Frank Zappa's 200 Motels

November 10, 1971
United Artists
98 min.


Release Information

Released by: United Artists (US)
Runtime: 98 minutes
Rated: R
ASIN: 630196392X

Theatrical release dates:

1971/10/27 (MGM Movie Database)
1971/11/10 (US)
1971/11/12 (Uptown Theatre, Toronto, Canada)
1971/11/20 (Sweden)

Some TV Broadcasts:

July 25, 1993

March 9, 1996

Video release dates:

DVD releases

Voiceprint, 2010

March 8, 2010
Voiceprint, UK
Region: 0
Ratio: 16:9

For a deep and pretty detailed look at this DVD release, go here: 200 Motels On DVD (SOTCAA, April 2010)

Zappateers, October 2007

Zappateers: There has been some speculation amongst Zappa fans about a potential DVD release of 200 Motels. Is this anything you could shed any light on ?
Tony Palmer: Keep your fingers crossed—we are doing our best! We have now found the master tapes, so are looking into the potential contractural problems.

Zappateers: Was there much cut from the original release ?
Tony Palmer: Very little
Zappateers: Will there be any extra scenes on the DVD ?
Tony Palmer: Don't know yet—we are still examining the material, but there might well be an interview with me about the film's origins, if only to dispel some of the garbage that has been written about what actually happened, usually by people who were not there.

Gail Zappa,, December 2, 2010

We do not own 200 MOTELS but then again, neither does Tony Palmer and that fact does not seem to have deterred from his self-appointed rounds. Ah well. We can only hope! We do have a deal in place that should MGM decide that they want the deluxe version with all the bells and whistles they can ask us to help them out. But again, they do not have to do that.

Jonathan Cohen, "'Corsage' Inaugurates Zappa Vault Series," Billboard, July 1, 2004

Other Zappa projects in the family pipeline include an edition of the recent "Baby Snakes" DVD with DTS sound and a DVD of the 1971 film "200 Motels," which is said to be the first movie ever shot on video and then transferred to film for theatrical release.

But DVD extras may be lacking, as the original video reels appear to have been destroyed. "It boggles the mind [distributor United Artists would] be so stupid as to dump it," Gail Zappa says. "First we have to get all the materials that we can together to put it back in one piece."

"Everything you see is live," she says of the performances in the film. "What you see is what was happening. No one has ever heard, except some crazy people in Holland, the whole score. My idea would be to have a performance of that exactly the way the score is."

Instant video/DVD on demand

Studio: MGM
DVD Release Date: June 16, 2015
Run Time: 100 minutes, June 16, 2015

Shown in 4:3 full frame presentation.

This product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media.'s standard return policy will apply.

velvetgrass, Zappateers, September 2, 2017

Does anybody know if the Amazon Video (digital) version of 200 Motels differs in any way from the MGM DVD-R version?

Greg Z, Zappateers, September 6, 2017

They are identical versions. I bought both just so I could compare them.

The Different Covers

Warner Home Video PEV 99498 VHS (UK), as seen on eBay:

UK Tape

Warner Home Video PES 99498 VHS (UK):

UK Tape Cover

MGM/UA Home Video M200423 VHS (USA):

Video Cover

MGM/Rock Classics S050423 VHS (UK) video tape cover:

Rock Classics

The MGM/UA ML100423 laserdisc:


Voiceprint DVD (TPDVD127, 2010):

200 Motels (Voiceprint)

MGM Limited Edition Collection:

200 Motels

Liner Notes

"200 MOTELS"

PES 99498 VHS (UK)


"Touring can make you crazy", announces ex-Beatle Ringo Starr at the start of the movie, "And that's what 200 Motels is all about". So prepare youself for an explosion of outrageous, fast and furious humor, zany satire and extraordinary visual invention in a riveting musical fantasy of the Seventies which makes most of today's pop videos look tame by comparison.

The movie is a surrealistic 'documentary' about what happens when the performers on a rock tour begin to feel that every motel, every auditorium and all the groupies start to look alike. Set in the mythical town of Centerville, USA, 200 Motels stars Frank Zappa, the leader of one of the Seventies' greatest rock bands, The Mothers of Invention, along with Ringo Starr, Theodore Bikel and the legendary Keith Moon, coming together in a consistently fascinating and free-wheeling movie that is a treat for all fans of Frank Zappa and his group and a not-to-be-missed eye and ear-opener for every addict of great pop music.

Said Time: "The craziness climaxes, fittingly enough, with a full cast and chorus raising their voices in an irreverent anthem: "Lord, have mercy on the fate of this movie/and God bless the mind of the man in the street". Mothers fans will be ecstatic. Don't miss it.

M200423 VHS (USA)

"Just the right touch of insanity . . . a stunning achievement."
—Robert Hilburn, Los Angeles Times

200 Motels is Frank Zappa's outrageous, psychedelic precursor to today's rock videos—his hilarious response to the burning question of what to do with road-wrecked musicians. Should they rip off the motel's towels and ashtrays or merely quit the group? Dare they rebel against the tyranny of the merciless Zappa?

"The Mothers of Invention," as irrepressible as Zappa himself, wreck havoc in Centerville, a "typical" American town with its Rancid Boutique, Cheesy Motel, Fake Nightclub, Redneck Eats Cafe, groupies and an honest-to-goodness Main Street. Ringo Starr, in Zappa disquise and carrying an oil lamp, narrates. Theodore Bikel is government agent Rance Muhammitz.

The hysterically funny man behind such hits as "Valley Girl," "Dancin' Fool" and "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow," Zappa reasserts his genius in this "zaniest piece of filmusical fantasy-comedy since The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night."—Daily Variety


Cast & Crew




music composed and arranged by FRANK ZAPPA
choreographed by GILLIAN LYNNE
story and screenplay by FRANK ZAPPA
shooting script by TONY PALMER
associate producers RAOUL RAGEL · BRIAN HARRIS
characterizations directed by FRANK ZAPPA
visuals directed by TONY PALMER

Orchestra Leader COLIN STAVELEY
Orchestra Chairman JOHN LOWDELL
Acting Orchestra General Manager TOM PETZAL
Orchestra Conductor ELGAR HOWARTH
Choral Director DAVID VAN ASCH

Animation Director CHARLES SWENSON
Production Design CAL SCHENKEL
Art Director LEO AUSTIN

Unit Production Manager DAVID ANDERSON
Lion Television Services Production Manager ROY GARNER
Lion Television Services Controller TOM KEYLOCK
Assistant Director DAVID ALEXANDER
2nd Assistant Director JIM MC CUTCHEON
Dancers Music Associate RAY COOK
Lighting Director PETER DYSON
Technical Director ALAN MASHFORD
Sound Supervisor PETER HUBBARD
16 Track Recordist ROBERT AUGER
Continuity Clerk LYN GOMEZ
Production Secretary JAQI WILLIAMSON
Vision Mixer ANNE ROWE
Vision Supervisor ROLAND BROWN

Construction Supervisor HARRY PHIPPS
Costume Design SUE YELLAND
Unit Publicist IAN STOCK
Special Effects BERT LUXFORD
Still Photographer BARRY PEAKE
Wire Specialist INKY INGRAM

Dubbed at TODD A-O
Video Tape Transfer to Film TECHNICOLOR-ENGLAND




Richard Green, "Establishment Versus The Underground," New Musical Express, January 16, 1971

Zappa clarified a couple of inaccuracies in the handout we'd been given. Donovan and Ginger Baker would not be appearing in the film, he said for starters.

"In one sequence, Jeff [Simmons] is supposed to be under the influence of a mystic substance and is visited by his good conscience and his bad conscience. I supposed them to be Donovan and Ginger, but they were never called to appear." he said.

He also pointed out that there were two directors, not just Tony Palmer. "I have the fascinating job of telling the people how to say the funny lines," he laughed with a touch of cynicism.

[...] Zappa revealed that the film would include some of the footage he had in his basement at home, that he had been working on the plan for four years and that the idea had been offered to several companies before U-A accepted it.

[...] "We're working to a basic 180-page script. Improvisation will be limited basically because all the musical material and dialogue is going to be rehearsed in advance so that when the cameras are pointed at the artists, they are going to perform it just like it was a concert."

[...] A budget of 630,000 dollars has been allocated for the film which will be shot on videotape and then transferred to 35 mm film. The completed work will be ready by November at the latest, though only a week has been set aside for shooting.

"My first interest in making a movie was 'Captain Beefheart and the Grunt People' in 1964," Zappa commented. "But that was never done and there are only forty minutes of 'Uncle Meat' shot.

"We're shooting here because the technology to produce on videotape exists here. I saw Tony Palmer's Juicy Lucy and Colloseum films and was very impressed. Also, production costs are less here than in the United States."

Later, Zappa volunteered: "There is approximately one a half hours of orchestra music that has never been unleashed on human ears before. We have three grand pianos, three classical guitars with John Williams playing lead classical guitar, an orchestra, bass guitar, seven percussionists, an accordion, eight French horns, four trumpets, four trombones, four clarinets, four flutes, four oboes, a piccolo and three saxes. There are 90 pieces in all." No partridge in a pear tree?

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is to be used and this prompted another national man to ask: "Why didn't you choose another orchestra, why did you choose them?" To which Zappa retorted: "We didn't ask them, we just rung around and asked who was available."

Charles Ulrich, October 12, 2004

Several characters were recast between the shooting script and the finished film.

Obviously, Jeff Simmons was supposed to play himself. After Jeff quit the group, the role was given first to Wilfrid Brambell, and then to Martin Lickert. But note that Howard Kaylan provided the voice of the cartoon Jeff in Dental Hygiene Dilemma.

Pete Townshend (dressed up like Donovan) was supposed to play Jeff's Good Conscience. In the film, it was Mark Volman voicing the animated Billy The Mountain (dressed up like Donovan).

Keith Moon (dressed up like Ginger Baker) was supposed to play Jeff's Bad Conscience. In the film, it was Jim Pons voicing the animated Studebacher Hoch (dressed up like Jim Pons).

Mick Jagger was supposed to play the nun (while being pursued by Larry the Dwarf). Miss Pamela was supposed to play the nun (as the third groupie ODing). In the film, Keith Moon played the nun throughout.

The soprano soloist of the chorus (Phyllis Bryn-Julson) was supposed to play the rock & roll interviewer, speaking as well as singing. In the film, Miss Pamela took over the speaking role.

Jeff Beck was supposed to play the fake Lucy. In the film, Motorhead played the fake Lucy.

The shooting script contains a non-speaking role for Meredith [Monk, presumably] as the newt-rancher's girlfriend in The Pleated Gazelle.

Herbie [Cohen] was supposed to appear in two scenes, speaking his name in one of them.


George Duke

George Duke, interviewed by Robert L. Doeschuk, Keyboardist, April 1994

The only thing that made me want to retreat back to the jazz world was 200 Motels. I was still really straight then. I didn't have a big sense of humor. Even now, 200 Motels is the weirdest thing I've ever done in my life. It was so strange, I almost can't explain it. It was just very weird to be a straight-laced, thin-black-tie-wearing cat, with all these grungy hippies, for lack of a better word. But I loved it, because I knew I had something to learn, and these guys were incredible musicians. And Frank did bring out my sense of humor.

Jimmy Carl Black

Jimmy Carl Black, For Mother's Sake, 2013, p. 146-147

In December [1970], I got a call from Frank. He was in England writing music and dialogs for a movie. He had finally found someone who was willing to collaborate on a film version of his 200 Motels material. United Artists had agreed to finance the project. He told me that Ringo Starr was going to be in it, along with the latest line-up of Mothers with Flo and Eddie. Lucy and Pamela also had parts in it, along with Motorhead and Don Preston. He asked me if i would be willing to sing "Lonesome Cowboy Burt." "Just the one scen!" is what he told me. I asked him, "How much?" and he said, "500 dollars, plus expenses and you'll receive about 30 dollars a day per-diem!" I went straight down town to Herb's office and signed the contract.

[...] I flew over to London in the second week of January '71 with Flo and Eddie, George Duke, Jeff Simmons, Motorhead and Don Preston. Most of the guys had their wives with them. George had just gotten married so that was actually his honeymoon. Aynsley Dunbar was already over there and so were the girls.

Jimmy Carl Black, interviewed by Andrew Greenaway, The Idiot Bastard, June 23, 2000

I had a birthday while we were filming 200 Motels and Ringo gave me a huge birthday cake and a couple of bottles and the whole crew enjoyed that party. Me, being as big of a Beatle fan as I was and still am, that was the best thing that ever happened to me. Ringo is a very nice man. Moony was crazy, but a great fellow to party with and I did MUCHO.

Jimmy Carl Black, interviewed by Gregarious, Mother People, 1985

It's a funny flick. I've got to give credit to Frank for that—he was an innovator. That whole thing was made with television cameras, and then edited and transferred to film. The movie was made in three weeks—two weeks of rehearsals and one week of filming. Frank hired some of the original Mothers as actors, and paid us $500 apiece. The Mothers in his band, then, got $3000. Now that was a fair deal, wasn't it?

Ringo Starr

Mark Volman, interviewed by Martin Melhuish, "Zappa's 200 Motels—Life On The Road, Part 2," Grapevine (Canadian Edition), December 23, 1971

Ringo took the part in 200 Motels because all his other parts were making him look too straight. He wanted to do something that was weird.

Ringo Starr, answering Pablo S. Alonso's question, Uncut, July 2015 (quoted by NikZah, Zappateers, May 31, 2015)

It was great, from day one. I got a message from our office. "Frank Zappa wants to talk to you about something." So I said, "Tell Frank to come over to the house." He came over and he laid out this whole score, at least 25 pages of the score. I said, "Well, what are you showing me that for, Frank? I can't read music." He said, "I just wanted to show you." He said, "Will you play me in the movie?" It was really easy, he was a nice guy, so I said, "Sure." I did like Frank. I'd met him several times. He was a beautiful human being. As far as I was concerned, his music was crazy—but that's one man's opinion. But the memory of the movie was, he'd followed the band around and secretly taped their conversations and then turned it into a song and forced them to sing it. He was a lot of fun!


In an interview I read, Ringo stated that FZ was the nicest man he had met in the music business. This interview was done in the 1980's I think.

Cal Schenkel

Ringo was very much the nice fellow himself during the filming of "200 Motels." Hanging out in the pub at Pinewood with the lot of us, like one of the guys.

Jimmy Carl Black, For Mother's Sake, 2013, p. 147

On the first morning, I met Ringo Starr and Theodore Bikel. It was a great honor to meet Ringo. I told him that I really liked his playing and always had since the first time I heard it. I was surprised when he returned the compliment and told me that he thought that I was a good drummer!

Theodore Bikel

Mark Volman, interviewed by Martin Melhuish, "Zappa's 200 Motels—Life On The Road, Part 2," Grapevine (Canadian Edition), December 23, 1971

Theodore Bikel who plays Rance Muhammitz in the film wanted to do it because it was the first video taped film project and he's really into acting for acting's sake. I think his feelings sort of come out at the end of 200 Motels when you see his face and he says, 'Forgive him for he does not know what he has done.' Then he says to himself, 'Maybe he does know.'

FZ, interviewed by Den Simms & Rob Samler, Society Pages, September 1991

FZ: We were shooting 200 MOTELS, on the soundstage next to us, they were making Fiddler On The Roof. (laughter)

DS: So did that have any influence upon the making of 200 MOTELS, and if so, can you give us an example of it?

FZ: Yes. Theodore Bikel, who played Rance Muhammitz in 200 MOTELS, had played in on Broadway a number of times, and when he would come to work every day, it seemed that he wished that he was in the other soundstage instead of ours. (laughter)

Robert Williams


Re: 200 Motels-You need a good slomo and freeze frame to spot it. It's toward the beginning, I'm shirtless and wrapping toilet paper that Frank gave me around the other people's necks. I remember Frank saying, "Great! We have a non conformist in our group!"

Jeff Simmons

Martin Melhuish, "Zappa's 200 Motels—Life On The Road," Grapevine (Canadian Edition), December 1, 1971, p. 1, 16

After the screening of 200 Motels, Frank gave us an insight into the method in the madness of the film.

"When I first started writing the script for the film I based most of the actions around one main character which happened to be the bass player who was Jeff Simmons at the time.

"When Jeff Simmons joined the group it was weird situation because he has a wife that is telling him from time to time that: 'You're too heavy to be in this group because they play comedy music and you're a new and aspiring blues talent.'

"Jeff, unfortunately, liked to believe that sort of thing. He has the ability to be a fantastic comedian. He's really got that. If you know Jeff Simmons, he can crack you up so bad and he does so constantly. He's every bit as funny as Mark and Howard but he doesn't want anybody to know that because nobody will ever take him seriously and he wants to be a heavy blues bass player. As you can see, he was, within the humourous context of what we were doing a little bit uncomfortable.

"He had the best part in the film. I had to rearrange some of the dialogue in the film to the point where I found out he wasn't going to do it.

"But I had caricatured that sort of situation into the film where one guy in the group is generating all this other atmosphere because of the inner conflict about whether or not anybody can take you seriously if you have a sense of humour and still want to play the blues.

"I'd written a script and the way our production schedule was set up, we'd done a tour in Europe and the Mothers got to go home for Christmas and I was working all through to finish the pre-production.

"They were to arrive back around New Year's and they would receive the script and have a number of weeks to do that other phase of preproduction where they memorize it and so forth. They didn't know what was in the film. Everybody knew that thy thing was supposed to be a fantasy type thing but they didn't know what.

"They all got their scripts on the day they go off the plane and they had overnight to read it.

"Next day we had a meeting and everybody was going 'Ugh'. They couldn't believe what they had in their hands because it was everything they always said and I'd just stored it up and I thought I'd recycle it ecologically and get it to a point where it might be usable in some artistic form.

"Jeff cracked up on his roll and thought it was funny but the next day we had a second reading and I guess his old lady had gone to work on him because he quit the group.

"I had feelings that something like that might happen because he was a little bit reluctant to come over to see me when he got back to Los Angeles and we had some trouble at that point so I had already scouted for a potential replacement if worse came to worse. I considered Wilfred Bramble because I thought if you were going to replace Jeff Simmons with a long haired guy where are you going to get a guy who's as funny as him or so unique? So I invented a character who was supposed to be the world's oldest bass player in rock and roll.

"We were going to get a weird wig made for Wilfred. I had considered him prior to Jeff's departure. Then was the problem of getting hold of Wilfred. We didn't even know if he was available but finally we got a hold of him and made a deal.

"He came in to rehearsals which went for another week. I thought he was good in the part. He was really funny. We had invented extra business to add into the script that would rationalize his presence a little bit better and modified some things but the day we set up out at the studio to begin working in earnest on the thing he walked in, took my hand, put it up against his heart which was going 'bam, bam, bam', and he said, 'Listen! I'm an old man. I can't do this movie. I sat up all night and drank a quart of scotch. It really scares me. I just can't do it.'

"The guy was ready to have a heart attack so I'm going to say. 'No! You must make this movie.' I couldn't. But, think of the position we were in. We're at the studio ready to shoot and we've got a $679,000.00 budget to make a movie, and there isn't anybody to play the main character in the movies."

Jimmy Carl Black, For Mother's Sake, 2013, p. 147-148

We were all sitting around reading our parts when Jeff Simmons suddenly stood up and said, "I ain't playing this comedy music and I'm not gonna do this. I quit the comedy band!" They made the rest of that night very miserable on him and the next day they had him thrown out of the hotel. They told him he could pay his own ticket back and he'd brought his wife with him also! Luckily, he happened to have friends in London so they had a place to stay, while he sorted himself out. I thought it was very cool the way he stood up to Frank and Herb.

[...] Then it was the big search for who was going to play Jeff's part. They almost persuaded Marty Feldman to do it. That would have been great if he would have done it, because he is so hilarious, but he was committed to something else. Then they had Wilfred Bramble come down to try out and apparently he agreed to do it, but then it seems he freaked out after reading the script and wouldn't do it. They never really told us anything about what was going down. I guess it wasn't any of our business, like most things!

Wilfrid Brambell

Tony Palmer, interviewed by Andrew Greenawy, The Idiot Bastard Son, June 28, 2021

How did you manage to persuade Wilfrid Brambell to come along and rehearse for the film?

Again, I knew him from before, but he also decided it was not for him. He never stopped apologising to me afterwards.

Were you there to witness his departure from the set?

I was. It was not acrimonious, as has been reported.

Martin Lickert

Martin Melhuish, "Zappa's 200 Motels—Life On The Road, Part 2," Grapevine (Canadian Edition), December 23, 1971

Jeff Simmons the bass player for the Mothers and main character in the film 200 Motels had just quit the group and his replacement Wilfred Bramble had just, at the last minute before shooting, run down the hall screaming and tearing at his hair, never to be heard from again.

It was quite a predicament as Zappa remembers:

"We had a business meeting in the dressing room with Herb Cohen the business manager and all the guys in the group plus Ringo Starr. We were sitting around trying to figure out who in the world could memorize about sixty pages of dialogue and learn the bass parts. Who?

"Anyway in walks Ringo's chauffeur Martin Lickert and everybody just went, 'You! Read this!' and grabbed him. He picked it up and he read it. He was fantastic. Then we found out that he had played the bass in some little band in Birmingham and so he might be usable. He had a fantastic memory. He was still working for Ringo and memorizing the script and learning the bass parts but he did it under the most insane pressure that could be put on anyone. We shot the movie in seven days."

Martin said later: "I had gone along with Ringo to the filming and I remember going out to get some tissues or something for Ringo. When I got back to the dressing room, they all said 'ah' and pointed at me. I remember thinking, 'Hello, me flies undone! Then Frank asked me if I wanted to do the part. Apparently they all dug the way I said, 'Funky' and besides I played bass, so I said, 'yeah'.

"Ian Underwood helped me a lot, so it worked out in the end. I'm sure Frank could have got anybody for the film. He was going to get Marlon Brando for my part! Despite all the put downs in the papers, people respect Frank and like to work for him. Even me mother likes him. She hasn't heard his music, but she likes his moustache and beard."

Martin Lickert, interviewed by Danny Baker, Danny Baker After All, BBC1, 1993

The day before filming started Frank's bass player walked out. And they were originally gonna have Wilfrid Brambell in a wig and Noel Redding dubbing the bass. But it didn't work out. So they said, "Right, so, you'll do." [...] I did a bit of bass but my bass was overdubbed. [...]

The film was about a week, and we were gonna do the Albert Hall but we were banned 'cause of the lyrics.

Martin Lickert, interviewed by Andrew Greenaway, The Idiot Bastard, November 5, 1993

I said I went out for some cigarettes, but I seem to remember it was tissues from Uxbridge because Ringo had a terrible cold. [...] I had to take Ringo to the rehearsals at Pinewood, which is where it went on. Bloody good. Ringo very kindly said, "Alright, I'll get Mal Evans to drive." He's dead now, too. So Mal drove for Ringo and I stayed with the Mothers at some . . . . poor hotel!

[Zappa] was staying at a house in Holland Park with Janet and Lucy. And Gail.

[...] We played and recorded it live, but whoever was doing the mixing and whoever was doing the sound job clearly wasn't listening very closely to the bass parts. So I think Frank in fact overdubbed most of it. For someone of my limited ability, some of the stuff on that album is pretty difficult.

[...] I was gonna go back with the Mothers, but I really wasn't good enough—no, I shouldn't say that—they discovered that I wasn't really good enough. And I'd already said to Ringo I'm gonna go back because they'd said, "Do you want to play?" And then I had to ask Ringo if I could go back to work with him. But it wasn't the same—I would have left at the drop of a Fender, as it were. I went back to work with Ringo for about 3 months and it didn't work out so that was that.

[...] We were all gonna play [at the Royal Albert Hall]. But that bunch of buggers at the Royal Philharmonic, after they'd grabbed the money for '200 Motels'—I perhaps shouldn't say this . . . let's say that after they'd done the film, they didn't want to demean themselves in public. It was the lyrics that caused the trouble.

Mark Volman,, June 5, 2005

I think Martin did a good job under the circumstances and we were fortunate that he played Bass as well. Frank eventually replaced the bass with him playing it on the soundtrack record. I have never seen or heard from Martin Lickert since the movie premiere on London.

Martin Lickert, in correspondence with Patrick Neve

My getting the part in 200 Motels is pretty much as described, though I had gone to buy tissues for Ringo (he had a permanent cold) as opposed to cigarettes. I used to jam with Ringo in his studio at the top of his house when I was driving for him, and that is how he knew that I played bass. He mentioned this to Frank at Pinewood, though I have to say, my ability as any sort of guitarist has to be questioned.

[...] My memory is clouded by my habits at the time, and I cannot now remember any specifics, save one evening at a hotel in Windsor where we all stayed. Lucy Offerall had the hots for me, and I had gone to bed. My room in the hotel was on the second floor, and Keith Moon was in the room next to me. Lucy persuaded Keith to shin across the window-ledge, in the pouring rain, and break my window to allow Keith into my room and to let her in. I woke next morning, covered in broken glass and Lucy.

[...] I never played any live gigs with the Mothers, and I suppose that is one reason that they are still held in such high regard. We were supposed to play the Albert Hall directly after the filming of 200 Motels, but the gig was cancelled after the orchestra complained to the Albert Hall about the bad language. We got as far as the steps.

[...] I was supposed to go to the States with the Mothers after the film, but I was ill, and that was the end.

Keith Moon, The Nun

Chris Charlesworth, "Blue Moon!," Melody Maker, February 13, 1971

The part of the nun was to have been played by Mick Jagger, but Moon took over principally to get some experience of appearing before film cameras before work started on the Who's own film on Sunday. [...]

"We've been filming all week and last week and it's just like being on the road again," he told me as I drove hastily towards Pinewood. "I was only supposed to be doing two days filming but it has turned out to be much longer because I keep cropping up in crowd scenes as well."

[...] Back at the hotel over dinner Keith talks about his role in the film and in the Who film. "I am really only doing this film to get the hang of working before cameras. I've never been on a film set before so the experience will come in useful for our own film. I'm not doing this for the money, and I suppose anyone could dress up like a nun and do what I do. But it's great fun to do and nice to get out of London for a while. I am thinking of buying a house near Windsor too.

"With our own film each of us in the group is being given a section to write for themselves so I'm thinking of having my bit shot in Bermuda so we can all go over there. I don't know what the film company will think about it though," he adds with some doubt.

Jimmy Carl Black, For Mother's Sake, 2013, p. 147-148

They were also still trying to find someone to play the part of the nun. They wanted Mick Jagger to do it because the part was really about Marianne Faithful. He wanted to do it but he was also busy, so they got Keith Moon to do it instead.

When I met "Moony," we hit if off big time and ended up hanging together most of the time. He wouldn't let me ride in the bus to the studio because he used to take me in his lavender Rolls Royce with Chalky, his cockney chauffeur. [...] Before we started filming the movie, he moved into the same hotel we were staying in, as he didn't want to miss out on all the fun we were having!

Tony Palmer, interviewed by Andrew Greenawy, The Idiot Bastard Son, June 28, 2021

As well as Ringo and Keith Moon, didn't you also try to get The Who's Peter Townshend involved?

No; it was my idea to conscript both Ringo and Keith. I think Pete thought that was quite enough!

Jim Pons

Jim Pons, interviewed by Steve Moore, April 24, 2000

I did the voice of the bad conscience during post production. The movie was made in England, and Frank's bass player quit before filming, but he didn't replace him with me until he got back to the States. (That's why Wilfred Bramble—Paul's Grandfather in "A Hard Day's Night"—was first cast to play the part—later replaced by Martin Lickert).

Tony Palmer

Jimmy Carl Black, For Mother's Sake, 2013, p. 147

On the very first day of rehearsals there were troubles. They had hired Tony Palmer to be the director and Gerry Goode from United Artists was the producer. Of course, Frank was already there telling him how he was going to direct the movie so Palmer said, "I was hired to direct this movie, so am I directing it or not?" So, the arrangement was, Zappa directed the dialog and Tony Pamer became the technical director.

FZ, interviewed by Ian Pollock, Time Out, December 17-23, 1971

Would you use Tony Palmer again?

No I don't think so.

Did you have a lot of difficulty?

Well, yes.

He left and came back?


Did you read the review he wrote?

I've read three reviews that he wrote. I at one time considered him to be a friend. I found his behaviour very strange.

He wanted to impose his own ideas on the film?

Yeah. But it was quite inappropriate for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that most of the cast was amateur and they were also my friends, and they were also people saying dialogue that I had written, based on the way they talked. He didn't know these people, so how could he possibly expect to tell them how and what and who to express what was in there—he didn't know what it was supposed to be. I mean, in some of the interviews and articles that he's written, he says 'I don't know what it's all about, I never knew what it was all about—will somebody tell me what it's all about, it's shitty' and all the rest of the stuff. Well, from that standpoint, how could he expect to instruct the cast in what to do?

How did you come to use him in the first place?

Well I've known him for a couple of years. The first time I met him was in '67 when he did an interview with me in New York for the pop film 'All My Loving', and I did another interview when I came over in '68, and we'd had dinner a few times and he showed me some video to 35mm transfer that he'd done. I was quite impressed with it and I figured, well, at least he's had some experience in this regard.

For him to disavow all association with it is stupid, and I think for what he did in the film, he did a good job on it.

Tony Palmer, "Groupies, Drugs And Boredom: On The Insanity Of Directing 200 Motels With Frank Zappa," The Talkhouse, January 23, 2017

Two years [after All My Loving], Zappa called me to say he had been "impressed by the courage of my film" and asked if I would be interested in helping with a project of his own. [...]

When we met, he gave me "the script" of his project—300 pages, some handwritten, some paste-ups, some incomprehensible, a few lyrics, and a frequent use of the word "penis." Ah, I said. He wanted me to "visualize" it, he said. Ah, I said. To create the atmosphere of life on the road of a touring rock & roll band. Ah, I said. When do we shoot, I asked? In a month's time, he said. Do we have a cast, I asked? No, he said, apart from various musicians from his band including Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, also known as the Turtles. The cast, he said, that's your job. Ah, I said. The opening line on page 1 of "the script" read: "If you were forced by a crazy person to insert a mysterious imported lamp into the reproductive orifice of a lady harpist, would you do it?" Ah.

I later discovered something of what had happened up to that point. Zappa had approached his record company, United Artists Records, to persuade their parent company, United Artists Films, to finance a feature film to be called 200 Motels, about the trials and tribulations and misery (and sex) of life on the road—groupies, boredom, drugs, boredom, crappy motels, boredom, and . . . boredom. Songs would include "Half a Dozen Provocative Squats," "Shove It Right In," "Dental Hygiene Dilemma," "A Nun Suit Painted on Some Old Boxes" and . . . "Penis Dimension." Not surprisingly, United Artists had . . . hesitated. Zappa then said he would use his next record advance to finance the film if UA would agree to distribute. OK, they said, but we need a "safe pair of hands" whom they knew to direct. Enter Muggins, and a production company was formed called, what else? Bizarre Productions.

On the positive side, I knew that Pinewood Studios had been booked (for 10 days, a little short for a feature film) and that Zappa was no mug as a musician. His lyrics might be full of absurd provocations, not to say squats, but having studied with Varèse, he was eminently capable of writing in full score, or at least filling the pages with a great number of dots and squiggles which, whether they added up to anything more than the sums of their parts, remained a matter of debate. Anyhow, they needed an orchestra. Your job, he said.

So the Royal Philharmonic, with whom I had worked before, was volunteered, although somehow I failed to mention to them that they would be seen throughout the film in a prison camp called "The Centerville Recreational Facility," with the percussionists dressed as Nazi guards. But it was Pinewood Studios, I kept repeating. They were mightily impressed by that. As was a brilliant trumpet player and brass band conductor I had come across called Gary Howarth, today a most distinguished orchestral conductor called Elgar Howarth. Zappa wanted "serious" musicians involved, he said; enter John Williams, the great classical guitarist. There was to be "dancing"; enter Gillian Lynne, another old friend, later to become rich as the choreographer of the original production of Cats. I called up every crazy rock & roller I could think of who owed me a favor; enter Ringo Starr (disguised in the film as Frank Zappa) and Keith Moon, the drummer with the Who. Zappa's score required a choir; enter the Monteverdi Choir, although they have always denied they had anything whatsoever to do with it, partly through fear of what Sir John Eliot Gardiner might do to them if he ever found out. We need class actors, Zappa told me; enter Wilfred Brambell (best known as Harold Steptoe in Steptoe and Son) and Theodore Bikel, sometime folk singer and Captain von Trapp in the original stage production of The Sound of Music. Wow! He was to play Rance Muhammitz disguised as a TV announcer named Dave. You work it out. The problem was there was no real script I could give them.

Now comes the interesting part. Zappa's idea—to portray what life was really like on the road—was a good one. [...] Zappa's ambition was to write this large upon the silver screen.

But how to do that, and at very short notice, and with a budget that today wouldn't even pay for the wigs? 35mm film was out, economically, and there simply wouldn't be time. I told Zappa the only hope was to try and shoot it on color video. He was skeptical; United Artists were not to be told. I was sure they would cancel the whole thing at the very mention of the word "video" and blame . . . me. My view, however, was that video was relatively quick, cheap and, most important of all, it might give us the chance to experiment with the technology which, although in its infancy—some would have said pre-infancy—seemed to me to have possibilities. If it failed, well, Zappa could always blame . . . me.

But, I argued, Zappa wanted to show, visually, the effect for instance of hallucinatory drugs. To achieve this optically, by film, was of course possible, but it would be exceedingly slow, and expensive, and then might not result in something sufficiently bizarre.

[...] There was a second problem, or rather set of problems. Once we had our color video tape, could we edit it? [...] In any case, there were only a tiny number of cinemas equipped to show videotape on a large screen.

Therefore, somehow the unedited tape had to be transferred to film. Obvious, but it had never been done before. [...] By an incredible chance, I was grumbling about this latest problem with a friend who worked at Technicolor. Simple, he said. Remember that the television picture has three color signals, red, blue and green. Well, so does the old 3-strip Technicolor method of negative and print. Incredibly again, he found an old disused Technicolor printer, and if we could find a way to isolate the three television signals he said, bingo, we could transfer everything to 3-strip 35mm film and thus solve the editing and distribution problems.

Andrew Greenaway, "Zappa At The Roundhouse," The Idiot Bastard Son, November 2010

Of greater note was Gail's claim that she recorded Tony Palmer threatening to burn the master tapes for 200 Motels, which she wants to include on a future CD release.

David Alexander, Assistant Director

Michael Watts, "Zappa's Got A Brand New Bag," Melody Maker, February 13, 1971

David is a very impressive-looking cat, who appears to be an assistant co-director. He is very tall and rangy, with a black sweater and trousers, white shoes and a red cloth cap, that perches on his head above big shades. A pair of cans look permanently glued to his ears, and every now and then he says "yes, Tony" or "right, Tony," the Tony in question being Mr. Tony Palmer, who is directing the movie from a control room outside the studio.

This guy David paces in brooding fashion around the set, slinging out sardonic asides every once in a while from a mouth that is incessantly grinding chewing gum. When he is not doing that or talking to Tony, he is shouting "cut," though maybe he should have said: "Once more from the top?"

Elgar Howarth

FZ, interviewed by Den Simms & Rob Samler, Society Pages, September 1991

I recently received a letter from a guy who's a music student in England, and his teacher is Elgar Howarth, the guy who conducted the [Royal Philharmonic] orchestra, and this guy had said that he was surprised that I had used [Howarth] for this job because he appeared to have absolutely no sense of humor. (laughter)

Tony Palmer, interviewed by Andrew Greenawy, The Idiot Bastard Son, June 28, 2021

What about the The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's conductor, Elgar Howarth?

I had used him in something I had done while still at the BBC, and thought he would not be fazed by the shenanigans. I later used him in a film I made about William Walton.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

FZ, interviewed by Ian Pollock, Time Out, December 17-23, 1971

How much rehearsal time did you have with the RPO?

For the comparatively modern music, they had to perform, they had an awfully small amount of rehearsals.

You're not too pleased?

I won't say that, but I would have liked more rehearsal time.

Top Score Singers

FZ, quoted by Lon Goddard, Record Mirror, January 23, 1971

The cast includes The Mothers, Theodore Bikel, Jimmy Carl Black, the members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the King's Singers and surprise guests.

John Williams

FZ, Exploratorium, May 20, 1984

The first pieces from the 200 Motels album had three classical guitars on it, and one of the most famous classical guitarists in the world was on that recording session and the part baffled him so, when the other two guys were playing their parts, he just thought he'd sit out and listen to it, to see how it went, and that was the only take that was done of that piece, so, he—I don't wanna name his name—but he, he was hired, he was on there, but he wasn't on there. There were like four or five little chamber like pieces in that album that used classical guitar, but I don't usually write for it.

