Why penis enlargement is poised to become the next big thing
By Chris Wright
JANUARY 24, 2000: Until a few years ago, Tom Hubbard didn't put much stock in penis enlargement.
"I'd never heard of it, assumed it wasn't possible," he says. "I started listening to [motivational speaker] Brian Tracy tapes, and one question he asked was, 'What's the one thing you'd want if you didn't know it was impossible?' Despite my embarrassment, after some reflection I realized I wanted a bigger dick, period."
Newly inspired, he looked into the possibilities. After four months of squeezing, slapping, and stretching his penis, Tom Hubbard (not his real name) became a believer.
"It's been a magical, empowering 'personal growth' experience," Hubbard writes, of the inch or so he's gained. Indeed, Hubbard was so won over that he launched a free Web site devoted to the subject. Judging from the hundreds of thousands of men who have logged on to All About Penis Enlargement, Hubbard was not alone in his desire for a bigger dick. Not by a long shot.
"Almost all guys are convinced that their penises are not large enough," says Derek Polonsky, a sex therapist in Brookline. "This is something that guys have struggled with for ages."
Aline Zoldbrod, a Lexington-based sex therapist, agrees. "Penis size," she says, "is men's number-one concern."
Traditionally, however, it hasn't been one that men are willing to talk openly about. It's a very rare occurrence indeed to have a man lean across a table and confide, I have a small penis. Even today, when boob jobs are discussed more openly than nose jobs were a decade ago, penis enlargement maintains its aura of furtive shame -- one area where men have proved far more self-conscious about body image than women. As Hubbard puts it, quoting Thoreau, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."
But this may be changing.
Over the past year, Americans have been privy to a parade of high-profile peckers -- beginning, of course, with the Starr Report, which put the presidential tackle up for public perusal, and gaining momentum when Bob Dole discussed his shortcomings in TV spots for Viagra. With each prime-time mention of erectile dysfunction, each front-page account of the commander-in-chief's penile peccadilloes, the taboo surrounding public discussion of the male unmentionables has been further undermined.
Indeed, men's quiet desperation became something of a cacophony last year when organizers of a golf tournament in Sanctuary Cove, Australia, offered penis-enlargement surgery for the male competitor who hit the longest drive. The tournament proved so popular that the Australian government has moved to ban cosmetic-surgery incentives in sports.
"People are definitely becoming more willing to talk openly about it," says E. Douglas Whitehead, president of the American Academy of Phalloplasty Surgeons. "It's definitely out in the open right now."
Polonsky's analogy is apt, but man's obsession with size predates the industrial revolution. Visitors to Dorset, England, are treated to the spectacle of the Cernes Abbas Giant (circa second century AD), a 180-foot figure cut into a chalk hillside, sporting a 25-foot erect todger. Japanese pillow books are lavishly illustrated with guys sporting thigh-size hard-ons. The Kama Sutra is packed with handsomely endowed lovers (or the "Ushvah," the stallion man). Roman-era art is rife with images of the supernaturally sized deity Priapus. From the obelisks of ancient Egypt to the skyscrapers of New York, phallic imagery has dominated the popular imagination for millennia.
As Maggie Paley notes in The Book of the Penis (Grove Press), "Penises are . . . the ultimate power symbols -- but that's big, erect penises. No one builds an important building, or a rocket, in the shape of a limp little dick."
For as long as cultures have valued penis size, men have found ways to bullyrag the organ into immensity. In the 1995 book Penis Size and Enlargement: Facts, Fallacies and Proven Methods (Hourglass Book Publishing) -- a thumping tome containing tips, testimonials, and panoramic snapshots -- author Gary Griffin cites the example of the Sadhu tribe of the upper Ganges, whose men hang weights from their penises until they reach such dimensions (reportedly up to 18 inches) that their owners have to tie a knot in them. "There are accounts of Indian ascetics tying 100-pound weights to their dicks and throwing the weight off of a cliff," Tom Hubbard says. "But these guys gave up hard-ons years ago."
Such are the lengths that men will go to for more length.
