(Mostly about sexuality/sex, rather than language.)
[TMI Warning: The following posting contains information, opinion, or reflection that some readers might find uncomfortably or unwelcomely personal, private, or intimate in topic or content: too much information, as the saying goes. As a general observation, I’m willing to go almost anywhere in my postings, including some places that some readers don’t want to go.]
From the NYT Magazine “The Lives They Lived” section of 12/30/12, on Paul Fussell (born 1924), by Dwight Garner:
The most profound tectonic shift in our literary culture in 2012 was one that, by and large, no one noticed. The last of our great curmudgeonly essayists — Gore Vidal, the art critic Robert Hughes and the historian and social critic Paul Fussell — died this year. Add to this list of punishing, witty and literate writers Christopher Hitchens, who died at the end of 2011, and it begins to seem as if the Mayan calendar, which predicted global ruin, took aim instead at our stinging public intellectuals, our necessary horseflies.
… In 1987, the inspired editors of GQ magazine sent Fussell to a far-flung nudist colony, and the resulting essay, “Taking It All Off in the Balkans,” is something to behold. It contains dozens of memorable observations. Among them: “Fat people look far less offensive naked than clothed. Clothes, you realize, have the effect of sausage casings.” About penis size, Fussell said: “You will learn that every man looks roughly the same — quite small, that is, and that heroic fixtures are not just extremely rare, they are deformities.”
All true. But there’s a a whole complex world in which this deformity, this abnormality, is celebrated and venerated: the world of gay male fantasy, especially as represented in gay porn imagery. A place where the gigantic and grotesque are worshiped. Case in point: the pornstar Ken Ryker.
(Earlier posting on Fussell — Bruce Weber’s obit — on this blog here.)
Background I: on penis size. Here’s the relevant part of the (rather disjointed) Wikipedia article on human penis size:
The most accurate measurement of the human penis comes from several measurements at different times since there is natural minor variability in size due to arousal level, time of day, room temperature, frequency of sexual activity, and reliability of measurement. When compared to other primates, including large primates such as the gorilla, the human penis is largest, both in absolute terms and in relative size to the rest of the body. Measurements vary, with studies that rely on self-measurement reporting a significantly higher average than those with staff measuring. However, the mean of an erect human penis is approximately 12.9–15.0 cm (5.1–5.9 in) in length. Flaccid penis length is a poor estimate of erect length. Most of human penis growth happens between infancy and the age of five, and between about one year after the onset of puberty and, at latest, approximately 17 years of age.
A statistically significant correlation between penis size and the size of other body parts has not been found in research.
… While results vary slightly across reputable studies, the consensus is that the mean human penis is in the range 12.9–15 cm (5.1–5.9 in) in length with a 95% confidence interval of (10.7 cm, 19.1 cm) (or, equivalently, 4.23 in, 7.53 in) — that is, it is 95% certain that the true mean is at least 10.7 cm but not more than 19.1 cm.
Trying to put this into simpler terms: the average erect penis is between 5 (on the low side) and 6 (on the high side) inches long, and almost all hard dicks are between 4.2 (on the low side) and 7.5 (on the high side) inches long.
These facts about the real world don’t translate well into perceptions and practices: a 5″ dick is seen (in real life and in porn) as *small* (this is my size range, and I can attest to the fact that men who really care about size find it unacceptably small), and in porn a 6″ dick isn’t notable enough for mention; write-ups of pornstars almost never mention a dick size below 7″, though 7″ is fairly common in these write-ups. Note that 7″ is only a half-inch short of truly extraordinary.
In Gayland, dicks start at this level (7″) and go on up from there, gaining in value with every half-inch. More is better, and much much more is best. Monumentally more is the stuff of dreams. Jack-off dreams.
(Typically unsubtle porn titles: Big Guns, Big Wood, Bigger Than Life, The Bigger the Better, The Biggest One I Ever Saw!, Hot Rods: Young and Hung, Like a Horse, A Matter of Size, and Ken Ryker’s compilation My Big Fucking Dick.)
Background II: more physical reality. The anus, once opened up, can accommodate intrusions of considerable length, but girth — diameter — is an issue. Without training in relaxation (Frankie Goes to Hollywood: “Relax (Don’t Do It)”) , few people can accommodate a really fat cock up their ass without discomfort or even physical damage to the anal sphincter. And while long cocks can be challenging for deep-throating, fat ones can be challenging for cocksucking in general. Despite all that, fat dicks have the same intense symbolic attractions as long ones: more is better in every dimension.
