© Tom Gundelfinger O'Neal


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Oooh, oooee ... it wasn't worth it!
Jim Croce's awesome hommage to Cynthia Plaster Caster (5 Short Minutes) and her fascinating artwork has often given rise to wildest speculations. Back in 1971, Jim and Maury got an invitation from Russ Meyer, who was shooting a new film at Spahn Movie Ranch, featuring Tura Satana and The Plaster Casters of Chicago. The movie's supposed title was "Wieners", and Jim and Maury got engaged to play a couple of songs in it.
The movie of course was never made, as we all know by now, 'cause Charlie's evil ghost still haunted the place, and entered into the minds of the people on the set, giving them whacky ideas. In the end, the whole project had to be cancelled, leaving half of the film crew behind suffering from the the French Disease ...
So Jim hurried back to Lyndell to resume his work on his 3rd album, leaving Maury for the time being in care of Camarillo State Mental Hospital, the poor chap still being haunted back then by Tura's breath-taking and mind-boggling hooters ... I wonder what Ingrid thought at the time, when she first heard about it. Guess she wasn't amused. But them was the days, man, and if you been working for Cashman & West, it was money for nothing and the chicks for free. (lol)
Anyway, that's how Jim and Cynthia met, even if - as it seems - nothing tangible came out of it.


Before Croce's flight back to Philly from Los Angeles International Airport, Tom G. O'Neal suggested a trip to Venice in Tom's battered Chevy for an afternoon photo session. The pictures shot in color in Venice' city center can be shown on this site in black and white only, due to copyright restrictions. Jim and Tom were accompanied by Tura Satana in her rundown roadster, since she had an appointment at Venice Beach with a guy called Roy, who - according to her rigmarole - was a big shot in stock car racing. Being interested in this kind of pastime since 1965, she hoped to get some inside information. I ask myself if all these circumstances had an influence on Croce's song writing ...


Croce had a rose tattoo on his chest, that - strangely enough - always reminds me of William Blake's "The SICK ROSE", the poem, that all of us know, and none of us ever fathomed. According to his wife Ingrid, he also had two butterfly tattoos on his shoulders. Unfortunately no photograph exists, so we have to take her by the word. You might ask yourself where and when Croce had them made. Alas, there's no information available and one can only guess. A good guess might be, that he got them made when he was serving his time in the army back in the early 1960ies. A better guess (imo) might be, that he had them made in the late 60ies, when he was doing odd jobs trying to make ends meet, such as working at a carwash, or truck-driving all across the country. You see, truckstops, roadhouses and diners in those days often had tattoo parlors in the nearby neigborhood, offering their services to all them tired, bored and maybe horny truck-drivers. If you're familiar with Percy Adlon's movie "Out Of Rosenheim" (1987), you know what I mean.

© Benno Friedman

Then again he had this weird black spider tattoo on the inside of his forearm just below the elbow. This tattoo doesn't fit the others and steps out of line, which suggests, that it's been done at another time. It can be seen in the picture on the left, done by photographer Benno Friedman in 1973. It is copyright protected too, but just for once I don't give a damn (cause all these puzzle games are driving me nuts).


Photos found in Maila Nurmi's legacy, along with the copy of an interview she gave to "Quasimodo's Monster Magazine" in 1976 indicate, that she's been on the premises, when Russ Meyer's posse made short work of Spahn's Ranch in 1971. It's an open secret that she's been tampering with hot needles in the 60ies after her career as an actress sadly came to an end. Maybe here a possible connection exists !?

... to be continued.