Tony Palmer, interviewed by Andrew Greenawy, The Idiot Bastard Son, June 28, 2021

Was it your idea to rope in John Williams?

Yes; he was—and is—an old friend.

Gillian Lynne

Tony Palmer, interviewed by Andrew Greenawy, The Idiot Bastard Son, June 28, 2021

What did choreographer Gillian Lynne make of it all?

I had seen something she had done for the Royal Ballet, so I told Frank he must have a choreographer. She greatly enjoyed it all and we became firm friends. She later told me that many of the 'movements' she devised for Cats had taken their inspiration from 200 Motels.

Ruth Underwood

Ruth Underwood, interviewed by A.D. Amorosi, "Of Motels And Mallets," Waxpoetics, November 30, 2021

On that set, I stuck very much to what Frank wrote out on the printed page. That was always the thing with Zappa, but on 200 Motels, I didn't have any crack at playing melody. I also knew that I never stood a chance to be Zappa's full-time drummer, as he had Aynsley Dunbar at that point. And he was a monster. [...]

Frank had actually wanted me to do some acting in the film, though I never did see a script. He wanted me to be on-screen during Jimmy Carl Black's 'Lonesome Cowboy [Burt]' song. I was supposed to be the 'hot little bitch waitress,' Opal. But [the film company] pulled the plug on time and money, and much of the material never got played or filmed. Frank wasn't happy with those results.


Locations & Characters

Time (*) Scenes Location Cast Score Music
0:00:02-0:00:10   (Zappa house) [16 mm] Motorhead   Semi-Fraudulent/Direct-From-Hollywood Overture (Holiday In Berlin)
0:00:08-0:01:06 2 orchestra brass, violins, harp
0:01:06-0:01:14   (on the road) [16 mm]     Semi-Fraudulent/Direct-From-Hollywood Overture
0:01:14-0:01:32   (real motel room) [16 mm] (M.O.I., Robert Williams)
0:01:32-0:02:05 2 TV studio Ringo Starr—Larry The Dwarf
Theodore Bikel—Narrator
Keith Moon—Nun
0:02:05-0:04:00 3   (lounge piano)
0:03:58-0:06:15   rock stage Aynsley Dunbar—drums
FZ—(no guitar)
Mark Volman—vocals
George Duke—trombone
Howard Kaylan—vocals
Ian Underwood—tenor sax
Martin Lickert—bass
  Mystery Roach
0:06:10-0:06:40 32 fake motel room Howard
0:06:40-0:07:29 19, 20 rock stage Theodore Bikel—Rance Muhammitz
0:07:29-0:07:59 17 fake club Jimmy Carl Black
Theodore Bikel—Rance Muhammitz
Zappa dummy
Don Preston
0:07:59-0:08:09 20 rock stage Theodore Bikel—Rance Muhammitz
Martin Lickert—Jeff
0:08:09-0:08:18 17 fake club Don Preston
0:08:18-0:08:39 20 rock stage Mark
Theodore Bikel—Rance Muhammitz
0:08:39-0:09:41 17 fake club JCB
Theodore Bikel—Rance Muhammitz
Don Preston
Pamela Miller
Dick Barber—vacuum cleaner
0:09:41-0:11:24 32 fake motel room Mark
Ringo Starr—Larry The Dwarf
0:11:22-0:11:28 32 camera crew FZ
Zappa dummy
0:11:27-0:11:36 32 fake motel room Mark
Ringo Starr—Larry The Dwarf
0:11:36-0:11:56 17 fake club JCB
Theodore Bikel
Zappa dummy
Don Preston—Uncle Meat
Dick Barber—vacuum cleaner
0:11:56-0:12:42 14   orchestra
dancers—rock & roll interviewers
Zappa dummy
Miss Janet
Miss Lucy
  Dance Of The Rock & Roll Interviewers
0:12:38-0:14:23 32 fake motel room Ringo Starr
0:14:06-0:14:08 15?   Zappa dummy   (unidentified)
0:14:15-0:15:59 15   dancers—rock & roll interviewers
Zappa dummy
Miss Janet
Miss Lucy
  What's The Name Of Your Group?
0:15:59-0:16:07 17 fake club Motorhead
Don Preston
Dick Barber—vacuum cleaner
Theodore Bikel
0:16:07-0:16:54 20 stage Theodore Bikel
0:16:45-0:18:56 21 Centerville Howard
dancers—Centerville folks
0:18:56-0:20:14 21 rancid boutique Miss Lucy
Miss Janet
  (background rock music)
0:20:14-0:22:04 26 stage Aynsley—drums
  The Sealed Tuna Bolero
0:20:42-0:21:08 25   dancers
Theodore Bikel
0:21:12-0:21:21 28   dancers
Theodore Bikel
0:20:48-0:21:05 35? newt ranch Dick Barber
0:22:01-0:26:00   stage Aynsley—drums
  Lonesome Cowboy Burt
0:22:11-0:25:17 29 fake club JCB—machine gun, vocals
dancers—club customers
Don Preston—piano
Motorhead—fake Lucy
Ruth Underwood—drums
0:25:59-0:27:24 29, 30 fake club Theodore Bikel
0:27:24-0:28:34 30   Naval Aviation In Art?
0:28:33-0:30:51 21 Centerville Ringo
  (unidentified; including parts of "Lucy's Seduction Of A Bored Violinist & Postlude")
0:29:32-0:30:04 21?   orchestra (including bored violinist)
0:29:39-0:29:51 21 concentration camp Herb Cohen—armed guard
0:30:49-0:34:59 81-82 stage FZ—guitar
Mark—vocals, tambourines
  Magic Fingers
0:34:57-0:35:57 47 office Ringo    
0:35:56-0:36:13 31 fake club Aynsley
Mark—fake Janet
dancers—club customers
Motorhead—fake Lucy
0:36:13-0:36:16 30 fake club Theodore Bikel—Rance Muhammitz    
0:36:16-0:36:47 47 office Ringo    
0:36:45-0:37:01 31 fake club JCB
Mark—fake Janet
dancers—club customers
Motorhead—fake Lucy
Don Preston—Uncle Meat
0:37:01-0:37:17 47 office Ringo   (Dental Hygiene Dilemma [instrumental])
0:37:17-0:37:36 52   orchestra
Keith Moon
0:37:35-0:37:39     percussion player   The Pleated Gazelle
0:37:39-0:38:09 38   dancers—newts
0:38:08-0:39:23 40   singer—narrator
Phyllis Bryn-Julson—the girl
Keith Moon—nun (piano)
0:39:24-0:39:45 [51?]   Motorhead
Dick Barber—vacuum cleaner
0:39:37-0:40:14 [41]   classic guitar
Keith Moon—nun
0:40:12-0:40:26 [51?]   Motorhead
Dick Barber—vacuum cleaner
Judy Gridley—the girl
0:40:24-0:41:19 [42]   Keith Moon—nun
Phyllis Bryn-Julson—the girl
0:41:19-0:42:10 55   Motorhead
Judy Gridley—the girl
0:42:07-0:42:31 45   Phyllis Bryn-Julson—the girl  
0:42:31-0:47:06 [96] (cartoon)     Dental Hygiene Dilemma (**)
0:47:06-0:48:50 [97-98]     Does This Kind Of Life Look Interesting To You? (**)
0:48:50-0:52:30 57 girls apartment Keith Moon
Miss Janet
Miss Lucy
0:50:03-0:50:09 57 stage Aynsley    
0:52:28-0:55:25 87   Miss Janet
Miss Lucy
  Penis Dimension
0:55:25-0:56:08 [99?]   The Monolith
Dick Barber
0:56:04-1:00:22 84-85   Howard
Mark—fake Janet
Keith Moon
Miss Lucy
Miss Janet
Don Preston
0:57:57-1:00:22 85 stage Howard—vocals
1:00:22-1:00:27 67   Ringo    
1:00:27-1:01:00 58 stage Mark—tambourines, vocals
  She Painted Up Her Face
1:00:53-1:01:07 66 girls apartment Janet dummy
Miss Janet
1:01:05-1:02:16 58 stage Mark—tambourines, vocals
1:02:14-1:02:36     George—piano   Janet's Big Dance Number
1:02:36-1:03:15 60   Miss Janet
1:03:15-1:03:30     George—piano  
1:03:30-1:04:25 61 stage Mark—tambourines, vocals
  Half A Dozen Provocative Squats
1:04:25-1:04:59 63? girls bathroom Miss Lucy
1:04:59-1:05:29 61 stage Howard—vocals
1:05:26-1:07:06 62   Miss Lucy
orchestra (including bored violinist)
  Lucy's Seduction Of A Bored Violinist
1:07:02-1:07:34 [63] stage Mark—vocals
  Shove It Right In
1:07:33-1:08:01 66 girls apartment Miss Lucy
Lucy dummy
1:07:58-1:08:44 [63] stage Howard—vocals
1:08:40-1:08:53 66 girls apartment Keith Moon—nun
1:08:50-1:09:30 [63] stage Aynsley—drums
1:09:29-1:10:30 67 stage Ringo    
1:09:40-1:11:24 67 dressing rooms Mark
1:11:22-1:12:16 68 stage Howard—vocals
  What Will This Morning Bring Me This Evening?
1:12:16-1:12:22   (on the road) [16 mm]  
1:12:22-1:12:28 68   Howard—vocals
1:12:28-1:13:10   (on the road) [16 mm]  
1:13:09-1:13:27 70 fake club Motorhead—fake Lucy
Mark—fake Janet
Lucy dummy
Janet dummy
Miss Lucy
Miss Janet
1:13:27-1:14:02 69 dressing rooms Aynsley
1:14:01-1:17:29 71-72 fake club Mark—fake Janet
Keith Moon
Lucy dummy
Motorhead—fake Lucy
Miss Lucy
Theodore Bikel
Janet dummy
Miss Janet
Dick Barber—vacuum cleaner
dancers—local folks, workers, newts
  Daddy, Daddy, Daddy
1:17:27-1:22:17 90 fake club/ laboratory Don Preston
1:21:42-1:21:50 [99?]   Monolith    
1:22:17-1:22:20 75 fake club/laboratory exploding coffee machine   What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning? (**)
1:22:20-1:23:06 35?   Dick Barber
1:22:20-1:23:43 [21?]   Dick Barber
1:23:10-1:23:48 93   FZ's eye
1:23:43-1:23:45   fake club JCB
1:23:46-1:23:47     Dick Barber
1:23:47-1:23:59 92 fake motel room Martin
1:24:27-1:25:21   Mysterioso
1:25:21-1:26:01   Dental Hygiene Dilemma (**)
1:26:01-1:27:00   Does This Kind Of Life Look Interesting To You? (**)
1:27:00-1:27:11 93   FZ's eye    
1:27:07-1:37:34 100-101   Theodore Bikel
Motorhead—Larry Fanoga
Miss Lucy
Miss Janet
Phyllis Bryn-Julson
  Strictly Genteel (The Finale)
1:30:30-1:37:34 stage Mark—vocals
1:32:21-1:32:36   Centerville  
1:34:30-1:34:31   stage JCB—Lonesome Cowboy Burt
1:34:30-1:34:31     Theodore Bikel—Rance Muhammitz
1:37:14-1:37:31   stage JCB—Lonesome Cowboy Burt
1:37:36-1:38:49   (credits)     Postlude

(*) Timing approximate.
(**) These tracks are at the same speed as the album versions. The rest of the soundtrack is slowed down approximately one semitone.

The Premiere

New York City, NY

Martin Melhuish, "Zappa's 200 Motels—Life On The Road," Grapevine (Canadian Edition), December 1, 1971, p. 1, 16

The occasion for this latest visit was to witness the birth of Frank Zappa's newest creation, a movie this time, 200 Motels. United Artists had gone to considerable expense, (actually I found out later that Frank also had more than a picayune financial investment in this particular project), to fly in the pop press from all over Europe and North America to be on hand for it's premiere. The Mothers of Invention Carnegie Hall gig coincided within a couple of days of the screening of 200 Motels so it was a matter of killing two birds with one stone.

The press who was treated to a three day tour with Frank and the Mothers, arrived back in New York by bus from Boston the evening before the Mothers long awaited Carnegie Hall gig. For most, exhaustion had already set in and the thought of getting back to the hotel room to get a good nights sleep was foremost in everybody's minds but Frank had planned a little get together to show some old movies of the Mothers on tour and talk about 200 Motels.

October 29, 1971—Doheny Plaza Theater, Los Angeles, CA

Randall, Steve, "Zappa Glorifies Himself On Film," Daily Trojan, October 29, 1971

"200 Motels" opens tonight at the Doheny Plaza in Beverly Hills.

Tom Brown, November 11, 2013

It was announced that 200 Motels the movie was going to have its world premier at the Doheny Plaza Theatre (Beverly Hills no less), and my beautiful live-in girlfriend being a hardcore fan of Frank's music herself managed to get us tickets. Upon our arrival we parked just across the street from the theatre to see Frank standing casually in front of the venue talking to several fans. We were both consumed with excitement of seeing our musical hero in person and proceeded to vacate the car as fast as we could so we might introduce ourselves to the maestro. Unfortunately by the time we crossed the street he was gone, but every freak in Los Angeles was there and decked out in their finest and freakiest costumes. Among them were 2 women with outrageous orange make-up denoting a pig's face, which qualified as the most impressive costume of the evening. However there were many others who were waving their freak flag high as well. At least for this one night the Doheny Plaza Theatre had been turned into the proverbial Freak City. It was the finest display of pure, unmitigated freakiness I've seen before or since. If one was living in or around Los Angeles in the early 70's you'll know what I'm talking about. Upon entering the theatre we immediately spotted Don Preston walking across the lobby by himself and heading toward the exit. But time she was a-wastin' and we quickly located our seats to insure that we weren't going to miss anything. The strong smell of cannabis wafted throughout the theatre like a summer breeze. We had just taken our seats when the first joint of the evening was being passed down the aisle and into our grasps, which continued and didn't stop until the movie came to its end. There were no ushers prowling the aisles telling people to extinguish them. Hard to imagine now, although when we returned the following evening to see it again it was a different day in more ways than one. Gone were the freaks and no one was smoking anything, legal or otherwise. Freak City had moved on.

Jimmy Carl Black, For Mother's Sake, 2013, p. 151

In November, I went to see the opening of 200 Motels. It was just before Frank left for a tour of Europe. [...] The opening was in West Hollywood in a nice theater. It was shown for two nights. Frank asked me if I would be there because it would be good PR. There was a big billboard on Sunset Boulevard with a big painted poster and it was beautiful. The first night, I took my wife and kids and they seemed to like it, especially the animated part. The second night, I went with all the guys from Geronimo Black.



Okay, bring the band on down behind me, boys, I have another question for the FZ experts in the room: Is this true, or just something to sit on top of the bogus rumor pile? True or False: "200 Motels" was premiered at an old folks home, possibly in Baltimore, with Frank in attendance. I've heard this one literally since the movie came out but other than maybe reading it ONCE I've never seen it in print again. Can anyone help?


FZ, interviewed by Ian Pollock, Time Out, December 17-23, 1971

I heard that it's already done pretty well in the States.

It's done fantastic in the States and is continuing to do so. They did a 14,000 dollar gross in three days in a 500 seat theatre in New York, 10,600 for three days in a 3,000 seat theatre in Toronto, and the places it's been running for the longest time, in Boston and Los Angeles, the business has improved each week. It's one of the top three selling films over there.


The Music

According to the Shooting Script, Patrick Pending's article on the 200 Motels CD booklet, and Tom Troccoli's article from Society Pages, this could have been the original running order for 200 Motels:

  1. Semi-Fraudulent/Direct From Hollywood Overture
  2. Touring Can Make You Crazy
  3. What's The Name Of Your Group?
    1. Dance Of The Rock & Roll Interviewers
    2. What's The Name of Your Group?
  4. Would You Like A Snack?
  5. Centerville
  6. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich
    1. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich (Prologue)
    2. Tuna Fish Promenade
    3. Dance Of The Just Plain Folks
    4. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich (Reprise)
    5. The Sealed Tuna Bolero
  7. Lonesome Cowboy Burt
  8. Redneck Eats
  9. Mystery Roach
  10. I Have Seen The Pleated Gazelle
    1. Motorhead's Midnight Ranch
    2. Dew On The Newts We Got
    3. The Lad Searches The Night For His Newts
    4. The Girl Wants To Fix Him Some Broth
    5. The Girl's Dream
    6. Little Green Scratchy Sweaters & Corduroy Ponce
    7. A Nun Suit Painted On Some Old Boxes
  11. Shove It Right In
    1. She Painted Up Her Face
    2. Janet's Big Dance Number
    3. Half A Dozen Provocative Squats
    4. Mysterioso
    5. Shove It Right In
    6. Lucy's Seduction Of A Bored Violinist
  12. The "Groupie Opera"
    1. What Will This Morning Bring Me This Evening?
    2. What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning?
    3. What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are?
    4. Bwana Dik
    5. Latex Solar Beef
    6. Daddy, Daddy, Daddy
    7. Do You Like My New Car?
    8. Magic Fingers
  13. Penis Dimension
  14. I'm Stealing The Towels
  15. Dental Hygiene Dilemma
  16. Does This Kind Of Life Look Interesting To You?
  17. Strictly Genteel
  18. The Finale
  19. Postlude

Songs that didn't make it in the final script:


The Plot

FZ, interviewed by Mike Gold, The Seed, December 1970

The villain is played by Theodore Bikel. He plays a guy called Rance Muhammitz who owns a town called Centerville. He's got an orchestra called the Centerville Philharmonic, which bit the bag last season financially. He owns everything in town—the [colonics parlor], the Redneck Restaurant, the psychedelic nightclub, he's got it all covered. It's the orchestra that he used to keep around so he could listen to Wagner every once in a while because he's got this Nazi-type syndrome. They didn't do too well, so he's looking for a way for the orchestra to break even.

That's one sub-plot that's happening. The main thing that's happening in the film is it's the diary of how you go on the road, it makes you crazy.


Original Project

Dutch TV

"Introducing . . . The Mothers," The Mothers 1970 (2020)

Jan Donkers: A few years ago you told me that you were planning to live in Amsterdam for a while. What's— Have you any plans in this direction now?

FZ: Well, if, uh, they do 2— There's talk about doing 200 Motels on VPRO television and at that time I was thinking about living here for about a month prior to the production of the show.

Jan Donkers: When will it be?

FZ: December, I think.