"All men want to have larger penises -- all men," says Joel Kaplan, who makes a living purveying penis pumps. "It's innate, part of being male. It goes back to caveman times."
You can chalk this up in part to innovations in surgery, but even more so to the Internet, which is, as always, wired directly into our loins. A quick search on Yahoo turns up scores of sites dedicated to the burgeoning industry: A1 Penis Enlargement, Big Penis, Absolute Penis.com, Penis of Steel, Penis Pros. "How would you feel right now if your penis were two inches longer?" Many of the sites sport before-and-after shots, forlorn little puds followed by strapping, bruised-looking danglers. "You can have a larger penis!"
New medium, same old promises? Perhaps. But the Internet also offers penis-enlargement enthusiasts something they haven't had access to before: straightforward dialogue.
Oscar Wilde said, "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give a man a mask and he will tell you the truth." Wilde would have loved Internet chat rooms. Emboldened by anonymity, guys with cybernyms like Bruiser and WideGuy speak earnestly and openly about their fears, their triumphs, their hopes, their flops. "I ALWAYS hot wrap before I exercise, this helps to keep from bruising." "Hey, I'm glad to see you've had substantial gains. . . . My question is, how do you keep the wrist weight from falling off of the penis?" "I went from being 4.25 to 5.5 flaccid, and 7.25X6 to 8.75X6.5 when erect."
The tone here -- hi-fi buffs discussing ways to soup up their systems -- highlights one of the most remarkable aspects of the new attitude toward penis enlargement. Traditionally, the image of the do-it-yourself enlarger has been that of a loner, hunched over himself in the sanctuary of a locked room, a penis pump in one hand and the offending pud in the other.
The emerging Web sites -- with their statistics, methodologies, expert testimonials -- have shined the cleansing light of science on the proceedings. Penis enlargement even has its own abbreviation -- "PE" -- which itself lends an air of legitimacy. More important, PE sites have introduced an element of community. You are not alone, they say. You are not a pervert, a dud, a sucker. You are one of us. Suddenly, penis enlargement is a matter of self-improvement rather than self-abuse.
Reece's site is basically a compendium of accepted techniques, organized into a regimen. There's visualization ("Focus on the size you want it to be"), hot compresses, milking (manually squeezing blood into the semi-erect penis to engorge and enlarge the erectile tissue); there are simple stretching exercises; and there are Kegels, which involve flexing the muscle that surrounds the anus and prostate.
An advanced regimen of the kinds of techniques listed in Reece's site can take up to three hours a day, every day. The site promises possible gains of anywhere between one and four inches in length, and an inch or so in girth. Like all exercise, though, it's work. And yet, as Reece puts it, his program has been "selling like hotcakes."
His success has not been lost on competitors. "Last year I could hardly find any sites," says Reece. "Now there are over a hundred.
"Mimic, mimic, mimic," he says. "My lawyers are looking into it."
A similar feeding frenzy has broken out in the field of penis pumps, which started out in the early '70s as a cottage industry and has escalated into a retail free-for-all. Today, penis pumps are almost as numerous as breakfast cereals: the Boston Brass, the Blue Veiner, the Bull Fighter ("Be a master in the arena!"), the Stallion, the Big Bazooka, the Fireman's Pump ("For the man who wants a REAL fire hose hanging between his legs").
Among the more high-tech -- and costly -- penis pumps on the market are those sold by Joel Kaplan, which go for between $160 (for a manual pump) and $400 (for an electric). Though his products have been on the market for only about eight years, Kaplan claims several innovations in pump design, including what he calls "custom-fitted cylinders." His pumps are, he says, "the only product that's FDA approved."
And yet Kaplan, too, complains that he's been plagued by imitators. "My sales aren't necessarily increasing because of my competition," he says. "People are copying me." The most flagrant example of this, he says, is a product called Dr. Joe's Penis Pump. "I'm the original," Kaplan grumbles.
In truth, though, pumps came on the market a good 20 years before Kaplan began selling his, and the practice has probably been around for much longer. The pump technique is not complex: place the penis in a sealed chamber and suck out all the air, creating a vacuum around the member, forcing blood into the corpora cavernosa (the pockets that fill with blood during erections), stretching and enlarging the penile tissue. You can add as many pressure gauges and shatterproof cylinders and easy-squeeze triggers as you like -- we're still talking grade-school science here.
