Cast (more or less in order of appearance):
Jimmy Carl Black
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Moon Unit Zappa
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Jim "Motorhead" Sherwood
David Van Asch
Napoleon Murphy Brock
57, take 1!
IN 1970 FRANK ZAPPA
WENT TO UNITED
ARTISTS FILMS WITH A
PROPOSAL FOR AN
CALLED "200 MOTELS".
IT WAS THE FIRST
TO BE SHOT ON
IT WAS PHOTOGRAPHED
IN 7 8-HOUR DAYS.
IT WAS EDITED IN 11
10-HOUR DAYS . . .
WITHOUT THE USE OF
IT COST $679.000.
IT SET THE STANDARDS
FOR THE MOST
TECHNIQUES OF ITS TIME.
IT INTRODUCED THE
BASIC FORM USED
TODAY IN MOST
IT GOT SHITTY REVIEWS.
THIS IS SORT OF ABOUT
HOW IT GOT MADE.
The "STORY" in
200 MOTELS is about how
touring makes you crazy.
It is also about how
everyoody in the MOTHERS
always wants to quit the
group and play
Part of that story begins
October 25, 1968,
in a performance at
ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL,
JIMMY CARL BLACK
JCB: How are you gonna get laid if you don't play rock & roll and drink beer? You get laid after the concert if you play rock & roll, this kind of crap you're not gonna, you're not gonna get laid anyway with that uniform on. I'll tell you what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna quit I'm gonna go out and hustle me some chick, the hell with you.
Ian: Jimmy, you need some discipline.
JCB: I'm leaving the group.
Ensemble: Boo! Boo!
FZ: Jimmy Carl, I must inform you, I must inform you, Jimmy Carl, for your own good, that here in London you're not gonna get any pussy unless you look like a popstar. Fix him up!
San Francisco, California
Howard: Vroom. Voodn, voodn. Voodn.
Mark: Say Howie, do you like my new car?
Howard: You know, it's real cool. Do you know how to get to the Holiday Inn?
FLO & EDDIE
In an early performance
of the infamous
Mark: Which one are you staying at?
Howard: The one by the airport. We gotta get up early and fly out of this burg in the morning, you know?
Sorry folks, the original
source for this track
(and other 1970 vintage
tracks used here) is 16mm
mono documentary audio
provided by VPRO-TV
Mark: Oh, where do you play tomorrow night?
This bit of folklore
(based on a true story)
was part of the original
Mark: Oh, you're so professional. The way you get to travel to all those exotic places. Do you really have a hit single on the charts, with a bullet?
Howard: Listen, honey, would I lie to you just to get in your pants?
Only one third of the
(several hundred pages)
had been photographed
when United Artists
pulled the plug.
Mark: Don't talk to me that way, Howie! I am not a groupie! And neither is my girlfriend Jeff!
Jeff: Bullshit, Howie. One night only we only like you musicians for friends.
The plot of the film
(as it appears in it's
current form) was created
in the editing room from
scenes completed during
56 hours of principal
Howard: But, I thought you said you got off being juked with a baby octopus, and spewed upon with creamed corn, and that your harelipped dyke girlfriend dug it with a hot 7-Up bottle and she went bananas, what's the deal?
Mark: Oh, Howie, all that's true. And sometimes I dig it with a Jack-In-The-Box ring job.
Howard: Oh . . .
Mark: But we are not groupies! I told Robert Plant that . . .
Howard: But I want some action! I want a steaming, succulent, slimy, ever-widening hole with a teen-age girl attached to it! I mean, I know we're gonna get our rocks off, baby.
Mark: Not until you sing me your big hit record. I've been looking for a guy from a group, with a dick, which is a monster!
Howard: That's me! That's me! Oh, baby! Why didn't you say that before? Take me, I'm yours, fulfill my wildest dreams.
Mark: Oh, anything for you, my most succulent popstar of a man! Bead jobs! Knotted nylons! Bamboo canes! Beef jerkey! Ice cubes! Mazola oil! And/or including an electric pony harness air-cooled, all this and more, Howie . . . All this and more!
Howard: I can't stand it! I can't stand it! I can't stand it! Feet on fire! Feet on fire! No, please! I can't stand it! I can't stand it! . . . I'm going home, I'm going home . . . I can't stand it. Give it to me right here, right here in the car, oh, you little hole . . . Give me the pony harness!
Mark: Not until you sing us your big hit record, Howie. And we wanna hear the bullet.
Mark: I have a problem.
Howard: Would you like to talk about it?
