Cynthia Albritton, a.k.a. Cynthia Plaster Caster, the legendary artist and “recovering groupie” renowned for the plaster casts she took of many top musicians’ erect penises and other body parts, has died after a long illness, her rep confirms to Variety. She was 74.
Her collection included Jimi Hendrix, Wayne Kramer of MC5, Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks, Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys as well as female breasts from the likes of Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab, Sally Timms of the Mekons, Peaches, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and many others. She later expanded her subjects to include filmmakers and other artists and eventually amassed a collection of 50 plaster phalluses.
Born Cynthia Albritton on May 24, 1947, she began her plaster-casting rock career while living in Chicago in 1968. After meeting Frank Zappa, who found her art concept both humorous and creative (although he did not participate), Albritton found in him something of a patron. He moved her to Los Angeles — a goldmine for her line of art — where she found multiple willing assistants to help prepare the subjects for her work.
In 1971, after her apartment was robbed, Zappa and Albritton decided the casts should be preserved for a future exhibition and entrusted them to Zappa’s business and legal partner, Herb Cohen. However, artists declined to participate in the exhibition, and she made no casts between 1971 and 1980. In a surreal situation, she found herself having to go to court in 1993 in order to get the 25 casts she had left with Cohen returned; ultimately she got all but three of them back.
In 2000, Albritton finally held her first exhibition of the casts in New York, and expanded her purview to include women’s breasts.
Her career was immortalized in the 2001 documentary, “Plaster Caster,” and she also participated in the 2005 BBC documentary “My Penis and I,” created by filmmaker Lawrence Barraclough about his anxiety over the size of his penis.
She has been lauded in many rock songs — including Kiss’ “Plaster Caster” — and a television conversation between her and the Frank Zappa-sponsored group the GTOs was included on their 1969 album, “Permanent Damage.”
In an intriguing career twist, in 2010, Albritton ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Chicago — naturally, on the “Hard Party” ticket.