Suzy Creamcheese was a character played by various women in the 1960's, whilst working with Frank Zappa and his Mothers Of Invention group. It was a generic name that Frank Zappa gave to a group of Jewish girls, fans of the Mothers of Invention, who hung out at Ratner's Dairy Restaurant on Fairfax, Virginia . The girls did publicity for the band, danced at the front of their gigs to get the crowds going, and performed other, unspecified services. On different albums Suzy Creamcheese was played by different women: on Freak Out! by Jeannie Vassoir, on Absolutely Free and Mothermania by Lisa Cohen, and We're Only in It for the Money and Uncle Meat by Pamela Zarubica. The back cover of Freak Out! features a letter from Suzy Creamcheese:
"These Mothers is crazy. You can tell by their clothes. One guy wears beads and they all smell bad. We were gonna get them for a dance after the basketball game but my best pal warned me you can never tell how many will show up...sometimes the guy in the fur coat doesn't show up and sometimes he does show up only he brings a big bunch of crazy people with him and they dance all over the place. None of the kids at my school like these Mothers...specially since my teacher told us what the words to their songs meant."
Suzi Creamcheese, Salt Lake City, Utah
In an interview in 1974, Frank Zappa explained who Suzy Creamcheese was :
"Suzy Creamcheese was a girl named Jeanne Vassoir. And she is the voice that's on the Freak Out album. The myth of Suzy Creamcheese, the letter on the album, I wrote myself. There never really was a Suzy Creamcheese. It was just a figment of my imagination until people started identifying with it heavily. It got to weird proportions in Europe, so that in 1967, when we did our first tour of Europe, people were asking if Suzy Creamcheese was along with us. So I procured the services of another girl named Pamela Zarubica, who was hired to be the Suzy Creamcheese of the European tour. And then she maintained the reputation of being Suzy Creamcheese after 1967. The first one went someplace, we don't know where."
Links to Peel
In London in 1967, a girl calling herself Suzy Creamcheese became something of an undergound celebrity, appearing in the BBC's documentary film about the "14 Hour Technicolor Dream" at Alexandra Palace, a benefit gig for International Times which Peel attended, Reportedly, Suzy and some hippy girl friends diffused potential trouble by love-bombing a gang of Mods who had gatecrashed the event. (The above video is an extract from this film.) On one Radio London show, DJ Mike Lennox told a story involving Peel and this Suzy Creamcheese. It was quoted and viewed as an attack on Peel in Rob Chapman's book Selling The Sixties: The Pirates and Pop Music Radio: :
"John Peel told me an interesting thing. There's a woman called Suzi Creamcheese, who is an American I believe who believes in this flower power. John Peel was in hospital and all of a sudden this character Creamcheese came into the hospital wearing all white robes, danced around the hospital bed throwing sweet peas at John and then danced out again. I guess that was supposed to cure him and make him feel much better. And he said it did. But I've yet to believe in that sort of thing. I really don't believe in it. I think it's a good idea passing out flowers and being nice to everyone but I think it's a rather apathetic way of going about things, Oh, I've done it now, haven't I? I've angered people who believe in it, and John respects it because he's a firm believer in love and beautiful friendships which seem to be taking over from the west coast of America. I'm not going to talk about it any more."
Peel mentioned the name on his 12 July 1967 show before playing a sequence of tracks from the Mothers Of Invention's Absolutely Free LP::
"So we are going to start off by playing the Mothers Of Invention American Pageant. And the first bit is called America Drinks and the second bit is called Status Back Baby, and the third bit is called Uncle Bernie’s Farm, and the fourth bit – which will be the last bit that we can play – is the Son of Suzy Creamcheese. And we’ll play some more of it tomorrow. So, Suzy, I hope you're listening, love. I understand she's in trouble too now, as well as Hoppy, for trying to defend a few of our basic freedoms. So here we go, Mothers Of Invention."
The Suzy Creamcheese Peel addressed in this extract (and shown in the video) was Suzy Zeiger, described by Mick Farren in his book Give The Anarchist A Cigarette as "Hoppy's girlfriend of the time, the manic Suzy Creamcheese" (p.122). He continued:
Mystery always surrounded Suzy Creamcheese (née Zeiger). Was she really the Suzy Creamcheese featured on the first few Mothers of Invention albums, or had she merely usurped the name for British consumption and her own expatraite self-aggrandisement? I didn't really care. She did have these conservative parents somewhere in California, who were so appalled by her free-form lifestyle that they kept having her committed to various expensive mental institutions, causing Hoppy to array himself in a ninja outfit to spend the night with her when she was so incarcerated.....
Hoppy was John Hopkins, International Times editor and co-founder (with Joe Boyd) of UFO Club, who was considered the leading figure of the British underground and was often mentioned on the Perfumed Garden. He was under suspicion of drug use and was due to face trial; in June 1967 he was sentenced to nine months imprisonment for allowing his home to be used for the taking of drugs. The verdict was regarded as harsh at the time, with the authorities seeking to make an example of Hoppy to deter others, and provoked a "Free Hoppy" campaign among the hippy underground. Suzy Creamcheese and Hoppy had recently married, although they divorced in 1968. She appeared at gigs by Tomorrow ("she dances and acts out little dramas with the boys while they play") and was mentioned in Record Mirror's gossip column "The Face" in September 1967 ("What's all this about Jeff Beck and Suzie Creamchesse, then?") but little was heard of her after that.
- Frank Zappa Fansite
- Zappa Wiki
- John Hopkins obituary - includes picture of him with Suzy Creamcheese (Suzy Zeiger)