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Attack of the Giant Bra Balls

Plus: The Weird News Roundup

By Buck Wolf

April 27, 2001 — If you roll 14,000 brassieres into one mammoth, 1,200-pound "BraBall," you're not going to let anyone say you don't have the best giant wad of women's undies on earth.

But right now, two San Francisco Bay Area artists have competing BraBall projects. They've retained lawyers, and we soon may find out if the world is big enough for two giant mammary monuments.

The story began in October when an artist known as Nicolino put an ad in a local paper, seeking to liquidate his collection of 20,000 bras. Nicolino has been making statements with women's underwear since at least the early 1990s, when he started the "Bras Across the Grand Canyon" project.

Nicolino's dream was to build a chain of lingerie across the Grand Canyon. He spent eight years collecting more than 20,000 brassieres — including one from supermodel Naomi Campbell. But, believe it or not, Park Service officials were not too thrilled with his plan to drape one of our national treasures in ladies' underwear, and they nixed the project.

Still, he worked in brassieres the way other artists work in water colors or oils. "What I do is a satire of the breast obsession with the body in Western civilization," says Nicolino.

"Every bra tells a story," he says. "I have ones donated by the families of women who died from breast cancer. I have one stuffed with socks from a little girl with a Barbie doll complex. You show me a woman's bra and I will tell you about that woman."

But with his Grand Canyon dream long put to rest, Nicolino simply had too many bras on his hand, and was soliciting ideas. Artist Emily Duff of El Cerrito, Calif., called him, and that's when the BraBall brouhaha began.

Duffy says she thought of the BraBall, and Nicolino was gung-ho. They exchanged letters, and he was about to commit his bra collection to the project. But in December, talks broke down.

"Our bra collaboration didn't work because he's a man and all he cares about is size," Duffy said. "He wants something that's 15 feet high. He wanted me to pay for a trailer and a warehouse and lug it all over the country."