Brief Encounters

RIP, Cynthia Plaster Caster and Re Styles

CAUTION: ADULT-THEMED BLOG POST; NOT INTENDED FOR CHILDREN

Two remarkable rock ‘n’ roll collaborators – Cynthia Plaster Caster and Re Styles – passed recently, from this mortal coil to whatever lies beyond. Cynthia was 74 years old; Re was 72.

Cynthia “Plaster Caster” Albritton
Fee Waybill and Re Styles, The Tubes

Please feel encouraged to do your own further research on their singular careers.

Allow me these brief personal recollections.

These stories are not terribly interesting, unless your curiosity is piqued by the notion that yer ‘umble once was asked by the Tubes’ imposing singer and dancer (real name Shirley MacLeod) for help in adjusting the black electrical tape used to “cover” her otherwise bare breasts (recalling the song “Mondo Bondage” as one of the band’s showstopping concert tunes during those early days).

This happened just before the start of a Tubes show at Chicago’s Uptown Theatre, April 30, 1976. At the time I was engaged in promotional work for A&M Records, and the Tubes’ debut album – featuring now-classics like “What Do You Want From Life” and “White Punks On Dope” – was a major label priority. All hands were on deck, especially as I had somehow missed the band’s Uptown debut six months earlier.

There is a brief mention (pp 24-25) of this in my rock memoir, Everything I Know I Learned From Rock Stars:

The phone rang rather late one night, after 10 p.m. Bill Johnson, who worked the primary Chicago radio market and was respected for not engaging in the sketchy practices for which many promo men are known, was calling with a question that took me by surprise. “This band I’m with is looking for cocaine. Do you know where to get some?” My answer was “no,” as I had not yet been exposed to illegal drugs, but when the Tubes christened the renovated Uptown Theater on Halloween in 1975, the crowd was there to see Fee Waybill’s alter-ego, Quay Lewd, howl “White Punks On Dope.”

I just assumed the nipple-taping was among my “other duties as assigned.” Looking back, it may have been a calculated bit of theater – a fun way to involve us lower caste record company minions, hoping to ensure our continued evangelicalism on the bands’ behalf. Well, it worked.

BTW, Re Styles was not credited on that first Tubes album, but received vocal credits on the next three – Young and Rich (featuring perhaps Styles’ most famous performance, on “Don’t Touch Me There”), Now, and the Todd Rundgren-produced Remote Control. In another Rundgren connection, Styles briefly was married to Tubes drummer Prairie Prince, a mainstay of Todd’s touring bands these many past decades.

I met Cynthia Albritton, founder of the legendary Plaster Casters of Chicago, only one time – at a party in Chicago – decades after the activities of the 1970s that “cemented” (excuse the pun) her reputation as an iconic and unique rock star chronicler. Indeed, you can find many resources that describe the contorted trail blazed by her plaster cast phalluses (Jimi Hendrix, Eric Burdon, and a couple of dozen more), but here is one to get you started.

According to our many mutual acquaintances, Cynthia called everyone “doll.” She very likely called me “doll” during our short conversation. I have no idea what we talked about, but her plaster penis collection definitely was not among the topics. I do know one person she has cast, Jon Langford of the Waco Brothers. Perhaps I will ask him about that experience one day.

Published by billpaige

Interested parties are first directed to my memoir, “Everything I Know I Learned From Rock Stars” (Eckhartz Press). While I have taken music therapy classes and read extensively about music’s effect on the brain, I am NOT professionally trained -- just a music lover who recognizes that everyone benefits from music. Giving that gift to special needs youth is highly rewarding, but again, my process is intuitive, not academic. I draw largely on personal experience. I’ve spent most of my 67 years observing a wide world of music, from working as a music critic professionally for 20 years, and holding positions in music companies in the 1970s and 1990s. Since 1990, however, I have focused on learning more about music and improving as a singer, guitarist, and performer, both solo and in ensemble settings.

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