Mark: I can't come. I can't come unless you sing me your big hit record, ah-hah, and you gotta sing me the bullet, please, Howie . . . sing it, sing the record, Howie, the one, the one . . . I'd do anything, I could sell all my pictures of Jim Morrison, I could sell all my pictures of Donovan too . . .
Howard: Okay, honey, bend over and spread on, here comes my bullet!
The only footage
of the first trial run
of Cal Schenkel's
This scene never made it
into the final version of
Mark: Say uh, do you like my new car?
Howard: Oh, it's real cool! You know how to get to the uh, cheesey motel?
Mark: Oh, which one is it? He he he he!
Howard: The one by the airport. We've . . . Aa-aa-aah . . . Oh, man . . .
FZ: Coming up, okay, "Do you like my new car?"
Mark: Do you like my new car, or what?
Howard: It's real cool. Do you know how to . . . Aaa-aa-aah!
Howard: Aa-aaa-aah! Do you know how to, how to get to the cheesey motel with that smashing, you know, the butcher shop?
Mark: Which one are you staying at?
Howard: Oh, the one by the airport.
Mark: Keep it up, Ian! Ian!
Howard: We gotta get up early and fly out of here in the morning, you know.
Mark: Oh yeah, really?
Howard: Oh yeah, really.
Mark: Where do you play tomorrow night?
Howard: Oh, Tierra del Fuego.
Mark: Oh yes?
Howard: And then there's that Barbecue at Mutts.
Mark: Oh, you're so professional.
Mark: I mean uh, wait . . . ha ha ha!
Mark: Ha ha ha! The way you get to travel to all those exotic places. Do you really have a hit single in the charts with a bullet?
Howard: Listen, honey, would I lie to you just to get in your pants?
Mark: Don't talk to me that way!
Howard: Keep your eye on the road!
Mark: I am not . . . ha ha ha ha . . . I am not a groupie!
FZ: This is Euclid Motorhead Sherwood.
200 MOTELS also
dealt with the problems
of people who wished they
were part of the group,
but faced rejection for
Motorhead: What's he doin', Ian?
Ian: He's nervous 'cause he couldn't play with our new group.
Motorhead: Oh, that's nice, look at those suits.
In this scene from the
1968 Festival Hall Show,
wants to join,
but fails to qualify.
FZ: Motorhead covets the uniforms of the other band. And also shows some interest in the bum of Underwood.
Motorhead: Hey, ten years ago I knew a lot of guys that had suits like these. They're really nice. Hey can I play in your band and get a suit like that too?
Motorhead: But I like the suits and I can play good. I can play . . . I can play anything.
Ensemble: BOO! BOO! BOO!
FZ: Motorhead is lying. He can't play good, he can't play anything. He's trying to con his way into the other band. He knows they don't want him.
Bunk: I heard you play before.
Motorhead: But I got practicing and play good.
Ian: No discipline.
FZ: He's lying. He hasn't been practicing, he doesn't do shit.
Bunk: Ask me you couldn't even count to four.
Art: Come on, beat it, man.
Motorhead: You can't do that to me, I'll fix you.
Art: Go ahead.
Motorhead: I'll get into your band. I'll get into your band.
Bunk: Okay Motorhead, just get out of the way.
Motorhead: You can't stop me, I'll get in there somehow.
Ian: Take a walk, you fruit.
Motorhead: There's no way you can stop me. I'll get ya!
FZ: Motorhead explains to the members of the Robot Combo that nothing can stop him. He will join their group whether they like it or not.
The orchestral music
used in 200 MOTELS
was composed over a
Some of it originated
with this performance
The piece heard here in
its premiere performance
by members of the
"THIS TOWN IS A
SEALED TUNA SANDWICH".
Most of the orchestral
sketches were done in
motel and hotel rooms
around the world during
early MOTHERS Tours,
hence the movie title
(based on an estimate
of the actual number).
JCB: What's goin' on here? I thought we were gonna play a Rock & Roll concert.
Los Angeles, 1982
FZ: Yeah, right.
Richard Hart: What is— Now, for the longest time—there's still people who think this way—but for the longest time we run into these people say, "Yeah, video is great, but you can't do with video what you can do with film." People look down their noses at video. You were fascinated with video or at least, attracted to it in a curious way a long time ago, like even before 200 Motels. What first turned you on to video?
FZ: Well, I liked the fastness of it. I mean, I think that's what everybody likes, is you push the button, you tape it, you push another button, you play it back. You don't go to the lab. You don't do anything. It's just there. That's, that's very modern. And high speed.
This is the only surviving
footage of the hideous
little cubicle in London where
"200 MOTELS" was edited
(manually, without CMX or
other post production tools).
Richard Hart: Why— Why was 200 Motels in video, as opposed to just right on film?
