Scrotie Responds to Hands-on Attention
Most RISD students have had the pleasure of watching the eyes of our friends and families widen in disbelief when they first learn about Scrotie. While students at other colleges cheer on their lions or tigers or bears, RISD is the only school in the country with a friendly phallus as its unofficial mascot.
Even without any legs to stand on, Scrotie rises an impressive six feet tall and serves as a sometimes too-real reminder of our grueling Foundation Studies life drawing courses. But what most students may not realize is that the Scrotie we now know and love is actually a reincarnation.
The original Scrotie was born in 2001 when students created the first anatomical costume, which had a small red cape. He frequented Nads hockey games to dance around and encourage fans to yell “Go Nads!” Then, after eight years of bringing rowdy students to their feet, the original Scrotie succumbed to understandable wear and tear.
A year of mascot celibacy followed, but as hockey fans grew increasingly restless and dissatisfied, RISD’sCenter for Student Involvement stepped in just in time. The CSI invited seniorSean Devare 12 IL to reconceive our heroic hot dog.
Working with a talented team that included Liz Mooney 12 IL, Jesse Bonelli 12 IL, Nick Truss 12 IL and Darian Brenner 12 FAV, Devare dreamed up a radical redesign of the cocky mascot. Functionality was of paramount importance, so the team added adjustable straps for support and comfort, along with strategically placed openings that enable the wearer to sit down. It pumped up Scrotie’s super-hero feel by adding a larger cape, a mask and a sperm emblem emblazoned on his chest.
The mascot’s new “skin” – a bright red on top blending with royal blue testicles below – is the most noticeable and controversial change. But Devare explains that “we wanted Scrotie to be race-blind” and points out that the wearer conceals his own skin color by donning a mask, gloves, long sleeves and pants.
Of course, the biggest challenge for the Scrotie redesign team was actually creating the huge sculpture. After commissioning the basic structure from Big Nazo, the local puppet studio run by alum and RISD faculty memberErminio Pinque 83 IL, students took over the responsibility of bringing Scrotie to life. They worked in basements and alleyways to get the necessary space and ventilation, and once even worked on the roof of a building next to the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Providence. “The people staying at the Biltmore that day had quite a sight,” recalls Devare, remembering the hotel guests looking out their windows at students hard at work making a giant foam penis.
But wherever the reconstructive surgery took place, the team worked with their “balls to the wall” making hair follicles out of fishing line, sculpting veins in foam and even trying to incorporate a squirt gun into the tip. In the end, though the squirt gun never quite worked out as planned, the new Scrotie is an impressive representation of RISD’s collective talent as well as of our family jewels.
Scrotie made his first post-surgical public appearance at the 2010 RISD Block Party. “There was definitely rejoicing going on,” recalls Devare, who was the first to wear the updated version. “I just put on the suit and hammed it up,” he says. And his peers loved it. That day they swamped Facebook with pictures of themselves posing next to and even hugging the loveable penis. Since then Scrotie continues to visit Nads games and pop up around campus, embodying enthusiastic yet typically strange RISD school spirit.
And as true fans like to say, “The people cried out for a hero, and a hero came.”
—Samantha Dempsey 13 IL
also of interest:
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In a recent talk, visiting artist Vincent Valdez 00 IL illuminated the process behind his stark and unsettling images of American society.
Speaking to students and faculty, the shape-shifting artist traces her path from research to performance to solo exhibition and back again.