A still from Miley Cyrus’ promo video on the left, and from Stephanie Sarley’s Instagram on the right
Screenshot: Miley Cyrus; Stephanie Sarley

In the midst of Miley Cyrus’s album promo blitz, she tweeted a video clip of herself fingering a halved melon, papaya, and orange. She proceeded to squeeze the juices out of the orange and then part the fruit between her thumbs like a glorious set of labia. How edgy, how provocative, how outrageously derivative. This video clip immediately appeared—to my eyeballs, as well as to those of several angry social media commenters—to rip off the artist Stephanie Sarley, who has been diddling fruit in the name of art for many years.

“It’s a blatant rip of my work,” said Sarley in an email to Jezebel, noting that Cyrus’s team has not reached out to her. “This is very deliberate, she and her team are also deleting comments that mention my name especially the ones that gain traction as a top comment,” she added, referring to Cyrus’s social media accounts. (A representative for Cyrus did not respond to Jezebel’s request for comment.)

Sarley, an Oakland-based artist with over 400,000 Instagram followers relative to Cyrus’ 94 million, uses “humor and absurdity to boldly challenge how sexuality is perceived and defined,” as her website puts it. She is widely known for creating videos of herself sensually touching fruit that resembles all manner of genitalia, and her work has been written about extensively, everywhere from Cosmopolitan to GQ. Halved fruits that look like vulvas, including melons, papayas, and oranges, are a Sarley signature. In video close-ups on the fruit, she caresses, squeezes, and pokes. Juices squirt, nectars gush. Occasionally, she’s smacked an ass-like piece of dough or taken a knife to the head of a penis-shaped mushroom.

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This is not the first time that Cyrus has produced content that is strikingly similar to that of an uncredited and uncompensated woman artist’s work. In the 2015 video for “Do It,” goopy glitter was dribbled down her face like a My Little Pony money shot. She also licked and spit the sparkly spunk. It was all unavoidably reminiscent of Marilyn Minter, whose work is inspired by advertising and pornography, and which has featured women mouthing gelatinous, and sometimes glittery, gunk. Cyrus has since collaborated with Minter for a Planned Parenthood fundraiser, but at the time the artist told a reporter, “I know, what a rip off, huh?… I’m so used to it. I don’t care. They’re never going to do what I do. She should have hired me. I would have made it a lot better!”

We will update this post if and when Cyrus’s representative gets back to us. In the meantime, please do enjoy Sarley’s original version below.

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