Cynthia Plaster Caster, designer of penis sculptures, has died

Cynthia Albritton, who as Cynthia Plaster Caster successfully channeled a teenage girl’s desire to lose her virginity to a rock star into a lifelong project creating casts of their erect penises, died Thursday in his native Chicago after an undisclosed illness, according to a press release. She was 74 years old.

Beginning in 1968, Albritton began compiling an extensive collection of phalluses made possible by private sessions with rockers such as Jimi Hendrix, MC5’s Wayne Kramer, Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, and dozens of others.

“It was the 60s. I was a virgin. I was excited. It was the dawn of the sexual revolution,” Albritton said in 2000 in an interview at the first exhibition of his work. “I wanted to fall in love with a British rock star.”

Carrying a black suitcase labeled with an oval “Plaster Casters of Chicago” tag, the artist arrived backstage at concerts or hotels with a ready-made pitch and the tools to pull it off. She was soon profiled alongside fellow so-called groupies Pamela Des Barres, Judith Peters (“Miss Mercy”) and Christine Frka (“Miss Christine”) in Rolling Stone.

Albritton held the first exhibition of his casts in New York in 2000 and was the subject of “Plaster Caster: The Rock & Roll Adventures of a Super-Groupie”, a 2001 documentary about his work. The artist has inspired songs like KISS (“Plaster Caster”), Jim Croce (“Five Short Minutes”) and dance punk band Le Tigre (“Nanny Nanny Boo Boo”).

“I would ask this group I was trying to meet if they could help me with my homework,” she said. Told MTV. As she accumulated the penis casts, her sexual drive was eclipsed by her artistic drive. Frank Zappa was so impressed with her skills that he funded her brief move from Chicago to Los Angeles.

“What started as a way to meet rock bands ended up becoming a form of Pop Art,” Albritton told The Times in 1993. At the time, she was in a legal battle with musical executive Herb Cohen. and former manager of Frank Zappa, regarding the property. of his plaster penises. She prevailed.

Cynthia Plaster Caster poses with the plaster cast of Jimi Hendrix’s penis in July 2015.

(Bernd Wüstneck/photo alliance via Getty Images)

Cynthia Albritton was born on May 24, 1947 in Chicago. An only child, she rarely discussed her family life and kept her last name a secret until the mid-1990s. (In 2000, she said her religious mother, then 84, still had no idea of ​​her daughter’s creative pursuits.) Albritton was studying art at the University of Illinois at Chicago when she got an assignment, she told an interviewer. “My teacher asked us to cast something in plaster that could hold its shape, and I thought, ‘Why don’t I kill two birds with one stone?’ ”

This single stone spawned a legend.

After “preparing” the men, her friend Des Barres wrote in her bestselling memoir “I’m With The Band,” Albritton would “dip the quivering erect member into a bucket full of gooey white goo called alginate, rip it off the the moment it got soft (instantly, I imagine), pour some plaster mix into the gaping hole and leave it there until it gets hard.

Albritton’s first round of casting calls came for three whirlwind years beginning in early 1968, after she practiced on two college friends in preparation for her first attempt at rock stardom. A week later, she managed to cast Jimi Hendrix in a hotel after a concert in Chicago. “It was a casting dream,” she told Salon in 2000. When some of Hendrix’s pubic hair “got stuck in the mold,” she continued, “he didn’t freaked out at all. I just…waited for me to pull out one pubis at a time.

In 1969, Albritton’s vocals were featured on “Miss Pamela’s First Conversation With the Plaster Casters of Chicago”, a track from “Permanent Damage”, the debut album by all-female experimental rock band The GTOs. Featuring Des Barres, Peters, Frka and other groupies, it helped establish Albritton’s mark.

Before going on hiatus in 1971, Albritton had managed to play with the Kinks, Foghat, Argent, the Beach Boys, Iron Butterfly and the Lovin’ Spoonful, among others.

“As he progressed,” Albritton said, “I got the impulse from that collector to collect more and more. And then people told me it was art. , and is art at the school of Andy Warhol, the repetition of art.

Albritton, a longtime resident of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, resumed casting in the 1980s. Her prerequisite for a mold subject was basic: “In my mind, they have to be superheroic and talented. Not just musical. I have a soft spot for artists in general.

A woman in a bright blue pantsuit stands next to a woman in a green dress

Pamela Des Barres and Cynthia Plaster Caster.

(Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)

On Facebook, Ronnie Barnett, bassist and co-founder of LA pop-punk band The Muffs, recalled the time in 1993 when he was chased by Albritton during a show in Chicago. “It was adorable to see how shy she was as she shyly asked me if I wanted to join her collection.” He described the casting experience as “the start of a great friendship”, adding, “It may seem strange, but it was like family.”

This family eventually included musicians from groups such as Loverboy, the Jesus Lizard, Public Image Ltd. and dozens of others. According to a meeting in Australian publication The Age, when Jon Langford of The Mekons was cast in 1988, he struggled to maintain an erection and asked his then-girlfriend “to mimic the sound of cooking the seeds of sesame in a wok”. Albritton recalls, “[Jon] love this smell. And it totally worked.

Albritton nearly lost her collection in the early 1970s. After a break-in at her Hollywood apartment, she and Zappa asked Cohen to pop the phalluses. Cohen agreed, then claimed ownership due to Zappa’s alleged accumulated debts. Albritton successfully sued to recover the casts in 1991.

“What’s going on here isn’t just a fight for art,” Albritton told The Times in 1993 as the lawsuit was about to go to trial. “It feels more like a custody battle. These things aren’t just pieces of plaster to me, they’re like my children. Each of them holds precious memories for me.

Des Barres testified on his behalf. “What Cynthia has done is as much a part of rock lore as what any record producer, engineer or manager has done,” she told The Times ahead of her testimony. “A hundred years from now, when people think back to the 60s, Cynthia will be remembered as an important pop artist.”

In 2000, Albritton focused on the female form and for the next 13 years dumped the breasts of musicians such as Suzi Gardner of L7, Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab, Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Sally Timms of The Mekons.

For many, Albritton’s use of sexual power to claim the objects of her desire made her a feminist icon, but she didn’t see it that way. “I discovered my feminism in different ways. I was never doing it to turn the tables or be on top or anything,” she told Salon. “Somehow I felt like I was in the exalted presence of a supreme being, and that could bring them back to the same level, to the same page [as me]. But it was not about empowerment.

Instead, she concluded, “I say, ‘Look at this chorus line of gorgeous penises, left and right and swirling. Aren’t they beautiful? That’s all.”

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