FZ, interviewed by Horst Königstein, Radio Bremen, June 19, 1970

There is a chance that [200 Motels] will be done as a television special in Holland, in December. We're negotiating now to do a complete multimedia presentation which will involve the Dutch Radio Orchestra, the Radio Chorus that they have, some dancers, The Mothers Of Invention, plus films and scenery in the studio. They're going to do a color show and it will have a stereo soundtrack, you know, broadcast simultaneously over a radio station and the TV. So I'm looking forward to doing that.

Chris Hodenfield, Strange Days, September 11-25, 1970

His next big Cinemascope Rajah project is an orchestra symphony, 200 Motels. He scored the entire thing for a 40-piece orchestra, and Holland television will premier it this autumn. The whole scene is amazing. The government station is handing over the entire studios, narrators, dancers, editing equipment, sets, and chorus girls, to Zappa to present this, which, in essence, is a diary of a band. (Get it? 200 Motels?)

Craig McGregor, "Zapparap On The Zappaplan," The New York Times, November 8, 1970

In fact, the whole thing won't really come together until Dec. 27, when Zappa and the Mothers fly to Amsterdam to videotape the entire opera for Dutch television. Then all he has to do is raise half a million dollars to turn it into a movie . . . .

When Zappa calls the opera grandiose, he means it. The cast: "One seven-piece electric band called the Mothers of Invention; one official buffoon called Motorhead; one electronic music composer who turns into a monster named Don Preston; one Jewish film editor from New York named Phyllis Altenhaus, who's the victim of the monster; 12 ballet dancers, 4 mimes, one dwarf, one narrator, one soprano soloist, one 40-voice choir, one 91-piece orchestra, 3 grand pianos, and that's it—that's what we have to work with."

Hell, he's even worked out a way to include those 40 minutes of 'Uncle Meat.' "It seems like it's impossible, doesn't it? Well, it's not; I work 'Uncle Meat' in at the start and we end up with this one enormous outrageous thing!" [...] In "200 Motels" he will be doing everything from leading the Mothers on stage to cueing the video director as to what the audience sees. Unfortunately, it's unlikely ever to be seen on American TV.

"You have to remember that there's no censorship problem on Dutch television: there isn't any kind of nudity, any kind of language you can't use," says Zappa. "So long as you've got a symphony orchestra in the back of it, it's Art. Get the picture? Okay. Now, the first movement in '200 Motels' is the real world, in quotes, which shows the environment the rock and roll creep functions in. Like one of the songs is 'This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich,' and after the song there's a 'Sealed Tuna Sandwich' ballet. We're in this town, see, and it's really dull, and there's nothing to do but go to the local redneck bar and grill and we meet this guy named Lonesome Cowboy Bert who's operating this enormous surrealistic pinball-game type machine which has a rifle on it, and cardboard cutouts of replica Communists, long-haired creeps and faggots, Supreme Court judges and so on are wheeling by, and he's blowing their heads off with this rifle and lip-synching this song, called 'Lonesome Cowboy Bert,' which is supposedly coming over a jukebox. At the end of this confrontation we feel obliged to remind him in a cheerful sort of way that his problem is between his legs, and we sing a song called 'Penis Dimension.' The whole first movement is made up of those kind of scenes . . .

"Then the second movement is the girls on the road, you know, the groupies you run into. Now I have a tape of most of the movement already sequenced out, but what goes in between is a fantasy that's going on in my mind while I'm on the road. The third movement is called 'The Red Throbber'; it views the groupie phenomena from another angle, through the eyes of a Custom Inspector. Who has a girlfriend called Sharleena. Who is a groupie. And then the Grand Finale comes when the Mothers are sitting in in airplane on the way back from Europe, and we are about to go through customs with this inspector who has fallen in love with his dog, it's a cardboard dog and we can hear it snarling, and on the plane, man, we have just learnt that this chick . . . "

The rest of the opera isn't really the sort of thing Spiro Agnew would approve, but that doesn't worry Zappa. "I like it. I think it's really entertaining, It's the kind of TV show I always wanted to watch. It's dealing with something people can understand. The cardboard dog may be a little peripheral, but most of the stuff is right down there, you know, in the real world where you can get into it."

FZ, quoted by Lon Goddard, Record Mirror, January 23, 1971

I took it to several companies [...]. 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.

FZ, interviewed by Mike Gold, The Seed, December 1970

I have another film project that I was shopping around and we managed to get a budget from United Artists to finish that one. We're going to shoot it in January and February in England, and it's called 200 Motels. It has to be delivered to United Artists by November 1st of next year for a Christmas release. Its budget is $630,000. [...]

It was amazing, because we went to the head of United Artists, we gave him a tape that had a half hours worth of songs on it, a ten page treatment of the plot line, and some clippings and a couple of photographs. He studied it for about five days, we had a meeting, walked into the office and before we even sat down he said "We've got a deal."

The Red Throbber & Other Things

FZ, interviewed by Barry Miles, NYC, November 14, 1970 (International Times, January-February 1971)

F: Considering the ease with which the deal was made, it was unbelievable—we sent [United Artists] a tape and a 10-page treatment, and a few days later we had a meeting. We walked in & the guy says: "You've got a deal", just like that.

M: Everything you asked for?

F: Well, I would like to have more money for the budget, but considering the amount that it is, we'll be able to do it. It's going to be tight

M: Is that why you're shooting in England?

F: Yes. Well, that's one of the reasons. I figured it would be fun to do it over there. The main enticement was the cost of the orchestra. We got the Royal Philharmonic for a thousand pounds a session.

M: Which is cheap . . .

F: For a hundred men! You ain't kidding . . . We'll be shooting at Pinewood, we have two stages there . . . Tony Palmer is going to be the video-director. We're doing a video thing which is transferred to 35 mil—that's for the orchestra section . . .

M: What kind of dramatic things are going to happen?

F: Well, we haven't signed him yet, but we're negotiating for Theodore Bikel to be the heavy in the film . . . he's really good and he's going to be good for this part if he does it. That's the narrator in the Fleeting Gazelle and also the part of interrogator in this other sequence . . .

Certain things have been added to the script. For instance, the original concept for the orchestral environment was going to be a mountain made out of urethane foam. We got a cost estimate on making that—it was just too much. You can make the foam cheap but you can't reinforce it strong enough to hold 100 people cheap—the scaffolding and the man hours is what runs up the cost. So we canned that and now the orchestra lives in a concentration camp. It's Camp Untermunchen and it's a music camp sponsored by the United States government—we're going to build a stylized one inside the sound stage.

The concentration camp is at the end of the main street of Centreville . . . there's a main stage in the camp, a Busby-Berkeley type stage which laps into the concentration camp, and there's a barbed wire fence which is continued across our stage by a set of iron bars. There is a sliding door and we can go in and out of the camp at will because we can buy-off the guards. Then on Main Street, there is a newt ranch; for Motorhead and his girlfriend, and a bank, and the Rantz Mahamet's Colonic Parlour, and the meat market and a motel: an endless motel which just goes streaming down to infinity with fraudulent perspective. And at the end of the street is this airport with huge, out of proportion 747's lurking . . . just painted on the wall in back. And then there's a psychedelic night-club called the Electric Circus Factory and there's a bar called RED NECK EATS and there's a neon sign in the windows that blinks on and off that says: "Eat Beer!" . . .

The narration is stylized. At one point, when I'm doing some narration and some action, I'm sitting in a motel room with an open window and I'm writing and I'm talking about how I'm doing this thing called Fleeting Gazelle and then the camera pans over my shoulder and you can see through the window the action that I'm describing: which is this girl coming out of the Colonic Parlour wearing the overcoat with the weanies on the shoulder and all that stuff . . .

Cal (Schenkel) has designed this great environment, most of it stylized stuff, like the front wall of a house would be scrim on a framework, painted so that if you front-light it you can see what's painted on it and if you back-light it, it transparentizes and you can see the characters behind in sort of a dreamland type tiling. And just a vague outline of what was on the front. There's a lot of things done that way . . . the special effects we'll be using consist mostly of wire-work: flying people in and out of situations . . .


M: How many of the original Mothers will you be taking with you ?

F: Don Preston, Motorhead and we may take Roy and Lowell—I'm not sure as I haven't spoken with them yet. I have parts for them to play but then it's a question of the budget because each person that we bring over is like $ 1,500 worth of airfare and lodging for the duration of the stay, plus you have it to pay 'em. We have a certain amount of money in the budget for contingencies, but I'm afraid that extra mixing on the soundtrack is probably going to eat that up. And there's half an hour of the film's going to be animated: The Red Throbber, that whole sequence.

The Red Throbber is the thing about this guy who's a custom's inspector and has a cardboard dog named Babette that's been trained by the government to sniff out hash and marijuana at the airport. He just recently managed to shack up with his high school friend, Charlene, that he's been secretly beating-off over for ten years, and they've been going steady for three weeks, and he gets home from work one night with a lot of beer and he's ready to get it on, and Charlene has gone! So he goes into this frenzy, gets drunk, whips out his ouija board & asks it what's going on: the ouija board spells out: R.E.D.T.H.R.O.B.B.E.R. And he passes out in a coma and in this dream he imagines that this girl is at the Chateau Marmont, Bungalow B (Hollywood's hip hotel) being thrashed and eroticised by the Led Zeppelin. Then there is this elaborate dream sequence in which you see the guy that's doing it to her standing over the bed, (this is really not the Led Zeppelin you know—it's a figure of speech). The guy, all he's got on are these python boots and a black mask and this battery belt over his shoulder and this huge vibrator with wires hanging out. And he's holding it like a Krupp armament, standing over this chick on the bed. The thing goes off like a pneumatic drill on the street. And that's the kind of stuff that's going to be animated. Cal is doing all the designs all the characters, all the backgrounds, and then the stuff is executed, by this company.


M: What other work have you been doing?

F: I finished two new books of scores just before the tour. One is called What's the name of your group? and the other one is called Shove it right in.

What's the name of your group? is really funny because it is the melody line of the finale from the Festival Hall show which is going to be intercut with the bridge and the ostenato of Pound for A Brown all with lyrics. You know that bass line" Well, the bass singers are going to be singing: "Far out, far fuckin' out, far fuckin' out and, groovie!" because it is a scene with this chick who is doing her first rock and roll interview. I'm sitting on stage, handcuffed to a chair, and I don't answer any of her questions and she's really obnoxious. She has a polaroid camera with flashbulbs, all the dancers and the chorus have cameras with flashbulbs and they all shoot 'em on cue in their score. So that from time to time there's these constellation barrages of bulbs going off, and all of a sudden they'll all go "Yyyeeenntzzz!" and pull the tab on the camera, and it's all scored.

So one of her lines is "I bet your group name is real weird because you look weird yourself" and "I've got this lense here for my camera that'll make you look like some kind of depraved troll or something, because the kids who read our rock and roll magazine like to see famous musicians who look real far out and groovy". Then the chorus sings: "Far out, far fuckin' out . . . " and she's got a few "Far fuckin' out"-s in there, and then the bridge to Pound for a Brown when it gets to the bit where it's like the Lone Ranger music, the chorus is singing: "How do they like your music over there?" because she just said, "How long have you been growing your hair and have you been to England and how do they like your music over there?" The chorus goes: "Over there, over there, how do they like your music over there . . . " It builds up and then they shoot flash bulbs and then the soprano stops and says: "I just want to verify a rumour. Is it true that you did this show at the Festival Hall?" and then it cuts to the rehearsal at the Festival Hall which is pixilated footage that was shot out at this pub on Seven Sisters Road when we were rehearsing. It was great. We had 15 members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Mothers in the back room of this pub—it was the only place we could find to rehearse. We wheeled in a baby grand piano. Really great.

So there's that footage, then the orchestra starts up again and she stops them again and says:"Is it also true that you were in Vienna and you made this movie of your wife and an unidentified foot?" And then there is this sequence of my writing some of the music for the film dissolving into shots of my wife with my foot on her tit, like this . . . strangling her tit, and she starts laughing. And that cuts in 'n out of a couple of scratches, my nose over the page, a bunch of people walking round the room. Then this percussion music comes back for a while and then she stops them again and says: "And you insisted on mounting your silly little production against the best judgement of Herbie Cohen! You had the audacity to perform it twice at the very Royal Festival Hall itself on one night whereupon it swiftly received a Chris Welch Melody Maker review pronouncing it totally rancid and devoid of minimum entertainment value and social blah blah . . . " And then we go into the Festival Hall footage where Jimmy Carl Black comes out drunken on stage and he starts saying: "I'm quitting the Mothers . . . " and shit like that.

Gunther Schuller

FZ, interviewed by David Reitman, Rock Magazine, January 25, 1971

We have the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and we are in the process of negotiating with Gunther Schuller to conduct it. He wants to do it. It's just a matter of figuring out whether we can afford him. There's a 40 voice choir, 12 dancers, Mothers of Invention, new and old.

Gunther Schuller, interviewed by Bruce Duffie, October 15, 1988

There are marvelously creative people in the so-called rock and popular fields. Frank Zappa is a genius! [...] They have a following a little larger than mine, but not much larger. Frank Zappa hasn't been on the charts—even in the top 20, let alone at the top—in something like eight or nine years! Why? Because he's a very creative person! He wants to use some interesting new materials; some new harmonies, some new forms. He wants to use more elaborate melodic material, and to the extent that he does that even by one little iota, he eliminates himself a priori from any consideration in that vast field!

Gunther Schuller, interviewed by Frank J. Oteri, May 5, 2009

Well it's not true that I was against [rock music]. That's been a misunderstanding. I was against, or I was very dismissive of, a lot of bad rock. But my God, my best friend was Frank Zappa and I hung out with Jefferson Airplane and The Association. And, in fact, for years I gave lectures on all the pop music that existed at the time, including country and bluegrass and all those other things. It's just that anything that is a sort of lowest common denominator quality made for a mass public and only for that is music that I just can't be very excited about.


200 Motels (1970)

Uncle Meat

Craig McGregor, "Zapparap On The Zappaplan," The New York Times, November 8, 1970

He's even worked out a way to include those 40 minutes of 'Uncle Meat.' "[...] I work 'Uncle Meat' in at the start and we end up with this one enormous outrageous thing!"

1st Movement

Craig McGregor, "Zapparap On The Zappaplan," The New York Times, November 8, 1970

"The first movement in '200 Motels' is the real world [...]. Like one of the songs is 'This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich,' and after the song there's a 'Sealed Tuna Sandwich' ballet. We're in this town, see, and it's really dull, and there's nothing to do but go to the local redneck bar and grill and we meet this guy named Lonesome Cowboy Bert [...] who's operating this enormous surrealistic pinball-game type machine which has a rifle on it [...] and lip-synching this song, called 'Lonesome Cowboy Bert,' which is supposedly coming over a jukebox. At the end of this confrontation we feel obliged to remind him in a cheerful sort of way that his problem is between his legs, and we sing a song called 'Penis Dimension.' The whole first movement is made up of those kind of scenes . . ."

2nd Movement

Craig McGregor, "Zapparap On The Zappaplan," The New York Times, November 8, 1970

"The second movement is the girls on the road, you know, the groupies you run into. Now I have a tape of most of the movement already sequenced out, but what goes in between is a fantasy that's going on in my mind while I'm on the road."

3rd Movement—The Red Throbber

Craig McGregor, "Zapparap On The Zappaplan," The New York Times, November 8, 1970

"The third movement is called 'The Red Throbber'; it views the groupie phenomena from another angle, through the eyes of a Custom Inspector. Who has a girlfriend called Sharleena. Who is a groupie. And then the Grand Finale comes when the Mothers are sitting in in airplane on the way back from Europe, and we are about to go through customs with this inspector who has fallen in love with his dog, it's a cardboard dog and we can hear it snarling, and on the plane, man, we have just learnt that this chick . . . "

FZ, interviewed by Barry Miles, NYC, November 14, 1970 (International Times, January-February 1971)

The Red Throbber is the thing about this guy who's a custom's inspector and has a cardboard dog named Babette that's been trained by the government to sniff out hash and marijuana at the airport. He just recently managed to shack up with his high school friend, Charlene, that he's been secretly beating-off over for ten years, and they've been going steady for three weeks, and he gets home from work one night with a lot of beer and he's ready to get it on, and Charlene has gone! So he goes into this frenzy, gets drunk, whips out his ouija board & asks it what's going on: the ouija board spells out: R.E.D.T.H.R.O.B.B.E.R. And he passes out in a coma and in this dream he imagines that this girl is at the Chateau Marmont, Bungalow B (Hollywood's hip hotel) being thrashed and eroticised by the Led Zeppelin. Then there is this elaborate dream sequence in which you see the guy that's doing it to her standing over the bed, (this is really not the Led Zeppelin you know—it's a figure of speech). The guy, all he's got on are these python boots and a black mask and this battery belt over his shoulder and this huge vibrator with wires hanging out. And he's holding it like a Krupp armament, standing over this chick on the bed. The thing goes off like a pneumatic drill on the street. And that's the kind of stuff that's going to be animated. Cal is doing all the designs all the characters, all the backgrounds, and then the stuff is executed, by this company.

What's The Name Of Your Group?

FZ, interviewed by Barry Miles, NYC, November 14, 1970 (International Times, January-February 1971)

I finished two new books of scores just before the tour. One is called What's the name of your group? and the other one is called Shove it right in.

What's the name of your group? is really funny because it is the melody line of the finale from the Festival Hall show which is going to be intercut with the bridge and the ostenato of Pound for A Brown all with lyrics. [...]

[...] and then it cuts to the rehearsal at the Festival Hall which is pixilated footage that was shot out at this pub on Seven Sisters Road when we were rehearsing. [...] And then there is this sequence of my writing some of the music for the film dissolving into shots of my wife with my foot on her tit, like this . . . strangling her tit, and she starts laughing. [...] And then we go into the Festival Hall footage where Jimmy Carl Black comes out drunken on stage and he starts saying: "I'm quitting the Mothers . . . " and shit like that.

Shove It Right In

FZ, interviewed by Barry Miles, NYC, November 14, 1970 (International Times, January-February 1971)

I finished two new books of scores just before the tour. One is called What's the name of your group? and the other one is called Shove it right in.


200 Motels Shooting Script

FZ, interviewed by Ian Pollock, Time Out, December 17-23, 1971

You were still writing stuff just prior to shooting. Why?

I was. Because as the continuity of the film became more evident, certain things were required, extra pieces had to be written to fill in the story continuity so I was working right up to the last minute. The last thing that was written was the finale, and the thing that was written right before that is that scene for the animation.

