Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Penis Monologues - Introduction

"The Vagina Monologues is a set of monologues which deal with various aspects of the feminine experience. A recurring theme throughout the piece is the vagina as a tool of female empowerment, and the ultimate embodiment of individuality." - Wiki

I'm all for equal rights, don't get me wrong, but I couldn't help imagine men adopting that tone. This could be part 1 of that series. If you want to find out more about The Vagina Monologues then you can get the full script here or check out the Youtube performances. I recommend headphones and a solitaire game in the background to alt+tab to.

I’m just going to ask you a few questions, just answer whatever you're comfortable answering. Don't go any further than you feel like going and if you want to add something later on to a question I've asked you, that's fine too.

When was the first time you saw it?

Well, I took it out every time I had to take a leak but I’d never really looked at it. I mean, think about it, you unzip your pants, figure out your underwear and then you flick it out while looking at the ceiling, whistling, or looking straight ahead or looking anywhere so long as you can avoid eye contact with all the other urinating gentlemen. But you’re not looking down. But one day I walked into a toilet with all these mirrors including around the urinal. You could see your pee and also your wee wee.


(awkward silence)

It would have made for a pretty picture with the right instagram filter but for the wee wee. It stuck out like a sore thumb. I would have tried to picture the golden drops making pretty patterns, I would have asked it to move off as I tried and it would have moved a little to the side but then hung around there. It always does that. I know it so I didn't even try.

But as was I contemplating the possibility I had to assess the enemy and that is when I looked at it. It looked just like the one on that statue. Michael, was it? Or David? Could have been Gianluigi even? Old Italian chap, you remember?

Well, they made the statue when he was young but he must be quite old by now


Righto, David. It looked just like the one on David. And then every time I looked down I couldn't help remember it. When I took my weight, when I was standing on the beach with the waves licking my toes, when I stepped in cow dung, whenever I came across signs asking me to watch my step. Every. Time.

I realized there was no context in which men ever talk about their penises. What do you think about your penis? What do you think? And you? And over the course of about three to five years I had interviewed over 200 men.

And everything every man said was more surprising, outrageous, disturbing, exciting than the next

And one man would say to me, oh, you really need to talk to so and so about his penis.

And he would say, no, you need to talk to so and so about his penis, he has...

And before I knew it, I was really sucked down this penis trail, and I couldn't get back. All these suggestions to talk to so and so also disproved my theory that men don’t talk about their penises but I went ahead with this piece anyway because it would be a pity if I interviewed 200 men about their penis and then couldn’t use the material.


I was worried. That's why I began this piece. I was worried about penises, I was worried what we think about penises.

Wait, am I even saying this right? Is it penises or penii?


Are you sure?

So yes, penises. I was worried about them. And I was even more worried that we don't think about them. I was worried about my own penis. It needed a context, a community, a culture of other penises. So, I decided to talk to men about their penises. They began as casual penis interviews and they turned into penis monologues. I talked with over 200 men. I talked to younger men, older men, married men, gay men, single men, I talked to college professors, corporate professionals, actors, sex workers. I talked to African men, Asian men, European men, American men, even Australian men and I had to stop there because my legal advisors told me to avoid interviewing boys.

At first, they were a little shy, a little reluctant to talk. But once they got going, you couldn't stop them. Men love to talk about their penises, they do. They really do. Mainly because no one's ever asked them before. Let's just start with the word penis.



It sounds like a French word. Maybe a planet. "That bright yellow spot there is Penis." Or a car maybe. “I drive a Toyota Penis.” Or some kind of food. “I can’t eat this, I’m allergic to penis.”


It doesn't matter how many times you say the word, it never sounds like a word you want to say. It's a completely ridiculous, totally unsexy word. If you use it during sex, trying to be politically correct, you kill the act right there. I’m worried about what we call it and don't call it. Babies call it wee-wee (as reported by parents). The Americans call it jimmy. The Australians call it donger probably because the British call it that although they used to call it phallus. Others call it weiner, meat, love muscle, cock, dick, willy, shaft, rod, johnson. Now imagine people trying to stir up a conversation about penises:

American: Hey, I wanna talk to you ‘bout Jimmy.

