In a more innocent time, before I knew foreskins were something men protested over, I could not have named even one penis problem allegedly caused by circumcision. Then I stumbled across a company that makes fake foreskins for men. That is, mini sleeves for your penis. Needless to say, my world has never quite been the same.
The company is aptly named ManHood (the best part of this whole experience is that pun by the way, it’s all downhill from here). ManHood is a company dedicated to solving problems I never knew existed; mainly because I am without any penis myself, but also because I don't tend to discuss matters of penile dryness with my friends. Now, if "penile dryness" just made you do a little wretch then let this be a warning to you; you're in for a bumpy ride.
The main issue faced by ManHood wearers seems to be a loss of sensitivity in the “glans” (that’s the head of the penis usually covered by the foreskin just FYI) as it’s exposed to all manner of horrifying things like the air, clothes or bedsheets. According to Randy, the founder of ManHood and herewith The Foreskin Expert, this exposure and irritation from clothing can cause dryness, less pleasure during sex, and generally a not so great time for your Johnson. So the ManHood is designed to keep the bless’d thing warm and snug, helping build up moisture so the glans softens over time. Randy likens this to the roughness of someone’s palms being reduced by wearing gloves. If you’re struggling to get a mental image just imagine what your hand would look like if you wore a latex glove for a month…
All this new information left me with more questions than answers—like how do you pee, and how frequently are guys washing these things? All I wanted was a penis of my own to try out the ManHood and see for myself. But alas! No amount of penis envy in all the world would ever get me a dick for the week so I was resigned to option two; find a willy-ing friend to try it for me (if you were hoping the puns were over they certainly are not).
Next came an uncomfortable couple of days where I had to ask my male friends whether or not they were cut, which apparently isn’t the most normal thing to text someone at 9 AM on a Tuesday. As a gay lady, the topic of circumcision doesn’t come up too much, perhaps unsurprisingly. That was until this week, and now the word "circumcised" has become a suggestion in my predicted texts and I can't stop asking my friends about it; at parties, at the pub, at the gym, in the park, on the street. All the time. So let this be a PSA to all my male friends who may have been frightened by my brazen requests for the intricacies of their private parts. I do, sincerely, apologize.
I did eventually find a wonderful friend of mine who not only is circumcised but was also surprisingly happy to dress his dick up for seven days all for the purposes of my little experiment. When I asked him why he was fine to partake he replied saying "I'm curious for myself and for my knob" which I guess is as good a reason as any. So welcome Damien, and his curious knob!
Randy, the Foreskin Expert, sent me over some of the ManHoods so I could have a look myself and see exactly what Damien would be wearing for the week. In my box I got a black beauty, a silver bullet, a gun smoke, a red croc, an electric fuchsia, a white knight matte, a tiger skin and many many more. They might have been the strangest things I had ever seen.
Randy encourages his customers to wear the ManHood for protection during the day and also protection at night when those pesky "intense nocturnal erections” come into play. These can be quite painful apparently (plus they sound ever so dangerous so please be careful). Other issues the ManHood seeks to solve are the infamous "dribble issues" in older gentlemen. And also the ManHood is designed for men who have a little bit of foreskin left and want to restore the foreskin to its former glory. The sock is designed to fit tightly around the penis and pull on the skin to... grow it back. Yup. Grow. It. Back. I do hope that’s been burned into your memory just as it has in mine.
Those are a few of the main reasons one might need the ManHood, but the website is filled with many many more, including some who choose to wear the ManHood just because they miss the warmth of a foreskin (how romantic). So I know what you're thinking—what a smart and multi-purposeful product it is; what can't this cock sock do for the circumcised man?!
For a product that promises so much it really was just a bit of material folded over with a $20 price tag. So obviously I played with the cock socks; I wore them on my hands, made them into little cacti hats, put them on my dog’s feet to wear as little booties. They were bright and colourful and they were quite fun, but in no way would I ever want to wear one on my body, mainly because most of them looked and felt so sweaty (I will say the silky ones were exceptionally soft though). My primary question was this: if they are for medical problems why are they designed like a Halloween accessory for your dick? Surely there were classier ways to dress up a glorified penis cape without faux snake skin and tiger print? I just didn’t understand the gaudiness of it all, which lead me to my next question; who the hell was buying these?!
I called Damien that night to get his initial thoughts. Damien had been sent five ManHoods including two silky lamé ones, a rubbery type one and a couple with straps. The ManHoods were accompanied by a sheet of paper containing elaborate and extensive notes along with a twelve step instruction program which Damien described as “far too dense and weird” and which I found too disturbing to read fully so we were both left shooting in the dark a little bit. But how hard can it be? In our email exchange Randy had forewarned us that learning about ManHood can be “overwhelming” and “emotional” and maybe that was exactly what was going on in my reluctance to read any more about dry rough dick skin. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s just too gross.
Whilst on the phone with Damien I had to decide what my role was going to be for this experiment and I settled on becoming some kind of penis confidante or “cockfidante” if you will. So there I was standing in my kitchen putting cock socks onto a bright pink dildo whilst I heard my friend’s experiences on the other line. It was the most I’d talked about penises in years.
In our initial conversation I was curious to see if Damien had any expectations about whether or not the ManHood would improve sex and his sensitivity. “I mean I don’t know what it’s like to have a foreskin but I enjoy sex perfectly enough already,” he told me as I took a picture of my dog in his new snake skin booties (very chic). So Damien’s penis is perfectly happy, and despite not thinking he needs a glittery lamé hood to protect his penis against the real world (eg. underpants/the air/demons) I suggested Damien wear one every day for a week to see how one assimilates the ManHood into their everyday life.
