frank zappa "weasels" trivia



From a web page called eclectic obsessions:

Frank Zappa recruited artist Neon Park to create a subversive image based on
a cover story from the September 1956 issue of Man's Life, (a Men's adventure
magazine). After showing Neon a copy of the magazine, Zappa inquired, "This
is it. What can you do that's worse than this?" Neon's answer was to craft a
parody of an advertisement for Schick brand electric razor based on the
"Weasels Ripped My Flesh" theme. The record company released
the album despite its reservations about the album cover.

This is an iconic '60s/'70s LP cover, subversive because it gives a disgusting and disturbing spin to bland and hopeful Eisenhower-era advertising, and because one did not expect to witness self-mutilating "cutting" behavior while shopping the pop music bin. The genius of the image is taking an actual slogan and context from the "repressed" side of the '50s -- a homoerotic painting of a bare-chested man being attacked by wild animals -- weasels no less -- and grafting it onto a safe image of a man shaving with a newfangled device from America's flying car future. A double irony is that the weasels illustration was on the cover of the magazine (albeit back-of-the-rack) while the shaver is barely glanced at commercial fodder from the inside.

One might wonder about the fate of such an image today. In its day, it needed gatekeepers who felt uncomfortable about it but ultimately approved it, and it needed a distribution scheme, in particular, cardboard record sleeves shipped to stores across the country, including discount centers in small towns dependent on the "coasts" for culture. It needed an authoritarian structure to push back against, and it needed to be able to "slip through the gates." Now it might garner a few hundred tumblr notes, depending on who was releasing it, and it might help improve an LP's click-through or download visibility, but without a hot button topic such as racism or sexism it has nothing to rebel against. It's merely disgusting and disturbing (and well-painted).