Friday, August 4, 2017

Jim Croce – "Five Short Minutes" (1973)

She casted me in plaster
While I sang her a tune

In 1969, Rolling Stone magazine bought a full page in the New York Times to promote an upcoming special issue on “groupies.”  (The story goes that publisher Jann Wenner had to empty the magazine’s bank account to pay for the $7000 ad.)

The term “groupies” was originally used to describe the screaming teenage girls who innocently worshipped the Beatles and other pop groups of that era.  But by the time the Rolling Stone issue came out, the word had taken on a sexual implication.  Groupies didn’t go home after a concert, they went backstage and usually ended up spending the night at the band’s hotel or on the tour bus.

The cover of the “groupies” issue
Later that year, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends released a song titled “Superstar (Groupie).”  It told the story of a disappointed groupie who believed that a touring musician she had slept with would someday come back to be with her.  

That fictional groupie was left with only the memories of the night she spent with the musician.  But another famous groupie was able to retain something more tangible from her encounters with rock stars than just memories.

*     *     *     *     *

One of the women who was interviewed and photographed for the Rolling Stone “groupies” issue was Chicago native Cynthia Albritton, who called herself Cynthia Plaster Caster.

Cynthia was a 19-year-old college student in 1966 when one of her art professors told her and her fellow art students to make a plaster cast of something solid that could retain its shape.   

She and one of her friends went to a Paul Revere and the Raiders concert that weekend and managed to get backstage, where they asked the group’s lead singer, Mark Lindsay, if they could make a plaster cast of his penis.  Lindsay declined that request, but did agree to relieve her of her virginity that weekend.

Cynthia Plaster Caster in 1969
A couple of years later, Cynthia managed to talk Jimi Hendrix into letting her make a cast of his penis.  She also cast Jimi’s bass player, Noel Redding, and members of the MC5, the Young Rascals, the Lovin’ Spoonful, Savoy Brown, Television, the Mekons, and the Dead Kennedys – as well as the managers of the Who, Led Zeppelin, and Iron Butterfly.

Cynthia had some failures.  For example, tried to cast Eric Burdon of the Animals and Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks, but she messed up the molds both times.

*     *     *     *     *

Another of Cynthia’s subjects was Anthony Newley, the British star of the stage and screen who was also a successful singer/songwriter.  (He co-wrote the Goldfinger title song, “The Candy Man” – which was a number one single for Sammy Davis, Jr. – two Broadway musicals, and the score for the children’s movie, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.)  I vividly remember Newley as a witty and urbane talk-show guest and a “Hollywood Squares” panelist, and it’s hard for me to picture Cynthia Plaster Caster making an alginate mold of Newley’s erect 38-year-old penis.

Conservative talk-show host Bob Grant in 1970
Perhaps the most surprising of her subjects was Bob Grant, a very popular conservative talk-radio host who was on the air in New York City for over 35 years.  (Grant’s ratings were phenomenal.  At one point, he had a 24.3 share – meaning that 24.3% of all the people listening to the radio in New York City at that time were listening to Grant’s show.)

*     *     *     *     *

Frank Zappa persuaded Cynthia Plaster Caster to move to Los Angeles, where he hoped to organize an art exhibit of her plaster penises.  According to Cynthia, the exhibit never happened “because of a shortage of celebrity c*ck in the collection.”  (Cynthia never made a cast of Zappa’s penis.)

The casts ended up in the possession of Zappa’s business partner, and Cynthia had to sue him to get them back.  Pamela Des Barres, the most famous groupie of them all, testified on Cynthia’s behalf. 

Cynthia in 2010
Cynthia eventually moved back to Chicago, where she ran for mayor (unsuccessfully) in 2010.  

*     *     *     *     *

Here’s the trailer to the 2001 documentary about Cynthia titled Plaster Caster:

You can click here to visit Cynthia’s website.

*     *     *     *     *

In 1977, Kiss released a song called “Plaster Caster” that was inspired by Cynthia’s plaster casts.  

Cynthia never casted any of the members of Kiss.  She didn’t cast Jim Croce either, but the website says that Croce admitted to his wife that the Plaster Casters had “serviced” him.

Here’s “Five Short Minutes,” Jim Croce's tribute to Cynthia Plaster Caster.  It was released on the last album Croce recorded before dying in a airplane crash in 1973.  He was only 30 years old.

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

No comments:

Post a Comment