You know in the movie where the group more or less say that they create your scripts, how much of it is actually you observing them, how much is you reading what you are into them, do you think?

I think that that's all mixed up in there in equal proportions, but the script was written around the people that were going to be in the film. In other words, most of them were people that I had been with enough to absorb their speech patterns and write things that would be reasonably accurate in terms of the way they talk, things they might say. With the actions of the group, they're all based on things that they have either said or done, or they have thought about, or I'd heard about that they had done when I wasn't looking—it's all factual.

List Of Musical Numbers

The original 200 Motels shooting script contained a list of musical numbers, including orchestration. The corresponding scene numbers have been added in parentheses. The comments between square brackets are from Charles Ulrich, who provided this list.

  1. THE OVERTURE Orchestra. Chorus. (Scenes 1-2)
  2. TOURING CAN MAKE YOU CRAZY Orchestra. (Scene 4)
  3. WHAT'S THE NAME OF YOUR GROUP Orchestra. Chorus. (Scenes 5-9, 11-16) including:
    • CAN I HELP YOU WITH THIS DUMMY Orchestra. Soprano. Rance. (Scene 16)
  4. INSTRUMENTAL TO ACCOMPANY VIENNA SEQUENCE Group. Orchestra. (Scene 10) [I don't know what music this is.]
  5. WENT ON THE ROAD Group. Chorus. Orchestra. (Scene 18) [a.k.a. Would You Like A Snack?]
  6. CENTERVILLE Group. Orchestra. Chorus. (Scene 21)
  7. THIS TOWN IS A SEALED TUNA SANDWICH Orchestra. Group. Chorus. (Scenes 22-28)
  8. LONESOME COWBOY BURT Group. (Scene 29)
  9. THE RESTAURANT SCENE Small Orchestra. Baritones and Basses. (Scene 31) [a.k.a. Redneck Eats]
  10. MYSTERY ROACH 1 Group. (Scene 32)
  11. THE PLEATED GAZELLE Orchestra. Chorus. (Scenes 33-56) [including: Motorhead's Midnight Ranch, Dew On The Newts We Got, The Lad Searches The Night For His Newts, The Girl Wants To Fix Him Some Broth, The Girl's Dream, Little Green Scratchy Sweaters & Courduroy Ponce, A Nun Suit Painted On Some Old Boxes]
  12. SHOVE IT RIGHT IN Orchestra. Group. Chorus. (Scenes 57-66)
  15. THE GROUPIE SONG Group. (Scene 73) [a.k.a. What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are?]
  17. DADDY DADDY DADDY Group. (Scenes 76-77)
  18. MAGIC FINGERS Group. (Scene 81)
  19. SOUNDLY ABOUT THE TITS AND BUTTOCKS Group. (Scene 82) [the music heard after the monologue in Magic Fingers on Halloween '73]
  20. PENIS DIMENSION Orchestra. Group. Chorus. (Scenes 84-87)
  21. MYSTERY ROACH 2 Jeff. (Scene 91)
  22. I'M STEALING THE ROOM Orchestra. Group. Chorus. (Scenes 92-99) [including: I'm Stealing The Towels, Dental Hygiene Dilemma, Does This Kind Of Life Look Interesting To You?]
  23. STRICTLY GENTEEL Orchestra. Group. Chorus. (Scenes 100-101)
Frank Zappa's 200 Motels end credits


Please note that the following Scenes have been completed:
8. 17. 20. 24. 30. 32. 36. 40. 43. 46. 47. 50.
51. 53. 54. 55. 57. 59. 61. 63. 71. 81. 82.

Please note that the following Scenes have been deleted:
10. 12. 13. 16. 56.

The Shooting Script vs. The Suites vs. The Movie vs. The Album

Special thanks to Charles Ulrich.

Scene Shot Music in the script The Suites The Movie (*) The Album(s) FZf200M
Overture (Book 1 Bars 1-26)
  0:00:00-0:01:55 1.01. Semi-Fraudulent/Direct-From-Hollywood Overture  
2 1-13 Overture Bars 1-26    
14-30 Overture 22-36  
3 1-2   Overture 37 0:01:55-0:04:00  
4 1-10 "Touring Can Make You Crazy" 37-76 Touring Can Make You Crazy 1-40   1.10. Touring Can Make You Crazy  
5 1-40 "What's The Name Of Your Group" What's The Name Of Your Group 1-87a      
6 1-5 87b      
7   TK SEQUENCE 3 [Pub rehearsal]        
8 1-5 88-95a 88-95a      
9 1-3   95b      
[10]   TK SEQUENCE 4 [Vienna]
11 1-12 96-116a 96-116a      
[12] 1-5   116b      
[13]   TK SEQUENCE 5 [Festival Hall]        
14 1-21 117- 117- 0:11:56-0:12:42 1.03. Dance Of The Rock & Roll Interviewers  
15 1-20   -158-182 0:14:15-0:15:59  
[16] 1-22a "Can I Help You With This Dummy" Can I Help You With This Dummy 1-41      
17 1-17 The Orchestra is playing an instrumental ensemble in the background        
18-20a   0:07:29-0:07:59    
20b-21   0:08:09-0:08:18    
22   0:08:39-0:08:46    
26-31   0:08:46-0:09:27    
39-41   0:09:27-0:09:41    
42-44   0:11:36-0:11:56    
48-49   0:15:59-0:16:07    
18   "Went On The Road" Went On The Road 1-35   1.11. Would You Like A Snack?  
19       0:06:40-0:07:01    
20 1-4     0:07:01-0:07:29    
5-6         18:33-19:07
11b     0:07:59-0:08:09    
13-14a     0:08:18-0:08:39    
15b-18     0:16:07-0:16:54    
21 1-11 "Centerville" (bar 114) Centerville 1-53 0:16:45-0:18:56 1.13. Centerville  
16-31     0:18:56-0:20:14    
32b-33     0:28:33-0:30:51    
22   "This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich" (bar 182) This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich 1-74   1.04. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich (Prologue) / 1.05. Tuna Fish Promenade  
23     1-47   1.04. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich (Prologue) / 1.05. Tuna Fish Promenade  
24 1-8   48-74    
25   The Tuna Sandwich Ballet (bar 256) 75-185 (Dance Of The Just Plain Folks) 0:20:42-0:21:08 1.06. Dance Of The Just Plain Folks  
26   (bar 368) 186-197 (This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich [Reprise])   1.07. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich (Reprise)  
1-11 Bolero 198-219 (The Sealed Tuna Bolero) 0:20:14-0:22:04 1.08. The Sealed Tuna Bolero  
27     188-192 (This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich [Reprise])   1.07. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich (Reprise)  
28     198-219 (The Sealed Tuna Bolero) 0:21:12-0:21:21 1.08. The Sealed Tuna Bolero  
29 1-13 Lonesome Cowboy Burt song   0:22:11-0:25:17 1.09. Lonesome Cowboy Burt  
14-15     0:25:59-0:26:14    
30 1-25     0:26:14-0:28:34    
31 1-10 The Restaurant Scene The Restaurant Scene 1-91 0:35:56-0:37:01 1.12. Redneck Eats  
20-21 "Mystery Roach" (small group)        
32 1 ["Mystery Roach" (acoustic)]        
2-3       11:14-12:38
4     0:06:10-0:06:40   13:10-13:32
6-8         13:32-14:06
20-21     0:09:41-0:10:27    
24-31     0:10:27-0:11:36    
49-55     0:12:38-0:12:59    
60b-65     0:12:59-0:14:23    
33 1-30 The Pleated Gazelle Sequence. Master take—up to Dental Hygiene Music (p. 60 of the score) The Pleated Gazelle 1-57a      
34 31-51   57b-115a      
35 52 (bar 115b) 115b [0:20:48-0:21:05]    
36 53-66 (bar 116) 116-145a   2.10. Dew On The Newts We Got  
37 67-84   145b-[165]   2.11. The Lad Searches The Night For His Newts  
38 85-86 P. 31 Letter "K" "The Pleated Gazelle" [166]-212a 0:37:39-0:38:09 2.09. Motorhead's Midnight Ranch  
39 87-91   212b-220      
40 92-112   221-252 0:38:08-0:39:23 2.12. The Girl Wants To Fix Him Some Broth  
41 113-117   253-265 [0:39:37-0:40:14] 2.13. The Girl's Dream  
42 118-123   266-294 [0:40:24-0:41:19] 2.14. Little Green Scratchy Sweaters & Courduroy Ponce  
124-127   295-299      
43 128-131   300-305      
44 132-148   306-321a      
45 149   321b      
150-154a   322-337   2.07. A Nun Suit Painted On Some Old Boxes  
154b-156   338-345 0:42:07-0:42:31  
46 157-174   346-377      
47 1-5 Scene 33 in sync-sound playback from the beginning. 1-57a 0:34:57-0:35:57; 0:36:16-0:36:47; 0:37:01-0:37:17    
48 1-4 Scene 39 in sync-sound playback from letter F. (bar 71) 71-115a      
50   Scene 35 sync-sound playback 115b      
51   Scene 36 sync-sound playback (bar 116) 116-145a [0:39:24-0:39:45; 0:40:12-0:40:26; 1:22:20-1:23:06] 2.10. Dew On The Newts We Got  
52   Scene 36 in sync-sound playback. 126-145a 0:37:17-0:37:36 2.10. Dew On The Newts We Got  
53   Scene 37 sync-sound playback. (bar 144B) 145b      
54   Scene 39 sync-sound playback. 212b      
55   Sync-sound playback of Scene 43. 299-305 0:41:19-0:42:10    
[56]   (sync-sound playback of Scene 45) 322-334   2.07. A Nun Suit Painted On Some Old Boxes  
57 1-28 Orchestra Prelude to "Shove It Right In" [Shove It Right In 1-20] 0:48:50-0:52:30 [1.15. Janet's Big Dance Number]  
58   [She Painted Up Her Face]   1:00:27-1:01:00; 1:01:05-1:02:16 1.14. She Painted Up Her Face  
59 1-22 Orchestra Section II. The Secret Stare. [Shove It Right In 21-72]   [1.17. Mysterioso]  
60   Sound only (sync) playback of Scene 59 [Shove It Right In 21-72] 1:02:36-1:03:15 [1.17. Mysterioso]  
61   [Half A Dozen Provocative Squats]   1:03:30-1:04:25; 1:04:59-1:05:29 1.16. Half A Dozen Provocative Squats  
62   Orchestral Interlude III "She laughed in his face" [Shove It Right In 73-104] [1:05:26-1:07:06] [1.19. Lucy's Seduction Of A Bored Violinist & Postlude]  
63   [Shove It Right In]   1:04:25-1:04:59; [1:07:02-1:07:34; 1:07:58-1:08:44; 1:08:50-1:09:30] 1.18. Shove It Right In  
64   Orchestral Section IV—Postlude: 1 [Shove It Right In 105]   [1.19. Lucy's Seduction Of A Bored Violinist & Postlude]  
65 1-13 Orchestral Section IV
Postlude; 1—the End.
[Shove It Right In 105-150]    
66 1-3 Playback of scene 65
Orchestral Section IV
Postlude; 1—the End.
[Shove It Right In 105-150] 1:00:53-1:01:07; 1:07:33-1:08:01; 1:08:40-1:08:53 [1.19. Lucy's Seduction Of A Bored Violinist & Postlude]  
67 1-5     1:09:29-1:10:24    
8-9     1:10:24-1:10:37    
11-12     1:10:37-1:10:42    
13     1:10:47-1:10:50    
14     1:00:22-1:00:27    
15     1:10:42-1:10:47    
16     1:10:50-1:11:24    
68   [What Will This Morning Bring Me This Evening]   1:11:22-1:12:16; 1:12:22-1:12:28    
69   Sync-sound playback of Scene 68   1:13:27-1:14:02    
70       1:13:09-1:13:27    
71   "What Will This Evening"   1:14:01-1:17:29 2.06. What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning  
72 1-5 Sound—the long fade of "What Will This Evening" pre-recorded track.    
73 1-23 [What Kind Of Girl?]     [3. What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are? (FEJ1971)]  
74   [Bwana Dik]     [4. Bwana Dik / 5. Latex Solar Beef (FEJ1971)]  
76   "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy"     2.04. Daddy, Daddy, Daddy  
77 1-15 Sync-sound playback of Scene 76     2.04. Daddy, Daddy, Daddy  
78 1-12 [Do You Like My New Car?]     [8. Do You Like My New Car? (FEJ1971)] 03:17-05:03
79 1-8      
81   "Magic Fingers"   0:30:49-0:34:00 2.08. Magic Fingers  
82     0:34:00-0:34:59  
[Soundly About The Tits And Buttocks]      
83 1-25          
84 1-15 Penis Dimension Penis Dimension 1-63 0:56:04-0:58:00 2.05. Penis Dimension  
85 1-16   64-71 0:58:00-1:00:22  
86 1   72-75      
2-6   76-99     16:23-17:19
7-9   100-106      
87 1-46   107-138 0:52:28-0:55:25    
88 1-18          
90 1-36     1:17:27-1:22:17    
91 1 [Mystery Roach, Jeff solo]        
6 TK SEQUENCE 6 [Garrick]        
7-9 "I'm Stealing The Room" I'm Stealing The Room 1-   2.01. I'm Stealing The Towels  
92 1-6 "I'm Stealing The Room" -28 1:23:47-1:27:00  
7-19 29-56  
93       1:23:10-1:23:48; 1:27:00-1:27:11    
94   Sync. playback of scene 92        
95 1-28   57-113 [0:42:31-0:45:32] 2.02. Dental Hygiene Dilemma  
96 1-4 I'm Stealing The Room (Contd) 114-124    
  5-10   125-131a [0:45:32-0:46:19]  
  11   131b    
  12-23   132-137 [1:25:21-1:26:01]  
  24-26   138-151 [0:46:19-0:47:06]  
97 1-4 I'm Stealing The Room (Cont) 152-157 [0:47:06-0:47:49] 2.03. Does This Kind Of Life Look Interesting To You?  
98 1-20a I'm Stealing The Room (conclusion) 158-175a [0:47:49-0:48:50]  
20b-45 175b-196 [1:26:01-1:27:01]  
99 1-3 Sync-sound playback of last part Scene 98.        
100 1-63 Strictly Genteel 1-193 1:27:07-1:32:10 2.15. Strictly Genteel (The Finale)  
64-88     1:32:10-1:35:56  
101       1:35:56-1:37:36  

(*) Timing approximate.

The Shooting


FZ, quoted by Lon Goddard, Record Mirror, January 23, 1971

On February 1st, [...] 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.

Nun Chase Scene

Chris Charlesworth, "Blue Moon!," Melody Maker, February 13, 1971

Keith [Moon] shows me the orchestra set where his chase with Ringo was filmed.

I was rushing around there and it was no joke with half a ton of denim around me," he says, indicating his nun's habit. "I think I poked out the second violinist's eye. They were all clutching their Stradivarius in horror in case Ringo's harp smashed them."
I asked how this scene fitted into the plot but he didn't seem to know. He did mention something about being raised from the ground on wires and flying into the sky.

Let's Make A Deal

Martin Melhuish, "Zappa's 200 Motels—Life On The Road, Part 2," Grapevine (Canadian Edition), December 23, 1971

One of the funniest incidents in the movie was a take off on 'Let's Make A Deal', a television game show. As Frank had stated before that he never watches television, I wondered how this idea should occur to him.

"I saw that on television at one time. When I say, 'I don't watch television', I mean I'm not a television addict. There are times when you are sitting around in a motel room... I'll tell you exactly when I saw that. It was in a motel in Miami and it was the afternoon before a sound check and I was sitting there and I said to myself, 'I wonder what they watch in Florida'. I went 'click' and there it was. I thought 'man, that's the sickest thing I ever saw in my life.' There were people out in the audience with balloons and little hats on and holding up signs saying, 'Choose me'."

Dance Sequence, Procession Scene

Chris Charlesworth, "Blue Moon!," Melody Maker, February 13, 1971

Someone suggests that Keith puts his nun's costume on for a procession scene and I am left to watch the action. Ringo is eating a custard pie and leaning against a wooden hut. He's made up to look like Frank Zappa with black hair everywhere, moustache and tiny beard below his bottom lip. Frank Zappa is rushing around with suggestions. Director Tony Palmer is not on the set. He's in an office with monitor TV sets showing him what's going on and speaking through a closed circuit radio to the stage director.

Various members of the Mothers are wandering around in bizarre costumes, in particular Mark Volman who is wearing a black bra, panties and girdle! Girls taking the parts of groupies are in abundance. Half an hour later Keith returns in the nun's outfit with his painted white face. There's a delay while a dance sequence is being shot [...]

At last the procession scene is underway. To a background of "Penis Dimensions," just about the entire cast walk down the street carrying lighted torches. There were about 20 guys dressed as Ku Klux Klan followers in the procession and the torches create enough smoke to reduce visibility down to a few yards. For effect Keith makes a big show of picking his nose during the scene. Nobody seems to mind.

At 5.20 exactly filming stops. Film technicians are strict union men and everything shuts down with remarkable speed. Keith changes and most of the cast make for the bar where talk centers on the organisation of the party on the Friday night—the last day's filming.

Friday—Last Day Of Shooting—The Boutique, Centerville, The Motel Room, The Bar Scenes

Michael Watts, "Zappa's Got A Brand New Bag," Melody Maker, February 13, 1971

I look up to see Miss Lucy of the GTO's, deep in petulant conversation with an assistant director. She doesn't wanna be in this part of the movie, she whines, because she don't have nuthin' to say, and anyway, nobody can goddamn see her because the boutique front is in the way. She tosses her short head of dark brown hair and pouts full-lipped at him.

Don't be silly, he tells her. They have four cameras on the scene and she is sure to be featured on at least one of them. [...]

Scene 21, Take Four, is the scene that manages to make it past Tony [Palmer] and David [Alexander] to the actual videotape. Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, vocalists with The Mothers are walking into Centerville. I say walking; rather, it is a curious stylised shuffling that gives them the appearance of clockwork figures. Centerville—real nice place to raise your kids," they say in these very stylised, zombie-like voices. "Liquor stores! Rancid boutiques!" They gaze around in stylised appreciation.

A vicar walks down Main Street, his hands clasped piously together. Drunks topple out of the liquor store. A policeman strolls up and down, swinging his night-stick. A schoolmarm steps out very primly, her nose in the air. A girl in a white party frock and a kid in a cowboy suit zigzag in and out of these characters in playful pursuit of each other. Then, Volman and Kaylan close the scene by shuffling cut off-camera, their heads working mechanically up and down like dolls. Really, it seems a very stylised movie.

