Just when you think the Zappa Family fracas couldn’t get any weirder, Ahmet pulls another outrageous stunt. This time, he obtained a trademark on the phrase “Beauty Hearts.” Is it mere coincidence that “Beauty Heart” was a name that Moon Zappa invented for herself when she was a kid? It doesn’t look that way to this reporter.
Fifteen years ago, Dweezil Zappa spoke with Gail Worley of Ink19. The occasion was the release of his “wildly experimental guitar rock” album, Automatic. Dweezil spoke of his mom’s kooky friendship with Tipper Gore and he talked about being the voice of Ajax on the avant-odd cartoon show, Duckman. He also revealed that when his older sister was “seven or eight” years old, she wanted to change her name to something “more normal” than Moon Unit.
For a while, the eldest offspring of Gail and Frank considered renaming herself “Beauty Heart.” Granted, the trademark that Ahmet applied for on March 2 of this year is a plural form of Moon’s invented name, but that may be only because there is already a radish called “Beauty Heart.”
Perfect for a relish tray, a beauty heart radish (sometimes called watermelon radish) will wow in color & flavor! -g pic.twitter.com/FE0fQ8Rzio
— New Pioneer Co-op (@NewPioneerCoop) March 26, 2016
Around the time Moon was toying with the idea of a new name, brother Ahmet was doing the same. Tired of being taunted with the “Ahmet Vomit” moniker given to him by his schoolmates, Ahmet decided to switch his name to Rick. He enlisted Dweezil’s artistic assistance in inscribing the name onto his brand-new back-to-school notebook. Ahmet’s plan didn’t exactly work out the way he’d hoped, as his fellow students immediately took to calling him “Rick the Dick.”
On May 29, Moon proffered what may be a secret clue to the apparent game that Ahmet is playing with her name(s) in a Facebook post that read in part:
“Private Life: That awkward moment when you find out your *family* has a bunch of.coms in your name and your kid’s name they may want you to purchase.”
So, which *family* member owns those domain names, and why in the world would they want them? It’s not exactly rocket science to find out who owns a particular dot com, so this writer did a bit of delving.
Since April 1999, moonunitzappa.com has been registered to a Pennsylvania-based entity called New Ventures Services Corporation. There is no website currently parked at that address, but there is a page noting that the domain “has recently been entered into the marketplace” along with a link that opens a form inviting persons with at least $500 to spend to submit their contact information. According to DotWeekly, New Ventures Corporation is an outfit that sells domain names at a profit and may be in cahoots with Network Solutions, Register.com, and Web.com. They do not, however, appear to be connected to Ahmet or any other member of the Zappa family.
Similar results were obtained when searching for the registered owner of moonzappa.com. That domain name has been registered to someone named Heng Zhong with an address in Malden, Massachusetts, since 1999. Again, there is no website currently at that address, and no evidence linking the domain with any Zappa. There is notice that says a site at that domain is “under construction.”
MoonUnit.com is a whole nother story. According to domain registrar Network Solutions, Gail Zappa purchased the domain bearing Moon’s name back in August 1995. Interestingly, 1995 was the first year that domain names were offered for sale. As of this writing, the MoonUnit dot com domain name is still administered by “Zappa, Gail” with a North Hollywood post office box listed as the registrant address.
Moon was definitely correct about a “family” member being in control of a domain that bears her name. But what about Moon’s suggestion that said “family” member also holds a dot com in her child’s name?
On December 21, 2004, the day that would have been Frank Zappa’s 64th birthday, Moon gave birth to the first Zappa grandchild, Mathilda Plum Doucette. A WhoIs search for a dot com under the child’s full name reveals domain registration to an entity called Perfect Privacy which does not readily disclose registration information. A quick look for the domain “mathildazappa,” however, serves up (you guessed it) Gail Zappa as the domain registrant and administrator.
— Moon Zappa (@MoonZappa) May 28, 2016
It is not a far leap to believe that when Gail Sloatman Zappa died in October 2015, she left control of MoonUnit dot com and MathildaZappa dot com in Ahmet’s conniving hands, as she did with virtually everything else having to do with the Zappa Family Trust.
If Ahmet does indeed intend to sell his sister’s eponymous domain to her (or anyone else), does he stand to make a fat profit? You bet he does.
Steve Jones, COO at Domainate, says that prior to 1995 domain names were free for the registering. Network Solutions was the first entity granted the authority to charge a fee to register a domain. In 1995, a domain such as MoonUnit cost $100 for a two-year registration. Today, an in-demand domain name can sell for many millions of dollars.
Justia explains that registering a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as Ahmet Zappa did with “Beauty Hearts,” allows him first shot at using the name in any strictly commercial fashion. USPTO registration also serves as public notice of Ahmet’s bona fide intent of using the name. As a side note, Ahmet also holds registered trademarks to the names “As Seen Online,” “Bizarre Industries,” “Ghost Pets,” “Resonyx,” and “Chola.”
In light of Ahmet’s continuation of Gail Zappa’s frustratingly bad behavior, it’s hard to believe that he and his only brother ever got along well enough to co-host a TV show together. But they did, as evinced by this clip that includes the Zappa brothers performing the Temptations’ hit song, “Get Ready.”
[Photo by Russ Einhorn / StarMax / AP Images]