Cynthia ‘Plaster Caster’ dead at 74: She was rocker expert
Cynthia “Plaster Caster” Albritton, an avid music fan who became infamous in the ’60s and ’70s for her plaster casts of rock stars’ erect penises, has died after a long illness. She was 74.
The passing of the self-proclaimed “recovering groupie” — and 2010 Midwestern mayoral candidate — was confirmed by her representative, Variety first reported.
The native of Chicago’s South Side launched her plaster-casting career in the Windy City circa 1968 after meeting an unlikely patron: Iconoclastic rocker Frank Zappa found the 20-year-old’s artistic vision funny and creative — although he declined to, uh, sit for her—and helped her relocate to Los Angeles.
Although guitar god Jimi Hendrix — she “meet him” at the Chicago Hilton and Towers in ’68 — was her first cast, she later expanded her oeuvre to include male filmmakers — and eventually the breasts of female artists such as Peaches, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and many others. (Albritton famously revealed that she found many will assistants who helped prep her subjects for her art by her.)
“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 interview.
Her process ended by incorporating a dental mold-making substance called alginate, which solidified around the subject’s private part and then slipped off as the participant “cooled off,” as Reported Deadline.
Feminists at the dawn of the women’s movement “took a very dim view of what Cynthia Plaster Caster was doing,” author and social critic Camille Paglia revealed in 2000. “They assumed it was degrading and I thought it was quite the opposite.”
Paglia added that the casts actually represented “women taking control.”
When the artist’s apartment was robbed in 1971, Albritton and Zappa decided the 25 casts in her collection should be preserved for a future exhibition and entrusted them to Zappa’s business and legal partner, Herb Cohen. However, the rock stars declined to have their penises exhibited — resulting in a casting hiatus that lasted through 1980.
During her decade off, Albritton’s work was immortalized by Gene Simmons of KISS in the song “Plaster Caster” for 1977’s classic “Love Gun” album, which included the iconic lyrics: “My love is in her hands … “The plaster’s gettin’ harder and my love is perfection. A token of my love for her collection of her. ”
Meanwhile, when she tried to get them back, Cohen balked, resulting in a legal battle in 1993. The artist eventually reacquired all but three of them when the court ruled in her favor.
Albritton finally got that debut exhibition of her work in New York City in 2000.
The next year, she was the subject documentary “Plaster Caster,” and also participated in the 2005 BBC documentary, “My Penis and I,” which detailed filmmaker Lawrence Barraclough’s internal struggle to accept the size of his own penis.
In a bizarre change of career pace, Albritton unsuccessfully ran for mayor of her hometown Chicago in 2010 — on the “Hard Party” ticket, with a campaign promise to be “hard on crime.”
“I am not a politician,” Albritton said at the time. “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.”