It all goes in the can and there is a break for coffee.

[...] Martin Lickert, Ringo's chauffeur, is rehearsing his scene. He rises from his bed in a motel, The Mystery Roach clasped in his fingers. He begins to stagger, goes red in the race, clutches his throat, tries to hold onto the Venetian blinds, his body shakes, his hand is trembling, it's pointing to—a pile of white towels! Heavens! Then, in a mad, blind rush, he dives for the towels, scoops them up, and muttering hysterically, shoves the hotel ashtray into his briefcase. Oh, the drama!

[...] Miss Pamela's part in the scene requires her to wriggle her cute little ass as the juke plays hot music in the bar, which is entered by The Mothers. The bar is crowded. Ringo/Zappa is sitting at a table. So is Keith Moon dressed as a nun with an awful green face and black eyes. So are two enormous newts. And so are Motorhead Sherwood, dressed in mauve drag, and Volman, attired in blonde wig and black scanty dress, and looking like a mountainous brothel keeper. The scene is done in two takes. Each time it ends with Kaylan being ravaged by these two creatures (Oh my, that Mr. Zappa!).

"Right, Tony?" says David. "Okay. Okay everybody. Just one more scene and shooting's over."

It's getting unbearably hot and people are becoming tired. Miss Lucy lies in sybaritic abandonment on one of the lawns that is really a green carpet. Her dress is slit to the thighs and a large hunk of haunch is visible. She is watching the lonesome Cowboy Bert Scene, and a lot of people are watching her watching Cowboy Bert, who is Jimmy Carl Black singing and acting the part of a redneck.

Ian Underwood plays the last note on the piano and suddenly, it's all over. But not quite. Frank Zappa is not the man to go out with a whimper, rather than a bang. But literally.

All around the set are thin copper wires, and throughout the day warnings have been given out not to tread on these strands. It seems that these are connected to explosive charges, because pretty quickly almost everyone is shepherded off the main set and inside a wooden, barbed wire palisade, which induces the feeling of being in a concentration camp.

"What gives?" I whisper in best hipster fashion to no one in particular. "It's Herbie, man," answers an American voice; he is referring to Herb Cohen, Zappa's manager. "This is what he's been waiting for."

The next minute two very loud cracks ring out, followed by big clouds of smoke from Redneck Eats and Centerville Bank. Herbie is nowhere to be seen, but I hope he was pleased.

The Party

Michael Watts, "Zappa's Got A Brand New Bag," Melody Maker, February 13, 1971

[Keith Moon] walks to the door, flinging a last remark over his shoulder. "And Chalky, don't forget to get some bottles for the party tonight."

The party. Everybody is talking about the party, and everybody is going to be there: sound technicians, cameramen, lighting experts, bit part actors and big part actors—the whole movie shebang. And not forgetting Mr. Frank Zappa, of course because after all it is his show.

The party is being held at 5.30 on the dot, right after shooting ends on Zappa's "200 Motels," the movie that is going to spill the beans on what it is like to be a group on the road.

[...] Later, [Herb Cohen] is at the party—remember that?—a short, stocky man with curly hair, tough face and barrel chest that is pushing hard at the seams of his white shirt.

Miss Lucy is not so inhibited. Obviously an Isadora Duncan aficionado, she is whirling hectically around the crowded floor in The Green Room, the top half of her demure brown suit very sensibly unbuttoned to allow her breasts to jiggle about at will. Around and around she goes, and as we stare at her those two unblinking eyes on her chest gaze impudently back.

Drink in hand, I talk with the film's publicist. Some juicy scenes today, I say. [...]

Miss Lucy has stopped dancing now and is having a long crying jag. People are trying to comfort her. "I didn't want it all to end," she boo-hoos as I squeeze past. I sit down at a table, right next to this quiet young American girl and we introduce ourselves. She turns out to be Cynthia of the Chicago Plaster Casters. No kid! I'm fascinated.


Notes and Comments

FZ, introducing "Penis Dimension" at Fillmore West, San Francisco, November 6, 1970

"Penis Dimension" is one of the songs from our forthcoming United Artists feature length motion picture that we just got the money for today, called 200 Motels. Due in some sleazy drive-in about November 1, the next year.

FZ, "Questions And Answers," 200 Motels press-kit, 1971

After having several appointments with people who normally finance films, and having them run screaming into the distance after a partial explanation of the project, by mere chance we took it to United Artists. Mr. Picker looked over our folio (10 pages of "treatment", 2 boxes of tape, and some clippings in case he never heard of our group) and said: "You have a deal . . . get me a budget" (Perhaps it was a little more elaborate and erudite than that.) We left the office, got a budget and a bunch of lawyers and work began in earnest.

FZ, interviewed by Richard Hart, The True Story Of 200 Motels, 1988

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.

David Walley, No Commercial Potential, 1996, p. 136

After a year-and-a-half of scheming for money, Frank Zappa took his cherished proposal for 200 Motels to United Artists with a folio including a ten-page treatment, two boxes of tape, and some clippings of the group. United Artists gave Zappa $650,000 to finish the project. Frank was angling to premiere the whole masterpiece on Dutch TV for his next tour, but that never panned out. 200 Motels was shot on videotape in England, then blown up to 35mm.

Bill Gray, "Zap! Zap! Zappa!," Impact, January 1972

The whole movie was shot in a grand total of seven days from a script numbering some 320 pages (over twice normal length but as Zappa puts it, "every angle was planned to the fraction"). It was tape-edited for eleven days, film edited for three months, and as a result of all this hustle and speed, came in at $40,000 under budget. The figures are impressive, and Zappa is clearly impressed.

[...] With 200 Motels, he and his associates insisted on and got a deal from United Artists whereby they and they alone are responsible for all the public relations and merchandizing connected with the film. UA, who financed and are distributing the film, can do nothing in the way of publicizing or promoting it without Zappa's approval. And thus far at least, every line of copy, every picture, every radio and television commercial to be released for 200 Motels has come straight from The Man himself. In an industry where the money men are notoriously unresponsive to the ideas and wishes of their creative underlings, it's something of an unprecedented situation.


"It took a while. The first companies we went to, including our record distributor Warner Brothers, just didn't want to know. As soon as we'd start to explain what we wanted to do they'd go into a state of shock.

"Finally though we got to United Artists and met their president, David Picker. All we had was a ten page treatment, a box of tapes, and some press clippings in case he'd never heard of us. He told us he'd get back to us and a week later he did, called us up and told us we had a deal. Thirty days later we had a budget and a signed contract. I would imagine that's something of a record.

"And I must say they were very good to us. They never came around the set, never sent out spies to see what we were doing, never asked any questions, they just gave us our money and told us to go to it.

"Of course the first time they saw it they just about collapsed. I mean they hated it, just hated it. Old style film executives, you know, 'I'm square and I'm proud. Show me'. They didn't know what was going on. But it was really an unfair test. It was a black and white work print complete with splices and bad sound and with none of the special effects showing. Now that they've seen the completed color version they're much happier, or so I'm told."

FZ, interviewed by Ian Pollock, Time Out, December 17-23, 1971

How long was it originally?

120 minutes. It's been cut down to 98.

That's things you wanted to cut or had to cut?

Oh I cut them, I cut them out to make it play faster, keep the tempo.


Did you get what you wanted from the film?

I would say that I like it, and I think it turned out good. But I would also say it's just the beginning. It's just a sort of a demo for what can be done, because there's a lot of pioneering work in that film.

FZ, interviewed by Richard Williams, Melody Maker, August 25, 1973

On 200 Motels, the orchestra beat the shit out of the music—they just didn't play it properly. I couldn't even recognise it when they'd finished. Most of the actors were non-professionals, and the whole thing was shot in 56 hours. We all needed more time, and if I'd had it, I've have gotten better performances out of everybody, because they were the right people for those roles.

In spite of that, I think it was a good film, and I believe that over a period of years you're going to find out how many strange predictions in the script actually come true.

FZ, quoted by Neil Slaven, Record Hunter, July 1992

[Tony Palmer] had a lot of problems during the making of the film. He was on the verge of a divorce, he had the 'flu and he seemed to be a fairly ill-tempered individual even on a good day.

I don't want to be unkind to him, but on the production of the film he did two things which I will always remember. One: at the completion of principal photography, he demanded of the producer that his name be left off the credits for fear it would harm his career. The other thing was that my wife Gail happened to be walking by and overheard him threatening to erase all the master tapes if something wasn't done to his satisfaction. So it was not easy working with him. I had a certain amount of control over what got done, and it would have been quite a different movie if he hadn't refused to even go into the editing suite—I'd never edited video. It was like guerrilla warfare to put that film together.

[The score was quite demanding.] That's adding insult to injury. It's one thing to say: "Oh, look at this weird guy and what does he want now?" Then suddenly they get a piece of paper that they can't really play and then you compound that with the fact that there was never enough rehearsal time to teach them how to play it.

We shot the film in seven eight-hour days. That's 56 hours at a total cost of $679,000, which was cheap even in 1970. At the end of 56 hours only one third of the shooting script had been shot. In order to make any kind of story out of it at all. I had to invent the thing in the editing room. Then our bassist Jeff Simmons disappeared just before filming started. His girlfriend convinced him he should be a blues musician, that he was too heavy to be in the group. So, in order to replace him, we went through all kinds of weird shit and ended up with Martin Lickert, who was Ringo Starr's driver.

Tony Palmer, "200 Motels," on the booklet of Tony Palmer's Film Of Frank Zappa's 200 Motels (DVD, Voiceprint, 2009

Contrary to what Frank Zappa and his biographers have asserted, when I first became involved there was no script, just a trunk-load of papers containing scenes 'from the life of'. My 'job', Frank said, was to make some sense of this jumble and try to construct a coherent script from which a film, any film, would emerge. True, Frank had written a pile of music, some good, some not so good, but no orchestra had been booked, no soloists, no choir, no choreographer. My second 'job' therefore was to organise all this at very short notice. Normally, you need to book a London orchestra—especially if you required them for a week—at least a year in advance. I had three weeks in which to find a top class, professional orchestra.

Next, although the film was entirely Frank's idea, MGM/UA were unwilling to trust him with a feature film, even if it was estimated to cost only around half a million dollars. (It fi nally cost $679,000). In fact, they had turned him down as the director of the film, and insisted on a safe pair of hands to make sure something emerged for their money. It so happened that I had been offered a picture deal by MGM a little earlier (which I had also turned down), and it was Herb Cohen, Frank Zappa's longsuffering manager, who, knowing this and knowing that Frank had worked with me before, put the jigsaw together.

Next, it was clear that many of the scenes could not be shot the way Frank envisaged them on conventional celluloid, or rather they could be shot, but would take an age and a lot of money (neither of which we had) because of the special effects involved. It was me who suggested using videotape, not Frank Zappa, because I was already experimenting with video effects using the earliest colour video cameras that had arrived at the BBC only three years before. Initially, MGM/UA vetoed this idea because, as they quite reasonably pointed out, videotape ("what is that?" one executive asked me) could not be projected in their cinemas.

It was a colleague in Technicolor London who came up with the solution, namely that since the old pre-war Technicolor process involved shooting with three different negatives (red, green & blue) run in parallel, and since the television image in those days also comprised three different elements—red, green & blue, it might be possible to transfer each element separately to the different negatives and, when printed together, a true film 'transfer' might result. Which is precisely what happened, and the fi rst ever 'film transfer' from videotape resulted. MGM/UA was satisfied, because they now had 'a film', not a videotape. Frank Zappa was satisfied because he could now have all the effects he desired, quickly and relatively inexpensively. [...]

In [the 'making of' made by the Dutch television station, VPRO], Zappa asserts that only a third of his script was filmed. Nonsense. The director (me) "quit mid-production", which is news to me, as well as several actors and a band member. More fiction. Wilfred Brambell, a famous British character actor (famous especially as 'Steptoe') refused the part he was offered, and Jeff Simmons was replaced by Martin Lickert in the role of Jeff because he had the temerity to call Frank Zappa an ego-maniac. All true, but Zappa's later claim that these events "accounted for several radical, last-minute changes" is yet more nonsense. Apparently—according to the Dutch documentary—when I had quit, I had threatened to wipe the tapes—which is odd, considering I edited all the videotapes myself after completion of filming before handing them over to MGM/UA. I've also read that the out-takes and the videotapes on which they were stored were wiped and sold back to MGM/UA to reduce the overspend. No company such as MGM/UA would ever accept second-hand tapes, even if wiped, not least because the tapes would be more-or-less worthless. Another Zappa wopper.

Pauline Butcher, Freak Out!—My Life With Frank Zappa, 2011, p. 292

I had been typing various versions of the script for 200 Motels for over a year, and in November 1970 Frank submitted a ten-page treatment to United Artists. He convinced them that by using video tape instead of film, several cameras at once instead of one, he could shoot the film in a week. There was no disguising his pleasure when they agreed and put up $360,000.

Unusually, Frank became quite canny about cutting costs, and when he found he could hire the Royal Philharmonic for £1,000 a session, he arranged to move the entire shoot to England. It also meant that he and Gail could go over early and spend the holiday season there.

FZ, interviewed by Bill Gray, Impact, January 1972

It's music that I've been writing off and on for about four years now, mainly in motel rooms after concerts. It's orchestral, choral stuff, music that frankly was impossible to get played without devising some sort of framework within which to fit it. Which is actually how the whole 200 Motels project came about in the first place. I had this music, I wanted to hear it, so I concocted a theatrical structure for it which could utilize it and react to it both visually and dramatically. All the elements of the film are organically integrated with each other, the music, the dialogue, the action, the pictorial technique. You can't separate one from another, they're inextricably linked and bound together.

The dialogue, which stems mainly from seven years of overheard conversations within the group, is treated very much in a musical, orchestral fashion. I mean as a piece of music is composed of themes, of patterns of notes, stated, transposed, inverted, shaped in any number of ways, so the script, composed of lumps of dialogue, is treated in the same way. Thus the narrative—strictly speaking not a narrative at all since there is no stress on chronological continuity—is formally tied to the music and vice versa, you see?

FZ, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, April 23, 1975

This is the story of producing 200 Motels.

I'd been working on the music for this film for about 5 years, I've been writing it while we were travelling around, and I used to take bundles of music paper in my suitcase and when we get into a hotel after a concert I would go back and I would write music 'cause there was nothing to do. And those were the days.

Well I collected about 2 or 300 pages of orchestra manuscript from that 5 year period. And I was looking for some sort of an event that would give me a chance to hear the music played and to visualise the story line that I thought was going along with the music, and so after some intense negotiations we convinced United Artists to put up the money to do the first feature length video tape motion picture. Total budget of the film was $679,000, nobody had ever made a feature length video production before.

The process was unusual in that we were doing it in England and their video system is different than what we have in the United States. They use a 625 line system, I don't know whether that means anything to you. But it's a higher resolition system and the way in which the colour is printed onto the tape differs from the way that the colour is printed on the tape here. And this difference makes it possible to extract the three primary colours one at a time. And by coupling that with the old Technicolor triple negative process to make a print from a video tape that has better colour than what you would get making a transfer off an American video tape. Get the picture?

OK. So after having them agree that they were going to invest this amount of money to put something on the screen that nobody had thought of trying before the next problem was keeping them out of the way while we worked on it. Because every time somebody has money invested in a film there's always the temptation that they want to come down there and watch you spend it. And we were very fortunate in having some people at United Artists who were smart enough to stay home while we were working on the movie so we didn't have too much interference.

The only problems we had working on the film were these factors. There was an exact shooting schedule above which we could not proceed more than one minute. Because the costs of shooting with about 150 people on the stage is exorbitant, so the film we shot in exactly 7 8-hour days. that's to the minute including two tea-breaks per day. Because when you work in England, it is not funny. They do take tea-breaks. The world stops, and a lady with a green smock comes around with a wagon and there's... we were on stage A, which was the same stage where they shot the special effects for 2001 [A Space Odyssey], and we had 120 people in the orchestra, and about 30 other actors, and dancers, and assorted what-nots, and the minute tea-break came, all 150 people had to get tea, and you had 15 minutes to do it. So that meant that although the tea-break would commence at time, it was very difficult to get everybody back in their place at the end of 15 minutes. So that our little tea-breaks tended to drag over, and the accumulative effect of tea-breaks throughout the week probably cost us 4 to 5 hours of production time. So watch out for that if you ever work in England.

And the other thing is, because I was crazy, and continue to be crazy about certain things in production, I insisted that the orchestra actually be performing on screen instead of pretending to play on a pre-recorded track. This gave me the chance to get absolute synchronisation on film. I hate to see a film where the sync is funny. Where the mouth doesn't move exactly right, or where somebody's supposed to be playing an instrument and their fingers aren't doing what they're supposed to do. That bothers me, and so we had the orchestra actually playing. Now this is something that hasn't been done in a film since about 1930, in a musical, and I sure did find out why the hard way, so if you have a chance to do a musical, pre-record the tracks.

See . . . what else can I tell you about film productions . . . OK, then after we shut the thing, it was 110 hours, that's 11 ten-hour days, of video-tape edit, after which it was transferred to film, and then a total of 3 months in post-production, that includes dubbing in sound effects, shortening the total thing from 2 hours and 20 minutes to its eventual running time of about 108 and the final post-dubbing process where you combine all the music tracks the dialog tracks and the sound effect tracks, put it all together.

Then your only problem if you're the person who's responsible for putting the film together, is going through all the judgery of trying to deal with the people at the film company who are going to promote it and how they're going to advertise it. We did have a lot of trouble in this regard with 200 Motels. You see right next-door to us, at the sound stage where we were working on 200 motels, they were filming Fiddler On The Roof. Now Fiddler On The Roof cost about 22 million dollars, so they wanted to get their money back in a hurry, and when our little cheap movie came out the same time as that, we were having a lot of difficulty getting them to pay attention to it, so they tried to rely on certain procedures that had been standard in the industry for about 30 years, they would send out mimeograph notices to newspapers saying that "Rock Star Frank Zappa will be arriving at the airport at such and such a time, we're sure you're going to want to go down there and meet him," and all this kind of stuff, really old-time Hollywood swill you know, and we had a lot of trouble convincing them to make the right kind of commercials and put up the right kind of print advertising for the thing.

