Cynthia in the early 1970s
This interview originally appeared on Rock Confidential.com in March 2004.
The term “groupie” is now part of the American lexicon. When it’s even included in Microsoft’s spellcheck, you know it’s legit. Cynthia Plaster Caster, along with her partner, Diane, achieved lasting infamy as “The Plaster Casters of Chicago”, known for their inventive modus operandi of casting rock stars’ cocks in alginate and preserving the sculptures for posterity. Unlike most of today’s groupies, Cynthia has more to show for her hard work than a possible quickie marriage and sticky divorce. She affectionately refers to her plaster casts as her “babies” and her works have been featured in several art exhibits. Cynthia, like her friend and fellow ex-groupie /current writer Pamela Des Barres, is a pop culture icon. An amiable and engaging interviewee, Cynthia is currently involved in a myriad of projects, including her non-profit organization, CynthiaPCaster.org, her personal website, CynthiaPlasterCaster.com, and she's still casting in her home town of Chicago.
JB- How did you come up with the idea for your artistic endeavor, the plaster casts? I read that it was originally for a college art project.
CPC- Umm, I never planned to make a living out of it or have it be what it turned into. I was just trying to get laid.
JB- That’s how a lot of people start their careers.
CPC- You know that’s true. It's certainly how rock stars start their careers. It was an art project that gave me the idea gave me a way of starting up a conversation with Paul Revere and the Raiders about their penises. What I was looking for was an excuse to talk about it. You know when the subject would arise then maybe something else would rise! That would be responsible for the seduction because I just wasn’t capable of it. I was too shy and dorky. And that’s what did happen. I didn’t make a plaster cast. I just got laid.
JB - What was the first rock band you met?
CPC- The Rolling Stones, in 1964 when they were recording 12 by 5 in Chicago. They were practically unknown in America.
JB - What was it like meeting them?
CPC- That’s really what got me going in the groupie groove or wanna be groupie groove. It was so easy. The way I did it was I figured out what hotel they were staying at and showed up at the hotel and stood outside with maybe 4 or 5 other girls and waited for them to arrive and there they were in the flesh, walking. I couldn’t believe it. They were in a taxi; they didn’t even have a limo then.
JB - I bet it was easier to met rock stars in the ‘60s and early ‘70s.
CPC- It only was easy in the first few months. Then the girls just kept multiplying. That’s what made me realize that I have a lot of stiff competition here and I’ve got to make myself stand out from the other girls. There are 25 girls standing at this guy’s hotel room door. These are 25 girls that managed to get past all the security. You have to think of something and in my case it had to be goofy.
JB- But it worked! Didn’t you have a business card that you showed the guys?
CPC- That was all part of the goofy shtick. I thought it would be funny if we were traveling sales women with a suitcase full of materials none of which I knew how to use.
JB-Now tell me about your first plaster cast. Now who’s job was it to get the guy "excited?" Was that your job?
CPC- At that point, in the beginning when I got the idea for the art project there was no designated plater. (That’s what I call the fluffer.) There was no designated anything. We were just 2 girls that were running around trying to get laid. As we had a few experiences with bands figuring out how to cast them, we decided to designate roles and because I learned how to mix the mold, I would be the mold mixer. It was too expensive for me to also try to teach somebody to be a mold mixer and my girlfriend Diane at that time had developed a reputation for giving really good head. Automatically, it was logical that she should be the plater. And I hardly ever got laid as a result via plaster casting until later, ironically.
JB -You were to busy mixing the mold, doing the actual casting work.
CPC- It’s really a good idea that there be two girls or two people working on it. I’ve tried double roles if I’ve had the hots for somebody and they had the hots for me, but it’s really not a good idea for the plaster cast.
Jimi HendrixJimi Hendrix’s cast was an unbelievable dream come true. It was their first time in Chicago and they were just the hottest band around. We went to the hotel, (me and Diane and my friend Marilyn, who’d never seen a dick before. She (Marilyn) later became a born-again Christian.)
We even rode the elevator with them instead of climbing the fire escape like we usually did. Like everything went pretty right. I had the hots for Noel Redding who I really wanted to be with, so I cast Jimi and I had sex with Noel. It was a really memorable experience.
I tried to cast Peter during the time I had discovered dental mold and I didn’t know how to use it. Just as I was opening one the can--it was like an old-fashioned Planters’ Peanut type can-- I cut my finger on the edge and cut it so bad so bad it wouldn’t stop bleeding, and Mickey Dolenz had to tourniquet my middle finger. I should probably have gone to the hospital, but it all went well with the finger. No cast of Peter, though. I never really got to see what he was capable of. He really liked being naked. He was so cute-and he looked damn good!
