Paul McCarthy’s Paris Butt Plug
What a headline, right? Can you imagine anytime in history where someone so well-regarded as Paul McCarthy would be in the same headline as a "butt plug"? At least I'm not making this one up!
And better for me, I remmeber when this happened. When the media began publishing photos of the artwork in question, I couldn't contain my laughter. That is what happens after 25 years in this business, the smallest things can lead to uncontrolled laughter.
Let me give a little background of what caused this fuss:
To be fair, I'll quote wiki:
In October 2014, McCarthy unveiled "Tree" in Place Vendôme in Paris. The inflatable sculpture, standing 24 meters tall (80 feet), was said to resemble a large green butt plug.
"Said to resemble?" Are you kidding? This was a giant butt plug. "No, it is a Christmas Tree". NO IT IS A GIANT BUTT PLUG. I don't care how many angles you turned your head, or how many bottles of beer you consumed, it was still a butt plug. And I'm still laughing as I type this. All I could say was, I have seen a lot of butt plugs in my life, and this was a butt plug, NOT A TREE!
But the French weren't laughing with Paul McCarthy as this giant butt plug was flying in the wind at Place Vendome, the historic French square. Withing two days, vandals had cut the cables supporting the "structure" and officials had deflated it, allegedly out of security concerns. Considering the French were trying to launch their new campaign promoting Paris as the "center of the art world", having a giant GREEN BUTT PLUG in the center of the city was just too much.
Paul McCarthy had the last laugh, and commissioned the Paris Mint to create Chocolate figurines — Father Christmas with a butt plug, and the "phallic dwarves". And you had to walk a long and dark tunnel to get to the chocolate. (That last part is true! I hope you caught the humor!)
And in a case of "truth is stranger than fiction", here is the local headline while this controversy was happening: "French Butt Plug Sales Soar After Paul McCarthy's Tree Controversy"
The artist came clean in the Hollywood Reporter:
It would be hard for me to say that being the prankster or provocateur isn't part of the work. There seems to be an edge I like riding. But when I made the big Tree in France, I really did want to make it. An 80-foot inflatable was something I wanted to see — something about that object at that scale excited me. And it's this monotone green. It's like, What is that shape? Is it a tree? An abstract object? It was the shape of a particular butt plug, about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. But when you make it 80 feet tall and put it in a public plaza, I don't know that you would necessarily say it's a butt plug. You might say, "That could be a tree. It's green. It looks like a Christmas tree."
As I read about Paul McCarthy, I see that this wasn't his first attempt at adding butt plugs to his art:
Thanks Paul, for giving the "lowly butt plug" the greatest air time ever!
Butt Plug in Paris
Butt Plug Sold in our Stores