Gail Zappa Speaks With Howard Stern

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T'Mershi Duween, #36, February 1994


First Public Words since the death of her husband, Frank, on Saturday, 4/12/93.

The following is a transcript (by the fabulous Ron Casapulla; then amended with a scalpel by the Freditor) of the conversation Gail Zappa had with Howard Stern and Robin Quivers on Friday, December 10, 1993, beginning about 9:58 AM EST. Mr. Stern came back from a live commercial, and picked up the phone for Mrs. Zappa. Stern and Quivers had been entertaining the country with an interview with a female friend from his College Days, before he met his wife. The conversation went as follows:

Stern: Hey, Robin, on the phone with us is the very lovely Gail Zappa.

Quivers: Yes! We never had the pleasure of meeting Gail...

Stern: Yeah, I've never met Gail face-to-face but we've talked on the phone a few times. Gail, of course, the wife of the late Frank Zappa, mother of Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva.

Mrs. Zappa: Good morning.

Stern: Good Morning, Gail.

Mrs. Zappa: Have you ever considered that having so many sponsors is a plot to keep you off the air, Howard?

Stern: You're sounding more and more like Frank every day.

Quivers: There's a conspiracy!

Stern: It is a conspiracy. I apologize for the long commercial break, Gail, but I am so SUCCESSFUL now.

Mrs. Zappa: Oh, that's fabulous, I love you, Howard!

Stern: The sponsors are killing themselves to get on this show! Gail, we're of course all saddened by Frank's death, but Frank was suffering a long time with prostate cancer and I said to Robin that I thought it was just so tremendous that Frank got on the phone with me a coupla months ago?

Mrs. Zappa: Yeah, I think it was when Moon was on your Interview television show.

Stern: And I was glad I got to talk to him off the air, as well. I spoke to him for a bit of time. And, it really thrilled me that Frank was a fan of the old Channel 9 TV Shows.

Mrs. Zappa: Ohmigod, he LOVED that show! Are you kidding? He watched it religiously! Even though he's not that religious.

Stern: Yeah, Frank was not religious except when it came to our show.

Quivers: He was religious about that.

Stern: Yeah, Frank actually said to me, 'I'm going to meet with Rhino Records, I want them to put those old shows out on video'. I said Frank, don't even bother. I said there's enough people who want to put it out on video, it's just that I've got to come to some kind of agreement with Channel 9'. But, it was real nice, he was real complimentary and stuff. Did he ever get my copy of 'Butt Bongo Fiesta'?

Mrs. Zappa: Yes, he did.

Stern: Did he get to watch it before he went?

Mrs. Zappa: I wish that I could say that he did...

Stern: What? Frank did NOT watch 'Butt Bongo Fiesta'?

Mrs. Zappa: Oh, he was so ill, Howard, I'm sorry...

Stern: Ooohhh, if you just could've put the 3D glasses on him ... He would've been so happy, I'm telling you ...

Mrs. Zappa: (Laughs.)

Stern: I'll tell you something, it would've given him a whole new lease on life, I'm not kidding.

Quivers: You know, they say that laughter is a cure.

Stern: It would've been a cure.

Mrs. Zappa: You think that would've done it?

Stern: I think it could have kept him around for another year or two.

Quivers: You should've tried everything, Gail.

Mrs. Zappa: Yeah, we did try everything, but I missed out on THAT one, dammit!

Stern: I know. How is everybody doing over there, I mean, this is a great loss. You all depended on Frank. He's a great guy, right?

Mrs. Zappa: Yeah, he's a great guy. And I lost my best friend. I've appointed Beverly D'Angelo as my new best friend. (laughs)

Stern: Oh, so you ALREADY HAVE a new best friend? So, it's not that sad.

Quivers: How QUICKLY they forget!

Stern: Well, hey listen. Gail's gotta get on with her life.

Mrs. Zappa: Beverly's been involved in our life for so long.

Stern: Gail, let me tell you something, you are still young, you're still beautiful. You have to get on with your life.

Quivers: Do you think you'll marry again?

Stern: What??? She's engaged, Robin, what kind of question is that? Of course she's gonna marry again.

Mrs. Zappa: But do you know what? I already got a proposal.

All: (Laughter.)

Stern: She already has a boyfriend. She's a very beautiful woman.

Quivers: Aren't people opportunistic?

Stern: Listen, she's got to go on with her life. She has needs. You have needs, right, Gail?

Mrs. Zappa: I do have needs. We all have needs.

Quivers: It's very tough, you know, those last several months before...

Mrs. Zappa: But I wanted to thank you guys, I wanted to thank you guys for remembering Frank, and even your hideous jokes. I heard about your hideous jokes the third day out, Howard.

Stern: Did I really have hideous jokes?

Mrs. Zappa: (Laughing) Yeah.

Stern: What did I say? I don't even know...

Mrs. Zappa: I don't know, it was reported to me, and I don't think it really matters...

Stern: We were rejoicing, we were rejoicing in Frank's sense of humor.

Mrs. Zappa: Yeah, I know. You should do that, everybody should do that.

Stern: And, then we sang a tribute song to him, but...

