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you’ve got religion in my chocolate
my own personal chocolate jesus
by robert a. melos
pop culture

It’s that time of year again, when chocolate Easter Bunnies, lambs, crosses and those super sugar powered Cadbury Crème Eggs line the shelves of drug stores and grocery stores alike. (You Peeps fans don’t get your marshmallow chicks in a bunch, I didn’t include them as specific Easter candy because they’ve branched out into all holidays and have become an everyday gooey goodness event). However the ultimate chocolate treat, the King of chocolate Kings, has been created by artist Cosimo Cavallaro.

Now while Mr. Cavallaro is not a chocolatier by profession, he has sculpted in chocolate a life size Christ, naked, his arms stretched out as though he were on a cross. Personally I think a wafer cross would bring the whole thing together, maybe vanilla wafer with chocolate cream filling? I guess that’s just me.

Anyway, Mr. Cavallaro has upset the Christian community. Not to the point where they are burning him in effigy while rioting in the streets, or gathering in crowds and storming every candy shop in a six mile radius eating all the chocolate they can steal while rioting, or even to the point of rioting. For that matter what the Christian community has done was put pressure on the hotel which was hosting the exhibition of the ultimate transubstantiation until the hotel relented and canceled the show.

Now a naked chocolate Jesus, while it does have a certain attraction for me, more so for the sweet factor than for the nudity factor doesn’t seem to be anti-Christian to me. In fact, as I stated earlier, without the wafer cross, if I hadn’t been told it was supposed to be Jesus, I would’ve thought it was just some naked chocolate guy. The Jesus pose, arms spread, doesn’t really ring with me.

Of course my own religious beliefs are non-Christian, so I don’t really get why the Christians are in an uproar over a life size hunk of chocolate? Maybe it’s the nudity part that’s got them in a dither? Although I’ve seen sculptures and paintings in museums of naked men, some supposed to be Christ, and no one seemed all that upset over them. Maybe they were when the paintings and sculptures were first exhibited, hundreds of years ago, but now they barely get a glance.

On the other hand, a chocolate Jesus won’t last a hundred years. It won’t last through one hour if the exhibition is held anywhere near a desperately single’s gathering. Get a group of lonely, middle-age or pushing middle-age women together with a naked chocolate man and he’ll be devoured in an orgy of delight before you can say “sinfully delicious.”

The point here isn’t how good Jesus would taste. After all, you’re not supposed to eat Jesus. Well, not really eat him. I mean, you are, but only in a figurative manner such as communion with a wafer on your tongue, not scarfing down a chocolate penis. The point is, is a chocolate sculpture of a naked Jesus really in such bad taste? Um, is it sacrilegious?

Again you can always argue I have no right in pointing out that every Catholic Church I’ve entered has the most God awful depictions of a blood covered Christ on a cross usually hanging in the vestibule because I don’t believe in Christ as my own personal savior, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion. Just because my beliefs differ from the group being offended doesn’t mean I condone offending the group. On the other hand, it’s art. Art is almost always offensive to someone.

Look at Mapplethorpe. His stuff was also considered offensive to many, and he did have a few pieces that were considered to be offensive on religious basis, yet just as many found it to be visually appealing. Just because The Church finds something offensive doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be seen. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

One of the arguments I heard on a CNN interview was over the fact he was naked. His genitals were exposed. Nudity, even in chocolate is considered to be in bad taste, in America and most Muslim countries, but violence always seems perfectly acceptable. I’d rather see naked chocolate than a chocolate depicting a beheading (biting the bunnies ears off doesn’t count as violence).

We each must rectify our feelings toward a naked chocolate Jesus for ourselves. To me it’s edible art that is a bit creepy, but not all that terrible compared to all the other art I’ve seen. If something makes you think, even for a minute, it has achieved its purpose. To that end, whether or not Cosimo Cavallaro’s chocolate crucifixion is ever displayed or not it has, through the actions of a group of Christians, achieved the very purpose that qualifies it as art by making people think and also by creating controversy.

