On March 26, 1965 Frank Zappa and Lorraine Belcher were arrested in Cucamonga
on pornography charges!
|Frank Zappa and Lorraine Belcher|
In 1965, Zappa was playing with a blues trio in a Latino club in Ontario, California–although the people was a lot more enthusiastic about the four go-go girls onstage dressed in fishnet stockings. A used-car seller offered Zappa $100 for a love-making audiotape. Zappa enlisted the support of one go-go girl, Lorraine Belcher, and “I stayed up most of the night manufacturing this bogus sex tape, fake bedsprings, squeaks and grunts. I overdubbed a musical background and spent hours cutting the laughs out of this thing.”
When Zappa was about to give the tape, he was arrested, and the police stripped the studio of all documented material. The media was tipped off beforehand, and next day's The Daily Report wrote that "Vice Squad investigators stilled the tape recorders of a free-swinging, a-go-go film and recording studio here Friday and arrested a self-styled movie producer". Zappa was charged with "conspiracy to commit pornography".
He bailed out Belcher with his royalties from “Memories of El Monte,” a tune he had cowritten for the doo-wop group the Penguins. Too broke to mount an effective defense, Zappa pled nolo contendre and served ten days of a six-month sentence (the rest was suspended). “You can’t appreciate what a jail is and what goes on there unless someone sticks you in one,” Zappa said. “In a way, I guess I have to thank Detective Willis and the evil machinery of the San Bernadino legal system for giving me a chance to see, from that perspective, what the penal system is like in this country, and… how ineffectual and how stupid it is.”
His brief imprisonment left a lasting mark, and was key in the formation of his anti-authoritarian position. Zappa lost a number of recordings made at Studio Z during this process, as the police only returned 30 out of 80 hours of tape seized.
Zappa was also given three years probation, during which he was not permitted to be in the company of any woman under 21 without the presence of a “competent adult.” But the charge actually kept him out of Vietnam–as a convicted felon, he was exempt from the draft.
By Ted Harp
CUCAMONGA -- Vice Squad investigators stilled the tape recorders of a free-swinging, a-go-go film and recording studio here Friday and arrested a self-styled movie producer and his buxom red-haired companion. Booked on suspicion of conspiracy to manufacture pornographic materials and suspicion of sex perversion, both felonies, at county jail were: Frank Vincent Zappa, 22, and Lorraine Belcher, 19, both of the studio address, 8040 N. Archibald Ave.
The surprise raid came after an undercover officer, following a tip from the Ontario Police Department, entered the rambling, three-room studio on the pretext of wanting to rent a stag movie. Sgt. Jim Willis, vice investigator of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office, said the raid suspect, Zappa, offered to do even better -- he would film the movie for $300, according to Willis. When Zappa became convinced the detective was "allright," he played a tape recording for him. The recording was for sale and it featured, according to police, Zappa and Miss Belcher in a somewhat "blue" dialogue.
Shortly after the sneak sound preview, the suspect's hope for a sale were shattered when two more sheriff's detectives and one from the Ontario Police Department entered and placed the couple under arrest. Zappa, who recently was the subject of news story on his hopes to produce a low-budget fantasy film and thus bring a share of Hollywood's glamor to Cucamonga, blamed financial woes for his latest venture. Inside his studio when the raid came was recording and sound equipment valued at $22,000, according to Zappa.
Also, a piano, trap drums, vibraphones and several electric guitars were stored among the Daliian litter of the main studio. On the walls, Zappa had hung such varied memorabilia as divorce papers, a picture of himself on the Steve Allen television show, a threat from the Department of Motor Vehicles to revoke his driver's license, several song publisher's rejection letters and works of "pop" art. Among Zappa's completed musical scores were such titles as "Memories of El Monte," and "Streets of Fontana." The latter, written before several utility companies had forsaken the budding composer, opens:
"As I was out sweeping the streets of Fontana.
As I was out sweeping Fontana one day.
I spied in the gutter a moldy banana.
And with the peeling I started to play ..."
Assisting Sgt. Willis in the raid were sheriff's vice investigators Jim Mayfield and Phillip Ponders, and Ontario Detective Stan McCloskey. Arraignment for Zappa and Miss Belcher next week will bring them close to home. Cucamonga Justice Court is right across the street from the studio.
Zappa Was Charged With "conspiracy to commit pornography". Reviewed by Klemen Hlupič on 06:50 Rating: