Residents in five neighborhoods of New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Cleveland awoke to discover a life-sized, naked Donald Trump statue in their midst.
The five identical statues were erected simultaneously at around 8 a.m. ET on Aug. 18 and tweets about the sculptures began almost immediately.
The studio behind the project, the self-described “American Activist Collective” INDECLINE, was credited on the base of each sculpture and the artist’s signature, “Ginger,” was engraved in each clay figure. The Washington Post broke the story that INDECLINE was behind the project and released some of the first statements by the studio.
The life-sized figure depicts Trump with a “constipated” grimace on his face, helmet-like yellow hair, a protruding belly, and veiny, peach-colored flesh. And, of course, no balls.
The collaboration, entitled “The Emperor Has No Balls,” was the brainchild of INDECLINE, who, according to artist Joshua Monroe, who used the alias “Ginger” to avoid “backlash,” had “very specific criteria” set as to “what the statue would include and what it would not.”
Inspired in part by the Hans Christian Anderson story about an overly self-assured leader who fails to realize his new suit is in fact his birthday suit, according to a studio spokesperson, the intent was to create a mocking tribute to the “modern day Emperor of Fascism and Bigotry.”
Monroe was chosen to create the likeness of the “monstrous” presidential candidate because of his experience designing monsters for horror movies and haunted houses, including serving as the director for Eli Roth’s now defunct “Goretorium” in Las Vegas.
“It would have been a dream come true to work side by side with Eli Roth,” Monroe told The Daily Beast, but the artist never actually got to work with Roth.
After working for close to five years to get the project going and pulling all-nighters in the weeks leading up to the grand opening, Monroe said that he “parted ways with the owner and management” after finding out they had merely “bought Roth’s name.”
For the Trump statues, Monroe was brought aboard after being “tapped” by INDECLINE and was the only collaborator on the project not previously part of the studio.
The undertaking began in April and required over 1,500 hours of work over the course of four months. Monroe, who works “an average of 15 hours a day, six days a week” at a “day job” he declined to describe, told The Daily Beast that he was averaging “three hours of sleep a night.”
The process of creating the sculpture consisted of two stages, according to Monroe. The first was sculpting the original, 700-pound model in specialty clay using a 6-foot-2 “hired model with similar proportions” to Trump. After the prototype was complete, Monroe made a giant silicone mold so that he could create identical replicas.
In all, the project required 300 pounds of Monster Makers Oil Clay, 400 pounds of Concrete and Rebar, 400 pounds of Walter E. Disney Clay (for the mold), one gallon of smooth cast 300 (liquid resin), and 10 gallons of Foam It, costing around $6,000. The INDECLINE spokesperson said the studio had “never worked in this medium before” and found it quite “time consuming.”
After finishing the sculptures in an undisclosed studio on the West Coast, Monroe and INDECLINE team members shipped them to the five locations where they would be unveiled. The five locations were chosen based on where the “activist collective” has existing collaborators, the INDECLINE spokesperson told The Daily Beast.
Purposely “designed to be torn down,” the replicas were lightweight and “anticipated to last about a half-hour at most,” said Monroe.
According to the INDECLINE spokesperson, the statues all went up without a hitch using “insult teams with hard hats and neon construction vests.” The studio had “no permit” for the pieces, which they remarked were on public property and believed that city police would feel they would “have to step in and take them down.”
The spokesperson told The Daily Beast that the New York City piece, which was erected in Union Square, was taken down “about half an hour after The Washington Post [article] went up because the article was “making them look bad and feel like they should go do their job.”
The spokesperson said he did not know where the piece was taken and only saw it being “slid into the back of a pickup truck.”
As of 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, the L.A. sculpture was still erect, as were the San Francisco and Seattle artworks—a “big surprise” to the studio and artist.
Despite being a painstaking and labor-intensive project, Monroe described his collaboration with INDECLINE as a labor of love. He said he did the piece “pro bono” and while he’s “worked out the percentages” should the piece sell, he would be “very happy” to work with the studio again.
Monroe was quick to claim that he had “no intent to fat-shame” Trump because he’s “not a skinny guy myself,” but thinks that there would have been “a lot worse reaction” to a similar statue of the Democratic Party’s nominee.
“If it were a statue of Hillary everyone would be crying sexism and misogyny. [The piece] was readily accepted because he is a man and one who is quick to body-shame,” Monroe told The Daily Beast. “To see him standing in public wearing no clothes is, to me, hilarious.”
When asked if the studio would consider making a sculpture of Hillary Clinton in a similar style, the spokesperson replied enthusiastically. “Hillary’s not much better than Trump so we’ll probably make one of her too,” he said. What about Bernie Sanders? “If he had gotten the nomination we probably would [have left] good old Bernie alone.”
Monroe was similarly eager about creating a Hillary artwork, saying he would do so “in a heartbeat. I have utter detest for her and her rapist husband.”
In fact, while Monroe was always enthusiastic to be part of “The Emperor has no Balls” project, he was upfront with the studio at the outset, admitting he was planning on voting for Trump.
Eventually, as he worked through the project, however, and heard more of the “amazingly stupid things Trump has said,” he became less excited about the prospect of a Trump presidency.
“The last straw,” Monroe told The Daily Beast, “was when Trump made fun of the disabled reporter. I have family members who are disabled and I was raised to know that you just don’t do that.” Monroe said he will be voting for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson in the 2016 election.
In a press release for the project, INDECLINE outlined its hopes for the impact of their collaboration with Monroe: “These fleeting installations represent this fleeting nightmare and in the fall, it is our wish to look back and laugh at Donald Trump’s failed and delusional quest to obtain the presidency. It is through these sculptures that we leave behind the physical and metaphorical embodiment of the ghastly soul of one of America’s most infamous and reviled politicians.”
While the statues may be torn down and disposed, it is likely that few observers will forget the day they saw GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump ball-less and naked standing before them as an awesome monstrosity.