FZ: Because to do a musical on film cost millions and millions of dollars, and uh, to do a musical on video tape— That film, for instance, cost $679,000. And if they— If United Artists, who put up the money for the picture, would have been a little bit more uh, lenient in the way that we were operating there, I think that would have turned out better, but we were held exactly to the budget, which allowed us five days to shoot it. That's—wait a minute—no, seven 8-hour days, 56 hours to shoot it, and 110 hours of video editing, and then after the video edit was done, it was transfered to 35mm technicolor, and then, the rest of the work that you do to make a movie come out, like uh, the tightening, and the dubbing, and the stuff, that was all done in film.
Tony Palmer: Well, um essentially what we do is to record the whole operation on color videotape. Uh, the color videotape has three primary colors: red, green, and blue. And the old technicolor process had also three primary colors, red, green, and blue.
Tony Palmer: So we put two pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together and said, "A-ha." Well, if the two are the same in this way, it must be possible to transfer color tape to color film using three primary colors red, green and blue. So we began to experiment with transferring color tape in this way. The initial problem was that the poor quality of the television picture didn't stand up to examination when you showed it on an enormous cinema screen. You saw, for example, you saw lines. But fortunately . . .
Roelof Kiers: And distortions?
Tony Palmer: And distortions, yes. But now we've found a way around that, and in fact the color that we are able to make with color television is rather better, we think, than the equivalent of 35mm film.
At one point during
production, Mr. Palmer
demanded that his name
be removed from the
credits of "200 MOTELS",
out of concern for his career.
Roelof Kiers: And that's a new British invention, hunh?
Tony Palmer: Well, it's just . . . yes. He he he he . . .
Announcer: . . . and 58. I'll just go through that once more. We're starting on 57, looking in the groupies' room—where the cameras are now—and then the orchestra comes in at ten o'clock, and we record the orchestra. Also, the pick-up shots of scenes 61, 62, 63, and 64—and 58, which are all virtually in the same area. Thank you very much.
FZ: . . . He makes a secondary grab for the tits on jumbo jets, at which point she kneels on his chest to hold him down. And then finally he starts [...] supposedly really . . .
Tony Palmer: Cough!
FZ: Ha ha ha!
Keith Moon: Ha ha ha!
FZ: Oh man . . .
Tony Palmer: Well, I think Frank has had this dream for so long now, that I think that even he has become unsure as to what exactly the dream constitutes. It's a kind of mixture of childhood fantasies, adolescent fantasies, and now grown-up fantasies, all somehow strung together to make some kind of enormous nightmare that he may or may not have had at some point in his life. And one's problem as a director is trying to unfathom that dream and make some kind of coherent sense of it.
Toward the end of
Mr. Palmer, in a fit of
peek, threatened to
erase all of the master
video tapes of the movie.
Roelof Kiers: Why are you, as a producer, interested in 200 Motels?
Jerry Good: Strictly because of the uh, the creative aspects of it. I think what Frank can done creatively from a musical point of view as well as a story telling point of view is so fresh that uh, it excited us, that's why we really got involved, and I think he's a brilliant talent, and uh, the whole feeling of 200 Motels from the point of view of what he is trying to say.
In order to "balance the
film budget", Mr. Goode
ordered that all original
video master tapes be
erased and sold as
Roelof Kiers: Mm-hmm. What is he trying to say?
Net benefit: under $4000.00
Net loss: all unused scenes
from "200 MOTELS".
FZ: It's a mixed-media presentation, a combination of a film, an opera, a television show, a rock & roll concert, various different elements that all tells a story of when you go on the road it makes you crazy.
"SLEEPING IN A JAR"
December 10, 1971
1970 TOUR FOOTAGE
NEW YORK CITY
Roelof Kiers: Do you see any commercial potential in it?
Jerry Good: I, sure as hell hope so! He he he . . .
Tony Palmer: Cue guy! My God, for Jesus Christ sake! Thank you, Barry [...] violet.
FZ: This starts off with a sort of a quiet string and piano background with the strings divided into many parts. Then we have the full-fledged version of "The Girl's Dream," which begins with uh, the sopranos and altos blowing bubbles with a straw into a paper cup in this area A here. And the narrator who might possibly be the conductor—you know, it would be funny to have the conductor saying these lines—he says, "The girl wants to fix him some broth." And then at that point the sopranos and altos take the stuff that they've been blowing the bubbles in and they pour it into a cheap aluminum pan, which makes a dribbling noise. And that's accompanied by the vibes and the bells playing this little madness here, and then she's trying— in her dream, she's trying to win his love and she's actually making a low-budget attempt to seduce this boy and this vacuum cleaner.