Not surprisingly, Kaplan has no intention of suing his competition. "That's capitalism," he says. "That's how America works."
And capitalism has wholeheartedly embraced penis enlargement. Guys willing to shell out big bucks for an extra inch or two are outnumbered only by the people willing to take their money. One enterprising company, according to an industry insider, has a product based on the "African method" of penis enlargement: "They sell you a rock for 20 bucks."
Though patently a rip-off, this isn't as crazy as it sounds. (Then again, in the context of penis enlargement, nothing sounds crazy after a while.) Some men hang 20-pound weights from their penises. Or they rig up elaborate suspensory apparatus running from knee to dick, which yank the penis when they walk. Others manually tug and twist their members for hours on end. There are accounts of men applying wasp stings to their organs, or mustard. Some swear by such exotic fare as bull's-penis soup. ("Chop up the BP, boil it for 1/2 hour. Add black-pepper pellets, onions, and your favorite veggie and simmer.")
Then there are those who go to New York hypnotherapist Laurie Straub.
Like Reece, Straub got into the penis-enlargement business about a year ago. Since then she has treated 700 to 800 men. Straub's treatment consists of a 12-week program of hypnosis, which is administered either by tape ($295) or in one-on-one sessions ($150 per hour). Straub is aware that many might view her as a "quack," she says, but she insists that her technique has its basis in physiology: "I tap into the hypothalamus, same as any hypnotist. I make you relaxed, but also in control of the neurotransmitters that tap into your pituitary gland, which releases the hormones that make the penis grow."
"Surgical penile enlargement is not recommended or condoned by the American Urological Association," says Winchester-based urologist Peter Tiffany. "The benefits are considered to be questionable, and the risks are significant." According to Tiffany, "These patients are usually more in need of psychological counseling than surgery." In fact, Tiffany questions the ethics of anyone who offers the procedure. "You think you're getting something but you're not," he says. "You're being boondoggled."
Nonetheless, penis-enlargement surgeons have no difficulty finding clients. Penis surgeon Whitehead estimates that, since phalloplasty came into its own in the early '90s, 250,000 men worldwide have received the treatment. Half of those have been in the US.
Traditional penile-enhancement surgery involves one or both of two basic procedures. The first, to increase length, involves making an incision at the base of the penis and snipping the ligament that anchors it to the pubic bone. This causes the portion of the penis that is normally inside the body to fall forward, giving the illusion of more length -- usually about an inch.
As in all operations, infection and scarring are a concern. But the most unfortunate side effect of surgical elongation is inherent in the very procedure. Cut loose, as it were, the penis becomes unstable, slipping and shifting -- jarring -- during intercourse. Furthermore, to prevent shrinkage during the healing process, patients must hang weights from their penises for up to a few months following the procedure.
Perhaps even more daunting (given that this is supposed to be cosmetic surgery), the penis can take on several rather uninviting visual qualities. For one thing, without the ligament to keep it pulled upright, the newly enlarged penis points south when erect. Then there's the "scrotal dog ears" syndrome, which occurs when the penis sinks down into the scrotum, giving the appearance of a long-nosed dog with bulbous ears. Furthermore, in its elongated state, the penis tends to look a little, well, spindly.
And so there is a second surgical procedure, called a fat transfer, to add girth to the penis. This operation involves liposuctioning fat from the abdomen, inner thighs, or love handles and injecting it under the skin of the penis. Patients can expect gains of about 30 percent in girth. But this technique, too, is not without its drawbacks. "A lot of people think it feels like breasts," Whitehead says.
And it gets worse. As many phalloplasty patients have discovered to their horror, a fundamental characteristic of body fat is that it is reabsorbed, often unevenly. The terrible irony is that guys who have worked so hard at improving their penises often end up with something knobby and gnarled, like a ginger root.
