Review: Plaster Caster [2001] - dir. Jessica Villines

PLASTER CASTER, directed by Jessica Villines, is an intimate portrait of legendary artist and groupie, Cynthia Plaster Caster -- famous for plaster casting the penises of rock stars, including, most notoriously, Jimi Hendrix. The film explores how Cynthia developed her unique art form with the help of her mentor Frank Zappa, and follows the ups and downs of casting sessions with a shy guitarist and an extroverted glam rocker goes along for the ride as Cynthia prepares for her first gallery show in New York City.

Featuring candid interviews with "castees" and commentators -- Noel Redding (The Jimi Hendrix Experience), Paul Barker (Ministry), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Pete Shelley (Buzzcocks), and many more.

From my humble beginnings as a music journalist I have always had an interest in the myths and legends of Rock 'n' Roll, so my love for documentaries about legendary rock figures has even driven me into the arms of Eagle Vision a few times, believing they would manage to unlock some of the secrets with their 'Classic Albums' series, usually the search is fruitless, but occasionally, just occasionally I find a gem when I least expect it - like a long last Phil Franks documentary or a DVD print of the infamous Rolling Stones' Cocksucker Blues, and now this...

Perusing my local 'Poundland' (or Dollar Store for my American friends), what should I spy amongst the racks of '100 Best FA Cup Goals' and 'Extreme Fishing with Robson Green' but this little gem... for just 1 of my English pounds... Jessica Villines (aka Jessica Everlath, producer of TVs Clean House) manages to capture the essence of Cynthia Plaster Caster from her clinical detachment of her art, to the daily struggles with money and the guilt of hiding her past from her mother.

The whole documentary gives you the feeling that Cynthia is truly a troubled individual, not due to her experiences as one of the world's most famous groupies, but from her earliest days, she has trouble with concentration, commitment and belonging... but then again this is a review not an analysis session... so, the documentary itself. Jessica manages to pull together an eclectic mix of former 'castees' some more ebullient than others, the stand outs are definitely Jello Biafra and Chris Connelly, both effusive, intelligent and witty.

The one snippet that will probably stay in my head for a long time is Noel Redding's mispronunciation of fellatio, that's what happens when you've spent your life getting the more down-to-earth blow jobs :)

All-in-all a competent, well executed documentary that captures the sadness and futility of the rock'n'roll business better than most, go buy it... you may be able to use some of the advice in your next sculpture class...


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