shirts – the acme of bad taste, who likes to hit people in the face with his head and has a terrible reputation coast to coast! Our manager – Yeah, Herbie!

44. What would you do if you were not a musician?

I once confided in Van Dyke Parks that I would go into real estate, starting first with the purchase of La Cienega Boulevard (note: a large business street in the center of L.A.) including policemen, because Disneyland is too far to drive to.

45. Who are the “Brain Police”?

Mind your own business.

46. Who is your favorite male singer?

Chester Burnett, known as Howlin' Wolf. All that stuff about Gary Lewis was a cruel put-on. Really, next to Howlin' Wolf I like Ray Collins.

47. What do you think of money?

What care I for fortune and fame? Just me and my dog Po Po wandering through the hills – fair weather and foul – you know, the good life! I got to confess. I don't have a dog, Po Po, but I'll bet Kim Fowley does. All the rest of this stuff is true though, even the part about Freddy Cannon.

48. Do you have a message for your fans?

Yes, call your service!

Also, if I have to admit that there is really a message...really a deep down meaning ... really it's this ...

Every American boy and girl with matching moms and dads should walk around every day vehemently screaming, “I doubt it!” to everything people do or think or say around them. In a nutshell, kids – I want to make sure you get a chance to check it out a couple of times. Because in reality Madison Avenue does not have your best interests at heart. Stunning to note: neither do most moms and dads, the police department, your local city, county, state and federal governments, your local realtors ... none of 'em! They've got it in for you, kids. They would smother you with apathy.

It's up to you to know where it's at. But check it all out a couple of times so that when you open your mouth to nail one of them, you know what you're talking about. Moreover ...if you get a chance this week – drop out of school before your disinterested, ineffectual, teenage educational system wrecks whatever natural intelligence you had before all that stuff was inflicted on you ... or

If that's too much of a hang-up – go work on your car.

Read by OCR software. If you spot errors, let me know afka (at)