Not surprisingly, these technical glitches have left a lot of men less than 100 percent satisfied with their new penises. Gary Alter, until recently one of the top phalloplasty surgeons in the country, has given up the procedure altogether. "The complications were not something I wanted to deal with," he says. These days, Alter spends a lot of his time reversing the damage done by previous operations.
Although most men are too ashamed to go public over their mangled members, those cases that do make it to court have resulted in some high-profile, big-money lawsuits. In 1998, for instance, two men sued a Toronto surgeon for a total of $6 million.
A few years ago, phalloplasty surgeons believed they had found a solution to the girth problem in a process using something called a dermal graft. In this procedure, strips of skin are removed from the patient's body, usually the buttock region, and inserted in layers underneath the skin of the penis. Because dermis -- or skin tissue -- doesn't reabsorb into the body the way fat does, there is less chance of lumpiness. The procedure can leave nasty scars, however. In the end, you're still robbing Paul to pay Peter.
Needless to say, surgical penile enhancement has found few friends outside the phalloplasty industry.
"Do you realize how dangerous this stuff can be?" says Aline Zoldbrod. "There are arteries in there, blood supplies. Hello? Leave your penis alone. You'll burst yourself open."
"You generally should keep sharp things away from your penis," says Brandon Reece.
"One would have to be nuts to go through these procedures," says Derek Polonsky.
"Surgery sucks," says Tom Hubbard.
"I think it's going to be extremely popular," he says. "In five years this is going to be one of the more popular male cosmetic procedures."
Whitehead got the idea for his technique by observing procedures used on burn victims, who are treated with Alloderm to rebuild severely damaged tissue. Like the dermal graft, Alloderm treatment entails layering dermis around the penis -- "like a sandwich, a triple-decker sandwich" -- thereby avoiding the lumpiness of fat grafts. Alloderm differs from the dermal skin graft, however, in one important detail.
"Alloderm comes from a cadaver," says Whitehead. "It's purified cadaver dermis."
Some have expressed concern that the Alloderm treatment could transmit disease, perhaps even HIV. Whitehead calls this worry unfounded. "It's perfectly safe," he insists. "It's just like getting blood from a blood bank, only in this case the tissue goes to a tissue bank."
Not everyone, however, is so breezy.
"Oh my God!" says Zoldbrod, fairly howling. "Who are they doing this for? They're not doing it for women. That's not what female sexuality is about. Why don't they do something useful, learn to kiss?"
Zoldbrod asks an extremely pertinent question: if not for women, who are men stretching, snipping, stuffing, pumping, and slapping their penises for?
Which is not to say it's a gay thing, as Joel Kaplan is quick to point out. "Many men are afraid that expressing a desire for a larger penis will make people think they are homosexual," he says, "which is absolutely crazy. Most people who buy my products are not gay."
The fact is, PE is once removed from the sexual act, gay or straight. It sounds kind of disingenuous to say so, but penis size has as much to do with a sense of power as it has to do with sex. "It's like the stockpiling of nuclear weapons," says Reece. "Who has the biggest penis?"
Aline Zoldbrod tells the tale of a man who was competing in a bicycle race. During a bathroom break, another cyclist peeked at the man's small penis and remarked, "You'll never make it up the next hill with that thing." This story illustrates a central fact: penis size is, at least in the eyes of other men, inextricably linked not only to a man's sexual prowess, but to his strength, his vitality, his very manhood.
"It's sad that people will subject themselves to this stuff so they can stand in the locker room and feel better," says Derek Polonsky. And yet the big-dick syndrome goes far deeper than simple alpha-male baiting.
"A lot of these guys have had terrible relationships," Polonsky says. "They have this mindset that if I have this perfect penis I'll be more of a stud and everything will be fine, rather than paying attention to what's involved in sustaining a relationship, rather than enhancing their self-esteem. Which is not to trivialize the worry and the concern. A lot of guys are tormented by this."
In her book Sex Smart: How Your Childhood Shaped Your Sexual Life and What You Can Do About It (New Harbinger), Zoldbrod argues that most men who are obsessed with penis size have suffered some kind of childhood trauma, usually at the hands of male peers. "Boys are so competitive, they say terrible things to each other and shame each other," Zoldbrod says. "But boys won't come out and say anything about it. It becomes this secret thing."
