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Finding a Human Penis for Your Penis Collection Isn’t Easy

The Final Member is a documentary chronicling one man’s quest to complete the largest collection of penises in the world—and another man's eagerness to chop off his penis and donate it to the collection.

is a documentary chronicling one man's quest to complete the largest collection of penises in the world. Sigurður "Siggi" Hjartarson, the founder and curator of the , had a specimen from every mammal in Iceland except one, the . In 2007, filmmakers Zach Math and Jonah Bekhor heard about Siggi's missing link and decided to document his search.

The Final Member

Icelandic Phallological Museum

Homo sapien


Aside from Siggi, the central players in this story are Pall Arason, a rapidly aging Icelandic explorer who agreed to donate his penis to the museum upon his death, and Tom Mitchell, an American so eager to have his dick immortalized that he is willing to chop it off and mail it to Siggi in order to beat the Icelander to it. Talking to the filmmakers about his offer, Tom says, "I've always thought it would be really cool for my penis to be the world's first true penis celebrity."

Just as Bob Ballard was driven by his hunt for the Titanic, or Indiana Jones by his search for the Ark of the Covenant, Siggi's primary goal in life is acquiring a human specimen for his museum. The Final Member is an epic tale that spans continents and involves obsession, death, struggle, and penises.

While VICE is not involved in the production of this film, we recently premiered its trailer on our YouTube channel, so I called up Zach and Jonah to find out more about the project.

[Due to scheduling conflicts, Zach and Jonah were interviewed at separate times. We have edited the conversations together here.]

VICE: How did you first hear about Siggi and his search for a human dick?
Zach Math: I was driving down the highway listening to [Canadian public radio program] As It Happens, and Carol Off was interviewing the creator of the only penis museum in the world, and I was completely taken aback. How does someone have this museum where he has a specimen from every mammalian species except for one? How come he's missing a human? And then he spoke about the men who had stepped forward to try to help him fulfill the last missing piece of this puzzle, as it were. I was completely transfixed. A couple days later I was talking to Jonah and told him I wanted to go to Iceland to interview the curator of the only penis museum in the world.


What is the museum like? I know it officially opened in 1997, but Siggi had been collecting long before that, right?
Jonah Bekhor: Yeah. He has been collecting since around 1974. The thing is, it started off as a joke. He was the headmaster of a school, and during the off-season his teachers went to work at a whaling station, because, back in that era in Iceland, whaling was a part of the culture. One of them brought him back a whale penis as like a gag.

Zach: The museum is presented like a natural history museum, and I think the film mimics that tone. He treats everything very seriously on a surface level. There's nothing lascivious about it, yet there is a man who is missing something. A part of what started as a joke has now sort of snowballed into being a key part of his legacy. And ultimately all the men in the film, what they are trying to do, relates back to their own legacy at a very broad or central level. That was an interesting theme. It becomes this film that is very shocking, very funny, but also a very moving story.

Why do you think Siggi became so obsessed with penises? If someone had given him a whale's eyeball, would he have become obsessed with eyeballs? Or do you think there is something about this specific organ that interests him?
Zach: He was already sort of an obsessive collector, so I think it appealed to that side of him, but I think he's also a great educator, and great educators have a keen sense of where the society is at. And at the time when he came along he was very aware of the taboo around the organ and how that played out in our society—and how it still plays out. Why is something so central to human life such a taboo? It's sort of ridiculous on a lot of levels. And then there was the other half, which is that he was already an obsessive collector. So it was a perfect storm that just started to snowball. He says, when you're an obsessive collector, you can't stop. I don't believe it's in the movie, but he goes on to say, "I'll go on collecting. The base collection will be done, but there could be a Chinese penis, an African penis…" In his mind, there's so much more to explore.


One day, this glass will house a human penis.

Do you think the idea of having a museum devoted to penises is more or less taboo in Iceland than it would be in the US?
Jonah: I think it's much less taboo. It still feels like there are places in the United States where you could not do this. Could you do this in the Deep South? Could you do this in Alabama? I think there are places in the United States where the puritanical thought process is still prevalent. In those communities, it would not be as welcome as it is in Iceland.

