Frank Zappa (1940-1993)



Interview with Frank Zappa (May 17, 1984)

Charles Amirkhanian interviews Frank Zappa in anticipation of his appearance on Speaking of Music at the Exploratorium. Zappa discusses his digital re-mastering of his album "Lumpy Gravy" and other early works. The musical selections played during this program are not included in this recording.


The Talking Asshole (5:25)
from The Nova Convention (Giorno Poetry Systems, 1978)


The Talking Asshole

Performed at The Nova Convention, NYC
December 2, 1978

Emcee: Just sending up for the great uh, Frank Zappa.

FZ: Hiya. How you doin' tonight? Alright, um, as you know, I'm not the kind of a person that reads books, I've said this before many times, I'm not fond of reading. But, I do, I have in the past made exceptions, and uh, one of these exceptions was this part of the, the book that, I'm sure you know, called Naked Lunch, and I've received permission to read the part about the talking asshole. So . . .

Before I do, uh, I've discussed with Mr. Burroughs before we came out here some of the details that led to the construction of this section of the book. I asked him where he got the idea for this part, and he said that it was derived from the ventriloquist scene in The Dead Of Night, if you know that film. And I had a little bit of trouble following that, for a moment there, until he made it all very clear to me by saying that uh, it was like uh, when you have a ventriloquist dummy and suddenly the dummy starts talking for you. And so, with that introduction, I start on page 132, and it goes like this (ahem.):

Did I ever tell you about the man who taught his asshole to talk? His whole abdomen would move up and down, you dig, farting out the words. It was unlike anything I ever heard. This "ass-talk" had a sort of gut frequency. It hit you right down there like you gotta go. You know when the old colon gives you the elbow and it feels sorta cold inside, and you know all you hafta do is "turn loose"? Well, this talking hit you right down there. A bubbly, thick, stagnant sound. A sound you could smell. This man worked for a carnival, you dig, and tos tart with, it was like a novelty ventriloquist act. Real funny, too, at first. He had a number he called "The Better Oh", that was a scream, I tell you. I forget most of it, but it was clever, like, "Oh, I say, are you still down there, old thing? 'Nah, I had to go relieve myself!'"

After a while, the ass started talking on its own. He would go in without anything prepared and his ass would ad-lib, and toss the gags back at him every time. Then it developed sort of teeth-like little raspy incurving hooks, and started eating. He thought this was cute at first, and built an act around it. But the asshole would eat its way through his pants, and start talking on the street, shouting out it wanted equal rights. It would get drunk, too, and have crying jags, nobody loved it, an'- and wanted.. and it wanted to be kissed, same as any other mouth. Finally, it talked all the time, day and night. You could hear him for blocks, screaming at it to shut up, and beating it with his fist, and sticking candles up it. But nothing did any good, and the asshole said to him, "It's you who will shut up in the end, not me. Because, we don't need you around here any more. I can talk, and eat, AND shit".

After that he began waking up in the morning with a transparent jelly like a tadpole's tail all over his mouth. This jelly was what the scientists call "un D.T.", undifferentiated tissue, (herr) which can grow into any kind of flesh on the human body. He would tear it off his mouth and the pieces would stick to his hands like burning gasoline jelly, and grow there. Grow anywhere . . . on him . . . grow anywhere on him a glob of it fell.

So finally his mouth sealed over, and the whole head would have amputated spontaneous.. did you know there is a condition occurs in parts of Africa, and only among negros, where the little toe amputates spontaneously?

Except for the eyes, you dig? That's the one thing the asshole couldn't do, was see. It needed the eyes. But nerve connections were blocked and infiltrated and atrophed, so the brain couldn't give orders any more. it was trapped in the skull, sealed off. For awhile, you could see the silent helpless suffering of the brain behind the eyes, then finally the brain must have died, because the eyes went out, and there was no more feeling in them than a crab's eye on the end of a stalk.