"THE PLEATED GAZELLE"
The girl wants to fix him some broth
Tinsel cock my baby
Would you like some broth?
Some nice soup
Some hot broth?
Small dogs in it
You like broth?
Doo wad'n' um
Hot dog broth
Dog broth hot?
Hot dog debris?
How d'ya like it?
Dog breath broth?
FZ: And the chorus comes in and goes, "Doo-wee-oo, tinsel cock, my baby," and then she says, "Would you like some broth?" And the narrator says, "Some nice soup," and she goes, "Some hot broth?" Then the chorus goes, "Yum!" and snap their fingers and then they hum, and he says, "Small dogs in it," and the chorus goes, "Doggies," and she goes, "Hmm, do ya?" And the chorus goes, "Do," and he says, "You like broth?" And the chorus goes, "Do wad'n' um," and then they sing, "Hot dog broth," and he says, "Dog broth? You like dog broth hot? How d' ya like it?" The soprano soloist says, "Hot broth? Hot dog debris?" The sopranos and altos sing "Debris" and then stomp their foot, a little marimba madness in there, and then the whole chorus goes, "Dog breath? Dog broth? Dog breath broth?" And simultaneously the narrator is saying, "Debris? Of the four styles offered: debris, broth, breath and the ever popular, hygienic European version tinsel cock!" And then there's a fanfare where the whole chorus screams . . .
Which do you choose?
FZ: And then the narrator says, "Which do you choose?" Pardon me. Then there's a break, a short one, and uh, three guitars and a couple of woodwinds and harpsichord come in playing this semi-sinister music and, sets the mood for this area where the narrator says, "The girl, in a statement to the press, explains . . . "
FZ: Normally, you see musical on, in a movie, and everybody is mimicing to a playback tape, and there's none of that on 200 Motels.
With the exception of the
TORCH LIGHT PROCESSIONAL
FZ: There was a real orchestra playing the real notes, there was a real rock & ba— rock & roll band playing the real notes, and the people who sing the parts, they're doing real singing, it's there, it was designed to have a lively happening feel to it. Very difficult to get a lively happening feel with a bunch of people like the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, that was the most ill behave bunch of pootheads that I have worked with, and they're actually attempting to sabotage the show and on the last day of shoot uh, they—we rented all the tuxedos for the orchestra, and a lot of the guys they ripped theirs up and you know, made— done vandalism to uh, the property there—these are grown men working in a symphony orchestra, you know. This kind of stuff is expected in the worst punk group—they're probably fathers of punkers.
Tony Palmer: Stop beating the gorilla sixteen times.
Till my mystery roach be arrivin' soon
Yea-ooh, yea-ooh, yea-ooh, yea . . .
FZ: The way the thing was shot, we had a very big soundstage with the orchestra on one end, the band over here, and the dancers over here, and there was something going on at least, in at least two areas of the stage all times, it's being coordinated, something was rehearsed here, or they're shooting something else over here, and then they switch the cameras around and do it, and it was a very complicated shoot, and uh . . .
Richard Hart: It worked.
FZ: It worked.
Howard: Well, the character I play is a great guy, you see, right away that gives me a start. Uh, on the other hand, half of it's reality and half of it isn't, you know? Where the line is, it's sometimes even hard for the players to tell, you know. It's just that when you look at your script some lines come easier than other lines, you know, and usually those are the ones that you've said before, or feel that you could say quite honestly, you know, and some of the other things were made up and it, it comes out that way.
Howard: I've been without female companionship for so long—Monday, for instance—that a career as a Jesuit monk sounds inviting. Ian is starting to look good to me.
Ian?: Eewww . . . Ruth . . .
George: Must be his green velour socks . . .
Jeff (Martin): You just calm down there, Duke.
Mark: Ever since you left the jazz world to seek fame and fortune in the rock & roll industry . . .
Jeff (Martin): Rock & roll! What d'ya mean rock & roll? This fucking band doesn't even play rock & roll, it's all that comedy crap.
FZ: If you're not a professional actor, if you're not trained to act, to be somebody else all the time, the easiest thing for you to do, when you only have a week to make a movie is just to be yourself on the screen. So the lines that the people speak in the film, with the exception of some of the real fantasy characters like the Vacuum Cleaner, or the, or what Theodore Bikel says, are all based on the actual speech patterns and the lifestyle of the people who are in the group.
Fillmore West Backstage
Jeff: Smurf mee! Smurf mee!
Howard: Smurf meee!
Jeff: Metz. Right Howard?
Howard: Right Jeff, we're going for the money, all the way.
Roelof Kiers: You, you don't use this technique as a kind of psychological therapy for your members of the group.
