The Toilet Poster
"I'm probably more famous for sitting on the toilet than for anything else that I do." (FZ, Interview on Nationwide, July 1, 1983)
An enduring image of Frank Zappa is the "Toilet Poster" or "Phi Zappa Krappa"-poster, depicting him sitting on a toilet. The picture was taken by Robert Davidson in 1967 for an article in the International Times (Issue 18, August 31st - September 13th). There are three versions extant, all taken during the one session. The original version (1) has Jugendstil style graphic ornaments around the picture. The "Krappa" version (2) has colored ornament and the name "ZAPPA" as ornament or has the text "PHI ZAPPA KRAPPA" across the top of the poster but with no ornamentation.
Zappa resented that he had no control, or royalty payments, from the poster although he authorised one version:
I asked him whether the original Phi Zappa Crappa posters received his authorization.
"Yeah," he says almost regretfully. "If it says 'Phi Zappa Crappa' it was one of the authorized ones. But by that time there were maybe ten other versions of the toilet poster out, from different sources that weren't authorized."
"It was designed to be a picture to go with an article in the International Times, you know about that magazine from England? And it was supposed to be used as publicity for our first concert in 1967. And the photographer who took it made a poster and sold it for his own profit and then that poster was bootlegged all over Europe and eventually went into the United States and millions of 'em were sold. But I couldn't stop them from doing that. No! Because in London, er, the … photographic copyright laws are different from the United States. Somebody takes a picture in the US, they can't make commercial use out of it without your permission but in England, if somebody takes your picture, the photographer owns it and can do whatever he wants with it."
In popular culture
- The poster can be seen in the French movie Le Péril Jeune (1994).
- Zappa and the Mothers: Ugly Can Be Beautiful
- Frank Zappa: a Mother Only a Face Could Love
- Frank Zappa vs. The Tooth Fairy
- What's A Mother To Do?
- Let's Talk Clothes
- Frank Zappa. Interview in Playboy
- Frank Zappa, Musician, February 1994
- The Duke Of Prunes, Obituary
- The Infamous Shit-Eating-On-Stage Contest