The artist and former groupie began making the unique plaster casts in the sixties, also of women’s breasts.
Cynthia Albritton, known as Cynthia ‘Caster Plaster’ for her molds of rock star penises, has died at the age of 74 “after a long illness”, close friends have confirmed to the media.
Born in 1947 in Chicago, she began her artistic career at university and launched her particular project when her art teacher commissioned her to do a job using plaster casts. She thus began to make molds of friends’ penises, until, on February 25, 1968, she had the opportunity to make one with a famous musician, Jimi Hendrix. After spotting the legendary guitarist as she passed through town, she followed him with her friend Pest to the door of the Conrad Chicago Hotel, where she promptly convinced him to be her model.
“I’ve heard of you, go up to the room,” said the artist. Arriving at her ‘suite’, Pest practiced oral stimulation to get the ‘model’ in top condition, and they got to work. “There was Jimi doing the mixing, with a presence larger than the room itself. She stripped off her pants, left her blouse and hat on, and immersed himself in the mold. Because She was one of the first we didn’t know enough about lubricating pubic hair, the only part of the body that has to be well lubricated. The hairs got stuck in the mold, but he was very patient while She pulled them out one by one so as not to hurt him », Cynthia himself recounted.
That same year she changed her ‘partner’ after Pest left and Dianne ‘Plaster Caster’ joined the team. Then she met Frank Zappavia Eric Clapton, who thought the Mothers of Invention frontman would love the Plaster Casters’ art project. And he wasn’t wrong: “I met Clapton in 1968 while he was on tour with Cream. I was hounding him to pose for us, but Eric was like, ‘Yeah, I could do it, although I have a friend who might be even more interested,'” Cynthia recounted in a recent interview. “The next night Frank came to Eric’s hotel room and started asking Dianne and me some questions. She was very interested in what we were doing because he was writing an article for Life magazine about the new pop culture. We told him about our dream: to be able to set up an exhibition. And, when she returned to Chicago shortly after, he told me: ‘I’ve been thinking about what you do and I’d like to help you.’ The non-profit gave you money so you could do whatever you wanted without having to worry about a contract. It was a very sixties dream. Frank just wanted to help, but I found out later that her business partner had other ideas.”
In 1971, after their apartment was robbed, Zappa and Albritton decided to keep the casts for a future exhibition, entrusting them to Zappa’s business and legal partner, Herb Cohen. However, the artists refused to participate in the exhibition and she did not make any more casts until 1980. In addition, Cohen refused to return the plaster penises to her and in 1993 she took the case to court, which agreed with her and they forced Zappa’s partner to return all the material, except for three molds.
In addition to Jimi Hendrix, her collection included Experience bandmate Noel Redding, the MC5’s Wayne Kramer and Dennis Thompson, Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley, Richard Cole, Led Zeppelin’s tour manager, Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra, Richard Lloyd, Foghat’s Tony Stevens, The Mothers of Invention’s Aynsley Dunbar, Young Rascals’ Eddie Brigati, Lovin’ Spoonful’s Zal Yanovsky and, more recently, Ariel Pink or Fat White Family singer Lias Kaci Saoudi.
She also made some casts with filmmakers and other artists amassing a collection of 50 plaster phalluses. She made casts of female breasts from artists such as Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab, Sally Timms of Mekons, Peaches, Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Suzy Gardner, Christine Doll Rod of Demolition Doll Rods, Stephanie Barber, and many others.
Immortalized by KISS (who never volunteered to be her models) in their song ‘Plaster Caster’, Albritton was unable to exhibit her works until 2000, in New York. The following year she filmed a documentary about her career titled ‘Plaster Caster’, and she also participated in the 2005 BBC documentary ‘My Penis and I’, created by filmmaker Lawrence Barraclough. «My works were originally a way to get into the pants of rock stars but it has become an art form. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about myself and the world through my ‘groupie’ exploits, like who I am, and what my strengths and weaknesses are. And now I am a fan who has fans, it is a total change of roles », said the artist, who had a last -and bizarre- media appearance in 2010, when she ran for mayor of Chicago, without success.