But the biggest problem that you're ever going to encounter if you work on a film is getting paid for it later. The danger there is that major film companies who are frequently willing to put up investment money for new film projects are never willing to give you an accurate accounting of what the film did when it's gone into distribution. They have so many ways of charging things against that film's account that it's absolutely amazing, you'll wind up spending the latter part of your life with accountants and lawyers trying to decipher what really happened when the thing went into the theatre. As far as 200 Motels goes, we still have not received an accounting and the thing was done in 1971 I believe, still not received an accounting of whether it went into a profit situation or . . . anything, they just lose contact with you after the first 3 months that the film is in running, and anything you want to find out after that has all got to go through legal channels.


Q: When you made 200 Motels, when you cut that, did you transfer it to film and then cut it down on film?

FZ: The first editing was done on the video tape stage, a lot of the opticals that you see in there were done in post-production. And then after it was the complete video tape, one real video tape was done, they transferred that to 35mm, and we got a black-and-wite work print, and then cut the work print down, and later put the sound effects against the work print.

Q: May I ask you another question?

FZ: What's that?

Q: Could you explain 200 Motels to me?

FZ: Can I what?

Q: Explain 200 Motels, yeah . . .

FZ: What part of it?

Q: I saw it and I was pretty high, I expected to get a lot out of it, I was pretty much . . .

FZ: Well that's the problem . . .

Q: I was lost so at Yellow Submarine I ducked out.

FZ: Well you know, that was a Beatles movie.

Q: Oh, yeah . . . No really.

FZ: Well, really that's about what it comes down to, but as far as coming in being high and trying to get a lot out of 200 Motels, go and see it without being high, and try and figure out what's going on, and I think that you'll have a better experience with it.

Q: You can not go in try and explain that then . . .

FZ: Well, ask me something specific, a detail about it . . .

Q: Something specific . . . Well, what was the point of putting out 200 Motels?

FZ: Well, you see I had the story and a concept of doing a surreal documentary on a group. A surrealistic documentary is something that takes actual events, paraphrases those events, and codifies those events to shrink them down to a size and a shape that people are going to be able to comprehend. However, I failed miserably in your case, but the basic idea was to give a glimpse of what goes on inside of a band on the road in an abstract concept kind of term, so the events that are referred to in that film literally did happen, there's a lot of stuff in there that's so true that it would be too disgusting to even talk about it.

Mark Volman, Zappa Forum, June 4, 2005

200 motels was a project that needed more time. I know you all know about us doing that in a week but you cannot imagine how fast that is when you're in the middle of it. It was so chaotic and just a whirlwind of learning it while shooting it. The process was just unbelievable. Frank did a great job directing us through the characters he envisioned us being. I think frank was always fighting Tony palmer about the visuals, And what Tony wanted it to be
I think in the end Tony would have liked to have his name taken off the film. Back then the film was fun to watch. I have tried to watch it recently and it was hard . . . Nay . . . Impossible
I think I suck in the film and I hate watching me trying to be an actor. Howard does a good job and he should be an actor
I think my lips move when everyone else is speaking. I was not a good actor and I will not admit I did it except to you all


FZ, quoted by Martin Melhuish, "Zappa's 200 Motels—Life On The Road," Grapevine (Canadian Edition), December 1, 1971, p. 1, 16

In the film we use the old technicolour three strip colour process. They use another process I understand now in Hollywood but the three strip process is compatible with the PAL 625 line European colour video system. You can separate the three colours off the video tape at the point that you transfer it to film so you get a transfer of each individual colour which means that you can control the density of that colour and so forth.

A slight reshuffling of the scenes was done at the thirty five millimetre stage. There are no film opticals in 200 Motels at all. There's no film shooting in the studio. The clips of the things that were in motels and stuff like that was stuff that I shot with a sixteen millimetre camera on the road. It was transferred on the tele-cine to video tape and processed with the rest of the footage. It was originally transferred to the telecine because we were going to use it as a projected background sign.

It turned out to be just as convenient. It would have actually been cheaper because the video tape to film process costs approximately $112 a minute with a machine called a wobulator that cuts out the visual video lines.

I want to go into more video projects because in pioneering that thing not only did we experiment around with the technical side of it, but we had the first taste of all the diverse Union problems that you're going to run into. Just think, we were doing it on a film lot and there's a big difference between a film union and a video union in England and now all of a sudden they've got to work together and nobody's got a rate card.

For video you need a special kind of make up man who knows that media. It was weird some of the deals that were going on all over the place. So we have some special knowledge of that thing just going through it on that scale.

I'll give you one example of weirdness that happened out there. In thirty five millimetre when you're working with a camera crew you have a guy called a focus puller. It uses a little lever to focus it. On the video camera you've got a guy who sits on it and rides it around. He focuses it and aims it and he's got another guy who drags the wires for him. He doesn't need a focus puller but the union wanted us to hire five focus pullers. I said, 'But the cameras don't have that on it', but they still made us hire them.

FZ, interviewed by Bill Gray, Impact, January 1972

It's a beautiful looking film, there's no question about that. I mean whatever else it is, it looks great. I've seen it four times now since it was completed and color printed and I'm still awed by it. How can I describe it? It's like the first time you saw a full length cartoon. It has that kind of impact.

But then it's something brand new, it's unique, you realize that. It wasn't filmed, it was taped. It's the first feature film to be shot on color video-tape and transferred to film for release. It's a whole new technique, a whole new process, something that's never been tried before on this scale.

We did it that way because we had to; there was no choice. Given the script and the highly stylized, surreal nature of 200 Motels, we needed a kind of super visual approach that only television-style VTR cameras with their monitor facilities and their capacity for in-camera effects could give us. A lot of the time during the shooting we were just experimenting, fooling around, pushing buttons, twisting dials, scrambling the images, superimposing, fading in and out, concocting multiple dissolves; the pictorial range of video-tape is enormous. And the great advantage is that with monitors for every camera, you can see exactly what you're getting the instant you're getting it. You can create and adjust as you go along. You can really do anything you want to, and know right away whether or not it's working.

The problem in the past has always been in the transferring process, the transferring of images from tape to film. Color quality and picture deliniation have always been very uneven. But there's a company in England, a subsidiary of Technicolor called Vidtronics, that's come up with an incredible new system that gives perfect results. When we first saw what they could do we couldn't believe it, but we knew that was the answer for 200 Motels.

In fact they've had the system for a while now but it shows you where the film industry is at that nobody until now has had nerve enough to try it for a major project. Everyone's so afraid to take a chance, they play it safe, do it like they've always done it. I mean when we came along, Vidtronics was on the verge of giving up. They knew they had a great process, but they couldn't convince anybody to use it. And in fact on our very first day of shooting, they called us up to tell us to forget it, they were packing it in. Only some fast negotiations convinced them to stick it out.

And now I understand they're using a print of 200 Motels as their sample reel to interest other film makers. I've heard that at least three other films are getting ready to go into production in England using the same technique.

[Videotape] allowed us to move quickly. Because of the monitors we could be shooting two or three scenes simultaneously in different parts of the studio and still be right on top of everything. Everywhere you looked there was something going on all the time. It was chaotic, but it worked, and it never could have been done by conventional methods.

David Picker

David V. Picker, Must, Maybes, And Nevers: A Book About The Movies, 2013, p. 121

But back to my music company. Since I was responsible for both film and music, everyone at the company knew I was open to anything that might help us cross-pollinate the two worlds. We had a flourishing European film operation, and the staff in the United Kingdom paid particular attention. It seemed to work pretty well because that's how we got the deal with The Beatles. Having the soundtracks for A Hard Day's Night, Help! and Yellow Submarine were tremendous assets, as were all the Bond films, the Clint Eastwood trilogy of A Fistful Of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More and The Good The Bad And The Ugly, The Thomas Crown Affair, Alice's Restaurant, Frank Zappa's 200 Motels, The Pink Panther, Never On Sunday, and The Magnificent Seven, to name only a few.


FZ, interviewed by Bill Gray, Impact, January 1972

All the music in the picture was recorded live, as shot. None of this lip-synching to playback crap. It's the first musical in 40 years to be made that way. We had two complete sound crews, over 50 microphones stationed all over the set, and to bring it all together we rented the Rolling Stones portable studio unit with sixteen track mixing facilities. The sound is totally authentic.

200 Motels & Uncle Meat

FZ, interviewed by Ian Pollock, Time Out, December 17-23, 1971

Does 'Uncle Meat' have any link-up with what we're seeing and hearing now from you?

I like to join all the projects together by some sort of thread of continuity, because that's the way life is, you know, one thing turns into something else. There is a continuity through all the albums and there are elements in the 'Uncle Meat' footage sitting in the basement that are direct references to what's already in '200 Motels', so if 'Uncle Meat' comes out three or four years from now, when I finally get the money to finish that one off, you'll flash on things in there. Like drinking the potion and turning into a monster.

Does that mean we needed to see 'Uncle Meat' before seeing '200 Motels'?

It would have been better, but it might not be so bad to see it afterwards.

General Info

Ben Watson, Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics Of Poodle Play, 1996, p. 183-184

Financed by United Artists to the tune of half a million dollars, 200 Motels was shot using innovative video technology at Pinewood Studios in England with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra [...]. Jeff Simmons quit half-way through and was replaced by Martin Lickert, Ringo Starr's chauffeur. [...] Theodore Bikel, the Austrian folk singer managed by Herbie Cohen, was the uniformed MC.

200 Motels was shot in seven days and after only five days of rehearsal: Pamela Miller commented 'the movie seemed to be over in seconds because Frank was using videotape.' It was filmed on four silmutaneously running video cameras. One third of the 320-page script was never shot. [...]

Richard Fox

Movie from 1970 starring Ringo Starr (as Zappa), Theodore Bikel, the Mothers of Invention (this is the Flo and Eddie band with George Duke, Aynsley Dunbar, Ian Underwood and Ringo Starr's chauffeur playing bass), and Keith Moon as a nun!! Its a surrealistic look at how touring makes you crazy and the efforts that band members have to go through to get some action (women). The entire movie is a musical with some lines of dialogue but mainly songs. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and some choir play through most of the movie. The Mothers do several songs as well. The movie is wierd (of course) and would have been much better had they been given more than 7 days to film it. It is very difficult to watch if you do not understand the context behind much of it. The movie also features a 10 minute animated sequence. I would recommend watching the True Story of 200 Motels either right before or right after you watch the movie.


The 2001: A Space Odyssey Monolith

Patrick Neve

I just snagged this neat-o little piece of trivia from the internet movie database. Anyone know if it's true? Where exactly does it appear?

200 Motels Trivia: Filmed in the same studio as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The black monolith from that film is visible.


Yep... I've wondered about it too. Although it's been quite awhile since I last viewed the movie ... I can see Ringo (with the lamp) and Theo. B. in front of the object which is on the right of the screen.


Not to mention during Penis Dimension sequence Dick Barber-as-the-vacuum- cleaner shoots a wad at it.

Patrick Neve

Oh, that's it. I also just spotted it in Don Preston's laboratory as he pushes the vile foamy liquids onto the unsuspecting Martin Lickert.


In the complete (unfilmed: see True Story Of 200 Motels for details) version of the original shooting script for 200 Motels, we actually see the monolith quite a bit more. It looms throughout. At the very end of the film (as written), the extreme close-up of FZ's eye is supposed pull back so that we see the monolith behind him. As the monolith comes into focus we see for the first time that it is in fact FZ's Marshall amp and speaker cabinet stack! He reaches over, flicks the stand-by switch, and the credits roll.

Patrick Neve

Very interesting.. Does that in any way discredit the "trivia" that the monolith in the movie is the one from 2001? Sounds like it may have been kicking around the studio so he wrote it into the script. Yes?


It sorta sounds logical that way until you realize that the script had to completed well in advance of shooting. It is possible an early trip to Pinewood studios WELL in advance of the shoot date may have turned up the slab, but I expect it was written and concieved BEFORE the excursion to the UK for actual shooting.

Jason M Arvey

A long time ago, someone asked a trivia question about the cover of 200 Motels, essentially looking for the three elements on the cover that are references to other films. I effectively found The Shadow above the newt on the building on the left hand side of the cover/poster. At the time, I had noticed a fetus sucking its thumb just to the right of The Shadow, but didn't know what to make of it; I knew it wasn't from 200 Motels, but couldn't place it. Well, I looked back on the poster today, and, shucky- darn, if that ain't the Monolith from 2001 sitting right there behing the penis dimension march.

Andrew Greenaway, "For Those Of You Who Might Not Know #2: Films," The Idiot Bastard Son, February 17, 2020

It is sometimes claimed that Frank Zappa's 200 Motels (1971) was shot in the same studio as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Stanley Kubrick's film was in fact shot at MGM-British Studios in Borehamwood and Shepperton Studios in Surrey, while 200 Motels was filmed at Pinewood in Iver Heath. The black monolith seen in Zappa's film is a mock-up and not the one from 2001, as Kubrick had all of the props destroyed once his film was completed.

Tony Palmer, interviewed by Andrew Greenawy, The Idiot Bastard Son, June 28, 2021

There has been some debate about whether or not the black monolith from Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey was still on the set at Pinewood. Are you able to confirm or deny this?

It was—although I didn't want to make it too obvious.



Pauline Butcher, Freak Out!—My Life With Frank Zappa, 2011, p. 295

In March 1971, Frank, Gail and Calvin returned [from England]. Calvin immediately got down to animated work for 200 Motels with Fred Wolf.

[...] Frank was working alone [at Whitney Studios in Glendale], deep into editing the soundtrack of 200 Motels. [...] Frank complained, "They gave us eleven days to edit which was bad enough, but then they took the used video tapes, erased them all and now they plan to sell them as 'used stock.' Hours of material I could have used elsewhere, they chewed up."


Dental Hygiene Dilemma

Martin Melhuish, "Zappa's 200 Motels—Life On The Road, Part 2," Grapevine (Canadian Edition), December 23, 1971

There is a twelve minute cartoon in the middle of the movie that caricatures the incident of Jeff's departure from Zappa's comedy group to get his own HEAVY group like Grand Funk, Black Sabbath or Coven together.

"Cal Schenkel and Chuck Swenson did the cartoon. I wrote the music. Cartoons are done to a track. A guy sits down with a pair of earphones, the thing is already on magnetic film and frame by frame he marks on a sheet how long it takes to say, 'I am stealing the room'.

"I did the track then we had a little meeting to talk about how I wanted to have it visualized and I gave him some specific elements that I wanted to have in it but when you've got someone like Calvin, you don't want to tell him everything you want to do because he's so creative, you just have to give him a rough idea. I specified items in the cartoon like the duck, the mouth, the beer bottle, the ghosts floating through and about five or six other elements that I thought would work with various things in the music and the rest of it was just their imagination."


By the way, did you do the animation in "200 Motels"?


Yup, Me & Chas Swenson (and the Ink & Paint Dept. at Murikami/Wolf). I designed it, Chuck animated. (except where Chuck designed & I animated). We did it in 8 weeks on a budget of $200.00 ...or was it 2 weeks on $800.00?? —No wait that can't be right... ...8 weeks, I made $200.00 a week. Or maybe it was that we spent $200.00 a week at VJ's.

FZ, interviewed by Ian Pollock, Time Out, December 17-23, 1971

Cal Shenkel did the animation in '200 Motels'—how do you work with him on it?

Well, they had the musical track with all the dialogue built in to work from, so step one was to have the track read, which means a guy sits down with a sound reader which works out how many frames it takes a person to say something, and then we had a meeting to discuss how I wanted it visualised, and I suggested certain things to stick in it which I thought would be humorous, like the ghost coming through. I trust Calvin's imagination to convert anything I would do in terms of music, he will convert it into a picture which I will identify with.

Donald's Dilemma (Walt Disney, 1947)

zazoo, "Music Land," Zappateers, May 18, 2020

Donald's Dilemma

Must have been the insperation for Dental Hygiene Dilemma

at 1:24


A flowerpot falls from a skyscraper on Donald's head. As he sort of gets his senses back a voice tells him that he is the greatest singer in the world.
Just like in Dental Hygiene Dilemma, the voice appears on screen as a red mouth.

Donald's Dilemma vs. Dental Hygiene Dilemma

drdork, "Music Land," Zappateers, May 18, 2020

Yes, it must have inspired FZ. I once asked Cal Schenkel and he wasn't aware of it.


200 Motels

Kjell Knudde, December 31, 2015

Note that the [image of] the three men seated at a table seems to be Pope Paul III again, the same pope who also can be seen on the cover of "We're Only In It For The Money"

Pope Paul III and his Grandsons Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (left), and Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma (right), II Duke of Parma since 1547. A triple portrait by Titian, 1546

Pope Paul III and his Grandsons

200 Motels

Kjell Knudde, December 31, 2015

Robert Stephenson

I identified one of the photographs [Calvin] used: It's Robert Stephenson (1803-1859), inventor of the steam engine!


AJ Wilkes

Did Murakami/Wolf do a popular cartoon/film? I remember seeing their name after a TV program, but can't remember which. Twasn't Charlie Brown, 'twas it?


Nope—Strawberry Shortcake, with Mark & Howie. They did others, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Mostly they did commercials, when I was working for them—Green Giant, stuff like that.

Missing The Cartoon

John Savard

I have the most recent laserdisc, which deletes the quasi-Donald Duck-on-acid animated sequence ("They're stealing the towels!!"). Does anyone know why?

Patrick Neve

Are you sure about that? I was under the impression that there only one laserdisc release of this movie... 1997 Laserdisc MGM/UA ML100423. I've got it, and it does include the quasi-duck sequence you describe.

"Bossk (R)"

Subject: "200 MOTELS—Missing the Cartoon"!?

I clearly remember a thread from way back when called "200 MOTELS— Missing the Cartoon"—ostensibly about some version of the 200 MOTELS movie WITHOUT the illegal Donald Duck cartoon, presumably for Disney reasons. Was there ever such a cut version? I've only seen it on VHS, two different copies (I have the LD, but haven't watched it), and they both had the cartoon. Has anyone seen it without the cartoon? The cartoon seems like the funniest thing in the whole world right now, and I can't remember what was decided in the original thread; it was years ago and the archives don't go back that far!


Screen Ratio

Paul Hinrichs

Subject: Letterboxing not relevant to 200 Motels

If the original photography WAS composed for TV aspect (4x3), and was later transferred to film for theatrical release, the frame would have had to have been expanded to fit the wider aspect ratio (5x3 or wider) and hence the tops and/or bottoms of the frame would have been CROPPED! It's hard to believe that FZ and Co. would have made this kind of planning error.


I watched 200 Motels shortly after release and, if memory serves, it was 4:3. The quality was poor for a large screen as well, though I have no complaints about the tape.

