Oct 02, 2008 | By: Ken Furtado
The Big Penis Book
Edited by Dian Hanson
Taschen, $59.99, pap.
Size queens, gayporn fans and cock-loving straight gals should jump for joy at the publication of The Big Penis Book. The title does not cheat: the book is big (about 12x12 inches, 352 pages and more than an inch thick) and so are the penises in it. The lord only knows where editor Dian Hanson came up with such an astonishing collection of images, but the lord be praised that she did!
Hanson also deserves kudos for the accompanying text, which appears in English, German and French, and in much greater quantity than you see in most Taschen publications. The book stands on its own merits — and hardons — without it, but if you want context for all 400 or so sensational images, it's there in abundance.
Needless to say, this is a glossy production with mostly full-color images. It's organized in sections, beginning with Hanson's introduction, and continuing with 18 chapters on the penis in photography, John Holmes (one of only two stars to have a chapter devoted to him), the most famous early studios, several individual photographers and miscellaneous contemporary photographs.
As Hanson astutely observes, "Big shoulders, big lapels, and big hair may come and go, but the big penis never goes out of fashion." And if you disagree, she gives chapter and verse.
For many, the Holy Grail of huge cocks was swung by Long Dong Silver. Silver's heyday was 1979-1982, so if you're thinking "Photoshopped," forget it. For doubting Thomases (or Clarence Thomases), the true story of Long Dong Silver is revealed in its own chapter by Jay Myrdal, the man who discovered and promoted him.
Runner-up in the Holy Grail category is the aforementioned John Holmes, whose cock was reputed to be 13 inches but in reality was more like 11. That's a reality check a lot of guys would trade a testicle for. Hanson, who interviewed Holmes in 1982, sadly concludes her chapter on him with, "Morally, it would seem, John fell on his own sword long before his death from AIDS at age 43."
I only found one error. Brian Hawkes (aka Shawn McIvan) is identified on p. 260 as "Unknown," while Lee Ryder is identified on p. 258 as Brian Hawkes. A cleverly titled "Appendicks" gives thumbnail observations about many of the models by the men who photographed them.
The dust jacket adds another layer of fun. It's completely transparent vinyl, except for the title and the tighty whities. Remove it, and you reveal the cover model's package. The back cover shows the rear view. Big penis courtesy of Chad Hunt.
Fans of classic porn or vintage erotica have more reasons to seek out and revel in The Big Penis Book. Early film and photography studios and early magazines get their close-ups in Hanson's meticulously researched and organized presentation: the Athletic Model Guild, Colt, Old Reliable, Champion Studios, the underrated Lobo Studio and others.
This memory lane is as long as the cocks it remembers. Leafing through the book's pages you will see "Big" Bill Eld of early Colt and Brentwood fame, Al Parker, Johnny Thrust, David Ashfield, young Rick Donovan, Rod Garetto (who was ubiquitous in the 1980s and early 1990s), Dick Fisk and the many models catapulted to fame by photographer Fred Bisonnes (Kristen Bjorn among them) a quarter century ago.
There's grist for the trivia mill, too. In England, for example, until the mid-1990s, you could show a hardon if it was pointing down but not if it was pointing up. Talk about blue laws!
It's interesting to note that before affirmative action and the "Black is Beautiful" movements had yet to make their impacts on politics and popular culture, the "porn" community, and especially the gay community, embraced men of color, who are amply represented in the pages of the book. Was this a only thinly disguised racist subscription to the stereotype of black men having big cocks? I'll leave that question to the academicians.
Not too long ago, The Big Penis Book could never have been published. It exults over the cock. The bigger, the better. And it champions the men those cocks are attached to and the men (I don’t think any women are mentioned, except as costars) who discovered, photographed and promoted them. It's irresistible to observe, "You've come a long way, baby," with all the implications inherent in that old cigarette marketing slogan.
If you visit the Taschen website (www.taschen.com) you can watch a flash video of Hanson talking about the genesis of the book.
The holidays are right around the corner. Bite the bullet and buy the book.