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Private Dicks: Men Exposed.

In a new HBO documentary, two dozen men (and one transsexual woman) talk about their penises, Not surprisingly, it isn't long enough

Private Dicks: Men Exposed * America Undercover * HBO * Premiering March 15, 1 p.m. Eastern (check local listings)

A documentary film that features men talking about their penises has a certain built-in fascination, although it can be argued that every man's penis is more interesting to him than it is to anyone else. This double-edged sword hangs over HBO's "Private Dicks: Men Exposed," the latest episode of the pay-cable channel's America Undercover series. Produced and directed by Meema Spadola and Thom Powers, it's a follow-up to the filmmakers' "Breasts: 22 Women on 41 Breasts." (Could they be the perfect creative team to film Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues?)

One of the first questions posed in "Private Dicks" is, Why don't men talk about their penises? One possible reason is that men sometimes feel that their penises never shut up. During his lifetime the average man may never hear a peep from his pancreas, but the penis is not a shy organ. As the men in "Private Dicks" amply and hilariously demonstrate, every man's dick feels that it's the life of the party, some of them even wearing lamp shades (one segment is titled "Foreskin or Against"). At an early age the more than two dozen men interviewed for this film learned that a woody is a selfish crutch that leans on you.

To its credit, "Private Dicks" opens with shots of several of the participants stripping and then standing nude, giving us a full-frontal view of a wide range of American penises: young and old, Caucasian and African-American, gay and straight, small and "Oh, my goodness." Porn star Lexington Steele talks softly about carrying a big stick, while one eloquent older gentleman relates the travails of having a peewee penis. (He isn't one of those who shows himself to the camera, but maybe I blinked and missed it.) A paraplegic talks frankly about his sex life. Transsexual icon Kate Bornstein talks about her pre-op past ("They don't cut it off," she relates, "they turn it inside out"), and a female-to-male transsexual talks about how he's seen both sides now.

This is the range of American male genital experience, from herpes to prostate surgery, from losing virginity to finding Viagra, from a straight frat boy's braggadocio to a matter-of-fact gay man's realization early on that he was different (in his case, about three times the size of his schoolmates). My favorite is a muscleman who had penile enlargement surgery and now proudly relates that he exercises his penis two hours a day, stretching and pulling on it. That's taking the "no pain, no gain" philosophy to the extreme, if you ask me.

But because it's only 58 minutes long, I did feel that "Private Dicks" moves too quickly from subject to subject, with short segments on the self-inflicted joys of masturbation and the self-protective wisdom of condoms, a few sound bites on fellatio, and even a snippet on one man's vasectomy. But all in all it's fitting that a documentary about penises would be completely entertaining and satisfying but still leave the viewer wanting more.

Smith is a comedian and the author of Openly Bob, published by Rob Welsbach Books.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Liberation Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Smith, Bob
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Television Program Review
Date:Mar 30, 1999
Words:550
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