I’ve never been to prison, but I have friends who have and every single one of them says the worst thing about it is the excruciating boredom. On the flip side, when your only entertainment options are heroin, wanking, weights, or board games, it forces you to be resourceful. Which, I guess, is one of the words you'd use to describe the Australian prison inmates who've started cutting open their dicks with razors, inserting dominoes, dice, buttons, and the caps from tubes of toothpaste into them, and then sticking them back together with tape. (Some inmates in the US do something similar.)
Researchers from the University of New South Wales discovered the trend when surveying prisoners about risky sexual behaviors. Turns out that a sizable chunk of the inmate population is getting inventive with their wangcentric entertainment and performing DIY penis-implant procedures on themselves with rusty razor blades and bits of scrap metal. With a wince and watery eyes, I called up one of those researchers, Lorraine Yap, for the lowdown.
VICE: So tell me, what are prisoners putting in their dicks?
Lorraine Yap: They put objects that are available to them in prison, so it could be dice that they’ve peeled down with files or whatever, sometimes they use ball bearings as well… it could be any object that’s available to them at that point in time.
What’s the strangest one you’ve come across?
Polished glass. They break a piece of glass, polish it and shape it into whatever object they want and put it inside their penis. Or a domino piece filed down into a love heart.
You’re making me squirm. How do they actually get them in there?
We think they’re using razor blades from their razors, slicing open their penises and then binding them back together with sticky tape.
How resourceful. How did you find out about this practice?
Nurses mentioned to us that it was happening, so we thought we’d include a question in the survey we were already putting together to find out how widespread it is.
So how widespread is it?
We surveyed 1,900 prisoners in New South Wales and 6 percent said they had inserted an object into their penis and of that 6 percent, 75 percent of them had done it while they were in prison.
I guess imagine this, but on a penis rather than an arm, and with the penis bound together with sticky tape, and with the skin being all red and infected because it was sliced open with a rusty razor someone had found in a prison.
Is it a recent trend?
We’re not sure, but anecdotally, we’d say it’s been going on for at least ten years. We did a literature review, and we found that they’re doing this in other jurisdictions around the world: in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea—in PNG there’s a [nonprison based] culture for penile cutting, so it wasn’t that uncommon to find it inside prisons, too. People of Asian cultures also have a tradition of cutting open their penises and putting objects inside them. [NSFW link]
Do you know if there’s a certain demographic in prisons more likely to put objects inside their wangs?
Yes, usually they’re of Asian heritage and usually they’re younger. Usually around 25, but the highest bracket is 18 to 34. After 35, you find it’s not as common as it is with younger age groups.
Have you found out why in a supposedly sane world, people are doing this to themselves?
Yes, they’ve been told by other inmates that it would make their wives or girlfriends happy… but one transgender inmate said to me that they’re doing it the wrong way ‘round. Because a woman's clitoris is on the outside but a man's G-spot is on the inside!
Ha, good point. I’m guessing the people doing this aren’t exactly medical professionals. Has anyone’s penis gotten so infected they’ve had to chop it off?
Not chop it off, but I’ve heard from nurses that they’ve seen infected penises that they’ve had to treat with antibiotics or drain the infection. But that’s about the worst it’s been… if they left it long enough, you could possibly get gangrene.
Guess they’ve been lucky then. Thanks, Lorraine!
Follow Aleks on Twitter: @slandr
More people who do strange things to their bodies: