Democracy Dies in Darkness

Morning Mix

These protesters wanted to humiliate 'Emperor' Trump. So they took off his clothes.

By Peter Holley

August 19, 2016 at 6:49 AM

For much of the past year, Donald Trump proved uniquely untouchable, a political force of such mind-boggling invulnerability that he even bragged about attracting voters after hypothetically shooting someone on Fifth Avenue.

Hoping to strip away the Teflon Don's legendary confidence to reveal the fleshy mortal beneath the expensive suits and long ties, members of the anarchist collective INDECLINE decided they would showcase the aspirant president in the most humiliating way they could imagine: without his clothes.

The group unveiled life-size statues of Trump in the nude Thursday morning in public spaces in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Seattle.

"The Emperor Has No B—s," as the project is called, arrives several months after the group covered stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with the names of African Americans who have been killed by police. In the past, the collective has also claimed responsibility for an anti-Trump "Rape" mural on the U.S.-Mexico border and a massive piece of graffiti art in California's Mojave Desert.

Related: [Why the names of African Americans killed by police took over the Hollywood Walk of Fame]

The group's latest project has been four months in the making and was inspired, in part, by "The Emperor's New Clothes," Hans Christian Andersen's story about an overly confident leader without clothing, according to an INDECLINE spokesman.

Suggesting Trump is more of a (potential) ruler than a revolutionary, the statues also poke fun at the authoritarian tendency to erect large monuments in one's likeness.

"Like it or not, Trump is a larger-than-life figure in world culture at the moment," said the spokesman, who discussed the project with The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity. "Looking back in history, that's how those figures were memorialized and idolized in their time — with statues."

Unlike monuments of most political figures in cities across the globe, the Trump statues are far from flattering.

They're oddly shaped, lack one key element of the male reproductive system and dramatically play down another.

The eyes scowl, the mouth pouts and the veiny, almost reptilian skin looks like it was torn off a human-size frog and dipped in bronzer.

The job of conceptualizing and creating the statues fell to a man who goes by the name "Ginger," a Las Vegas-based artist. Ginger told The Post that he has a long history of designing monsters for haunted houses and horror movies.

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The anarchist group INDECLINE unveiled life-size statues of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in the nude on Thursday, Aug. 18, in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Seattle. An excerpt of video released by the group shows the making of the statues. (INDECLINE)

In addition to doing makeup for a Busta Rhymes video, Ginger's résumé includes another source of great pride for the artist: He's a regular keynote speaker at haunted house conventions across the country. (We checked and, yeah, they're a thing.)

"When the guys approached me, it was all because of my monster-making abilities," he said, referring to INDECLINE members. "Trump is just yet another monster, so it was absolutely in my wheelhouse to be able to create these monstrosities."

The artist who created the statues said they weigh 80 pounds each and required four months to create. (Courtesy of Jason Goodrich)

And that's not the only reason the sculptor considered himself the ideal candidate. Ginger's mother gave birth to him via C-section and — before doctors had time to remove him from the womb — his hand popped out of the slit in his mother's abdomen, covered in maternal slime, he said, prompting a nurse to faint.

"Before I was out of the womb, I was scaring people," he said.

The artist, who has a full-time job, said he spent up to 25 hours each week working on the statues since they were commissioned in April. Ginger used 300 pounds of clay and silicone to create the statues and said the candidate's mouth ended up being his biggest sculpting challenge.

The goal was to give him the slightest hint of a scowl — a "constipated look" — that hinted at Trump's implicit frustration with contemporary America, Ginger said. "He has a very distinct little mouth, the way his chin meets the jowl, it had to look right," he said.

Also challenging was figuring out how to create unsettling body parts in a realistic fashion, a process that required extensive online research.

"If somebody were to look at my browser history, it would be a little disturbing," Ginger said. "Turns out there's not too many Google results for 'saggy old man butt.'"

Included in the statues are subliminal jokes carved into the texture of the statue's skin, he noted. On the right hand, the statue version of Trump is wearing a Masonic ring, a piece of jewelry emblematic of privilege, secret handshakes and cloistered groups of powerful people, the artist said.

Each statue weighs 80 pounds and was glued to the ground using industrial strength epoxy, an adhesive that dries within several minutes.

When Ginger began the process, he said, he was actually considering punching his ballot for Trump in the general election because the candidate's message resonated with the middle class. The more familiar he became with Trump, however, the more that familiarity bred contempt.

"Starting on the project and looking at his face day in and day out when I'd come home, I began to build up some resentment," Ginger told The Post. "The straw that broke the camel's back was when he made fun of the disabled reporter from the New York Times."

"I have family members that are physically and mentally handicapped and who need different types of care," he added. "When I saw what he did, I was in such a rage." That rage, he said, is one of the reasons he won't mind seeing the statues destroyed by police or dismantled by angry Trump supporters like a silicone piñata.

In fact, INDECLINE members placed bets among themselves about which city would destroy its statue first. (Cleveland, as it turned out.)

The suspicion was that San Francisco's Trump would remain intact the longest, with local lefties coming to its rescue, the group's spokesman said.

"I don't expect these things to last more than 30 or 45 minutes," he added. "But I would love to watch some irate 65-year-old Trump supporter try to take the thing down with his bare hands."

This post, originally published on Aug. 18, has been updated.

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Peter Holley is a technology reporter at The Washington Post. He can be reached at peter.holley@washpost.com.

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