Australian: Jimi who, mate? Hendrix?

American: Hehe! Yeah, Hendrix.

British: He looks rather uncomfortable, what.

African: Damn right he does.

Asian: DeedyoomeJeemmeeChoo?

American: Come on, y’all! I did mean Hendrix. Why would I wanna talk about Jimmy Choo? In fact, I don’t even know who he is.

I am worried about penises.


You know, I interviewed a whole group of men between 65 and 75 and that was definitely the most poignant group. I don't think many men in that group had ever had a penis interview before. They thought it was something that old age homes organise for Valentine's Day until someone told them that was celebrated in February and it was August now. That broke their heart. It was the most poignant group.

This particular man was 72 years old, and he had never seen his penis. He'd washed it in the shower and bath, but never with conscious intention or awareness. And he'd never had an orgasm. When he was 72, he went to therapy for the first time. He worked with a wonderful therapist who got him to go home by himself. He told me he lit some candles, he played some music, he took a bath, he got down with himself, and he told me it took him over an hour. Because he was arthritic. This is for him.

Down there? I haven't been down there since 1964. Or sometime around that. I’m not very good with dates, I’m afraid. I actually thought today is Valentine's Day.

That was the year Australia had won the Ashes, I think, which is why I remember it.

Well... there was this girl. Anna. Anna Leftkov. I had racked up the courage to ask her out and to my surprise she said yes. If she had said no I would have just said that one of my friends had dared me. We had these moves back then too.

So I drive down to pick her up. We get in the car and I’m still worried about the car. It was the first time my father had allowed me to take it out. As I was cautiously driving down the road, Anna just grabbed me, and kissed me. Her ready yes already had me wondering if she had me confused for someone else and this only added to those doubts. I also thought it was a little stupid of her to kiss a man like that while he was driving.

But I still got excited. I got very excited and there was a... a flood down there. This river of life, this force of passion just flooded out of me. Well, it wasn't pee. She said it smelled weird. I was "a weird smelling boy", she said. I tried to explain that her kiss had caught me off guard and I wasn't normally like this. I was more worried that the car would never lose the smell and my father would give me hell.

I tried to wipe up the flood with my jeans. It was a new pair of blue jeans and they don’t really wipe much so I gave up and drove Anna home. She never said another word to me. And when I got out of my car, I tell you, I closed it. Locked it, locked the store. Never opened for business again.

I used to have these dreams, though, I mean. They're crazy dreams, dopey dreams.

Lisa Reynolds.


I don't know why. The girl never did a thing for me in life. But always in my dreams, it was Lisa and I, Lisa and I, Lisa and I. We'd be out for dinner, one of those expensive restaurants, huge chandeliers, thousands of the waiters with their vests on, potted plants, whole sea creatures staring up at you from your table, old lady customers, the works. Lisa would be there, and we'd be laughing. We were always laughing, Lisa and I. Laughing. Laughing for no reason. Like hyenas. Or those background people in Two and a Half Men.

Then Lisa would lean towards me and just as she was about to kiss me the entire restaurant would start to shake. And the flood would come, straight from down there. It would pour out of me. It would pour and pour. There'd be little boats inside it. And little fish. And on hard days I’d even see oils rigs and toxic waste. The entire restaurant would fill up with my flood. And there would be Lisa, standing waist deep in it, looking horrified. Horribly disappointed I’d done it again, calculating the hours she had left from that moment to get to a doctor or a pill, as she watched her friends swim past us in their evening gowns and tuxedos.

If the nurse hadn’t insisted that he be administered his medicine and take his afternoon nap I’m sure I’d have got more interesting stories out of this septuagenarian. A few others I talked to either thought I was a doctor or were befuddled by our generation’s idea of foreplay and heartbreaking-ly confessed that they weren’t very rich. Have you heard of that cliché that man has only enough blood to run one organ? Well, it turns out that those are the optional ones because the heart never switches off. Actually, that statement’s a little chicken and egg. Forget I ever said that.


-End of part 1-
Part 2 here


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