Zappa And The Groupie Papers

By Mike Flood Page

Sounds, May 3, 1975

NOBODY COULD say that the ladies of this world are spared in Frank Zappa's lyrics, though that is hardly a rarity in rock. Has Frank ever been attacked from a feminist angle?

When I saw him recently he told me interviewers had taken that tack:

"One of them wound up being one of my biggest fans and the other one went away scratching her head. I don't think it's fair to point any feminist fingers in my direction, when you consider the general thrust of all rock and roll lyrics by all other groups.


"Why should I be singled out? I've probably done more for the feminist cause than any other rock and roll type band, because at least if I'm writing something that has sexual connotations to it I make an attempt to give a fair representation of both sides of the sexual fence.

"Not because I'm a feminist fellow traveller, or sympathiser but just because I thought it was rational." The case for the defence rests.


Another sexual affair however has been threatened periodically since 1969 โ€“ the (in)famous Groupie Papers. The idea germinated when Zappa discovered three people whose lives had crossed at different points due to a common interest in the sexual side alleys of rock and roll world: Noel, Cynthia and Miss Pamela.

Cynthia is the Plaster Caster of Chicago. In '69 she and a helper would take casts of the private parts of the flower of rock and roll manhood.

The plump little figure with her bag of specimens and the makings: plaster, alginates, vaseline, measuring scoops, etc. was a familiar sight in the hotel lobbies around Chicago anytime some new bunch of rock and roll dudes hit town.

Miss Pamela was a GTO. Never heard of that either? Well a GTO was a member of a troupe of female performers brought together and recorded by one Francis Vincent Zappa.

And GTO stands for Girls Together Occasionally or Often or Outrageously; which under FZ's guidance they frequently were.

Pamela was from the San Fernando Valley in California, a blonde and waiflike, and once got as far as banging on Mick Jagger's hotel door. These days Miss Pamela is a character in an American TV Soap Opera "As The World Turns", earning thousands of dollars a year.


Now what these people all have in common is that they're kept meticulous diaries, since they were young. In Cynthia's case down to how much plaster she had to use on whom.

Frank got wind of this and now has diaries which his former secretary is hoping to turn into a book, 'The Groupie Papers'. Let Frank take up the tale:

"Each diary starts as each of the characters are finding out about rock and roll and life and such-like. Before the end of the book, they converge through the most bizarre set of circumstances that you can imagine, and then it tells where they go after that."

As an account of aspects of the Sixties he described it as; "a hell of an historical novel, โ€“ but true.

"Noel's diary begins with him auditioning" and what happens to him, practically over-night. How that changes his life. Every page is: how many girls he did today and what he did with them.

"Pamela who started keeping her diaries at the age of nine, talking about how she cried then when they excuted Caryl Chessman.

"Cynthia started keeping diaries at an early age too. Things about her father trying to attack her because her tits were so big. Going from there to art school and getting into the whole Plaster Caster business.

"How she met Noel. Noel meeting Pamela when he goes to California. And they're all having correspondence back and forth but they don't know about each other until I put them in touch with each other on the phone."

Ever the mastermind of the chemistry of personalities our Frank.

That was when he produced the GTOs and a portion of the phone conversation appears on their album.


"Pamela gets on the phone and starts talking to Cynthia something to the effect: 'Oh, I've heard all about you, and it sounds very interesting'

"Then they start comparing notes on who they like in the business and Noel comes up, and they start writing letters to each other.

"What happens as a result of this is that Pamela falls in love with Cynthia; except Cynthia is not bi-sexual. So Pamela keeps trying to seduce Cynthia, and Pamela lives in California, has never left California, has no idea what it's like in Chicago in the Wintertime. At one point decides she's gonna hock all her wordly possessions, gets on a plane, with the intention of getting to Cynthia.

"I've still got this Wing Polaroid photograph of the two of them sitting together. It just flops miserably! Then they drift apart from there.

"Cynthia is doing something that everybody in the groupie industry always wanted to do. She would set her sights on some target and say; 'I'm gonna do this and such to so and so.'


"At a time when she's a fat little girl living in Chicago, working as either a typist or on a telephone switchboard or something, she would figure out ways to locate groups when they came to tour that would have been great for Sherlock Holmes." She found out where they were, how to get to them. Got to them and would either ball them or cast them; and kept clinical notes. I mean clinical.

"Not only that, she drew cartoons that are naive, well-excuted Little Orphan-Annie-looking cartoons of her and her assistant chasing down the stars."

Yeah, but Frank you were talking about that being published in 1969, do you really believe it will ever see the light of day?

"I hope so. It would make one hell of a movie. It would be about the ultimate rock and roll movie because everybody's in that book.

All right that about wraps up groupies for one week, how about the group?

"I think the group hasn't even peaked yet. That may be optimistic, but I really feel it. One day I hope I'm gonna wake up and find a sufficient number of people outside of our hard-core audience have decided: these guys are great!

"And I'm going to agree with them! I won't even bother to sit there and say: What took you so long?"