FZ: Well, some people have suspected that, but I wouldn't say that's a prime purpose of the film.
Roelof Kiers: What is it then?
FZ: The prime purpose of the film? Oh, that's to be revealed later.
Lucy: It's just like home!
FZ: There's one special section that deals with a fantasy that I had one time when I was stranded in Kentucky. That's the section called The Pleated Gazelle. That tells about a love affair between a boy and a girl and an industrial vacuum cleaner.
As the young Newt Rancher
(Our 1970 Road Manager)
The Gypsy Mutant Industrial
Miss Lucy: Eeeh it's dirty!
FZ: It also works good on a pie.
Miss Lucy: It does.
FZ: The Atlas Vacmore, ladies and gentlemen.
Roelof Kiers: Do you expect any problems with the censors?
Jerry Good: I can't answer that, I really can't, honestly. I can't answer that.
Roelof Kiers: Well, you are in the business . . .
Jerry Good: I uh, I think there will obviously be, be a problem in the United States, but in the foreign countries I don't think it would be that problem. But in all honesty, beyond the lyrical content of the picture, it is not a obscene picture in any sense of the word. It's, it's more anti-sex than it is pro-sex.
Was rated "R" in America,
however, in that "foreign
it received an "X".
JIMMY CARL BLACK
On the porch of the
At REDNECK EATS
Lucy?: The pin.
Theodore: The bee . . . pin, pin . . .
just about everyone
working on the film
thought it was a
FZ: Wait a minute, I'll tell ya! Mark walks over in here, you just come over and stand near the side of the organ and watch in the background. The same with George.
They hated the early
wake-up calls and waiting
around for solutions to
unique to this type of
Theodore: I'd better, I may better do it from this side, that should be better. "You are Volman!"
Howard: "No. No, no, no . . . "
Theodore: So, alright, listen. I'll come in, come in with my briefcase, I see all of this thing . . .
Theodore: I'll go, "Ping!" Everybody wakes up. How do we, how do they know that I . . .
FZ: Do a general, a general sweep so they see that you're getting Mark and back there and everybody wake 'em all up.
Theodore: I will go, "Prn-rn-rn-rn-rn-rng! You're Volman."
?: You'll go what?
Theodore: I'll go, "Prn-rn-rn-rn-rn-rn-rnng! You're Volman."
Howard: And as he sweeps around everybody . . .
Theodore: Everybody wakes up as I see them. Okay? Go . . . "Well, you may call me Rance Muhammitz."
Howard: "We already did. I called you Rance. He called you Muhammitz. Few minutes ago at the beginning of that song."
Theodore: "Sitting, sitting across the road in the fake night club with an Indian gentleman, suddenly I sensed a need on your behalf to communicate with me. There was a need, wasn't there? Or you wouldn't have called. Would you?"
Roelof Kiers: Theodore Bikel, you've been in many movies. Twenty, I think.
Theodore: Thirty, more like it.
Roelof Kiers: Thirty already! Why are you in 200 Motels?
Theodore: Well, because I was intrigued by the whole idea, it was no more than an idea when Frank came to me first. Uh, he came with exactly, I think it was fifteen pages of an outline. That was all there was, there was no more. But eh, it was intriguing. It was interesting, and uh, Frank himself is a, it's, you met him, you know. It's a very exciting personality, so let's film what either be a complete flop, chaos, or an, an extraordinary film. There'd be nothing in between.
includes part of Strictly Genteel
Roelof Kiers: You play yourself in 200 Motels.
Mark: Well uh . . . I play a version of myself as Frank sees me, you know, like, you know what I mean?
Roelof Kiers: No.
Mark: It's not, uh, he sees the group from . . . like we see him from one point of view and he sees us from another place, this was written around like where, you know, the folklore that each member had brought to create the image that we portray.
Roelof Kiers: It's partly true or not?
Roelof Kiers: Is it partly true or not?
Mark: Well uh . . .
Roelof Kiers: Is it?
Mark: I think so, I think that like, uh, some of the scenes have happened before. You know what I mean.
Roelof Kiers: Which ones you mean?
Mark: Well, specifically the, the hotel room scene where the group sits and talks about how Frank is not important to what the group is and . . . that scene I remember happening many times, uh, just the whole idea that it is Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention has always given us something to talk about, you know, Frank is, you know, our boss and so there's always that kinda management, uh, worker relationship that, you know, that just happens, it isn't like you, you plan for it to happen, it just does . . .
Mark: Hup hup.
Jeff: Let me tell you right now, man. You got your armies; you got your rock bands. You try and turn a rock band into an army, this is what you get.
