As I gripped my purple, penis-shaped stirrer and swirled around a seven-dollar cum-colored concoction dubbed the Penis Colada, I was reminded of a line by the great Gay Talese, who once wrote, “The penis, often regarded as a weapon, is also a burden, the male curse.”
The sartorially splendid Talese wouldn’t be caught dead in a place like this.
On a spare block in the terribly trendy Bushwick section of Brooklyn lies Kings County Saloon, which bills itself as a “down-home” watering hole and, with its wood paneling and country vibe, resembles the bar where Jodie Foster was gang raped in The Accused.
But sexual hostility is nowhere to be found today, the thirteenth day of June in the Year of our Lord Beyoncé two thousand and fifteen, for today hundreds of people have gathered for the third annual Smallest Penis in Brooklyn Pageant—a paean to tiny penis.
By the time doors were set to open at two in the afternoon, the line had swelled to a hundred-plus strong and wrapped around the block, with some peen aficionados waiting hours in the sweltering sun to partake in the fringe festivities.
“It was mostly the penises,” says Tim, a 27-year-old Brit when asked what inspired him to embark on a transatlantic penile voyage. “I mean, I’m a worldwide penis traveler, so wherever the penis is at, I’m at. And I think it’s empowering. It’s a huge step forward for body positivity and acceptance. Plus, it’s humorous.”
Patrons doled out five bucks for advance tickets to the event, with the more feverish attendees opting for one of the eight sold-out VIP booths that lined the walls—$150 for a group of six.
While the bar proper is adorned with penis stickers and a giant bowl of Martha Stewart-approved cardboard penis potpourri, the VIP tables come equipped with matching penis friendship necklaces (with each half creating a whole penis), cardboard penis lightsabers, penis koozies, penis temporary tattoos, and penis t-shirts.
“It’s good family fun!” says Allie, a 28-year-old VIPer from Brooklyn. “It’s nice to root for the underdick.”
With male pattern baldness—commonly known as “The Costanza Problem”—a thing of the past (see: Jeremy Piven), owning a small penis can be one of the most alienating physical attributes for either sex. While female breasts and genitals can be surgically enhanced with ease, scientists have yet to crack the small penis conundrum. There is no scientific evidence that any of the pills and supplements hawked by Jimmy Johnson in late-night infomercials work, and penis enlargement surgery is highly experimental, and brings with it serious risk.
So I entered the fray more torn than Natalie Imbruglia, feeling sympathy for these unendowed men while harboring a bit of strange curiosity as to what would compel these stigmatized souls to bear all. And with the make-up of the crowd about 90 percent women, it does beg the question of whether this is an exercise in schadenfreude (i.e. masochistic gaze-reversal), or just some silly, hipsterish fun.
“It’s a very positive event,” ensures Kings County owner Jesse Levitt. “We’re trying to create a platform where if guys have something that people might traditionally make fun of or see it as a disadvantage, we want to show that they’re proud, and that there’s so much other great stuff about them that we shouldn’t focus on this one thing. We don’t judge.”
At around 3 p.m., one hour into the event, the cramped crowd became restless. Loud chants of “SMALL PENIS!” rang throughout the bar. DJ Syntax, clad in blue coveralls with a face painted chrome, is manning the decks.
“The penis is coming…” Syntax announces, before disappearing offstage.
The theme is “outer space,” and a fake infomercial for Cockway Air plays on the screen above the tiny stage, urging guests to “stay lubricated at all times” with booze, and “if you’re looking for something extra creamy, why don’t you enjoy a Penis Colada.” The ad is followed by a Star Wars-esque opening credits scroll: “Here at Kings County Saloon we celebrate the man with the little member. For today he is king!”
And out comes the event’s host, Chicken Bitches—a big, black drag queen clad in a fiery red wig and glittery silver-and-black Jedi robe.
“These amazing men will do their best to earn your respect... If you came here to make fun, you better get the fuck out!” he announces.
Chicken Bitches, a.k.a. Emmanuel Wilson, tells the rowdy crowd that the pageant will be divided into three sections: formal wear, swimwear, and the talent portion.
And without further ado, the five contestants are brought out onstage in nothing but black, revealing thongs, each donning a sash with their name emblazoned across it. They are: Rip Van Dinkle, an old white guy who looks like the Unabomber; Chino Loco, a bald, heavily tattooed Asian fella who proudly proclaims, “I’m Chinese, and I’ve got a small dick!”; The Gentleman, a bald black man, his face obscured by a Zorro-like eye mask; Puzzlemaster, a bespectacled long-haired white hipster; and Cromwell, a light-skinned black dude who appears bombed, chugging a Tecate onstage. Their bodies range from dad bod (Puzzlemaster) to homeless-chic (Rip Van Dinkle) to rotund (everyone else).
The Smallest Penis in Brooklyn Pageant apparently had a bit of trouble finding enough contestants to participate, releasing a promotional video a few weeks prior in an attempt to recruit competitors for the $500 cash prize and dubious distinction. But this year’s edition also introduced a not-so-bitter rivalry.
“We have something special this year, which is two previous runners-up, from the first year and the second year, both returned to vie for the championship,” says Kings County’s Levitt. “From 2013 it’s Rip Van Dinkle, and from 2014 it’s Puzzlemaster.”
“I lost by the smallest margin,” Puzzlemaster declares to the crowd.
Four judges—a mix of female writers and stand-up comedians—grade the men on scale of 1 (best) to 3 (worst), with the scoring tabulated by a howling hipster in a Chewbacca costume referred to as “Hipster Chewbacca.”
