The penis, according to Italian T-shirt brand Mr. WizHard, has a bad reputation. A millennia or so ago, everyone loved a good dick—potters etched them into their pots, sculptors carved them into their sculptures and, remember, it was generally a lot more normal for men to flop around bottomless, tilling the fields, or building homes out of clay, or fighting tigers in amphitheaters.
But somewhere along the line—presumably sometime after people stopped fighting tigers, but before they invented tractors—everything changed. Now, says the blurb on the (NSFW) Mr. WizHard website, a "big penis or an erected one is seen as a social threat and a menace to the order." To remedy this, the brand has released a line of T-shirts sporting both erect and flaccid dicks, hoping they will "recover the original meaning of the penis as a symbol of energy, beauty, and free expression."
Italian designer and visual researcher Davide Bazzerla is the founder of the Mr. WizHard range. I had a chat with him over Skype about how the T-shirts might help to reclaim some honor for the most maligned male body part.
VICE:. Tell me about the reputation dicks have today. In the Mr. WizHard mission statement it says that "big or erected" penises are viewed as "a social threat and a menace."
Davide Bazzerla: Yes, and I hope that Mr. WizHard can change that image. This is something that's never been done before—exhibiting a penis in a sophisticated way, and not in a comic or jokey way, on a T-shirt. I can't really gauge reactions yet because the project's just started, but what's important to me is the experience of people looking at a T-shirt with a huge penis on the front.
Why's that important?
A beautiful penis is something that people should see—something that shouldn't be covered. The penis used to be seen as a symbol of fortune, of energy and of beauty. Why would we cover something beautiful? Especially if it's erect. I don't feel like an erect penis is pornographic if it's just standing there, not in action.
I noticed you've got designs of both flaccid and erect penises on the shirts—which state is the most attractive?
Erect. Because erect is energy, it's power, it's pleasure. I love all the good and positive things about an erect penis, like waking up in the morning with one—it's something that gives us the feeling that the day is going to start well. It's something positive, a morning wood.
What do you think has caused the shift in how penises are viewed?
I think religion has had a huge influence in changing moral customs. In ancient Rome, for example, they would keep huge statues of penises in the home because it was something to celebrate. So yes, after that I think religious customs turned the penis into something that's feared.
What do you think of the "free the nipple" movement on Instagram? I guess that's the most high profile parallel to what you're doing with Mr. WizHard.
I love nipples, and I see parallels between the two. Mr. WizHard has just started, but I could always explore different things in the future—nipples being one of them. I've started out with the fact that I'm a man and I'm attracted to the penis. But then I'm also attracted to boobs. And I also have nipples, too, of course. I've had them forever. So yes, I find them attractive, too.
Who do you picture wearing your shirts?
There's no one person in particular. I'd like to think that lots of different people would wear them, so then they would also get reactions from lots of different people. Of course, you'd probably have to be a bit of an exhibitionist, because you know people are going to start looking at you if you wear something like that.
People wanting to provoke a reaction?
Provocation's not really my intention; I didn't create the project to shock people. The reason was because I have a lot of friends who are like, "I can't wear something like this," and I don't know why—it's something beautiful, something really elegant. Although, I suppose one problem is that, in our era, so much promotion is done on Instagram and Facebook, but you obviously can't really do that with Mr. WizHard. So I think the shirts are maybe to be experienced by friends who are really close to you, not the wider world.
Cool. Do you think this is the first of many Mr. WizHard collections?
This is the beginning of a new project. I need to see how the audience react to continue—not just from a business side, but from a creative side, because I want to take people along with me and I can't do that unless I know what they like. It's the beginning of a new experience.
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