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November 13, 2022

Cynthia “Plaster Caster” Albritton, the Artist Who Made Plaster Casts of Rock Star Private Parts

Cynthia Dorothy Albritton (May 24, 1947 – April 21, 2022), better known as “Cynthia Plaster Caster,” was an American visual artist and self-described “recovering groupie” who gained fame for creating plaster casts of celebrities’ erect penises. Albritton began her career in 1968 by casting penises of rock musicians. She later expanded her subjects to include filmmakers and other types of artists, eventually amassing a collection of 50 plaster phalluses. In 2000, she added casting female artists’ breasts.

Cynthia Albritton was born in Chicago. Shy as a young girl, Albritton sought out a way to make contact with the opposite sex. In the late 1960s, she became caught up in free love and rock music. Albritton studied at the University of Illinois Chicago. In college, when her art teacher gave the class an assignment to “plaster cast something solid that could retain its shape,” she hit upon the idea of casting erect male genitalia, which would then go flaccid and exit the mold. Finding a dental mold-making substance called alginate to be sufficient, she found her first celebrity client in Jimi Hendrix, the first of many to submit to the idea.

Meeting Hendrix was “unfathomable,” she said. “It was exciting just to be able to ride the elevator up to his hotel room. Usually, I had to climb the fire escape to meet musicians.”

Meeting Frank Zappa, who found the concept of “casting” both humorous and creative as an art form (though he himself had no interest in submitting to the procedure), Albritton found in him something of a patron. He moved her to Los Angeles, which she described as a veritable groupie heaven, with no lack of willing assistants eager to prepare the subjects for casting. In 1971, after her apartment was burgled, Zappa and Albritton decided the casts should be preserved for a future exhibition, entrusting them to Zappa’s legal partner, Herb Cohen, for safekeeping. The exhibition idea did not take off however due to a sudden lack of rock stars willing to participate. She made no casts between 1971 and 1980. After years of wrangling, Albritton found herself in 1993 having to go to court in order to retrieve the 25 casts Cohen held (she got all but three of them back). In 2000, Albritton finally held her first exhibition of the casts in New York City. She also decided to begin casting women’s breasts as an egalitarian move.

In 2001, a film documentary, Plaster Caster, was made about her. She also contributed to the BBC Three documentary My Penis and I (2005), made by British filmmaker Lawrence Barraclough about his anxiety over his 9 cm (3+1⁄2-inch) erect penis. She has inspired at least two songs: “Five Short Minutes” by Jim Croce and “Plaster Caster” by Kiss. She is also mentioned in Momus’ song “The Penis Song” on his album Folktronic and the Le Tigre song “Nanny Nanny Boo Boo.”

Albritton died from cerebrovascular disease at a care facility in Chicago on April 21, 2022, aged 74. Shortly before her death, Albritton donated her 1968 plaster cast of Jimi Hendrix’s erect penis to the Icelandic Phallological Museum.


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