San Francisco, California
Mark: Hi, friends. Did you ever consider the possiblity that your penis, or in the case of many dignified ladies, that the size of the titties themselves might provide elements of subconscious tension? Yes, weird twisted anxieties that could force a person to have to become a politician!
Mark: A policeman! A Jesuit monk.
FZ: Dominus vobiscum et cum spiritu tuo.
Mark: A rock and roll guitar player! A wino! A vampire. You name it. Or in the case of the ladies, the ones that can't afford a silicone beef-up, they become writers of hot books!
Howard: "Manuel, the gardener, placed his burning phallus in her quivering quim."
Mark: Or Carmelite nuns!
Howard: "Gonzo, the lead guitar player, placed his mutated member in her slithering slit." Ha ha ha!
Mark: Carmelite nuns. Or racehorse jockeys! There is no reason why the size of your organ should trouble you, or your loved ones. There is enough troubles in the world today, right, brothers?
Howard: Right on! Like Tommy Smothers!
Mark: Now, if you're a lady and you've got munchkin tits, you can console yourself with this age-old line from grammar school. Help me out, brother.
Mark & Howard: "Anything over a mouthful is wasted!"
Mark: Yes, isn't that true! Isn't that true! And if you're a guy, and if you're a guy, and you're in this audience tonight and you're ashamed about the size of your dick . . .
FZ: "Anything over a mouthful is wasted!"
Howard: Yeah, you [...].
Mark: And you're ashamed of your dick, and one night you're at The Fillmore, you're going back to your pad and you got this chick, this guy hits on you, right? And you're sitting there, you're really cool and the guy hits on you, and he says . . .
Howard: "Eight inches or less?"
Jeff: How ya doin', Peter? Good to see you.
Mark: Hey, what happened to . . . ?
Jeff: This is my wife, Brena. This is Peter.
Brena: Hi, Peter, how are you?
Jeff's wife Breena
convinced him to walk out
on his role in "200 MOTELS"
because he was
"Too heavy to be in
this Group . . . "
Jeff: How do you pronounce your name, man? How do you pronounce his name, Peter? Roelof!
Jeff: That's Roelof. This is Brena.
FZ: From the point that Jeff Simmons quit the group we've had a bunch of adventures trying to find somebody to replace him, not only for the bass parts in the music, but to play the role that he was supposed to play in the film, which is a pretty large part. And, uh, our first candidate for the role was Wilfrid Brambell, who played the grandfather in A Hard Day's Night. So Wilfrid came over, tried out for the part, everything was set, he rehearsed with us for about a week, and then one day came to the studio here, and completely freaked out, and said that he couldn't handle it anymore. So, we went into the dressing room, sat around with the guys in the band, and tried to figure out what we were gonna do about replacing the replacement. And the first person that walked through the door was Martin Lickert, who happened to be Ringo's driver, and, uh, everybody just turned and looked at him and went, "You!"
Martin: I just went out to get some cigarettes for him one day and came back and walked into the dressing room and there's Frank and the rest of the Mothers and Ringo, few other people, and I walked in the room and they all went, "Yeah!" I said, "Yeah what?" You know, "Would, would you like to try Jeff's part?" You know, so I just tried that, and it seemed to work okay.
Roelof Kiers: Mm-mmh . . .
Martin: So Frank said, "Well, if you can play, play bass, you can try playing with the group as well."
FZ: So he took the script and he read it and he sounded good and then just quite by accident, we found out that he was a bass player.
Roelof Kiers: And how does he? He does it well?
FZ: Oh, he does very well, I think. I think he's good for the part, is, uh, quite professional on screen and as a bass player he's not astonishing but, uh, he can make the parts.
Ian: Got too many of those. [...] Goes right back down to the E.
Jeff (Martin): What do you do? You join The Mothers and you end up working for Zappa! And he makes you be a creep! You could have played the blues with John Mayall or far-out exciting jazz with Blood, Sweat & Tears.
Don: You really think so?
Jeff (Martin): Look, no one'll ever take you seriously after this. How can they take you seriously? In this business you either gotta play the blues or sing with a high voice.
Don: You're right. I never should have joined The Mothers. Why, I could be a star now! Oh . . .
Actually, Don was a star
in "UNCLE MEAT", a
feature film begun in 1967,
completed and released
by HONKER in 1987
Phyllis Altenhaus: I'd like to introduce you to Don Preston, he plays The Monster in Uncle Meat.
Phyllis: And he's the main story character. And this is Jim Motorhead Sherwood, of The Mothers Of Invention. Oh, Jim is working on his guitar, as you can see, and Don is just sort of working. Jim, d'you have anything to say to the people?
Motorhead: Uh . . . no.
