How to Grow a Small Endowment: Inside the Surprising World of Penis Enlargement

A look at the man and the industry behind Unhung Hero.

BY Dave Seminara

I’ll never forget the first time I walked into a penis enlargement clinic. It was 1995 and the term “male enhancement” wasn’t yet in vogue. I wasn’t there to get a bigger penis. Really, I swear. 

The office was on the second floor of a walkup building in Maspeth, a mostly industrial neighborhood in Queens close enough to the Long Island Expressway that one could scarcely escape the incessant drone of traffic whizzing by. From the outside, the place looked like any other office, with no overt mentions of genitalia or silly novelties, like a penis shaped doorbell, to reassure clients that they’d come to the right place. 

I’d been sent to the clinic by my boss, who was the manager of display advertising at the tabloid newspaper where we worked. I was 22 years old and it was my first job after college. I had no interest in being a salesman but I needed a job, so there I was. I took the job seriously, so when Ralph, my boss, gave me the penis enlargement clinic lead, I asked our marketing person to prepare a presentation for my sales call. As I walked out of the office one mid-winter morning, Ralph stopped me on my way to the elevator. 

“You’re going out to see the penis enlargement guy today, right?” 

“Right,” I said, after furtively looking around to make sure no one was within earshot. 

“Just remember, no barter, okay?” he said with a straight face before letting out a huge belly laugh.  “Cash with order!”

The penis enlargement guy said I should call him Manny. He appeared to be in his fifties and had what looked like a very odd hair transplant that was only half installed. Manny was about 40 lbs overweight, had two or three too many buttons undone on his un-tucked, silky button-down shirt and wore a flashy watch loose around one wrist and a loose gold bracelet around the other. 

His office was filled with half unpacked boxes but he said they’d been in the penis enlargement business for more than two years. 

“We are the leading provider of penis enlargement in Queens,” he said, a little boastfully.

Manny said that he had previously run a hair replacement clinic but had decided to open the penis enlargement business after meeting a Korean doctor who specialized in the procedure. I had more than a dozen hair replacement clinics in Queens and Long Island as clients, and my colleagues jokingly referred to me as the Hair Replacement King of Queens. 

After some small talk, I pulled my chair around next to his and showed him my presentation. I had no computer at the time, so there were no Power Point slides to click through, just a sheaf of pages with a laminated cover. I showed Manny data proving that our newspaper had plenty of white and Asian male readers with disposable income that they could very easily put towards a penis enlargement procedure.

Scarborough, the company that provided the demographics, had no metrics to quantify which media outlets had the most poorly hung readers, but I vaguely implied that our subscribers fit this bill by telling him they were a ‘great fit’ for his business. 

“What about black guys?” he asked, leafing through the presentation but not finding the data he was looking for. 

“Black guys?” I repeated, more than a little confused. 

“Dr. Kim has been doing this a long time and he insists that black guys are the best customers,” he said. “People don’t expect that, but it’s true. The problem is that women expect black guys to be huge but not all of them are. And the ones who aren’t, well, you can see how they’d feel inadequate. This is a huge problem, it’s really sad actually.” 

I nodded empathetically, as though we were discussing something grave, like the plight of human trafficking victims or children stricken with polio. 

Manny agreed to run six ads in our sports section starting the following week, but was less than happy with the results.

“The ads didn’t pull,” he complained. “We got phone calls, but some of them were pranks, some couldn’t afford it, and others were just totally unrealistic.”

“How so?” I asked. 

“There was one guy who was talking about adding six inches,” he said. “That just ain’t gonna happen. I don’t care what clinic you go to.”

I left advertising shortly after our meeting, and didn’t think about Manny or his clinic for years until I saw an advertisement for “male enhancement” recently that jogged my memory.  I Googled “penis enlargement” and “Queens” and didn’t find Manny, but I did see a horrifying story from the Philadelphia Inquirer about a guy who had a botched penis enlargement surgery in Queens in 1998 that required him to have four corrective surgeries and left him with a 1.5 inch penis that was good for nothing save urination. 

I have no idea if this poor guy was one of Manny’s clients, but I was curious to know if the procedure has become safer since its early days in the 90s, so I called Dr. Brian Rosenthal, a Beverly Hills urologist, who claims to be one of the country’s leading phalloplasty surgeons. Dr. Rosenthal says that in the 90s, most phalloplasty surgeons relied upon a “fat transfer” technique, whereby the doctor performs liposuction on the abdomen and uses it on the penis. The problem, he said, is that no one really knew how much fat to inject or how it should be done. 

“The procedure has changed a lot since the early days,” he says. “It’s basically a very easy surgery now.”

