What’s the biggest butt plug you’ve ever seen?
If you happened to be in Paris in October, your answer might be “24 feet.”
Artist Paul McCarthy erected a sculpture called “Tree” as part of FIAC, the city’s annual art fair, and his intentions couldn’t have been clearer.
Take a look for yourself:
After it was inflated, a few interesting things happened. First, your typical conservative outrage. One antigay group, Printemps Francais, Tweeted: “This is where your tax dollars are going!”
Then, vandals cut the cables that supported it, causing it to collapse into what appeared to be a giant condom. Good job, guys:
You could almost hear McCarthy laughing to himself at this point, as the destruction of a piece that challenges our ideas of what art can and can’t be only goes to further the conversation.
And it was a conversation that none other than the French President, Francois Hollande, threw his two cents into.
As translated by Hyperallergic, the President said:
“France will always be on the side of artists, just as I am on the side of Paul McCarthy, whose work was sullied, no matter what one’s opinion of the piece may have been,” said François Hollande at last night’s opening of Paris’s Fondation Louis Vuitton, according to Agence France Presse. “We must always respect the work of artists … France is always ready to welcome artists and creatives coming from every country in the world.”
This had to have marked the first time in history a world leader came to the defense of a butt plug.
But it appears that while Hollande’s remarks may very well be of significance in the art world, butt plugs themselves have been riding a wave of unexpected success following the giant media (for lack of a better word) plug.
According to one manufacturer of (more reasonably sized) plugs, sales have increased some 500%.
From The Local:
“We used to sell around 50 a month,” Richard Fhal, a sex toy wholesaler told The Local.
“Since the controversy (in October) we’ve moved more than a thousand,” said Fhal who supplies shops around the capital as well as his own retail website and chain of three stores.
He noted that previously customers for anal plugs were almost exclusively male and gay, but in recent weeks heterosexuals – with an equal mix of men and women – had been snapping up the products that cost between €20 and €40 each.
How’s that for the intersection of art and commerce?