View it here, if you choose to, and then tell me why it is or isn’t art? It may not be considered work safe, as it is naked chocolate. http://www.cosimocavallaro.com/.


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

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roger striffler
4.2.07 @ 4:05p

Although I'm not Catholic, it seems considerably less creepy to me to have someone say, "eat this, the flesh of my body", then eat a little nasty cardboard tasting cracker, than to snap a finger off a life-size Christ and pop it in your mouth.

So I guess I'd have to say that I have less problem with the fact that it's life-size and naked, than I do that it's edible.

robert melos
4.2.07 @ 4:30p

The edibility factor is a bit creepy. In all fairness to the artist, in an Larry King interview on Friday he stated it really isn't meant to be eaten. Currently, unless it has found a new exhibition hall, it is being stored in a refrigerated truck.

This makes me wonder about the melt factor? And the possibility of a peanut butter cross?

robert melos
4.3.07 @ 2:09a

Apparently there is also religion in politics:Jesus Obama.

I would rather have chocolate.

tracey kelley
4.3.07 @ 10:56a

"Get a group of lonely, middle-age or pushing middle-age women together with a naked chocolate man and he’ll be devoured in an orgy of delight before you can say “sinfully delicious.”


I'm with you. At first glance, without reading the placard, I wouldn't have thought it was Jesus. So if I were at the exhibit and walked by it, I would have thought, "Huh. A big naked guy made from chocolate."

roger striffler
4.3.07 @ 11:11a

All things considered, it's actually an impressive piece of art. I guess I have to ask myself, "Why Chocolate?"

If this were any other medium, would it be an issue?

tracey kelley
4.3.07 @ 11:19a

No. I think the issue is the exposed bait and tackle.

roger striffler
4.3.07 @ 3:46p

Can you imagine if this had been a naked Prophet Muhammad?

jael mchenry
4.3.07 @ 4:02p

I have to wonder how much of the artist's motivation is to create art, and how much of it is "hey, if I do something that's not just weird, but also involves nudity AND religion, people will talk about me!"

Somebody did the Last Supper out of butter, and that didn't ruffle any feathers.

robert melos
4.3.07 @ 4:03p

There was a discussion on one of CNN shows, Anderson Cooper 360 I think, that brought up the very question of what would've happened had it been a naked Muhammad. The consensus was rioting and bloodshed.

The artist was interviewed along with the leader of some Catholic group that brought the pressure on the hotel to cancel the exhibit, again on 360, and it basically ended with the religious group leader all but sticking his tongue out at the artist. It was very childish.

I think the nudity is only part of the issue. If it had just been a naked chocolate man it wouldn't have gained any attention, but because it is supposed to be Christ it got attention which is what all artists want.

Since it is in chocolate, I wonder if the Food Network will do a special on it? Also something the artist didn't cover, is why he chose chocolate instead of something more lasting? I'm wondering if he was trying to make a statement with the choice of materials?

tracey kelley
4.3.07 @ 5:00p

The Last Supper in Butter? Why, the Iowa State Fair's very own Duffy Lyon did that!

No Naked People at This Table, but Still Edible

jael mchenry
4.3.07 @ 5:12p

And I bet that's a lot more difficult than a nekkid chocolate Jesus.

ken mohnkern
4.3.07 @ 6:02p

I thought the point of the art was to parallel chocolate Easter bunnies.

I was once asked to pose for a Last Supper photo reenactment where all the apostles (and Jesus, I assume) were nude. I guess the artist came to her senses concerning putting my naked business on film, and she never followed up.

robert melos
4.3.07 @ 10:39p

Mmmmmm. Butter. A spreadable last supper. Art is in the eye of the beholder, and apparently the taste buds as well.

Ken, which apostle were you to play? Or were you up for the lead?

Speaking of nudity in the context of the times in which Jesus was supposed to have lived and in reference to the crucifixion, I remember hearing it preached in church when I was a child that he was crucified naked on the cross. It was only later in art that modesty was imposed.

Whether or not Jesus was actually naked, the artists of many works have portrayed Jesus sans clothing. Art is subjective.

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