Adam Ash

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Man with small penis makes TV special about it

Small Penis Man – by Nicole Ankowski/

Lawrence Barraclough was ashamed of his three-and-a-half-inch penis, so he decided to broadcast images of it to the entire world. His documentary, My Penis and I, aired on the BBC in 2005 and included interviews with his girlfriend, Nicola (now his wife), mother, father, a small-penis support group, porn stars and famed rock groupie Cynthia Plaster Caster. In Barrachlough's follow-up project, My Penis and Everyone Else , which premieres on the BBC this month, he's taking the focus out of his pants and on to the streets. As he puts the final edits on the film, he's also collecting photos of anonymous penises on his website, (don't be shy). The morning after a London gallery exhibition featuring the first round of penis pics, Barraclough spoke to Nerve about what it feels like to have a plaster cast made of your genitals, and how talking about your penis can free your mind, and maybe even the world. — Nicole Ankowski

How did My Penis and I originate?
I'd always made these personal documentaries. It's a cathartic process to make films. [This film] was very much my personal journey to find out why the size of my penis bothered me so much. Then the person I was working with sent off a trailer we'd cut for our own use to the BBC. The BBC got interested and turned it into a full-blown commission. Which was terrifying, because I had no plans for people to sit around and look at my penis.

Did you consider turning the BBC down?
I did. There were many times that I thought I could give up on this. We didn't know what the ending was going to be, and I didn't know if I was going to feel better about myself at the end. I had gone to a doctor's and investigated having it enlarged. The process was just so awful — having fat removed from the groin area, or having a rod placed in, or having it stretched. I decided there's a better way to deal with this, and that way is by making the film.

How did it feel to have Cynthia Plaster Caster make a mold of your penis?
It was the most amazing experience of my entire life. Someone said to me — I think it was my mum — she said, "You look like you're giving birth." Cynthia was the first woman ever to see my dick, other than my wife. Well, probably my mom when I was younger, and the one woman who laughed at it. We actually did two. She's got one on her wall, and she calls it her "Love Heart" because I was un-erect. She'd said, "You're going to have to get yourself off." I'd never successfully masturbated before. I had to masturbate, both in front of her and in front of a camera crew. Which I couldn't do, really. So I had to "go in soft," as she puts it. She and I, we're very good friends now. We speak every couple of weeks.

Describe the first time a woman saw or touched your penis.
Before my first sexual experience, my mum and my sisters were the only women who had ever seen my penis. [My first girlfriend] Bethany was experienced, knew I was a virgin and told me I would be the first white guy she would have slept with. I was sixteen and petrified. My knowledge of sex was from watching films like 9 1/2 Weeks , and I knew my penis was small from the teasing I had already had in the shower rooms at high school. Having tried my utmost to make sure she didn't have any contact with my penis, my worst fears were realized when she put her hand down my pants. I was so frightened about what would happen when she touched it I had shriveled up completely.

When she found the lump nestling in my pubes she had a reaction like she'd just burned herself, and exclaimed, "Urgh!" She looked at me first in disgust, and then attempted a smile, before kissing me on the cheek, rolling over and going to sleep. I was completely mortified, and apprehensive about what would happen at college when I saw her next, as I had told everyone she was my girlfriend. When I saw her in college, she laughed at me in front of her friends and wiggled her little finger to tell everyone I had a small penis. The memory of this experience put me off trying to date anyone until I met Nicola.

What did Nicola say the first time she made love to you, in regards to your penis size?
She never mentioned it. She never has, unless I brought it up. The first time we had sex, I was disappointed because I had a) worked myself into a state of anxiety, and b) thought it would be like in the movies. The reality was I was having sex in a squalid little studio flat in Northwest London with someone I wouldn't normally go for. I felt she was being either patient or forgiving with me, and I don't think

Barraclough solicits material for his documentary on the streets of London.
that helped. Once we'd got over the first time, and she still wanted to see me, then I started to enjoy it. She seemed to enjoy it too. I was relieved.

Before you made My Penis and I and came to terms with your small penis, did you go the extra mile in the bedroom, thinking you had to compensate?
Nicola is the only woman I've had sex with. Over the years I've experimented with positions, foreplay, fetishes and anything I could do to put off dealing with the size issues I had. Although it was initially to do with wanting to compensate for my size, Nicola and I have learned a lot about each other on the way.

How did your wife react to your film?
When I started filming it, she didn't want to be seen [on camera]. As she puts it, she didn't want to be seen as "the bird of the man with the small penis." As the months passed, she became more a part of the project. In the end, she recorded a little video diary. She says, "I wish you did have a bigger penis, because it would make you feel better about yourself." That was just such a moment, when your girlfriend, your partner, says to you, "God, I really wish you had a bigger penis — not for me, for you."

What was the public reaction to the film?
People were coming up to me on the street and saying, "Well done. You're really brave." I started hearing from all these other men, saying, "We've seen your film. We feel the same. Thanks very much for making this film." Some of the best responses were, "I used to think that I had a small penis, but now that I've seen yours, mine's not so bad. So thanks very much!" And the thing is, I can deal with that now. A couple of years ago, that would have been the worse thing that anyone would have said to me.

Why did you decide to make a follow-up?
The BBC asked me to. I really didn't want to make another film about penises, to be honest. But I'd received all these emails from men all over the world, saying we'd never talked to other men about it [in the first film]. And it got me thinking, why can't men talk to other men about their penises? We've all got them. What's the problem?

What is the problem?
The problem is basically three things. Men won't talk to other men about penises because there's a fear of ridicule. The other thing is, for straight men, being seen as being gay. And the other thing is other people's reactions to it — it's a masculinity issue. And this is the widest subject of the film: men don't express their feelings and insecurities, especially with each other, because of the stereotype of a man. They must be big and strong and confident. They don't have any problems.

As part of your film you set up an exhibit in London, calling all men to send you photos of their flaccid penises. How many responses did you get?
We put the website up and in about a week and a half, and we got a hundred and one penises, all different shapes and sizes. [At the gallery] all the penises were spread out. We arranged them in rows of three: one at head height, one at chest height, one at groin height. We also had a booth set up with a Polaroid camera. After we talked to the men, if they felt confident enough, they could go in there and take a picture of their own penis and put it up on the wall.

How did the show go?
It went really well. We got about two or three hundred men down there. We had some real men's men down there, drinking their pints. Apparently there was a big rugby match in the afternoon, and they all came down and found themselves in this room full of penises.

The most amazing part of the weekend, for me, was talking with these rugby guys. They didn't know how a man without a foreskin masturbated. And I said, "Well, I haven't a foreskin. Is there anyone else in your group here who has not got a foreskin? Why don't you ask your mate?" And he did! His mate was then describing how he masturbates.

Were there any pictures that surprised you?
I was genuinely worried that we were just going to get people wanting to show off their big penises. But we got such a great range: big, small, and different shapes, circumcised, uncircumcised. My biggest concern is that a lot of them were white. We got a couple of black penises, but we didn't get as many as I'd like.

Within this film, we talk about the stereotype of black men having bigger penises than anyone else. I tried to talk to a group of black hairdressers in South London. They were a bit scared to do it. But I told them how big mine is — well, big is the wrong word — but I told them about my penis. And suddenly they were open to talk about it.

When you interview a man, how do you make him feel at ease?
Usually by the admission of my own size. You go straight in there, because for a guy, it's the worst thing you can talk about. I've spoken to so many men this weekend that've never even seen another man's penis apart from in a porn movie. And they all thought that these other men's penises were porn-monsters, always ready and massive.

In My Penis and Everyone Else , you walk the streets of London wearing a placard that says, "I want to talk about penises." Did anyone take you up on that?
Yes, a couple of guys. One of them was a police officer. He was like, "I don't feel I have a big or small penis. It's just average. Thanks very much. Don't cause a traffic obstruction and you'll be all right."

Do you still wish you had a larger penis?
It's not about that now. It is what it is. Again, it was how I felt about myself. I think all of us focus on a particular body part when we don't like ourselves very much. And for me, it was my penis. And now I've resolved those issues. I don't have to blame my penis all the time.

Can you offer any advice for readers with small penises?
Don't be apologetic. It's a turn off. Confidence is sexier than a large penis — don't confuse confidence with arrogance though. So is the knowledge that you can satisfy a woman without using your penis. Foreplay — if it's good, she won't care what size you are. And if anyone gives you a hard time for having a small penis, it's their problem, not yours.

Has breaking down these barriers become your life's purpose, or are you ready to stop talking about penises?
I'd like to move on, to be honest. I'd like to make a film about masculinity as a whole. And I'd like to do something about women today, as well. I've talked about [penises] so openly and so much — almost too much — that I can't wait to stop talking about it.


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