Damien and I spoke after he had been wearing his ManHood for the entire next day. Randy had already told me that most of his customers were repeat customers and that “Once you learn about the ManHood, few forget it” (yes correct, I will never ever be able to forget it, especially the ‘before’ photos). So when I spoke to Damien I was half expecting to speak to someone who’d recently had their mind changed, or who’d suddenly realized the important stuff in life—a faux rubber jet black cock sock being one of them.
Safe to say this didn't happen for Damien and his less-than-enthusiastic responses told me that his first day wearing the ManHood had just been a bit uncomfortable, fairly mundane and with no hint of any dicknaissance. I asked him to describe his experiences and he sighed down the phone, “It’s like when you first put leggings on when you're a guy and you're like ‘huh this feels weird, this doesn't feel how normal trousers feel,’ and then you just forget about it because that’s what happens with clothing.”
“Oh so you got used to it?” I asked hopefully. “No! it kept falling off my dick!” he replied. Hmm, not ideal. Well it looks like Damien didn't read the instructions properly (or at all) because in these instructions Randy explains in excruciatingly visceral detail that the elastic ribbon on the ManHood is designed to help prevent it falling off in case of “extreme shrinkage.” Perhaps that was what was happening here. The words “extreme shrinkage” weren’t able to come out of my mouth whilst talking to Damien though so instead I coughed and asked him to try again.
Other than the (unconfirmed) shrinkage issues he tells me he didn't really have to think about the ManHood too much during the day, only to pee which he found “a nuisance.” Damien made sure to pee in cubicles not at the urinals so no one saw his extra willy garms. I’m not surprised that he didn't want to flash about his gaudily dressed penis in front of his colleagues. News of a brightly coloured penis hat would undoubtedly spread through the office gossip grapevine faster than a cheeky inter-colleague blowjob at a staff party. He would have been known as “Damien and the Technicolored Dickcoat” for the rest of his days. In fact, thinking about it now, it’s a real shame that didn't happen.
Day three, what was I expecting to hear from Damien? He’s a convert? He LOVES the ManHood? His penile fashion has been forever changed? His fancily clad knob feels amazing? Any/all of the above?! Sadly no. That morning Damien had picked out one of the shiny gold lamé ManHoods and popped it on. I assumed he must have been feeling jazzy if he chose the sparkly lamé one but sadly Damien told me he felt neither jazzy nor fancy; he just felt uncomfortable because it was far too tight. His pinched penis paired with his cycle into work wearing more tight Lycra was an experience he never wishes to repeat in all his days. So it wasn't good news.
Well Randy, being the clairvoyant he is, did actually predict issues of tightness in his emails to me, explaining that the ManHood “may seem small when it first arrives because there can be some excitement dressing your penis.” Now, I’m no expert, but I can’t imagine that’s what happened with Damien, unless the idea of donning Lycra on Lycra and being extremely uncomfortable is exciting for him. “Any positives?” I asked him, clutching at straws. “It’s a funny story to tell people,” he replied, admitting that earlier that day he had whipped it out in the pub to show his friends. “Did anyone understand the plight?” I asked him. “No, most people were like ‘this seems to be a non-problem,’” he answered.
Sex! It was day five and my cockfidante senses were a tingling; it was time to talk about sex, because this is one of the main reasons the ManHood exists. Damien admitted that ironically it had been his most sexually active period in the last few weeks. “Because of the sock?!” I exclaimed excitedly. No, apparently in spite of the sock. “Every time I thought that sex was a possibility I was sure to take it off,” he told me. So a gaudy clingy coat for a penis isn't sexy? Weird.
“If I’m going to have a random hook up with somebody I'm not going to wear that,” he added. I’m trying to imagine a scenario where I would see a sweaty faux snakeskin cock sock and not be disturbed, but I can’t, so I guess Damien’s decision to whip it off before anyone else could see it is a good idea. One of the ManHood’s biggest selling points is that it’s designed to make circumcised glans more sensitive during sex. According to their website this process takes about a month, not four days, but I was curious to see if Damien had noticed any changes. Unsurprisingly, he had not.
Damien had been wearing the varieties of cock socks for seven days now and he felt no different, maybe just a bit inconvenienced. “My penis has been comfortable in the environment that I've given it for twenty nine years, so someone is coming in to fix a problem that I don't think is there,” he told me when we spoke for the final time. Damien had no real problems with his penis to begin with, so for him there was not one single benefit of having this lurid turtle neck dangling off his bits.
So nothing changed for Damien but clearly it did for the 317 people who have left reviews on the ManHood website explaining how ManHood solved any or all of their penile issues. Randy, The Foreskin Expert, has been dedicated to this kind of work for the last 24 years, and I respect his commitment to the cause. I am absolutely not judging anyone who does experience the plight of crusty glans—in fact I think it’s wonderful that something as specific as the ManHood does exist for that very reason. It’s 2018; we have sentient dog robots and fake lamé foreskins; what a time to be alive!
Well what was the conclusion? Did Damien enjoy it? No. Did Damien’s knob enjoy it? Not really. Did I enjoy having to talk about penises and foreskins for seven days? Probably not (honestly, I think the process has made me gay all over again).“What did you enjoy?” I asked him desperately as we bid farewell. “It was a really good shtick,” he replied. It was a good story, that’s something! So it wasn’t a total waste of seven days and hey, at least Damien has five lamé cock socks to repurpose as little booties for his animal friends.
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This article originally appeared on VICE CA.