Mike Ransom: Re our discussion about the Pyne/Zappa-table quip that supposedly happened between Frank Zappa and ultra-conservative talk show host Joe Pyne (who had a wooden leg due to a war injury) that went something like this:
Pyne: "So I guess your long hair makes you a woman."
I was prompted to think about it again by the retirement of Dr. Steadman Upham from the University of Tulsa this week. Dr. Upham once wrote this essay based around the 'table' comment.
The story serves as a pivot for the point of his article. In it, he claims to have personally viewed the incident on TV, but wraps up his recollection with this: "Zappa's flash of wit and humor put both men at ease and set the tone for what I remember to be a wonderful conversation."
Knowing of Pyne's sensitivity about his wooden leg and dislike of hippies, I find that very hard to believe. Upham's retelling also included that hallmark of the story, "Without shifting expression, Zappa fired back..." Other variations are "Without missing a beat" or "Without batting an eye".
As an aside, here is a quote from Dan Greenburg's hilarious 1982 novel, "What Do Women Want?":
Pyne was also known for his phobia of being touched: "Don't touch me unless you love me". (You'll see that in the clip above when one of the stage guys tries to help him up.)
However, there is online evidence that Zappa was on the Pyne show at least once as part of a "freak-out" band. Take a look at this 1966 Long Beach newspaper clipping and associated comments.
Your article is cited there as well.
Despite the likelihood of Zappa appearing on the Pyne show in 1966, he wasn't yet enough of a name to even be credited in the clipping; the crazy sculptor got all the glory. As the commenter (who mentions nothing about the legendary exchange) describes the Dionysian scene, it seems unlikely that Zappa would be welcome enough in Pyne's proximity to be given a chance to utter the infamous comeback. But who knows for sure?
The 'wooden leg' story stills seems a little too perfect to me. A Wikipedia writer relates a very similar story (again, "without missing a beat"):
If I were a betting man, I would wager that the Zappa story was transmuted and refined from the Krassner story.
Vito Paulekas was a sculptor who freaked out with a group of dancers at early Mothers of Invention concerts. He is heard on The Mothers' "Freak Out" album. So the above link corroborates the claim that Zappa appeared on The Joe Pyne Show, whether he uttered the legendary comeback or not.
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