When artist Joshua "Ginger" Monroe got his commission in April to create five life-size, nude statues of Donald Trump for a project titled "The Emperor Has No Balls," he counted himself among the Republican presidential candidate's supporters.
"When I started this, I was going to vote for Trump," said Monroe, 36, whose work was surreptitiously installed in Union Square Park and locations in four other cities across the U.S. Thursday morning.
By the time it was complete in all its full-frontal glory the artist saw his subject in a less flattering light.
"The different times he’s said just horrific things has made me raise an eyebrow," he said.
Then came the final straw: Trump's imitation — one he later denied — of a New York Times reporter with a congenital joint condition.
"I actually have family members who are disabled and when he did that, that just showed his true character, and I’ve never been so disgusted with a candidate in all my life," said Monroe, whose design work for horror productions won him his commission.
"The objective was to source an artist who could accurately and skillfully capture both realistic and grotesque human attributes," said INDECLINE, the self-described "anonymous activist collective" that assigned Monroe his task in a statement Thursday. "Working exclusively in the 'horror' genre, “Ginger” maintained a familiarity with creating monsters that translated perfectly when tasked with creating Donald Trump."
INDECLINE did not give Monroe's full name, but alluded to his previous work as a director at the all-year-round haunted house founded by "Hostel" producer Eli Roth in Las Vegas, The Goretorium.
”I’m very well known for doing werewolf body suits with mouths that move and snarl," Monroe said.
The freelancer told DNAinfo New York he took on this commission pro-bono.
"This has been an amazing opportunity for me as an artist to not only get my name out there, but to get millions of people to see my work. That’s something that an artist would have to pay to do, so I was very willing to invest my time," said Monroe, who signed the statues as "Ginger" and initially declined to give his full name.
The clay statue drew crowds of dozens in New York City, where viewers took selfies with the naked Donald, directed lewd gestures at it, and plastered the figure in stickers before Parks Department employees carted it away a couple hours later. The sculpture had violated park rules because INDECLINE did not seek and obtain permission to glue it to the ground there.
The group — which has claimed responsibility for stunts such as creating the largest piece of illegal graffiti in the world, and spray painting an anti-Trump mural on the U.S.-Mexico border — knew the statues would be temporary.
"Each of the pieces would have a limited amount of time before the city or the police covered or removed them completely," INDECLINE said. When they fell, they would leave behind the “embodiment of the ghastly soul of one of America’s most infamous and reviled politicians," representing Trump's "failed and delusional quest to obtain the presidency,” the group said.
And besides, Monroe's mold remains intact.
"There’s talk of doing some more in other places, maybe even in other countries," the artist said.
So far, Monroe's materials have cost him roughly $6,000, he estimates. He hired a model that, he said, "fit a lot of criteria for Trump's stature," including his 6-foot-2 height.
While the concept of a nude, testicle-free Trump was INDECLINE's, the execution was all Monroe's, he said.
"This was a hellacious challenge. I’ve spoken with other artists who have attempted things like this, and they’ve failed miserably because [the statues] snap at the ankles or the original sculpture just crumbles on them.”
During four months of working around his full-time job, Monroe said he averaged three hours of sleep a night.
"I’m so exhausted, it’s not even funny. And on top of it right now, I’m just a bundle of nerves with all the hoopla going on right now.”
Is the artist nervous to be affiliated with INDECLINE right now?
”No, that’s why we have first amendment rights," he said. "I have freedom of expression as an artist. Again, I’m just the artist who was commissioned to make the statues — I was not the one to install them.”
As Monroe pointed out, his face and distinctive tattoos are visible in the video that INDECLINE posted to YouTube Thursday. (One tattoo on his arm depicts Jack Skellington dressed as Santa Claus.)
"I didn’t want to hide behind a veil or anything like that," he said. "I’m very proud of my art.”