Feces Of The Rich And Famous
A celebrity shit project

Thin and regal, dressed in black from head to toe, Countess Cynthia von Buhler does not look like the kind of a gal who collects the fudge bunnies of the rich and famous. But she is. The award-winning artist is obsessed with obtaining stool samples from the world's most offensive celebrities, preserving them in toilet time capsules made to reflect their star-personas, and burying the shit shrines secretly in public locations throughout the country.

See also...
... by Stephen Lemons
... in the Dirt section
... from October 6, 1999

The whole point is to lampoon America's cult of celebrity -- a cult the Countess believes is so out of control that even the ordure of the famous is subject to worship.

This femme de la merde refers to her ongoing, clandestine enterprise as X.C.R.M.N.T. 2000 (X.C.R.M.N.T. being an acronym known only to initiates). With the help of a legion of followers and the collaboration of her trusty aide-de-camp Xavier Dietrich II, the Countess has come into the possession of the alleged fecal matter of renowned individuals such as Puff Daddy, Fiona Apple, Howard Stern, Sandra Bernhard, and Courtney Love. Details of her exploits and video clips showing the burials of these porcelain "thrones" are available at the project's new Web site.

"The sculptures are not aimed at these individuals," explains the 30-year-old Countess. "It's aimed at our culture. Why are people interested in celebrity shit? I have the same problem. I look through a magazine and see a picture of, say, Sandra Bernhard, and for some reason I'm drawn to read what she says, even though she has no bearing on my life. It's just because of her name."

According to the Countess, whose work has appeared in publications including Rolling Stone, Vogue, and The New Yorker, the celebs chosen so far (there will be more) were selected for specific reasons: Courtney Love because she's perceived to be a star-fucker; Puff Daddy because he "borrows" from other musicians and ruins their licks; Howard Stern because he's the "King of All Media Exploitation;" Fiona Apple because she's a phony; and Sandra Bernhard because she's, well, Sandra Bernhard.

"Not all of them have been buried," says von Buhler-lieutenant Dietrich, a computer engineer and creative jack-of-all-trades in his late 30s. "We have some locked away, but Courtney and Fiona have been buried. Courtney on the grounds of Castle von Buhler in Boston, and Fiona in an undisclosed location of Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania."

"The time capsules are very simple," he continues. "They involve an actual toilet and some resin. We pour the resin in the bowl and it hardens and seals everything up so nothing escapes. A star is engraved with the person's name and mounted onto a toilet seat chosen to reflect the subject's personality. Sometimes it will also involve articles we feel are related."

Each toilet is unique. Stern's is festooned with tacky, blinking colored lights. For Bernhard, von Buhler took pages from Madonna's unauthorized biography, ripped them up and placed them in the drying resin. Puff Daddy's loo uses broken CDs from the various bands he's copied in a layer of resin, and sports a dark, handsome, clamshell-shaped seat. Love's toilet-topper is a pale pink. Inside is a cigarette butt stained with lipstick and a used syringe -- to represent the pre-Kurt Cobain-suicide Courtney. Apple's potty is attractive, with a blond, natural-wood seat after the manner of her "Criminal" video. Her resin includes a long strand of human hair.

The Countess and her fellow coprophiliacs fish for the brown-eyed commode carp in various ways. Sometimes, hotel workers are bribed to install a device in a target's latrine. The device unobtrusively takes a sample and is retrieved after the fact, with no one the wiser. This was the manner in which Puff Daddy's was supposedly snatched. In other cases, such as with Sandra Bernhard, one of the Countess' minions purportedly entered a port-o-john at Lilith Fair after the Queen of Comedy had copped a squat.

The shit itself reflects the personality of the maker. According to von Buhler and Co., Love's looked like diarrhea. The Puffy One's dookey was pretty nasty -- it had been through quite a bit before being salvaged. Bernhard's was but a floater. Apple's stool was the prettiest, like a delicate coffee-colored finger. Stern's was declared to be the most grotesque and odoriferous -- true to form for the shock-jock.

Unfortunately, the sculptures don't always go off without a hitch. The Stern crapper experienced a "meltdown situation" when its resin didn't harden properly. The resulting smell so horrified the participants that plans to exhibit it were temporarily shelved.

Because of the stench, Stern's is a minor health hazard. It should be the next to go -- probably in Boston's Charles River or on the property of the city's Museum of Fine Arts.

But hold on -- the Web site refers to "alleged" celeb droppings? Are these little brown ones counterfeits or are they the real deal, the straight poop, as it were?

"There's always the small chance that it might not belong to the person in question," says the Countess. "We try our best, but you never know. The celebrity could have a visitor, and their excrement could get mixed up. So we do have to say on the Web site that it's alleged until we get DNA testing done."

"A member of our collective works in that field and is testing it for us to get the data," she continues. "That way, if it ever comes up and someone contacts us and says, 'That's not my shit, take my name off!' we're ready."

The Countess is considering asking some celebs for their manure. But in the meantime she's willing to risk possible legal action with her surreptitious collection methods. She has yet to be contacted by any of the stars involved.

"I'm curious to see what happens," she says. "Hopefully people will have a sense of humor and not be too precious about their excrement. In any case, I couldn't imagine that it would be against the law, because it's something that's been thrown away. If you flush it down a toilet, that's public domain, right?"

Though progress has been slow due to competing projects, both she and Dietrich expect to accelerate their activities as the millennium approaches. The ongoing sub rosa operation will be documented on videotape throughout the next year and screened for guests at the Countess' immense purple-coated manse on New Years Eve, 2001.

As for future poop scoopings, the Countess mentions Marilyn Manson as a possibility, and wants to do a post-Cobain-suicide Courtney Love. But she's coy when it comes to naming other names.

"We'll probably do about 25 total," says the Countess. "And we definitely want to bury some in L.A. -- maybe near the Hollywood sign. We'd also like to get one in Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum. Now that we have the Web site up, we'll solicit suggestions from the public. Do you have any?"

Let's see, someone nearly ubiquitous, of dubious talent, and annoying as hell. Hmmmm, Ben Stiller, anyone?

Stephen Lemons lives and writes in Burbank, California, not far from the heart of that all-American celebrity sewer known as Los Angeles. He is a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times, SOMA, New Times L.A. and Art Connoisseur.