Mrs. Zappa: Yeah, I heard about that.

Quivers: Maybe that's what did it...

Stern: (Laughing) All I know is, Gary's mother called up crying. About the song. She thought it was beautiful.

Quivers: You know, it hits everybody differently.

Stern: Yeah, it sure does.

Mrs. Zappa: It does. And I've noticed that all of the reviewers out there are having a wonderful time reviewing his life as though he was a CD release ... It's pretty disgusting.

Stern: Yeah, they're almost making it seem like he was "Weird Al" Yankovic or something ...

Mrs. Zappa: (Laughs.)

Stern: You know what I mean, just like a novelty record or something ... Yeah, it was weird but I'll really miss Frank because Frank was so much fun. I mean, when Frank would come on this show, the coupla times that he actually came on live, and the few times he'd come on over the telephone, I was thoroughly entertained by him and it had nothing to do with his music. It was just so great to hear his philosophies and stuff, and that's what I'm going to miss most about your husband.

Quivers: He always had an interesting take on life ...

Stern: The MOST bizarre take on life, and I appreciate people like that. I appreciate that they're around.

Quivers: It's very creative. You knew that there was a mind working there.

Stern: I appreciate that there's someone on the planet who can sit there and come up with just ideas that no one else could possibly dream up. And having Frank Zappa around was just a lot of fun for me. I sure enjoyed meeting him and I'm always gonna remember him.

Mrs. Zappa: Well, thank you, Howard. You know, I want to also say that he was one of the kindest people in the universe. Surprisingly, that may SHOCK your listeners.

Stern: Why? That doesn't shock me.

Mrs. Zappa: But he really was.

Stern: He raised a lot of good kids. Did that have to do with you or did Frank actually partake in that?

Quivers: Did he take any credit in that at all?

Mrs. Zappa: I'd like to give them the credit. OF COURSE HE DID. I mean, we were there, yknow?

Stern: I picture Frank just working all the time. And what did Frank do all the time ... He was working right up until the end, wasn't he?

Mrs. Zappa: Yes, in fact there's a few other pieces of music that he completed. He got to record the works of Edgard Varèse, who was his favorite composer. He produced the record and completed that. And that was actually the last project. He also finished a piece called 'Civilization Phaze III', which I think is really his masterwork, and so that's finished.

Stern: Gail, is this a commercial? For the new record?

Mrs. Zappa: No, it's not a commercial. (Section fredited)

Stern: Listen to me, Gail, you're obviously delirious from the loss of Frank Zappa.

Mrs. Zappa: Yeah, I'm delirious.

Stern: You're using the F-word on the air ... Howard, how can you say, how can you say that I can't say that ...

Stern: Don't say that WORD!

Quivers: Frank had you thinking you lived in a different country, this is Iran.

Stern: You know what was weird? Frank became like the President of Czechoslovakia for a while, that was weird, too. Wasn't that great? Like, all of a sudden, I turn on the TV, Czechoslovakia is free, and Frank Zappa is sitting there with the Prime Minister.

Quivers: Frank is in the Cabinet.

Stern: And he's in charge of all the culture in Czechoslovakia and he's screaming about there should be no McDonald's in Czechoslovakia. (Quite right too -Ed)

Quivers: I would have understood culture, he was in charge of trade?

Stern: He was in charge of Trade and all of a sudden, anyone who wanted to trade with Czechoslovakia had to deal with Frank Zappa; the world had gone mad. (Laughter)

Mrs. Zappa: Wasn't it perfect?

Stern: How the hell did he weasel his way into that?

Mrs. Zappa: Well, that's a long story, Howard. (Laughing)

Stern: Now, now, Gail, what's gonna happen with you? You're okay financially?

Mrs. Zappa: I don't know. I guess so. I have to say we're, we didn't have insurance. Isn't it ridiculous? Oh, but, we're okay ...

Stern: Yeah, Frank was a wealthy man, and, you and him ran a business together, right?

Mrs. Zappa: Yes, we did. And the business is thriving, of course. And it has for several years ...

Stern: Why the quick burial, though? I mean, it was literally within one day?

Mrs. Zappa: We wanted to avoid the press; we wanted to keep it private, and you know, the minute that you file the death certificate, which you have to do in order to get the burial permit, it's picked up by the press. So they were very kind to us and they kept the certificate there with the mortuary on the phone until we actually got there, and then they filed it so we could bury him right away and that's what he wanted, anyway.

Stern: And, Frank died at home?

Mrs. Zappa: Yes, he did ...

Stern: Were you with him?

Mrs. Zappa: Yes, we were. All of us.

Stern: The whole family.

Mrs. Zappa: We were all together.

Stern: You knew that he was going.

Mrs. Zappa: Yeah.

Stern: And he said 'Call everyone in?'

Mrs. Zappa: No, we just did it. We all knew.

Quivers: Was he awake? Was he aware?

Mrs. Zappa: Um, yes, he was. He was.

Stern: That had to be intense. I mean, 'cause this has been going on for years.

Mrs. Zappa: It's a long moment, Howard, you gotta know that.

Stern: I don't know that I could deal with that ...

Quivers: I don't think so.

Mrs. Zappa: It's a very long moment, it's not just a flash.

Quivers: Yeah.

Stern: Were Frank's last words "Howard's Pay-per-View Special, everyone should order it?"

Mrs. Zappa: I'm sorry, Howard, they weren't.

Quivers: But, did Frank have last words? I mean, were there any?

Stern: Yeah, did Frank have a message or anything?

Mrs. Zappa: It was for us, not for you guys.

Stern: Did he say 'I love you' and that's it or did he say, did he give any wisdom or ...

Mrs. Zappa: Well, I'm sure that he has last words, and you'll be hearing them soon. For sure, there's other things that he had to say which will be revealed.

Stern: Yeah, well, I thought Frank was the greatest.

Mrs. Zappa: So did I. Do you want to say hi to Beverly?

Stern: Does she want to say hi to me?

Mrs. Zappa: Yes, she does. (laughs)

Stern: Are you going to date, Gail?

Mrs. Zappa: Am I going to date?

Quivers: That's why she's getting off the phone.

Stern: (Laughing) Is that why you're getting off the phone now? To go date? Is that true?

Mrs. Zappa: Yeah, I was thinking about a dating service, Howard.

Stern: You're not dating Beverly, are you?

Mrs. Zappa: I knew you were going to say that, Howard.

Stern: Gail, you've never had a lesbian experience, have you?

Mrs. Zappa: Um, no.

Stern: Would you consider lesbianism with Beverly D'Angelo, the great actress?

Mrs. Zappa: I would not consider lesbianism, even with Beverly D'Angelo.

Stern: If I was a woman, I would. What are you gonna do, you gonna date? 'Cause I'm ready to date.

Mrs. Zappa: I would never date a married man.

Stern: I'm over Frank's death, now I'm ready to date. No, seriously, there's going to be a mourning period and then you will have to start dating.

Mrs. Zappa: I will? Is it mandatory?

Stern: Yes, it's mandatory. You have your needs still, that's what I'm saying, is that true?

Mrs. Zappa: No, I don't need that, you'll see, Howard. You'll figure it out one day. Hopefully before your television show's over.

Stern: You hang out with me, you won't have needs anymore. One look at me and you'll be sick.

Mrs. Zappa: Alright, I'm going to put Bev on the phone.

Stern: You better. You better before I blow it.

Mrs. Zappa: Goodbye.

Quivers: Bye, Gail.

Stern: Bye, Gail.

Mrs. Zappa: Thanks.

Stern: Good luck with everything, stay in touch with us.

Beverly: I think that Gail was really wonderful to respond to you guys, asking her to call in.

Stern: Ain't she great?

Beverly: She's the best. We're very, very close friends and we're hanging out.

Stern: What are you wearing? Right now, for the Mourning?

Beverly: We're both wearing scuba gear, actually, now that you've asked ... I wanted to thank you for reaching out to Gail ... for all the great things that you have said...

Stern: I happen to know Dweezil and Moon Unit and I really like them a lot, I think they're great kids.

Beverly: They're brilliant kids.

Stern: Frank was fantastic to me, every time I met him. We really had a great meeting of the minds and Gail, the coupla times I've spoken with her, is a lovely womin. If there's anything I can do to console Gail, or yourself, I would be available. Yeah, you know, through all of the sexual tension and everything else. (Laughter) Let me say goodbye to Gail.

Beverly: All right.

Stern: Alright, Gail, listen, I'm going to hang up now. I'll just repeat what I said to Beverly. I was a big fan of Frank, I loved Frank, and I happen to like your kids a lot, and you know I'm there for you.

Mrs. Zappa: Thanks, Howard. You know, we're all friends of yours, too. We're here, we're here for you, Howard.

Stern: And, believe me, Beverly's there just trying to get on my show, so next time, call in when she's not around. (laughter)

Mrs. Zappa: Okay. Bye, Howard.

Stern: All right, Gail, I'll see ya.

Mrs. Zappa: Come and have dinner with us when you're in LA.

Stern: When you say us, do you mean just me and you or me, you and Beverly? What exactly are you saying?

Mrs. Zappa: With the family, with the family. And Beverly wants you to wear the Fartman outfit.

Stern: (Laughs.) Well, she just might get that ... You tell her I'm going to give her a good blast, right in her face.

Mrs. Zappa: (Laughing) Okay.

Stern: I'll see you later, Gail.

Quivers: Goodbye, Gail.

Mrs. Zappa: Goodbye, everyone.

Stern: Gail Zappa, everybody, checking in. (Gail hangs up.) A very emotional phone call.

Quivers: Oh, for me it was. Wondering every moment, is he stepping over the line again?

Stern: A very emotional phone call.

And so ends another extraordinary interview by the inimitable Howard Stern, King of All Media. Howard Stern is a Radio God here in the US, with a syndicated Radio broadcast that airs nationwide. He has three to seven million listeners on an average day across the country. He is also a Number-One Best-Selling Author, author of "Private Parts". He has an upcoming New Year's Eve Pay-Per-View Special coming up on December 31. He has had several successful TV programs, and is probably going to enter the US Late-Night TV Show wars shortly.