Was this the real Reuben Sano standing up at last?

By Lon Goddard

Record Mirror, January 23, 1971

FRANK ZAPPA sauntered in, poured himself into the chair at the front of the room, folded his arms, crossed his legs and assumed the appearance of an effeminate librarian.

He aimed his nose and stared down it, appraising the curious faces assembled to cross-examine him at the press conference. The Groucho Marx whiskers twitched nervously, but the cemented gaze was unaffected.

"On February 1st," he proclaimed, "shooting begins at Pinewood Studios for the film '200 Motels'. It has a one week schedule and should be finished by February 8, when I hope to have a concert at the Albert Hall to perform some of the musical parts of the movie.

"This is the third film I have planned. The first, 'Captain Beefheart vs. The Grunt People' never got into production. The second, 'Uncle Meat', remains at my house unfinished, but parts of it will be utilised for '200 Motels'. Tony Palmer will handle the direction."

"Who's in your film, Frank luv?" came a high pitched voice from the back.

"Don't call me 'luv'," snapped Zappa like a vulture annoyed, "Don't get me pissed off witcha," he said with a wry grin.

"The film is basically constructed from recurring events built around the life of a musician 'on the road'. The cast includes The Mothers, Theodore Bikel , Jimmy Carl Black, the members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the King's Singers and surprise guests."

"Will there be any er – nudity in your film Frank?", shouted an enthusiast. "Yes," came the dry reply, "there will be some tits in this picture. I can tell you the first pair will belong to Lucy GTO in the groupie house scene. "She will have men's jockey shorts on – does that get you hot? I don't know whether you'll see any of those black curly hairs or not, but there will be other exotic delights.

"For instance, an over-sexed industrial vacuum cleaner, a newt ranch, the Rancid Boutique, a fake night club, the 'Main Street', 'The Bank' , 'The Dwellings', an accordion school and the fake groupie house. "The music, such as 'This Town's A Sealed Tuna Sandwich', will not be mimed."

Apparently, Frank had taken his idea seriously from the first. Meticulously, the beady-eyed satirist listed every ounce of material, every facility and every minute of time he would need for the project, arrived at a price and went hawking with determination. '200 Motels' is going to cost United Artists $650,000.

"I took it to several companies," he admitted. "Warner's never seemed to be available when we were to discuss it, so that fell through. "Originally, it was planned for Dutch television – no censorship problems there.

"However, there was a delay with the sound stage and by the time they were ready, we were going to make it a regular 'A' picture for the cinemas. "Now United Artists are paying for everything. I had collected my lists and a few handouts in case they'd never heard of the band and went in to see them. I got a deal.

"I'm prepared to have it flop, just as any album might flop – but I don't think it will. I don't usually go to films or watch TV, but I'll go to this one to see what people's faces will look like. Some VERY weird things will be happening on that screen. I don't like working within the bounds of censorship."

The spaghetti legs suddenly straightened and the underweight figure glided away. Was this the real Reuben Sano? You betcha.

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