As the men pose in their sashes, a drunk woman yells out, “I can’t see your dick!” before being shushed by Chicken Bitches. Indeed, both judges and attendees don’t actually get to see these men’s penises, instead being forced to observe their shape in a tiny-pouched thong. Although from my vantage point stage left, I managed to sneak a peek at the miniature dongs from the side, all of which seemed to deserve a place in the pageant.
Puzzlemaster leapt out to an early lead and cemented himself as the ongoing favorite during the formal wear bit (which also doubled as the intros), scoring perfect 1’s across the board—and earning some serious catcalls from the women in the crowd. And the crowd seemed to love these fearless men, showering any judge who gave them less than a 1 with a chorus of boos.
A brief interlude followed courtesy of the musical-comedy duo Afterbirth Monkey, performing the “Tiny Dick” song—with singer Mark Robert Turner unzipping to reveal a fake micropenis and balls, and singer Rachel Schenk topless, her boobs covered with tiny penis pasties. At one point, Turner whips out a plastic dildo that sprays the front rows with water out of its peehole.
Next up was the swimwear portion, otherwise known as “Cocksplash”—a wet t-shirt contest of sorts where contestants came out in groups of two and stripped down as two audience members on their knees sprayed them with water guns.
Each pair of contestants strut out in black t-shirts and thongs, before ripping them in half Hulk Hogan-style and getting down with their bad selves. Despite the efforts of Rip Van Dinkle, who actually had the gall to flash his silver bush-covered dagger in front of the crowd—prompting the young woman in front of me to recoil and whisper to her friend, “I can’t believe that just happened,” even though this is the Smallest Penis Pageant—Puzzlemaster once again took first after channeling his inner Channing Tatum and dry-humping the stage in a thong, his penis pouch smushing against the slick, black platform. Another break followed, at which point the place began to clear out a bit, and the ones that stayed continued to “lubricate” themselves with Penis Colada’s, shots of whiskey, and glasses of white wine and rosé.
Chicken Bitches once again emerged, this time in a white robe out of Ancient Rome, to introduce the talent portion.
Rip Van Dinkle kicked things off with a very awkward original rap: “I’m a baby boomer / 80 million strong / and to prove my point / check out my baby dong,” before once again flashing the shocked audience. He was followed by Chino, who came out in an expertly-made Stormtrooper costume and stripped—again—to loud hoots and hollers from the crowd. Gentleman read an original poem that about “eternal love” that elicited a roomful of awws, while Puzzlemaster, ever the showman, sported a gold thong and gold gloves to sing a sultry, reappropriated rendition of Shirley Bassey’s Bond theme “Golddinger,” about the “man with the Midas cock.” “Every girl, beware of his cock and balls… this cock is small!” he crooned.
“Shirley Bassey just turned over in her grave,” said Chicken Bitches following the performance (Bassey is still alive).
Finally, Cromwell came out in jeans to do a stand-up comedy set about meeting a Molly-popping wild girl on OkCupid, before launching into a bizarre, penis-friendly version of Bill Pullman’s passionate speech from Independence Day: “We will not fuck quietly in the night, we will not roll over in the night without a fight... We’re going to fuck on… We’re going to survive…” The speech was followed by loud chants of “U-S-A!” from the game audience.
After the talent segment, the winners were announced. In 4th place there was a tie between Rip Van Dinkle and Gentleman. Cromwell came in 3rd, and Chino, who seemed to be the crowd favorite, came in 2nd. That means last year’s runner-up, Puzzlemaster, took home the $500 first prize, with the money coming courtesy of sponsor Shipadick.com—a website that allows you to ship a literal bag of [cardboard] dicks to friends across the country.
“I feel absolutely wonderful,” said a glowing Puzzlemaster, clenching his $500 cash in one hand and a giant cardboard penis trophy in the other. “Thank you all so much for coming.”
Following the win, I managed to track down this year’s runner-up, Chino, backstage. He told me he’s 45, from Queens, and is married. He’s a prolific cosplayer, and built the Stormtrooper costume he stripped down in himself. “I wanted to come here to have fun, and I did,” he says, wiping the sweat from his brow. “I got an adrenaline rush, but with the spotlight on me, I couldn’t really see the crowd. I don’t know what possessed me to do this, but I did it.”
And then I spot Puzzlemaster, who’s fanning himself with his $500 in cash, basking in the glow of victory. His name is Taylor, he’s 24, and came to the event last year to interview people on his YouTube channel in-character as The Puzzlemaster, but was roped into competing by his friends.“On a philosophical level, I want everybody to feel good about themselves. Just feel good, feel beautiful, because everybody’s cool, and everybody has something to offer. Whether you’ve got a small dick or something else, there’s something beautiful in everybody,” he says.
Taylor traveled all the way to Bushwick from Milwaukee to vie for the title of Smallest Penis in Brooklyn, and says this year’s event boasted bigger production values, but maintained the theme of “positivity” that existed last year.
When asked whether the award will help him get laid, he laughs, and then shrugs. “I have a girlfriend, so I don’t know if it will really help in that area,” he says. “She’ll just like me more… maybe.”
The 2015 version went off without a hitch—unlike last year, which was a literal shitshow. Yes, prior to the winner being crowned, the toilets overflowed at Kings County (then in a different location down the road), causing pageantgoers to flee for the exits with their hands over their faces.
I had a pretty fun time at the Smallest Penis in Brooklyn Pageant, a cultural oddity that both proved that the men with the smallest dicks may just have the biggest balls, and harked back to an era when weirdness was, well, more commonplace in the heavily gentrified Big Apple.
“It reminds me of subversive New York,” says a sweaty, fabulous Chicken Bitches. “Everything is getting so clean and boring now.This feels like New York—it’s something interesting, out of the norm, and not mainstream, yet everybody can participate in it. And that’s the way New York should be.”