Zappa Film Stars Rubber Doll

By ?

Rolling Stone, February 18, 1971

LONDON – The night Frank Zappa came to Nash House, alias the I.C.A., alias the Institute of Contemporary, so did a horde of straight reporters.

They tried to cast him in Frank Zappa Meets the Yellow Press movie. 1800 hours: cocktails start flowing. 1850 hours: a “hip” United Artists Films’ exec starts the ball rolling saying things like “groovy,” “Frank is trying to . . .” and “United Artists are really excited . . .” all done straight-faced in a colored shirt.

Zappa sits in silence at a table, glowering benignly at the assembly of boozers, writers, pansies, fffreaks and hangers-on, like a product of the Cartoon Exhibition also showing at Nash House. He looks unreal, an ultimate cartoon of what he is. Frank is real small and thinly inked-in. In control of everything and everyone.

Zappa announces he will make a film to be called 200 Motels. The film will be shot on videotape and then transferred on to 35mm celluloid. First time a feature film has been shot on tape. Shooting directed by Tony Palmer, who also did “All My Loving,” “A Survey of Pop Today” and the Cream’s concert for BBC. Zappa will have the final say in the editing. Music is to be supplied by the (Reconstituted) Mothers and the Royal Philharmonic (a 90-piece orchestra), featuring three classical guitars, three grand pianos, various assorted horns and woodwinds and seven percussionists. . . . “Well, for our stars,” Frank says, “we hoped to have Donovan as the Good Conscience and Ginger Baker as the Bad, but it just didn’t come off. The film is set in a motel, a small redneck town and a concentration camp where the orchestra’s kept.”

(“Er . . . Frank, don’t forget to mention . . .” says one of the execs in back of him.)

Zappa continues. “We’ve been working on it for about four years.” “Is there any sex in it?” queries a straight newspaper reporter. “It depends,” Frank says, “I don’t know what you like.”

The movie will also feature Theodore Bikel, old Mother Jimmy Carl Black, the King Sisters and “several surprise guests.” One of these will be Miss Lucy of the G.T.O.s, ”showing her tits.”

A reporter asks Zappa if he will be perturbed if the film is a flop. Frank says, “I’m prepared for the film to flop just the same as I’m prepared to have an album flop.”

Zappa finishes with “There’s a bit in the film where a reporter comes on stage, sits down and asks a lot of banal questions. So I get up and put a rubber dummy in my place and the reporter carries on interviewing it. Then, after a pause, I throw it into a mass of dancers who kick the stuffing out of it and the reporter, still asking questions, begins to play with a rubber hand! OK?”