Martin: I'm a Mother now, yeah. But don't . . .
Roelof Kiers: Temporarily.
Martin: Temporarily, or whatever, you know.
Mark: Well, we're all, that's the thing.
Roelof Kiers: What's the thing?
Martin: Like a very short pregnancy.
Mark: Yeah, working with Frank isn't like working with any other group, it's all very temporary. And uh, that's the way it works. And you just, you just never know, I mean, like, it isn't the final stage for any of us, you know. Like this isn't the final Mothers Frank would have.
Live at THE ROXY,
FZ: Ladies and gentlemen, Napoleon Murphy Brock, direct from San Jose—well, you know, they sort of know what's happening in San Jose, but, they're not quite sure what's happening in San Jose—and he's come to the big city to be corrupted by somebody who's from Seattle.
Rejoins the M.O.I.
Napoleon: Wait a minute! What's that?
FZ: It's a restaurant menu.
Napoleon: I'll order . . . fried rice . . .
FZ: Short orders.
Napoleon: . . . shish kebab, and some turnips, and . . . sauerkraut . . .
FZ: No, tell him the truth. Tell him the truth, tell him what that really is.
Napoleon: Looks like a menu to me.
FZ: No. It is . . .
Jeff: Not only. Not only do you get the Desenex burger . . . not only the Desenex burger, but you are in for a real treat, Jim.
Napoleon: Wait a minute, I think I like that dance better than this— What are you talkin' about, creep?
Jeff: What I'm talkin' about is you've been in this killer fog down here too long.
Jeff: You need somethin' to get up and go to school with.
Napoleon: Wait a minute, you're not talkin' to no fool now, you know, I wasn't born yesterday!
FZ: Heh heh heh!
Napoleon: Wait a minute. I think I'll take . . . I like that little dance you were doin' down there.
FZ: Jeff Simmons tries to corrupt Napoleon Murphy Brock by showing him a lewd dance and suggesting that he'd smoke a high-school diploma.
Napoleon: Hey! What you— What you— ? Wait a minute!
Jeff: Hey this, this stuff . . .
Napoleon: I've never seen one of these before, that's not a menu!
Jeff: This stuff is expensive.
Napoleon: What is that?
Jeff: You shoot it, you'll conserve all winter.
Napoleon: I do what?
Jeff: It last longer.
FZ: Not only do you get the Desenex burger . . .
Napoleon: No, no . . .
Jeff: Now come on, try it.
Napoleon: No, no, no.
Jeff: It's really good.
Napoleon: No. No. Please. Please, no.
Jeff: Lemme tell you. Hey, that's right, you heard right . . .
FZ: Barry, get a shot of him when he takes his glasses off.
Napoleon: No . . . no, no.
Jeff: This stuff is really good.
FZ: Give him a quick one.
Jeff: I use it myself.
Napoleon: No . . . I think I'll take— I think I'll do the dance.
Jeff: You like the dance?
FZ: Let the man dance.
Napoleon: I like the dance! . . . Wait a minute, wait a minute!
Jeff: Dummy up.
Napoleon: What do you, what do you— How'd you learn to do that dance?
Jeff: You want to smoke this. You want to smoke this.
Napoleon: Smoke— Smoke it?
Jeff: Try it.
Napoleon: Smoke it?
Jeff: The first one is free.
Napoleon: No. Please. Please.
Jeff: The first one is free.
Napoleon: No, please.
Jeff: Now, come on.
Napoleon: Please. Please.
Jeff: Look, you'll really like it.
Napoleon: Smoke THAT?!
Jeff: Have I ever lied to you? Have I ever seen you before?
Napoleon: I don't, I don't even know you!
Jeff: Look . . .
Napoleon: I don't even know what that is!
Jeff: Just bef—
Napoleon: And you're tellin' me to smoke it?!
Jeff: Just before, we smoked the tapes that you made.
Napoleon: Smoked the tapes?
Jeff: Smoked the tapes of your group.
Napoleon: I think I'd rather dance.
Jeff: You can really get off!
Steve: Look. Right now I'm recording this. And right now you're recording this too. And right now Frank's watching this. Somebody is watching this RIGHT NOW. No. Right NOW. No. Right now. No. Now. No. Now. No. Right now. It's being filmed right now, but it's being watched right NOW.
DURING PRODUCTION OF
Ike: "Hey, Jeff has gone out there on that stuff! We've got to get him back to normal before Zappa finds out, and steals it . . . "
Ike & FZ: " . . . and makes him do it in the movie!"
Warren: "You stoled the mystery burger"
"HA HA HA HA!"
Warren: "Sign in blood"
Al: "You know what you can do with this pen here? You can take this pen and . . . "
"Hang it up your ass!"