It's certainly true that boys -- and men -- don't generally talk openly about the fear of a small penis. Instead they bluster, embellish, inflate, simply laugh the issue off. Or they attempt to project their pain onto somebody else by making fun of his penis. It's a self-sustaining syndrome, and one that can have far greater repercussions than mere embarrassment.
In some men, the obsession with penis size may be symptomatic of a condition called body dysmorphic disorder, a pathological self-loathing brought about by a negative body image. According to a recent study, between one and two percent of Americans suffer from BDD, 60 percent of them men. Many of these men have what Whitehead calls "perceived penile inadequacy."
The key word here is "perceived." "Virtually all of the patients I see are totally normal in terms of dimensions," says Whitehead. "They just want to be larger. It's a body-image issue, a perception issue."
Almost all men who opt for PE -- surgical or otherwise -- already fall within the normal size range (about three to four inches flaccid, five to six inches erect). But, as Hubbard points out, "Bland reassurances of normalcy don't allay the concerns."
One PE enthusiast, who goes by the name Big Al, said in an e-mail interview: "Personally, I was a bit above average before I decided to start 'enlarging.' Most men are about in the five-to-six-inch range, but they'd feel better about themselves knowing that they had eight inches or more (eight seems to be the 'magic number')."
"There are many men," says Kaplan, "who buy my pump who are nine or 10 inches, but who still want to get bigger."
"I think they're shooting themselves in the foot," says Zoldbrod. "Most men like oral sex, and most women would rather not feel like they're choking."
And yet this argument holds little sway among PE enthusiasts, for whom an oversize dick is often seen as a badge of honor. Indeed, PE chat rooms brim with reports -- presented with thinly veiled satisfaction -- of a partner who has been staggered, startled, and downright roughed up by a newly enlarged member. "I've bruised [my wife] internally using certain positions," says a PE enthusiast named Dave. With a larger penis, he adds, "you feel better about yourself and more confident with your partner."
If this sounds irrational -- well, it is. It's a guy thing: pre-logical, instinctual. Maybe even inescapable. It cuts across racial, religious, and economic boundaries. It affects the ugly, the scrawny, the handsome, the strong. And it affects every age group.
"I'm only 14," writes a boy in one of the online PE forums. "The only reason I want to enlarge my penis is that I haven't had sex yet. I don't want my first experience to be a bad one. And plus it makes your life miserable if you have a bad rep."
Hypnotherapist Laurie Straub tells the tale of "a real old man" who came to her for assistance. He had visited a nude beach, this old man, and had come away from it full of despair. "I thought I was normal," he told Straub. "But I have a teeny-weeny wienie."
She tells a story, too, about a man whose eight-year-old son had walked in on him in the bathroom and remarked, "Daddy, you have a big pee-pee."
"I hope you told him he does too," Straub advised the guy, "or he'll be coming to see me in 20 years."
The teat generation"My nipples are naturally large, but I don't think they're large enough," writes "Noah," in an online chat room. "I've tried clothespins, but it's only temporary."
Noah, believe it or not, is not alone. Writing in the magazine Chest Men of America, a guy named Max expresses similar desires. "Like most men, I came into the world with good pimple-sized nipples," he writes, "but decided four years ago that what nature didn't give me, I'd give myself."
Unfortunately for Max and Noah, nipple-enlargement options are limited. For one thing, surgery is not available. Even if it were, "it's not something you want to do," says one cosmetic surgeon who specializes in breast reconstruction. In fact, the options are pretty much limited to stretching and pumping (penis-pump magnate Joel Kaplan also has a sideline of nipple pumps).
Max proposes what he calls a "tit workout": "Pull, tug and s-t-r-e-t-c-h those tits until you can't stand it any more. . . . If you're not sore for at least two days afterwards, then you haven't worked on them long enough," he writes. "Clamps are useful. You should be able to wear a one-pound weight on each tit for at least 20 minutes. You can also put a piece of elastic around your neck and attach the two ends to your clamps and stretch your tits UP!"
