Tattoos are standard in prison. If you come into the penitentiary with bare skin, you damn sure aren't going to leave without a few pieces. But behind penitentiary walls, tattoos aren't the only option for body modification. Some guys get piercings, horns, or even "pearling," in which small objects like dominos are implanted into the skin of the penis.
Technically, body modification—which includes tattoos, piercings, and putting stuff in your dick—is against prison rules. It's considered "self mutilation" by the federal Bureau of Prisons and can cost an inmate up to 60 good behavior days or up to six months of solitary confinement.
The issue is currently at the heart of a lawsuit from Adrian F. King Jr., an inmate at the Huttonsville Correctional Center in West Virginia, who was forced to remove the small marbles implanted in his penis back in 2013. King claims that he had the the pearling done before he got locked up, but another inmate claims to have seen King getting it done in the prison. Either way, the warden reportedly threatened to make King spend the remainder of his sentence in solitary confinement unless he got them removed. He did, and now he's suing the prison for what he sees as an infringement on his bodily integrity.
Where King had his genital implants done is up for debate, but plenty of men do get stuff inserted into their dicks in prison. We spoke to several inmates about body modification behind bars—how it works, who gets it done, and what it feels like to have a domino in your dick.
Prisoner One, 31
Serving ten years at FCI Beckley in West Virginia
This is a growing style in prison. It's actually happening here too. Almost every person who I've known to get one of these, they regret it. Usually it begins with boredom. They get bored in prison; too much idle time. Their cool friend gets one inserted in his dick, then it gets talked about. The next thing you know, a few more people get it done. Then it continues to spread among the bored inmates. [You have] another man brace your dick in his hand, tie a shoestring around it, and poke a hole through the foreskin with a sharpened plastic spoon.
They sand down a domino in whatever shape they want—usually a heart, a lightning bolt, or a small bump—and they insert [the domino] into that small hole that was poked open. I knew one guy who passed out when he saw all the blood. He wore the string that was tied around his penis for almost a week because it wouldn't stop bleeding.
I was talking to this dude in recreation today. He said at FCI Memphis he had a heart-shaped domino put in his dick. It got infected, and it hurt to the point that he could barely touch it. It started leaking and shit. He had to cut it out himself. It took two weeks for it to heal up. But once he got here, he had a Spanish dude in his unit do the entire procedure again. This time he got a barbell domino. Apparently the Spanish dude knew what he was doing, and it only bled a small amount.
Prisoner Two, 32
Serving ten years at FCI Memphis
I've done this myself. I watched as a dude held my penis in his hand, then used an open shaving razor to make an incision into the skin. He placed a polished domino under the skin. My body rejected the polished domino about six months after I had it done. My body started pushing it out. It was swollen and irritated. I had to cut it out myself. I'm straight now, but it scared the shit out of me at the time.
We did the procedure in my cell. We waited until we had a guard that didn't walk the unit that much. Dude wore plastic gloves and had alcohol. It was all very surgical. I don't think the cops would even care, but it would be embarrassing to get caught with your dick in another man's hand. Tattoos are illegal, but a lot of cops operate with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy as long as the dudes in the unit are chill.
When you get a new tattoo and it scabs over and is all red, dudes just wear long sleeves and stay covered up so that a cop can't see a fresh tattoo. Once its healed, you're good. The next time they take a photo of your tats they might notice a few extra, but they don't usually make a big deal out of it.
Prisoner Three, 42
Serving five years at USP Big Sandy in Kentucky
I wanted to come out of prison a fucking monster. I got all the obligatory gang tats everywhere and devil horns blasted on my head to give my name, Diablo. I like to do things to set myself apart—like my lizard tongue as I call it, which is split in half. The split starts at the tip of my tongue and goes an inch deep. I already had my tongue pierced, but I couldn't keep the barbell, so I just said fuck it and split it. I used a piece of dental floss and slid it into the hole and just sawed it open. It didn't hurt as much as you'd think.
I'm not gonna lie. I was shook when I first got my pinga done. I got a small heart-shaped stone right below my head. It was fucked up having a dude holding my dick and coming at me with a razor, but fuck it. The hynas are going to love it. I got two more stones inserted into my shaft after the first one healed up. It's just a small cut, and they slide right in. The worst part was I couldn't jerk off for two weeks.
My eyes are red too. I had my carnalito use a binkie [homemade syringe] and inject ink into my eyeballs. He had to hit each eye eight times. Shooting up around my pupil. The binkie he used is the same one that all of his homeboys use to shoot dope. It consists of a needle that's melted into a pen tube and the blatter off the milk bags in the kitchen. We sharpened it before we did it, so it wasn't that dull, and it went in pretty smooth.
Prisoner Four, 45
Serving Life at FCI Terre Haute in Indiana
I had a cellmate who did this, and he said when he got out a girl wouldn't give him head because she thought it was a wart or something. I had a friend in Australia who was an ex-prostitute and said many of the girls at the brothels she worked at hated these. The marbles hurt the girls. Many Puerto Ricans and Dominicans do this; it's not uncommon for them to insert up to five inside of them. I've seen the after effects. It looks like a bee stung their cocks. They think its awesome.
One guy in here charges $50 each piercing, and it can be more depending on what they want. The tooth brush is sharpened after being melted down, and the domino is carefully sanded into hearts or diamonds. The latest craze is a barbell or worm—these cost $75 to do, because they take more time to make the design. Before piercing, he sanitizes the dudes dick with rubbing alcohol pads they get in the infirmary. Most dudes get it on the bottom because guys say they like fucking girls doggie style and believe the marbles will give girls the most pleasure that way.
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