Female underwear

- Sound and image are in rock music just as important or even more important than the notes that are played. Jimi Hendrix' "Purple Haze" in the version on "The best band you never heard in your life" could never be a hit, for it lacks the Hendrix sound. Most of Zappa's music is far more neutral in this respect: it doesn't really matter who's singing and what instruments it is played with, the music still stands. For their image the female pop stars often bring in their physical charm, as Mariah Carey is doing here for her "Rainbow" album. The men tend to overdo each other in creating bizarre appearences to get the public attention. "Punky's whips" on "Zappa in New York" tells the story of the devastating effects a publicity photo of Punky Meadows, lead guitar player of the rock group Angel, could have on the breakable hearts of teenagers. On the photo, Punky can be seen dressed up as beautiful young woman.
Whereas female underwear during the first half of the previous century could be serious pieces of clothing, during the second half they were more and more brought back to their basic functionality. Through the seventies Triumph developed a cotton thread combined with Lycra, making the material stretchable. Triumph brought them to the market with the brand name Sloggi. Today Sloggi is the market leader with several underwear lines and divers shapes.

- During the tour of 1980, covered by the "Tinsel town rebellion" album, Zappa stimulated the habit of some of his female fans to throw their underwear on stage (described in the "Panty rap"). They were collected to form a quilt, made by the artist Emily James. Zappa returned to the subject in a more bizarre manner on "The man from Utopia" with "The jazz discharge party hats". Even on this subject Zappa isn't really consistent. In the Panty rap he's talking about big old ugly cotton jobs (as opposed to bikini's); on The jazz discharge party hats it's "traditional cotton, how sweet". Today's fashionable underwear lines cover the whole range from shorts to strings.

To the left: FZ showing Steve Vai a see through panty thrown on stage (part of a screenshot from The torture never stops DVD).
Above: Upper left corner of the quilt by Emily James.


- During the last decade black has gained popularity, while white, with it's suggestion of intimacy, remains a classic. As a relative newcomer to the market, Calvin Klein fought it's way in through advertising with for instance huge signs on Times Square. One of them was intentionally made to provoke a debate with a 18 year old model on it that looked much younger. Today Calvin Klein upholds a status of exclusiveness by advertisings in the glossy magazines, having a contract with top model Christy Turlington.
Zappa would adapt his image for different purposes. For the "Bongo fury" and "Zoot allures" album covers of the seventies he wanted to look creepy. Totally different is his fashionable appearance on "Cruisin' with Rubin and the Jets" (fifties look) or on "Jazz from hell" and "Broadway the hard way" (eighties look). In the eighties fashionable clothing had become trendy for pop stars and Zappa occasionally could follow such trends. He also made a guest appearance in the popular Miami vice tv series, where the detectives were wearing thousand dollar suits. As for musical trends, "Promiscuous", a rap song, appeared on "Broadway the hard way"of 1988.

Other photos: Rainbow CD booklet, Sloggi, Calvin Klein