I haven’t found stats on girth comparable to those on length, but the fabled monster cocks of porn are clearly off the scale on both dimensions. Which brings me to Ken Ryker.
Background III: the Ryker data. You can view KR’s endowments on AZBlogX, here: a photo from The Renegade (somewhat amended by me, but without interfering with the man’s dick), and the remarkable Ken Ryker Supercock, a dildo:
The legendary Falcon superstar has now been immortalized by Falcon Studios with a life-size replica of his massive manhood. These masterpieces were cast directly from the star’s fully erect cock and balls using the special RealCast process, which has enabled the most authentic and life-like replications ever created. Enjoy the touch… the feel… the excitement.
Overall length: 11.5″; insertable length: 9.5″; circumference at the head: 7.0″ [diameter 2.2″]; circumference at the balls: 14.5″ [diameter 4.6″].
[Digression: pornstar dildos are an odd genre. They are crafted so as to reproduce the surface of a particular man’s dick, including the veining (which I find cool), but they come in only two silicone colors, neither especially realistic: skin pink and solid black; real dicks are much more complex than that. If I wanted to revere a replica of my favorite pornstar’s member, I’d want more artistry than these dildos provide; and if I just wanted to fuck myself with something like his dick, only length, girth, and curvature would be relevant (my asshole can sense those, but it can’t see any of the other details).]
Now, the stats on the man himself. From Mickey Skee’s 1998 The Films of Ken Ryker, “The Ryker Stuff: Facts & Fantasy”, p. 135:
hair: dirty blond [often darker, and often with reddish tints]
height: 6′ 4″ [other sources say 6′ 5″ or 6′ 6″]
weight: 230 lbs.
chest: 48 in.
arms: 17.5 to 18 in.
cock size: Says he doesn’t know. “I’m not quite 12 inches, it’s a little over 11 and I can stretch it to 12, but I’m definitely 8 inches fat.” He agrees it’s close to 11 3/8 inches. [Another source] says it’s 12 inches long and 8 inches around. Best guess, hard: 11 3/16 inches, 2 ½ inches in diameter, 8 inches around.
Let’s settle for 11 inches long, 2.5 in diameter (ouch). This is incredibly rare — if you’re judgmental, it’s a Fussellian deformity.
What made KR special? Ok, KR’s cock was (is) extraordinarily big, in both dimensions. The gay porn industry has plucked out any number of really big-dicked guys; the industry is devoted to finding and developing such men, to supply the demand for them for wankers like me. Some merely have very long dicks, some are doubly endowed, a few (for instance, Chad Hunt) turn out to be dependable, hard-working actors. But very few are beautiful, and KR was (is) that.
Look at the image from The Renegade, or this one from The Matinee Idol:
He’s muscular and tall — with a long torso *and* long legs — and has a handsome, screen-star, face, and a thoroughly masculine presentation of self. The total faggot dream package.
Well, there was the problem that he was not particularly inclined to sex with men, and had to be coached in cocksucking and kissing men, neither of which came easily to him, and both of which he did sparingly. He became a classic gay-for-pay publicly-bisexual total-top (not a *chance* that any guy would ever fuck him) and sexually dominant pornstar (always running the show) — reproducing the role of the straight man who’s willing to be serviced by a gay man, on the understanding that this is stud vs. fag and I don’t give a shit about you. (Characteristically, KR needed to get himself up for his sex with men by looking at straight porn on the set.)
Skee’s book (written very much from inside the porn industry) makes a lot of what a sweet (indeed, shy) personality KR has, and no doubt that’s accurate, but the character he projects in most of his films (with a couple of notably exceptional scenes) is sexually selfish and disparaging of his male partners (to Trent Reed in The Renegade: “You’re just a cocksucker, aren’t you?”).
So the physical package is just amazing, but the emotional accompaniment is mixed. No problem if you want to be subordinate to a negligent, possibly straight, top (not for me at all), or if you can pick out KR’s moments of kissing and cocksucking and treasure them (that’s what I do).
He’s been out of the business for years, having retired at the top of his form. But thanks to the films many will remember that extraordinary deformity of his, that ridiculous (but still, oh, desirable) horse-cock.