Needless to say, don't try this at home.
But even with the pain -- or perhaps because of it -- nipple enlargement has its devotees, many of whom are women. "Ladies, have you ever wished for a bit more sexual sensitivity?" asks one body-modification Web site. "How about deliciously sensitive nipples that stand up and say, 'Look at me'?"
Like so many fetishes, nipple enlargement has few practical justifications. What exactly does one do with a newly enlarged nipple, anyway? Well, nothing. But, as one enthusiast puts it, "Nipples are fun to pump."
Members of the clubIn his book Penis Size and Enlargement, Gary Griffin devotes a chapter to "Well-endowed celebrities" -- a who's who of penis size.
Herein, a brief selection.
ActorsWarren Beatty. "Women who have enjoyed Beatty's amorous advances swear that he is hung like a donkey."
Milton Berle. It's "a well-established fact" that " 'Uncle Miltie' is the King Cock of Hollywood."
Humphrey Bogart. "Sources claim that he sported a pendulously long cock."
Michael Caine. The British actor "is also known to be a talented lover hung in the 8" (20 cm) range."
Willem Dafoe. "Star of Mississippi Burning and Platoon, Dafoe is as hung as he is talented."
Errol Flynn. "The late actor best-known for his salty swashbuckling roles delighted in exhibiting his manhood to close friends."
Harrison Ford. "A female reader . . . reports that the star of the Indiana Jones series, the Star Wars Trilogy, and the Fugitive is tremendously hung."
Cary Grant. "A former amanuensis of Cary Grant wrote to me, stating that . . . [Grant's] flaccid cock lied flat against his belly, almost reaching his navel. A size 8 (20 cm)."
Don Johnson. "One look at the phallus that made Miami Vice a prime-time staple and you can see why Melanie Griffith married him twice."
Steve Martin. "This 'wild and crazy' guy has no need to be modest in the locker room. Steve allegedly sports a size 8 (20 cm)."
Steve McQueen. According to one of his lovers: "Like two Coors beer cans welded together."
Eddie Murphy. "Star of Beverly Hills Cop, Murphy is known to be very well hung -- probably in the 8-9" (20-22 cm) range."
Liam Neeson. "His reputation as a truly BIG star is now widely disseminated."
MusiciansDavid Cassidy. "With monster phallic genes inherited from dad Jack Cassidy, it was inevitable that son David would be a 'chip off the old block.' "
Shaun Cassidy. "David isn't the only Cassidy boy with a lot to crow about. . . . A reader of an earlier edition of this book claims . . . 'a good approximation of his size is 8" (20 cm) in circumference and 9-91/2" (22-23 cm) in length.' "
Jimi Hendrix. "Rock's premier psychedelic guitarist was hung like a bull. Scores of groupies spread the word that his cock was 'damn near as big as his guitar.' "
Tom Jones. "Loyal fans fight for front-row tickets to get a glimpse of that legendary bulge in his peter-pinching tights."
MiscellaneousMikhail Baryshnikov. " 'A thick 91/2 " of Russian salami,' claims a former paramour."
Tom Brokaw. "I estimate his broadcast abilities to be a 9+."
Lyndon Baines Johnson. "Horsemen might be interested in knowing that LBJ may have had the crown champion of presidential cocks."
David Letterman. "The popular host of late-night television has been reported to sport an impressive penis in the 9" (22 cm) range."
Dan Rather. "He is as hung as he is handsome and intelligent."
A selection of PE resourcesBear in mind that pumping, hanging weights, squeezing, and applying angry wasps can be damaging to your penile health. You should consult the experts before beginning any PE regimen; following are some resources.
* PenileFitness.com: http://www.penis-enlargement-now.com
* E. Douglas Whitehead: http://www.drwhitehead.com,
* All About Penis Enlargement: http://www.nedhosting.com/users/enlarge/
* Joel Kaplan: http://www.drjoelkaplan.com,
* Laurie Straub: http://www.hypbody.com,
* American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons: http://www.plasticsurgery.org,
* American Urological Association: http://www.auanet.org,
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