After a protracted illness, Cynthia “Plaster Caster” Albritton, an obsessive music fan who became famous in the 1960s and 1970s for her plaster casts of rock heroes’ erect penises, has died. She was 74 years old at the time.
Her representative verified the death of the self-described “recovering groupie” — and 2010 Midwestern mayoral candidate — Variety first reported.
After meeting an unlikely benefactor, the native of Chicago’s South Side established her plaster-casting career in the Windy City in 1968. Frank Zappa, an iconoclastic rocker, found the 20-year-artistic old’s concept amusing and inventive — though he rejected to, uh, sit for her — and assisted her in relocating to Los Angeles.
Although Jimi Hendrix, the guitar hero, was her first cast member (she “met him” in the Chicago Hilton and Towers in 1968), she later expanded her repertoire to include men directors — and eventually the breasts of female artists such as Peaches, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and others. (Albritton famously admitted that she had a lot of willing helpers who helped her prepare her subjects for her paintings.)
“I was trying to figure out a way to mold a penis, so I thought, ‘Well, let’s get together a kit because that will make it even more absurd and ridiculous — and professional look, and create more laughs,” she said in a 2000.
According to Deadline, her method concluded with the use of alginate, a dental mold-making solution that set around the subject’s private area and then slipped off as the participant “cooled down.”
In 2000, novelist and social critic Camille Paglia stated that feminists at the time of the women’s movement “had a very poor view of what Cynthia Plaster Caster was doing.” “They thought it was humiliating, but I thought it was the exact opposite.”
Paglia went on to say that the casts signified “women taking control.”
When the artist’s apartment was robbed in 1971, Albritton and Zappa agreed to commit the 25 casts in her collection to Zappa’s business and legal partner, Herb Cohen, for future exhibitions. The rock stars, on the other hand, refused to have their penises displayed, resulting in a casting halt that lasted until 1980.
During her ten-year hiatus, Gene Simmons of KISS honored Albritton’s labor in the song “Plaster Caster” from 1977’s famous “Love Gun” album, which includes the iconic lyrics: “My love is in her hands… The plaster’s gettin’ harder and my love is perfection. My gift to her as a symbol of my admiration for her collection.”
Meanwhile, when she attempted to reclaim them, Cohen refused, sparking a judicial battle in 1993. When the court found in her favor, the artist was able to reclaim all but three of them.
Albritton’s work was ultimately shown for the first time in New York City in 2000.
She was included in the documentary “Plaster Caster” the following year, and she also appeared in the BBC documentary “My Penis and I” in 2005, which chronicled filmmaker Lawrence Barraclough’s psychological struggle to accept the size of his own penis.
Albritton tried unsuccessfully for mayor of her hometown Chicago in 2010 on the “Strong Party” ticket, promising to be “hard on crime.”
Albritton stated at the time, “I am not a politician.” “I am an everyday citizen that is sick and tired of seeing the problems of our city escalate, and I believe we all need to participate in helping to make our city the best it can be.”