Al: "Ram it!"
"Life on the road!"
Director: Quiet in the background, please! Once again, Ringo. That one.
Ringo: "Each guy has his own speciality of going out to find the . . . " What is it?
Director: "Getting the girl of his dreams."
Ringo: Not "going out."
Director: "Each guy has his own speciality for getting the girl of his dreams."
Ringo: "Each guy has his own little speciality of getting the girl of his dreams."
Keith: . . . get him off, get him off, ooh!
Director: Up into the aisle, Keith. You say, "Excuse me," Ringo.
Director: You say, "Excuse me." Keep going, keep going.
Ringo: Excuse me, excuse me . . . Oh, my little nun, show me your little vest . . .
Keith: I play the part of a perverted nun.
Roelof Kiers: Perverted nun?
Keith: Well, I'm male.
Gail: A popstar disguised as a groupie disguised as a nun.
Roelof Kiers: Janet, what are you supposed to play in the film?
Janet: A groupie.
Roelof Kiers: What's that?
Roelof Kiers: What's that?
Janet: What's a groupie? Oh, come on! A groupie is a groupie. A girl who follows groups. Who likes groups. But there are no groupies any more.
Lucy: Are you kidding?
Janet: Yeah, but that's so, that's stupid, that word.
Lucy: It's not stupid, it's true.
Janet: It's just that ugly word. I think that it gets me sick. It's boring.
Pamela: It's outdated.
Roelof Kiers: You play Janet, uh?
Lucy: Janet the Groupie.
Lucy: HA HA HA HA HA HA . . . hhh . . .
Janet: . . . Go-go . . .
JANET & LUCY
In a scene from
(One year before
Lucy: Ooh, maybe we could give cleanser a new use! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA . . . hhh! Well, we may . . . Rodney Bingenheimer . . .
As "Biff Junior"
Janet: He's from that group Cleanser. He looks pretty kinky. Too bad we didn't have our garters on.
Janet & Lucy: EEEEEEEUH!
Janet: Oh, what do you expect from work in this joint.
Lucy: Ooh Janet, he has a vibrator! Now, ooh . . . Eeeuhh! Ha ha ha! Ah . . . ah . . . aaaaaaAAAAH! Ooh wha . . . ooh! Hhh . . . aaahhh . . .
Lucy: "Look! Over there!"
Lucy: "He's doing it, he's watching us from the fake bandstand with the binoculars!"
Janet: "Who, the English . . . ?"
Lucy: "The rivet-boy."
Keith: "The rivet-boy. Where?"
Lucy: "Over there, wipe that stuff out of your eyes. It looks like he's beating off."
Janet: "Beating off? I knew he was a pervert."
Lucy: "Eww, how exciting. Hey, are you still trying to O.D.?"
Keith: "Yes, this definitely is the end for me! I feel so faint! So weak!"
Howard: From 200 Motels he expects the worst reviews of any movie ever put out, and I said, "Yeah, Frank? Why is that?" And he says, "Well, nobody's ready for it . . . " But it doesn't really matter, you know? He knows that the kids are gonna go see it, because it's a weird movie. By the time this turkey comes out, man, I mean, there still won't be anything out close to it. You know, it's just a very bizarre approach to music and at young people and at being on the road in general, and it's gonna work fine.
Music: "NITE SCHOOL"
Synclavier performance 1987
Album: JAZZ FROM HELL
MARTIN LICKERT and
6:50am next morning
The jolly lads
of the R.P.O.
cavort with depraved
their rented tuxedos
in an act of revenge.
to be dismayed.
The movie is over.
Now they can go home.
Howard: His intention is to create a, a piece of film so bizarre and, parts of it so full of bullshit and other parts of it so technically perfect, that the people are gonna leave the theater going, "I didn't understand it at all! What's he doing? What's, what's the message? What's he trying to say?" Well, that's the message, that he's not trying to say it.
Documentary footage of
Courtesy of VPRO-TV
Created the original
from which this 1987
version was made.
This version was
Performed by the
From the album & CD
"ZAPPA: LONDON SYMPHONY
ORCHESTRA VOL. II"
POST PRODUCTION FACILITY
SPECIAL VIDEO EQUIPMENT
THE WORLD BY
MUNCHKIN MUSIC ASCAP
That's about it for the
credits . . . however
there's still 3:22 left of
and I don't feel like
fading it out . . . so . . .
We'll just end the show
with some 1970 vintage
home movies . . .
In an out-take from
Fortunately, JANET & LUCY
happened to drop by.
© 1987 FRANK ZAPPA
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
All compositions by Frank Zappa except as noted