In tribute, here’s a reprint of the Cynthia Plastercaster “song for ewe”. Cynthia sadly passed away this week. A true R&R icon – we are upstanding to salute ewe.
“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.
Today’s guest is an artiste provocateur and self-proclaimed “recovering groupie”. Cynthia Albritton has not only seen Jimi Hendrix in the buff she’s made a plastercast of his penis. In fact, using alginate (a dental mould making substance) she turned an art school project of making moulds of rock stars’ manhoods into a way of getting close to her music heroes. A muse of Frank Zappa (he never had a plastercast but did give her his patronage), Cynthia’s become a cult hero, who added breast moulds to her repertoire in 2000, including a representation of L7’s Suzi Gardner.
She’s been in documentaries including the film “Plaster Caster” and the BBC3 doc “My Penis & I”, she’s also been the inspiration of songs by Jim Croce (“Five Short Minutes”) and Kiss (“Plaster Caster”) and been mentioned in songs by Momus and Le Tigre. If that wasn’t enough she’s also run for Mayor of Chicago. Here choosing her “song for ewe” (and no, it’s not “Detachable Penis” by King Missile), please be upstanding (and other such “Carry On” style puns) for the inimitable Cynthia Plastercaster!
I first became aware of Cynthia through the “dadaist handbag” club run by Paul Smith (Blast First Records) – “Disobey” (a 1990s club-night that helped Richard D James aka Aphex Twin reach higher heights). You never knew what was coming next, Bruce Gilbert from Wire on the decks, the aforementioned Richard mixing with a Moulinex, the boys from Earth leaving their guitars feeding back, or Eye from Boredoms shouting in a mic swinging from the stanchions of Manchester’s Roadhouse. Cynthia Plastercaster appeared on a bill at usual Disobey home Upstairs at the Garage, displaying her wares alongside punk pencil-holder Jamie Reid.
Turns out Cynthia had made art from the apendages of not just Jimi but Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, MC5’s Wayne Kramer, the Mekons’ Jon Langford and Demolition Doll Rod’s Danny Doll Rod (not his real name). And Chris Connelly of the Revolting Cocks (band not description). And, some rock stars made Cynthia wait and waste her alginate until they were happy their depictions could do them justice so to speak.
Some of her sculptures have since been bronzed up, including intriguingly Anthony Newley’s (“cock goes the weasel” anyone?). Cynthia also had to fight Zappa’s ex-business partner Herb Cohen to get her work back in 1994, so this is art way beyond a classic knob joke.
By the way, as her website states “future cast-idates need not apply. I have to choose YOU!” She did however, I’m pleased to say choose ewe. Or at least a “song for ewe”, so without further ado, it’s over to Cynthia…
“Here you are, Nick. My pick and description:
Toña La Negra was an Afro-Mexican singer from the mid-twentieth century. Specially written for her soulful contralto, “Lamento Jarocho” is an exotica bolero with jungle drums, melancholy horns and a male chorus howling in the background. The steamy image it conjures up sends sends major goosebumps up and down my spine. I can’t put on mascara and listen to this at the same time.
(P.S. Note: Toña did other versions of this song, but only this album has the hottest version with the howling male chorus)”
THANKYOU CYNTHIA, FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK (AND WHATEVER RHYMES WITH IT) WE SALUTE YOU.