In the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, at one corner of its massive lobby, I have been directed by a desk clerk to the row of in-house telephones.
“Hello, I’m from COLLAGE. I have an appointment with Frank Zappa.”
A pause at the other end. “Oh, yes. That was for six o’clock, right? Well, just come on up.”
The voice is reassuring (am I slightly nervous?), pleasant sounding, and female. Hmmmm...
Up the elevator, a walk down a tomb-like hall, and I’m knocking on Room 262, the “Oxford Suite.” A large, bald man ushers me in without a word.
Another interview is winding up, so I endeavor to meet the hairless man (John Smothers, “Security”) and the female voice (Frank’s wife of eleven years who says, “Don’t call me Mrs. Zappa. Call me Gail. It always reminds me of his mother when people call me Mrs. Zappa!”).
Mainly, though, I stand staring at the bushy haired guy in the armchair. Orange pants rolled up over his ankles, snakeskin platforms, cat-eye sunglasses all the right touches, being captured on film by greedy photographers on a field day. (read more)
Every year for the past 15, Frank Zappa has been granting an audience for 100 or so journalists seeking enlightenment. He plops his spindly, Gandhi-like frame down on his basement couch and dispenses the Cosmic Truth to each interviewer. Like the Shell Answer Man, Zappa can handle any question, often taking any subject like a barracuda with a mackerel in its maw as he explores new depths. (read more)