The Gross-Out Contest

Did Frank Zappa win a gross-out contest by eating excrement on stage?

Claim:   Frank Zappa once won a “gross-out contest” by eating excrement on stage.

Status:   False.

Example:   [Zappa, 1989]

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.

Last updated:   14 May 2007


  Sources Sources:

    Zappa, Frank.   The Real Frank Zappa Book.

    New York: Poseidon Press, 1989.   ISBN 0-671-63870-X   (p. 14).
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