Friday, September 28, 2007

How To End Up Wearing A Dress On Stage In A Concert Film With Frank Zappa

this one is more serendipitous.
to begin with your first road manager
has to kill himself
(see Anecdote # 37 blog from August 15.)
then, he has to be replaced by a road manager
of a different stripe: the "Road Mangler"
which is the title Phil Kaufman goes by.

Phil is an extraordinary person with a colorful past.
friends with Charlie Manson, before the massacre.
friends with the legendary Gram Parsons.
at Gram's insistence Phil agreed
to burn Gram's body out in the desert
if he were to die.
they made a pact.

a few years later
Gram Parsons died,
Phil stole his body,
drove it into the desert,
and promptly burned it.

you meet Phil after his prison tenure
and find him to be one hilarious fellow.
dressed in his best Harley garb,
he has (at that time) a knack for staying
completely smashed on booze
and yet doing his job very thoroughly.

one morning at breakfast with Phil
the waitress asks for his order.
he replies, "I'll have a Turkey Club."
the waitress says,
"I'm sorry sir, we're only serving breakfast,
no sandwiches until lunch."

"it's a type of whiskey, dear", he informs her.

next, you have to be fortunate enough
to take part in one of frank's annual rituals:
the Halloween concert in New York City
at the ancient Palladium Theatre.

since it is halloween
Phil will look after the costuming
for willing band members.
and since you are already in a costume of sorts
(a paratroopers jumpsuit bought
at an Army/Navy store on Melrose Ave.)
you're happy to oblige.

as it happens the entire concert is being filmed
to be released as a live concert film called baby snakes.
so when Phil shows up late in the afternoon
with your costume you try to put on a brave face.
the costume he's chosen is a WAC uniform
(a female military outfit from the 40's)
which matches your paratrooper jumpsuit
and just so happens to fit you perfectly.

at some point during the evening's concert
you find yourself offstage
changing into the WAC uniform.
the film crew surrounds you as you don
the now-infamous $500,000 Jimi Hendrix strat
and step back onto the busy stage
in front of 2,000 people
and a host of lights and cameras.

it's at this precise moment you realize:
you're wearing a dress.


  1. (In the fine tradition of blog commenting, commenter jumps up and yells...) FIRST!

    These stories just keep getting better and better.

    You can't make this kind of stuff up--it just writes itself!

  2. I have absolutely loved Baby Snakes for so long now. Last year the Zappa family did a third time ever, big screen presentation at the Egyptian Theater. I really wanted to see the film in that format, having missed it the first couple times around - I don't even remember when that happened - so I drove down from northern Cal to Los Angeles. I knew I would be in for a real treat, kind of like when I saw The Wizard of Oz on the big screen. Being fairly familar with the movie, I was amazed how much stuff was cut from the mass release copy. About half the footage maybe. I guess most movies are that way.

    Thanks for all your countless hours doing what you do Adrian. It's medicinal.

  3. Did you know that the story about Phil, and how he fulfilled Gram Parsons' wishes, was made in to a movie? "Grand Theft Parsons" with Johnny Knoxville (of "Jackass" fame) as Phil. 8-)

  4. When my daughter was a baby, she loved it, she thougwh it was a riot, when I sang "Baby Snakes" for her.

  5. I love the Internet! It took about 3 minutes to locate video verification of this tale.

  6. Adrian.
    I sent the same link to Pat, Robin and Trey.
    You has help me too much with your response.
    There is a way you can help me:
    hearing me, and you has did it?
    Thank you for that.

    I'll keep searching for support in all the world to release this album and when I have It I'll send it to you.
    Someday I'll meet all my krimson heroes.

    So I'll send you more of my music, I know you can't do something to support, but if there is no problem I'll keep sending you all the music that I make under the inspiration you give me.

    Sorry for my worse english, and thank you very very much for your response.
    Have nice weekend

  7. Happy Birthday Moon Zappa !

    (She's turnng 40 this weekend )

    feelin' old,


  8. Adrian, I can't determine what's cooler: the amazing, fortunate life you've led; or the fact that you realize and appreciate what an amazing and fortunate life you've led.

    Like Miles Davis, Frank had a great eye for young talent, and got the most from it on stage and in the studio. The Slicks have proven themselves worthy of sharing the stage with you. Any chance they'll get to do the same in the studio?

    Just curious ...


  9. circlesongs1:
    I'm glad you asked. in fact, I have been writing material for the power trio and we are planning to work together here in my studio in november on the new material for next year's shows. this will be a time for development, not a time for recording.

    for the moment I'm writing a follow up to "madness" (this one with vocals) and a follow up to "beat box guitar"; a piece called "e".

    they're both perfectly suited for the trio. my concept for the next solo record is to have 3 or 4 tracks which feature the trio and the rest of the record more solo in nature.

    of course, before a new solo record we will release "side four", the live trio.

  10. Can't wait for Side Four. (Of course, I have the other three Sides.) I'm looking forward to the live version of Futurevision. (Um, I HOPE that's on there.) It blew my mind. (I was at the Rams Head concert in Annapolis ... not the Slicks but Mike and Mike.)


  11. Just watched Baby Snakes for the first time. Zow. It was so cool to see you in such a wild scene. I first saw you at The U of Akron during Crimson's "Three of a Perfect Pair" tour. So orderly, so neat, such precision. Frank was a genius, but the scene must have been maddening. What is the story behind the Hendrix Strat? Did I come in late?
    Keep up the fine tunage!

  12. mknernohan:
    please see the blog Anecdote #555 Part Two from May 17 for the story on the hendrix strat.