John Henley

As has been mentioned a couple of times, 200 Motels was shot on video and transferred to film. Therefore, it's a safe bet to say that its original aspect ratio was the standard television near-square.

If that holds true, then the version you see on your personal home video is a truer image than what we saw in theaters, which probably had to be cropped a bit at top and bottom.

Since FZ did not direct the visual aspect, I would bet that Tony Palmer (who did) had his cameramen keep that in mind, and we're not really missing much in the theatrical version.

So, though I fall squarely with the defenders of letterboxing, 200 Motels is not the best example of what Mr. Censorship is talking about.

It _is_, however, a stunning example of how far ahead FZ was thinking in 1971. There were only a handful of shot-on-video transfers in that era, and the others were all pretty much photographed stage plays. I contend that 200 Motels took better advantage of available video technology than anything else you'll see from the circa-1970 era.


As 200 Motels was shot direct to video, using the same ratio as standard TV, there's no need for letter-boxing. There is NO 'wide-screen' version. I've seen 200 Motels in theaters many times. I was there opening day at The Beverly Music Box Theater (it's not there anymore, and I think this was the name) in Beverly Hills, and until home video came around, every possible revival. It is direct to video. The ratio was that of a typical TV screen (Isn't that 1x1.3 or something?). In truth, I think it looks a little better on the small screen. The lines of resolution are far less apparant than they were on the big screen.

And if you DO dig 200 Motels, be sure to search out Tony Palmer's mind blowing documentary on Igor Stravinsky, called Once At A Border. Tony actually uses some of the same visual effects from 200 motels during the musical portions of the documentary. In the US it was released some 5, or 6 years ago on the KULTURE label.

Tony Palmer's Film Of Frank Zappa's 200 Motels (DVD, Voiceprint, 2010)

200 Motels (DVD, Voiceprint, 2010)

Frank Zappa 200 Motels (VHS, Warner Home Video, 1988)

200 Motels (VHS, 1988)

Frank Zappa's 200 Motels (Laser Disc, MGM/UA, 1997)

200 Motels (Laser Disc)

(Thanks to Patrick Neve for the Laser Disc screen shot.)

Two Mikes


This is just a guess, but notice how in the Flo & Eddie material there are two microphones per singer? Maybe one mic went to a video soundtrack and the other went to Rolling Stones Mobile for further ammonia treatment. A primitve but effective means of countering noisy splitter problems. Why else would they each get two mics? Certainly not for stereo separation of a mono source. There had to be two recording mediums.

But to be honest, I really don't see any reason to use multiple microphones. All it does is add up noise. Ambients and transients are all compounded when you increase the recording fields. You would also get phase cancellation problems from the mics, if they were recording to the same machine. The only reason I could possibly think of to use multiple mics on the same source would be if the mics were a different pattern and you were to use them for different colorations, which would be mixed. But I highly doubt Frank was thinking in those terms with the 3 ring circus that was going on in the studio. Or anyone in 1971, for that matter. There's no benefit to redundant micing, other than to send it to separate destinations. Call it the "presidents podium" effect.

Spencer Chrislu

FZ liked to record vocals in stereo. While I agree with Patrick that it creates problems, FZ insisted that he liked it better in stereo. Now I'm not saying that this is what happened on the 200 Motels tracks because I've never heard the multi-track masters, I thought I'd let you know that FZ often did things that were contrary to conventional wisdom (as if I'd have to remind any of you).


Interesting. So, were the mics clustered like we see in 200M, or did he play with placement? I totally agree with multiple mics for getting room reflections, presence differences, and attack delays, but I fail to see the logic in taping a couple of identical mics together. "What would he say if we taped our dicks together?" -JCB

Spencer Chrislu

When he recorded in stereo, we usually used a coincident stereo mic (2 capsules in one mic, i.e. an AKG C-24) or 2 separate mics in an ORTF configuration (17 cm apart, 110 degree angle). But, as I said, FZ was not know for doing things conventionally. He once used a mic made from a hearing aid to record vocals. In fact, you can see this mic on one of the videos. There is a shot of Tommy Mars (I think. I haven't seen it in years) singing into this very tiny mic at the end of a long wand. FZ claimed this was one of the best sounding microphones he had ever used. Go figure.

As far as the logic in taping two mics together, it was probably done for either of two reasons:

1.) The mics were sent to different feeds (This has already been suggested and is probably right) to avoid the splitter or for a feed to the film guys.


2.) It's used as a backup. In fact, you see this all the time on your local news. The anchor will have two mics on one clip on his tie. Then, if one fails, they just patch the other in without having to undress him on the set.


Understanding 200 Motels

Patrick Neve

Here is a link to Understanding 200 Motels, a nice little guide by Marcello.


1997 Re-release

Patrick Neve

It looks as if this movie was almost re-released in 1997. That fall, Ryko was releasing soundtrack discs to many of the movies that MGM/UA was re-releasing. According to a Rolling Stone press release from 9/20/1997, 200 Motels The Movie was slated for release:

Zappa Movie Re-Released

(NEW YORK)—Relating to recent Daily Entertainment Report briefs, Frank Zappa fans will have reason to freak out Oct. 14 when Rykodisc releases 200 Motels, the 1971 film directed by the late, great mother of musical invention. |A story about life on the road, the movie features former Beatle Ringo Starr and the late Who drummer Keith Moon, who playsa nun. Rykodisc will also release the film's soundtrack; to list for $34.98, it includes the London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's original contributions to the project, as well as bonus tracks, dialogue from the movie, and interactive CD-Rom content.


Tom Troccoli, "200 Motels. The 'Complete' Epic," Society Pages #5, 1991

Most SOCIETY PAGES subscribers have already purchased, fetished and cherished the Honker video THE TRUE STORY OF 200 MOTELS, and probably already know that barely one third of what Frank had written was included in the "finished" theatrical release. We can't show you the long version, 'cause this is a magazine, not a movie. But how would you like to hear it? Most of the music is available on various FZ releases and as such, can be assembled at home on tape in your spare time!

As my sources for this project, I used an original 254 page shooting script (affectionately known in some circles as the "12 incher"), an unpublished continuity interview with Frank, as well as portions of earlier scripts featuring even more cuts!

First off, here's a list of ingredients that you're gonna need:

OK! Now then, in the correct order:

  1. Semi-Fraudulent/Direct From Hollywood Overture (LP)
  2. Touring Can Make You Crazy (LP)
  3. Dance Of The Rock & Roll Interviewers (LP)
  4. What's The Name Of Your Group? (video, #1)
  5. Would You Like A Snack? (LP, #2)
  6. Centerville (LP)
  7. This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich
    1. Prologue (LP)
    2. Dance Of The Just Plain Folks (LP)
    3. Reprise (LP)
    4. Bolero (LP)
  8. Lonesome Cowboy Burt (LP)
  9. Redneck Eats (LP)
  10. Mystery Roach (LP, #3)
  11. The Pleated Gazelle (#4)
    1. Motorhead's Midnight Ranch (LP)
    2. Dew On The Newts We Got (LP)
    3. The Lad Searches The Night For His Newts (LP)
    4. The Girl Wants To Fix Him Some Broth (LP)
    5. The Girl's Dream (LP)
    6. Little Green Scratchy Sweaters & Corduroy Ponce (LP)
    7. A Nun Suit Painted On Some Old Boxes (LP)
  12. She Painted Up Her Face (LP)
  13. Janet's Big Dance Number (LP)
  14. Half A Dozen Provocative Squats (LP)
  15. Mysterioso (LP)
  16. Shove It Right In (LP)
  17. Lucy's Seduction Of A Bored Violinist & Postlude (LP)
  18. What Will This Morning Bring Me This Evening? (video)
  19. What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning? (LP)
  20. What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are? (Fillmore)
  21. Bwana Dik (Fillmore)
  22. Latex Solar Beef (Fillmore)
  23. Daddy, Daddy, Daddy (LP)
  24. Do You Like My New Car? (Fillmore)
  25. Magic Fingers (LP)
  26. Penis Dimension (LP, #5)
  27. I'm Stealing The Towels (LP)
  28. Dental Hygiene Dilemma (LP)
  29. Does This Kind Of Life Look Interesting To You? (LP)
  30. Strictly Genteel (LP, #6)
  31. Lucy's Seduction (Reprise) (video, #7)

The Apocrypha

These Songs were originally intended for use, but didn't make it to the final shoot:

Notes (#):

#1. Dance Of The Rock & Roll Interviewers and What's The Name Of Your Group? are actually only segments of a much longer piece, also entitled What's The Name Of Your Group?. While we know no further video exists, perhaps there is an existing 16 track recording. How 'bout it, Frank?

#2. The original title of this is Went On The Road.

#3. In fact, there were two versions of Mystery Roach intended for 200 MOTELS, and this version is neither of them. Mystery Roach #1 (band version) is very much of an acoustic "folk-rock" song. You can see and just barely hear this version for all of fifteen to twenty seconds in THE TRUE STORY OF 200 MOTELS. Mystery Roach #2 (solo version), indeed was to have been sung solo by "Jeff" (Martin Lickert), just before smoking the vile-foamy-liquid cigarette he'd just procured from Dom Dewild, after which he proceeds to "steal the room". What can I say about this elixir?!

#4. My personal fave, this section is rife with deletions, my heart bleeds a little every day for the loss of this one. By the way, when the soprano soloist sings, "Would you like to watch a dental hygiene movie?", this is not the cue for Dental Hygiene Dilemma. Don't be fooled! Dental hygiene movies simply get her hot!

#5. The shooting script shows that the song and the spoken parts were flip-flopped in order for the theatrical release.

#6. The film version features a different mix.

#7. This music is used during the credit sequence.

Well gang, there you have it!


200 Motels, The Suites

David Ocker, interviewed by Eyeinhand Entertainment, c. 2000

When I quit my job with Frank we moved a large, fireproof filing cabinet that held all the score and part masters into the vault. Maybe that cabinet is still down there. There was one large orchestra piece that I worked on that has never been performed. It's a concert version of "Penis Dimension" and "I'm Stealing the Room". Under Frank's supervision I orchestrated this for a large symphonic orchestra in the same fashion I did "Bogus Pomp" or "Strictly Genteel". Those versions are on the LSO albums. Along with the full orchestra there are narrators in "Penis Dimension" doing dialogue from the movie, plus a chorus. Having it performed would be a big deal. Frank gave me tapes of the previous recording and had me notate the rhythms of the spoken parts exactly. He would not allow any flexibility for the performers in terms of rhythmic performance—not even a fermata to allow the conductor the luxury of deciding how long to wait before going on. If there was a pause in the narration then Frank wanted enough in-tempo beats to allow that same amount of time to go by. The conductor was given no discretion. The moral of this is, I guess, that Frank wanted to remain absolutely in control of the pacing of the music.

Amsterdam, June 23-24, 2000

Holland Festival
Koninklijk Theater Carré
Amstel 115-125
1018 EM Amsterdam
June 23-24, 2000; 20:30 h.

Composer: Frank Zappa
Adaptation: Ali N. Askin
Company: Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest and Cappella Amsterdam
Conductor: Jurjen Hempel
Claron McFadden: vocals (Rock & Roll Interviewer, Girl, Jeff's Good Conscience)
Lieuwe Visser: vocals (Rance Muhammitz, Jeff's Bad Conscience)
Tommy Dunbar & Jon Rubin: vocals (Flo & Eddie)
Mats Öberg: keyboards, vocals (Jeff)
Morgan Ågren: drums
Stage-Manager: Johan Simons

Jim Farber, "Letter From L.A.: The Philharmonic Checks In, 200 Motels," San Francisco Classical Voice, October 21, 2013

It was in 1998, Gail remembers, that the process of resurrecting the fully orchestrated version of 200 Motels really began.

"I was approached by the Holland Festival. They asked if they could do 200 Motels; I told them that I didn't have a score or the parts. I also told them it would probably be prohibitively expensive to put it all together. But they were determined."

Like a trio of musical archeologists, Gail Zappa, "vaultmeister" Joe Travers, and Frank Zappa's synclavier programmer, Todd Yvega, began to put the pieces of what they had together.

"We met in my basement," says Gail, "and lined up all the scores and parts that we had. The problem was we'd never gotten all the material back after the 1971 London recording. I made an executive decision as executor of my husband's estate. 'Let's put everything together,' I said, 'and see what we've got that's as close as possible to what the original might have been.' I also decided to only keep the rock 'n' roll parts where the band interacted directly with the orchestra. Then we followed the Yellow Brick Road of the measure numbers."

The performance that took place at the Holland Festival in 2000, according to Gail, was a raw and decidedly flawed first effort, which also did not include any of the multimedia components that the score specifically called for.

Gail Zappa, interviewed by Eric van den Berg, Volkstrant, June 8, 2000 (translation by Corne van Hooijdonk)

The arrangement of 200 Motels, The Suites—one of the performances with which the Holland Festival honors Frank Zappa—was an 'emotional' task. 'Suddenly I am in the same shoes as I used to be in. I must think the way he did.' But there are also moments that she realizes that it is all high comedy anyway. 'What are we talking about? Holland!'

Together with Ali N. Askin, who worked with Frank on Yellow Shark (1993), she dived in the archive to make the soundtrack of the road movie suitable for a live-performance. What was made in 1971 as a collage of rock, classical, dialogue and other sound had to become a whole.

[...] 'Sometimes it's a disaster. We're not even able to identify everything', says Gail. The 200 Motels-project, that took up two years, was pure detective work. But they managed, and now it is wait and see what the Dutch Philharmonic does with it. 'You lean back, and then it turns out to be horrible, or you're lucky.'

If something goes wrong now, the relationship between the Holland Festival and the Zappa's is irreparable. In 1980 Frank had a fight about an extra payment to the Residence Orchestra and withdrew his cooperation for a Zappa-week. Never ever would a Dutch orchestra play Zappa's music, was what he promised to put in his last will. Gail: 'Well, he said that, it's true. But that was during his life. They can't make me do anything. And if opportunity knocks . . . '

Morgan Ågren, interviewed by Magnus Höglund and Peder Andersson, PlanetZappa, October 2000

It was pretty amazing! The orchestra, the percussion section, the choir, the whole organization of the festival including the actual venue "Carre" itself . . . all of it was just great. And the performance too! The stage was really impressive. An extra 2nd floor was built for the percussion with the choir underneath. 174 microphones on stage! 10 meter long mixer console etc., and a lot of nice people; Ali Askin, Todd Yvega, Harry Adronis, Gail and Diva Zappa—even Rutger Hauer was there! Some of the repertoire that we played wasn't in the original movie or album. Ali Askin found stuff in Franks vault that was written for 200 Motels but never ended up in the movie/recording. The Amsterdam concerts were recorded for the radio and should sound pretty good. It is planned to go on air in December 2000.

Los Angeles, October 23, 2013

Esa-Pekka Salonen Conducts Los Angeles Philharmonic & Los Angeles Master Chorale, Frank Zappa 200 Motels The Suites, November 20, 2015, liner notes

Walt Disney Concert Hall
23 October 2013

Esa-Pekka Salonen—conductor
Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Master Chorale

The Cast
Jeff Taylor—Larry The Dwarf
Michael Des Barres—Rance
Matt Marks—Mark
Zach Villa—Howard
Rich Fulcher—Lonesome Cowboy Burt
Hila Plitmann—Soprano Solo
Morris Robinson—Bass Solo
Joel David Moore—Frank
Joe Fria—Jeff
Ann Cusack—Donovan/Good Conscience
Alan Ruck—Ginger/Bad Conscience
Diva Zappa—Janet
Sheila Vand—Lucy

Ian Underwood—Keyboard 1/Electric Alto Sax
Randy Kerber—Keyboard 2/Hammond Organ
Joe Travers—Drum Set
Scott Carter Thunes—Electric Bass
Jamie Kime—Electric Guitar

James Darrah—Director

200 MOTELS Scores & Parts by Frank Zappa
Scrutinization & Remedial by Kurt Morgan, Scoremeister

Jim Farber, "Letter From L.A.: The Philharmonic Checks In, 200 Motels," San Francisco Classical Voice, October 21, 2013

"This is not a suite or a condensed version," [James] Darrah emphasizes. "This is the complete 200 Motels orchestral score exactly the way Frank wrote it. Only 40 percent of the orchestral score was included in the 1971 movie. The rest was video segments and songs featuring the Mothers of Invention. That's why this really is a world premiere. And there is a rock band as well that includes Joe Travers (drums) and Ian Underwood (keyboards and saxophone)."


The performance that took place at the Holland Festival in 2000, according to Gail, was a raw and decidedly flawed first effort, which also did not include any of the multimedia components that the score specifically called for.

"They said they didn't have a budget for it and they weren't interested in it," she recalls. "The performance at Disney Hall with Esa-Pekka," she adds proudly, "will be as close as possible to the original concept."


"The orchestra for 200 Motels is quite large and fills almost the entire stage," Darrah points out. "It also includes a battery of percussion instruments that's one of the largest ever assembled. So space is at a premium."

A large part of the solution, Darrah says, will be the video projections that Zappa makes specific reference to in the orchestral score as a means to highlight the singers and instrumental soloists.

London, October 29, 2013

The Rest Is Noise
Royal Albert Hall, London, UK
October 29, 2013, 19:30 h.

Claron McFadden—Soprano
Tony Guilfoyle—Frank
Richard Strange—Narrator/Rance
Ian Shaw—Mark
Brendan Reilly—Howard/Cowboy Burt
Sophia Brous—Groupie 1 (Janet)/Larry The Dwarf
Diva Zappa—Groupie 2 (Lucy)
Jessica Hynes—Good Conscience/Donovan
Jay Rayner—Bad Conscience/Ginger
Scott Thunes—Jeff

BBC Concert Orchestra
Southbank Sinfonia
London Voices
Jurjen Hempel—conductor
Terry Edwards—chorus master

Natasha Betteridge—Stage Direction
David Coulter—Casting Consultant

The Program

  1. Overture
  2. Went On The Road
  3. Centerville
  4. Tuna Sandwich Suite
  5. The Restaurant Scene
  6. Touring Can Make You Crazy
  7. What's The Name Of Your Group?
  8. Can I Help You With This Dummy?
  9. The Pleated Gazelle
  10. I'm Stealing The Room
  11. Shove It Right In
  12. Penis Dimension
  13. Strictly Genteel



Additional informants: Kristian Kier, Charles Ulrich, Joachim Ott, computeruser, Peter Van Laarhoven, NikZah

Maintained by Román García Albertos
This section formerly maintained by Reverend Neve
This dog last modified: 2023-06-25