Imagine getting an up-close-and-personal glimpse of Tom Cruise’s dick. Go ahead, you can linger as long as you want. No one is judging you. After all, male celebrities are definitely having a moment with their penises.
Take a few minutes to admire its presence, the way it lays limp against his thighs, and how it compares to others you have seen: It’s uncut and surprisingly large; his bush could better be described as a lion’s mane and gives a whole new meaning to the practice of “manscaping.”
Snap a few photos—maybe a selfie with a friend—but keep calm and carry on, there’s more to see at the Cory Allen Contemporary Art Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida.
On Friday, the “Shroud of Scientology” will celebrate Cruise’s 25th anniversary with the controversial religion.
The life-size poplin cloth featuring an imprint of Cruise’s naked body is only one of the items on display.
“It exists as a document of Tom Cruise’s faith in Scientology—a photo negative of the radiance of his soul,” the shroud’s creator, Daniel Edwards, said in a press release. “It gives evidence for future generations that Tom Cruise not only belonged to Scientology, but also saved it from obscurity.”
For years, Cruise has been the most famous face of the cult-like religion, which boasts a long list of celebrity members, including John Travolta, Juliette Lewis, Kirstie Alley, Elisabeth Moss, and Laura Prepon.
But without his fame-power, the religion may have never become a household name—one that the media has since been completely banned from broaching with Cruise.
“He gets a lot of ridicule, and to endure that kind of ridicule seems unnecessary,” Edwards told The Daily Beast. “I wanted to take a different stance. I didn’t want to be one of the many people to ridicule him and the religion.”
So Edwards, who is not a practicing member of Scientology, set out to cast Cruise as a martyr after the actor spoke at a Wal-Mart shareholder’s meeting in 2013.
He was there to commend the retail giant for being a “role model” that is “improving women’s lives” when in fact the company had been embroiled in a Supreme Court battle for pay discrimination.
Activists also pointed out that one of Wal-Mart’s suppliers in Bangladesh had recently lost the lives of some 1,100 female workers when its building collapsed.
“I was putting him in the role of one of the workers in the collapsed Bangladesh factory—as someone who was lying in the rubble like the people they were pulling out,” Edwards said. “Then, the Shroud of Turin came to mind.”
Other pieces in the exhibition include some 40 digital prints of the actor’s head in various renderings and a commemorative medal to mark Cruise’s “silver” anniversary.
The Church of Scientology told The Daily Beast that they have “nothing to do with this publicity stunt and any claim to the contrary is false.”
However, Edwards revealed that there had been “suspicious behavior” outside the gallery, which is near the religion’s Clearwater headquarters.
“Someone was parked outside the gallery for about two hours with their lights on,” Edwards said, adding that the events, which were still unclear to him, had spooked some of the gallery workers.
“People are very quick to attribute it to [the church],” he added. “They’ve gotten into the psyche of everybody and it seems like they kind of like the idea that everybody is afraid of them.”
Cruise also had no affiliation with the commissioned work and could not be reached for comment.
However, this isn’t Edwards’s first Cruise-related artwork—he’s been a fan of the actor for years, though he admits he doesn’t care for Risky Business.
So in 2006, he crafted a bronze sculpture of Suri Cruise’s “first bowel movement.” (PDF)
For months after her birth, Suri Cruise had been shielded from the public eye. People questioned both her health and her existence before official photos were published in Vanity Fair when Suri was almost 5 months old.
“I sculpted the excrement as a way to offer evidence that the baby actually existed and was healthy,” Edwards said. “A lot of my work is done from the point of view of a ‘smartass’ and that was one of them for sure.”
Fast-forward almost a decade and it turns out that Scientology was actually the reason Holmes filed for divorce in 2012. And potentially the reason his two previous marriages (Nicole Kidman, Mimi Rogers) failed.
Edwards’s other subjects also tend towards the topical: Britney Spears giving birth to her first son, Sean Preston; a fake Prince Harry memorial for a could-have-been-deadly war tour in Iraq; and a “Presidential Bust of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton: The First Woman President of the United States” long before she announced her candidacy.
The sculpture of Spears, who has seen her own fair share of chaotic publicity, depicts the one-time pop princess naked, on her hands and knees, with her tail end pushed into the air. She grips the head of a bearskin rug as the baby emerges from the opposite end.
“She was astonished it was receiving as much attention as it did,” Edwards said of the sculpture he rendered in 2006. “She was really dumbfounded, but went on to say that I could display it anywhere I want, just not in her house.”
“In the case of Prince Harry, he had been out of public view for months and my piece criticized his role in the war,” Edward explained of his 2007 subject.
“I had this long theory about how he was being built up as a potential war hero to hide the fact that he had just worn a Nazi armband to a Halloween party, which was a huge disgrace. Then, last minute they decided they weren’t going to subject him to it, but the mission had been accomplished without actually sending him [to Iraq].”
A month before he was to be deployed, the British army announced he would no longer be sent to battle. They citied “unacceptable risks” aimed directly at the blue blood that would expose those around him.
Later that year, Edwards’s sculpture of Prince Harry deceased in military uniform debuted at the Trafalgar Hotel in London.
“After that piece came out,” Edwards said, “they ended up sending him to war anyways. So these pieces do make some kind of a statement. And they get a response.”
With Clinton’s recent bid for presidential nomination, Edwards is seeing a revived interest in his bust of Hillary Clinton in a cleavage-forming lace top from 2009.
“Her cleavage is on display, prominently portraying sexual power which some people still consider threatening,” Edwards told the Associated Press. She has “her head held high, a youthful spirit and a face matured by wisdom.”
And with numerous people vying for a spot on the 2016 ballot Edwards has some things in store for presidential race, including a work focused on Donald Trump.
We can’t wait to see what kind of response that gets from Trump’s camp.