Appearing on an Australian chat show in 1973, Frank Zappa likened the groupie “phenomenon” to human sacrifice. Footage of the interview appears in a new documentary about the iconoclastic artist called Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words, which opens in theaters tomorrow.
The clip shows Monday Conference host Robert Moore reading a list of pejorative descriptions that critics have used to describe Zappa (ending with some by the artist himself), before cutting to a section of the interview in which Zappa calls the advent of groupies a “sociological phenomenon that existed in the pop world … I was the first one to put it in print.”
When Moore reads Zappa some of his own words – “They make the ultimate gesture of worship, human sacrifice” – and describes them as sexist, the artist grimaces and, to Zappa’s left, a trio of Australian women sitting on the show’s panel wince. “[Human sacrifice] is exactly what happens,” Zappa says. “I’m describing a phenomenon. Why would you call it sexist?” And when Moore questions why Zappa would describe it as “one of the most amazingly beautiful products of the sexual revolution,” Zappa affects a jokey voice. “Well, you’d have to go on the road and check it out a few times,” he says. (The entire 48-minute Monday Conference interview is on YouTube.)
Eat That Question, which presents footage of Zappa with no narration, premiered earlier this year at Sundance. Filmmaker Thorsten Schutte assembled the film from bootleg and archival footage with the intention of letting the artist tell his own story.