Why do you think Siggi has had such a hard time finding a human specimen? Perfectly good penises are being buried in the ground every day.
Jonah: The thing about Siggi is, he is a really moral and wonderful man. He wanted things to be done the right way, so they needed to be donated. He was never going to do anything that was untoward. He did a lot of press internationally. He's done radio interviews on an annual basis all over the world, and he always puts it out there, but he's going to do it in a respectful way. He's not the type of guy who would pummel people with his requests. So, that's it—put it out there, mention it, but don't push. There are ways to get penises that are not legal, but they would never be entertained [by Siggi].

On a moral level, what's your take on Tom's desire to chop off his own penis while he's still alive?
Zach: That's a great question. When you're making a film with a guy who is doing something you don't agree with, you have to have the utmost respect for your subject matter. We try to impart that in the film. We don't impose any judgment on them, and I think that's reflected in the tone of the movie, but it's very tricky. We were very clear with Tom. We couldn't have any part in his attempts to further his goals. We were very, very firm with him, and I think that from a moral stance—as a human being and a filmmaker—you have to be objective and at the same time be very clear with your subject as to what you will and will not do.


Do you think Pall and Tom are cut from a similar cloth in that there is a certain amount of swagger that a man has to have to want to donate his penis to a museum?
Jonah: I think they have such significant things in common with each other. They're both iconoclasts, and I think they're both pioneering in the way they've lived their lives. Both of them want some version of the same thing. Both of them are guys who are going toward a dream. It's amazing how much they have in common—whether it was Pall pioneering with adventure tourism, going into the highlands of Iceland where no man had gone before, or it was Tom on this journey with Elmo [his penis's nickname] and wanting Elmo to be the most famous penis in the world, and the lengths that he's willing to go to do something so unique and exceptional. These guys really do have a lot in common.

Tom Mitchell stands next to a diagram of his penis, Elmo, which he wants to chop off.

Do you know if any other people have come forward and offered their penises to the museum, or is it just Tom and Pall?
Zach: Yes, there are other guys. There's a German guy who's come forward, and he is a wonderful guy. He runs a tourism company but is also a big mountain climber and marathon runner. And then there's a British guy who is also very interesting. He's a documentarian, sort of a filmmaker in his own right. His college roommate was Icelandic—and I could be getting the story completely wrong here—but he always joked that his only wish was for [the British guy] to go to Iceland and donate his penis to the penis museum. Tragically, his roommate died in a car accident when they were in college. So, almost as a final way of grieving, he took this pilgrimage to the museum and said that he would donate his specimen when he died. Those two guys are really interesting, but the main guys are obviously the three who became the focal point of the film.


Did you know there is a museum in Russia that claims to have Rasputin's penis in a jar?
Zach: Yeah! I do.

Tom left a comment on one of the photos I found of it online.
Zach: Yeah, I mean… once you start getting into it with Tom—he's an exhibitionist. He's a very sweet guy on a certain level. He's hurt. The thing that really made him an extraordinary character in my mind is, toward the end, he says something like, "I'm so taken by women. It leaves me so vulnerable, and I've been hurt so many times, but I need them so much that I need to remove this organ." For someone to say that is… there's so much depth going on there that's so counter to how we think of that organ.

I think that is one of the most fascinating points of the documentary. The fact that he feels the need to remove his penis so he won't be taken advantage of anymore…
Zach: Yeah. It's sort of remarkable. That's when you really sort of see him as a three-dimensional human being and you can't dismiss him as a guy who's just a joke. That was the interview for me that was like, Whoa. My mind was blown.

When the film ends, Siggi is preparing to step down from the museum and hand it over to his son, Hjörtur. Does he have big plans for it?
Jonah: Yes. His son has relocated the museum to Reykjavík and is now in charge of it. That was sort of the coda of the whole thing.

Zach: I think it's actually a really good thing. It was sort of hidden up there in this little community, this little whaling community up in Húsavík, 30 miles from the Arctic Circle, and so it kind of got [covered] on news blips here and there, but no one really fully explored it. Now that it is in Reykjavík I think more people will be exposed to it.

**Do you think *Hjörtur's* role in the museum is going to be maintenance? Or does he have his own white whale of obscure penises that he wants to find?**
Jonah: I don't know. I don't think he has the same passion for collecting as his father. I'm sure they are adding collections nonstop, but that museum is so much a part of Siggi, so much the man, that it's never going to have that same character. When you walked in, he would take you all around and explain things with such knowledge and passion. It's going to miss him. It's still going to be great, but it's not going to be the same.