The Toilet Poster
One of the widest-spread visuals of Frank Zappa is the famous "Toilet Poster" or "Phi Zappa Krappa"-poster, depicting him sitting on a toilet, with Robert (Bobby) Davidson claiming to have taken the famous shots in 1967. There are two basic versions obviously taken during one session, both still in circulation or available as reprints. While the "true, original" version (1), as displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London came with different "Jugendstil"-type, "60s"-style graphic ornaments around the picture, the "Krappa"-poster (2) was designed with either the text "PHI ZAPPA KRAPPA" as head line or a second version with colored ornaments, the name "ZAPPA" as ornament without head line.
Zappa wasn't too happy about it, in fact was said to hate it. On the one side it made him a household name, on the other side it distracted from the serious side of his musical and socio-political endeavours. Almost throughout his career questions about these posters and a "shit-eating contest" on stage turned up during interviews, impeding his acceptance in the world of "serious" music.
"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."
- 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