Crazy touring sets pace

By Mike Mason and Marvin Wright

The Paper, 6 December 1971

“Yes, ladies and gentlemen, touring can make you crazy”. That’s what “200 Motels”, Frank Zappa’s new movie, is all about. Living in cheesy motels, ordering magic cheeseburgers, making the scene in fake nightclubs, ripping off groupies for spare change – all these and many more of your and the Mothers’ favorite fantasies about the life of a swinging rock group went into the making of “200 Motels”. This is life straight from the subjective consciousness of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. It’s all real, if only in the minds of the musicians themselves.

But let’s not overlook the rest of the move. Frank also deals with the “Orchestra question”. What’s to be done with all those little men and their brown fiddles sitting in the fourth row of a symphonic string section? Or, in the case of rock ‘n’ roll, which is the comedy group – the Mothers, Grand Funk, BS&T or John Mayall’s? These questions he sets before us in a mind-fucking style, using animation and stunning visuals directed by Tony Palmer. Now let’s talk about some of the folks in the movie. Theodore Bikel, just for instance, plays Rance Muhammitz. It’s different with Ringo Starr. He plays Larry the Dwarf, dressed up like Frank Zappa, because Frank made him do it for the movie. There is a lot of shit coming down in this movie. Like, there are ten things going on at once, counting the music, which we haven’t even touched on. Whe’n you walk out of that theatre and start returning to taking yourself seriously, you’ll just have to ask yourself, “What’s the deal?” – Mike Mason and Marvin Wright