There are visions of a big party and major feting of the artist who created a handful of naked, fleshy statues of Donald Trump that popped up across the country in San Francisco over the Labor Day holiday.
But it's still unclear whether Joshua “Ginger” Monroe will get to go home with one of his masterpieces, a 80-inch tall likeness of the Republican presidential candidate that features a huge gut and a tiny you-know-what. That's because the statue is being held as evidence in a San Francisco police department property room.
Still, the 36-year-old Monroe is hoping to drive from Las Vegas to Lefty O’Doul’s Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge in San Francisco sometime before next weekend to retrieve the statue. It was confiscated from the Castro last week.
Lefty's owner, Nick Bovis, also plans to pay the city of San Francisco $4,000. That's how much it took the Department of Public Works to unstick the statue’s epoxy base from the sidewalk on Market Street – and turn it over to Monroe, who also created naked Trump statues in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and his former hometown of Cleveland.
“San Francisco is just blowing me away with how awesome they are,” Monroe said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “It’s amazing Nick would want to foot the bill. There’s been a lot of backlash about the exhibit, that it’s about fat shaming and trans phobia. It’s none of that. It’s about shaming Donald Trump.”
The statues have held different fates around the country. In New York, police destroyed it – which is something Monroe had thought would – and wanted – to happen. “I was kind of jealous,” he said. “I would have taken a bat to it myself.” In Cleveland, police are holding the statue for 30 days, and may charge Monroe, or whomever put it there, with felony vandalism. In Los Angeles, a gallery owner swept it up before police could get to it.
According to Lefty O’Doul’s spokesman Lee Houskeeper, San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener had spoken with the acting police chief and someone from the city attorney’s office over the weekend, working to hammer out a deal where Monroe would not be arrested and the statue would be relinquished to the restaurant. Housekeeper said Bovis had first thought he would keep the statue in his establishment, but ultimately decided against it because some of his family members and co-workers were staunchly opposed to the naked Trump. Bovis wants to free the statue from police custody, Houskeeper said, to allow it to go home with Monroe, who could then sell it, perhaps for as much as $10,000.
Monroe wouldn't mind making the money. He was paid the cost of materials for the statues after hooking up with some people from an anarchist group identified as Indecline, but hasn't earned a penny more than that. Two guys from the group showed up in a U-Haul in Vegas, where Monroe dabbles in costumes for horror films, to take the statues away. San Francisco Police Officer Carlos Manfredi on Wednesday confirmed Monroe is not a suspect. Police are still seeking, however, the person or people who glued the statue to the sidewalk in the Castro last Thursday.
Now, it’s up to the city attorney’s office whether to recommend charges be filed or fines levied in the case once Monroe is vetted by a investigator, Manfredi said. Monroe signed a document ceding the statue to Lefty O’Doul’s this week. Calls to the city attorney’s office weren’t immediately returned on Wednesday. Also, no one from Wiener's office was immediately available by phone or email either.
Monroe is floored by how much the statues definitely prompted fierce political debate - people are either sending him love letters, or hate mail.
On the one hand, many in liberal cities cheered on the unflattering display, officially called “The Emperor Has No Balls.” Political analyst Larry Gerston said San Francisco is the ultimate, progressive setting of “flamboyant culture” to display the statue. Gerston recalled a ballot measure in 2008, which was ultimately defeated, where residents wanted to renamed the sewage treatment plant after then-president George W. Bush.
But others, especially on the Right, feel the statues are politically inappropriate and juvenile. Harmeet Dhillon of San Jose, a business litigation lawyer in San Francisco and a Republican National Committeewoman, asked what if the statue had been made of Hillary Clinton?
“I think body shaming and fat shaming is appalling when done to women of any political background, and same to men,” she said. “People should be treated with dignity and respect. I don’t feel that’s fair political discourse. It’s not only vulgar and juvenile, it’s mean."
There are no current plans for a naked Clinton statue, at least created by Monroe. He said he's been asked to create a similar kind of statue for the Democratic presidential candidate.
His answer? "Absolutely, not."