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MEMBERíS LONELY
Passim takes a pass on Jimiís jimmy
BY MIKE MILIARD

Club Passim has hosted Bob Dylan and Joan Baez over the years, but never Jimi Hendrix.

So when Cantabrigian photographer and curator John Nikolai started putting up the paintings and photos for "HUNG," his upcoming multi-artist exhibit at the folkie haunt, he figured the club would be thrilled that one of the artifacts he planned to display was a plaster cast of Hendrixís 5.75-inch member, from a mold made in 1968 by famed groupie-cum-artiste Cynthia Plaster Caster.

Said Club Passim management: nothiní doiní.

But "HUNG" is a show that also features a portrait of the Sex Pistols by Dee Dee Ramone (title: Fuck Off), in which Johnny Rotten sports a tiny peepee. And thereís a canvas by transsexual punk relic Jayne County, Penis Trees and Snakes in the Shape of Half Created Humans, that depicts ejaculating phallic branches. Then thereís Nikolaiís photo of a nude contortionist, yawning yoni and all, or two semi-explicit prints from Porn Is the New Rock, a series by the Ramonesí former artistic director, Arturo Vega. What gave?

Put simply, says Passim manager Mark Smith, itís 3-D. Hendrixís dry, white, tumescent, veiny thing is "just so specifically explicit."

"I donít think the ban makes a whole lot of sense," says Nikolai ó who hung an empty frame in honor of Plaster Casterís absence. Still, he doesnít place blame. "I think [Smith] felt awkward about being in the position of having to censor artwork, or feeling like he needed to," he says.

Exactly, says Smith. "In a place thatís just an art gallery, where thatís all they do, people are going there specifically for whatever art is there. Weíre a [music] venue and a restaurant. Families are coming here all the time, and thatís probably gonna be a little jarring for some people."

Reached via e-mail, Plaster Caster was understanding: "My Sweet Baby Jimi is a copy of a real live cock, not an abstract image. Maybe in Passimís eye, this could put parents in the uncomfortable position of having to answer some ... hard questions from their children?"

Smith was nice enough to strike a deal with Nikolai: the plaster cast will be on display at Passim for one night only at the opening reception for "HUNG." (Vega will be there too, as will Punk magazine co-founder John Holmstrom and enigmatic shutterbug Godlis. Boston garage-punk wild men Unnatural Axe bring the rock.) So be there, on Monday, July 25, from 5 to 9 pm.

"Itís the only way to see Hendrix at Club Passim," says Nikolai. "Or at least part of him."

"HUNG" hangs at Club Passim, 47 Palmer Street in Harvard Square, through September 24; call 617.492.7679. "HANGED" is at the Zeitgeist Gallery, 1353 Cambridge Street in Cambridge, July 19 through August 1, with an opening reception on Saturday, July 23; call 617.876.6060. View a slideshow of pieces from HUNG and HANGED by clicking here. For more Photos of Cynthia's work go to: www.cynthiaplastercaster.com.


Issue Date: July 15 - 21, 2005
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