JB- A few months ago I reread Pamela’s book “I’m With The Band” and when I read about your experiences and Pamela’s it seems like so much fun. Nowadays for girls who want to be groupies there’s so much competition. Girls are having plastic surgery at 17 and it’s a whole different scene.
CPC- Yeah, you know what’s wrong with it? There also was competition and cutthroating in there too. My problem is that the girls nowadays don’t seem to be so much fans of the music the way a lot of us were back then.
JB- It seems that a lot of the groupies who wind up going off with the band members have never listened to a note of the guy’s music.
CPC- Yeah, there have always been starfuckers, but there are more now. I dunno- and I think (they are) fairly common types of girls. They are not very interesting people, with a few exceptions. Oddly enough, I think Winona Ryder and Courtney Love are the only two interesting super groupies around. There are all different ways to be groupies. There are what I call legitimate groupies.
JB- Like journalists? (OK, now you know. I confess!)
CPC- Exactly. Journalists. And wives of other members of certain bands. I’ve been around girls married to a band member and they’ll be hovering around somebody else in the band and claiming “I am not a groupie.”
JB- They’re probably the worst kind-the ones that won’t admit they’re groupies.
CPC- The ones that are in denial are always the worst ones. What is the problem with declaring yourself a groupie when you are one? It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s what you are.
JB- Nothing is wrong with wanting to have sex with cute guys.
CPC- Exactly. What’s weird about that? The only people who criticize groupies are rock stars that are mad that they aren’t getting enough groupies or people that are jealous that they’re not groupies.
The latest I’ve done belongs to Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. She’s lovely, just an awesome performer. I’ve been doing that doing that for a couple years now. I’ve been doing more breasts than dicks lately. Kind of catching up for lost time. Girls are more willing to do it than guys, Girls know pretty much how they are going to come out and guys aren’t sure how they’re gonna stand up to Jimi Hendrix.
JB- Have you had any gallery exhibits of your work?
The first one, which was captured in “Plaster Caster-The Documentary” happened in New York. in 2000 at Thread Waxing Space. It was one of the best days of my life. I just so wish that Frank Zappa was still alive because this is what he dreamed about for me, too.
JB-They’ll never be anyone else like him.
CPC- Not in our lifetime doll. Everything I do I dedicate to him.
JB-When did you first met Frank?
CPC- I met him in ’68. He was on tour with Cream. I was chasing Eric Clapton trying to get him to pose for us. Eric said “Oh yeah sure, I might do it, but I have a friend who might want to do it more..It’s Frank Zappa." Frank came over the next night to Eric’s hotel room, asking me and Diane some questions. Neither of them wanted to be cast. Frank was just really interested in what we did because he was writing this piece for Life Magazine about the new pop culture. And we told him what I was dreaming about-having an exhibit and I wrote diaries and I did drawings. He came back to Chicago and said, “I was thinking about what you do and I’d like to help you.” Frank was doing what I’d like to be doing with Cynthia P Caster.org. He wasn’t doing it in a not for profit way. He wanted to advance people money for whatever they wanted. He wanted his label to give people advances without having to worry about record contracts. It was a very ‘60s dream. Frank just wanted to help. I found out later his business partner had other ideas. (The business partner in question was Herb Cohen, who had temporary ownership of the casts and threatened to sell knock-offs of them as “Cocksicles.” Cynthia won a court judgment against him in 1994. -MM)
Plaster Caster-The Movie
JB- Tell me about the documentary “Plaster Caster” that came out a few
CPC- It’s got a commercial release now. It made the film festival circuit for about a year and now its’ commercial release is on DVD. It came about when Jessica Villines, whose the director, vaguely knew me from the rock scene of Chicago. She and her mother, who was the executive producer, out of nowhere let me know that they wanted to make a documentary about me and they were willing to pay me a huge advance. That’s what sold me. It took Jessica and the editor Brian Johnson and director of photography Jeff Economy about 2 to 2 ½ years to put it all together. It’s weird walking around with a mic attached my butt all the time, but I got used to it. In fact, I really found I like being interviewed. They couldn’t stop me from talking!
Cynthia P. Caster Foundation
Our main investor, ironically, his name is Jason Pickleman. He was trying to help me sell casts and said “What do think of selling these casts on a not for profit level?" We thought that the people would help would be struggling artists and musicians like myself. I never thought I would be able to make money on any level doing what I’m doing. I come from a relatively poor background and I just know so many struggling ,creative talented people never see the light of day because they have no money. That tends to be my favorite kind of art and music.