Claim: Frank Zappa once won a "gross-out contest" by eating excrement on stage.
I was in a London club called the Speak Easy in 1967 or '68. A member of a group called the Flock, recording for Columbia at the time, came over to me and said:
"You're fantastic. When I heard about you eating that shit on stage, I thought, 'That guy is way, way out there.'"
I said, "I never ate shit on stage." He looked really depressed — like I had just broken his heart.
Zappa's contest opponent varies, with the names Captain Beefheart and Alice Cooper being frequently mentioned.
The most common version of this legend has the challenger defecating on stage, with Zappa winning the title by eating the results. Some versions describe Zappa's opponent as performing a less scatological act, and Zappa wins merely by defecating in front of the audience.
A variety of actions (other than defecating) are ascribed to the first contestant, with acts of animal cruelty (such as stepping on baby chickens or strangling a puppy) being common.
Origins: This legend originated in the mid-1960s, no doubt inspired by the eccentricities of Frank Zappa's music and appearance. As Zappa himself wrote, however:
For the record, folks: I never took a shit on stage, and the closest I ever came to eating shit anywhere was at a Holiday Inn buffet in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1973.