Rosenthal says that there are 3 penis enlargement options on his menu: lengthening, widening, and enlarging the head. Lengthening costs $4,500 and can add 1-2 inches; widening costs $8,500-$10,500 (the bigger a man is, the more it costs because the graft is bigger) and can add an inch in circumference; and the head enlargement goes for $3,000. (There’s a $3,000 blue-plate discount if you get the lengthening and widening done at the same time.) 

For the lengthening surgery, Rosenthal uses a technique in which he detaches the suspensory ligament, using an incision in the pubic area, and attaches the inner portion of the penis to the pubic bone in order to advance the penis farther out. After the surgery, men have to use a suction cup weight-stretching device called The Grip System (another $300) to stretch and enlarge the penis. Guys attach weights- they start at just a few pounds but are supposed to build up to 15 pounds over time- to a suction cup device that holds the unit to the penis. Dr. Rosenthal recommends that men “work out” the penis with this device 4-5 times a week for 45 minutes to an hour each session. He insists that attaching 10-15 pounds to one’s penis isn’t painful.

For the widening procedure, Rosenthal uses something called a dermal matrix graft, which grafts skin from cadavers onto the shaft of the penis. 

“Your body grows into the graft and incorporates the graft,” he says. 

The lengthening procedure takes 90 minutes and patients cannot masturbate or have sex for 4 weeks afterward; widening takes two hours and requires six weeks of celibacy.

It’s generally considered a cosmetic surgery, so most health insurance plans won’t cover it unless the patient has a micropenis- generally defined as an erect penis that is less than 3 inches in length (compared to the average of about 5.6 inches) or a concealed or buried penis, common to morbidly obese men who may have hygiene problems as a result of the condition. 

Just as the procedure has evolved over the years, so has the clientele, according to Dr. Rosenthal. 

“It’s incredibly diverse now,” he says. “We get people from all walks of life and every ethnic group and nationality. People from all over the world- Europe, South Africa, Australia, Canada. I got lots of patients from Canada. Lots.”

Aside from the avalanche of Canadians, Rosenthal says that he also treats plenty of A-list celebrities- whom he won’t name- and other well off men ranging from their 20s to their mid 70s. 

“You’d be surprised, a lot of guys in their 70s are very active,” he says.  “They have plenty of money and younger girlfriends.”

He has African American clients, but doesn’t concur with my old friend Manny, who said they were his best customers. And some of his African American clients are already above average in size before they come into his clinic. 

“I had one guy who was already seven inches, but he told me his brother was bigger, so he wanted to have it done,” he says. 

I told Rosenthal that phalloplasty seemed like a lot of expense and hassle just to gain an inch or two in penis size, but he would hear nothing of it. 

“This changes people’s lives,” he said. “It saves marriages. Being small can be devastating to guys.”

Who would know more about that then Patrick Moote, the hapless guy whose marriage proposal was publicly rejected a UCLA basketball game because his girlfriend thought his penis was too small? After that embarrassing debacle, Moote embarked on a quest to redress his penis problem, capturing his adventures in a “cockumentary” called Unhung Hero, out on DVD with a limited theatrical release today. 

“I found out that size does matter,” he told me in a recent Skype interview.  “To women, to men, to society, to the media.”

Moote said that he tried just about everything- pumps, pills and even something called jelqing, which he describes as a kind of penis yoga. (“You put your thumb and forefinger on the base of your penis in like a hoop, you squeeze and push the blood forward toward the tip and you do that over and over for about 45 minutes per day.”) He planned to undergo penis widening surgery but got scared off after filming the procedure for his film. 

“It was really brutal, the dudes hands were tied down,” said Moote, 30, who is still single. “They essentially turned his penis inside out. I chickened out big time. If I could find something that had zero side effects and would make my penis 3% bigger, I’d probably do it. But I met guys who had it done and they seemed very pleased with it.”

Moote speaks passionately about the penis size conundrum- almost as though it’s a human rights issue. 

“Guys don’t want to talk about this,” he said.  “When a woman’s breasts are small, everyone sees it, so they have to become OK with it. But with guys, penis size is our dirty little secret.”

Moote, who says he could use a bit of lengthening and widening but insists he isn’t a “crazy man with a tiny penis” as some women have alleged, won’t give away the ending to his film.  But he insists that he’s made peace with the penis size issue, for now at least. 

“I told Dan Savage, the writer, that I was below average and he told me that half of everyone is below average and ‘too small’ is relative,” he recalled. “At that moment I felt so silly for being insecure and for going to the lengths that I went through to change myself.”

 

Dave Seminara is a freelance writer in Chicago. @DaveSem on Twitter.

Image via Flickr.

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