Who exactly is qualified to evaluate a penis?
I was judging the event, and in formulating my answer, I thought immediately of sex advice columnist Dan Savage, who often gets asked, "What makes someone qualified to give sex advice?" His answer is always a version of the same quip: "Some idiot was foolish enough to ask."
Me? "I'm a sex writer. I've evaluated cock constantly," I said into the mic and walked off stage. But that's only partially true. In fact, as a writer, I've spent a good amount of time talking about how backward it is to measure guys by the size of their junk.
But the point of this pageant was exactly the opposite. No one was getting measured by dong size — I was judging for dong charisma.
A pro-penis vibe: "If you came here to make fun, you better get the fuck out," Chicken Bitches had said. Those were the house rules. The pageant's premise was straightforward: Men with small dicks saunter around nearly nude, as they compete to win the crown of the smallest penis in Brooklyn.
Not unlike your typical Miss America, the pageant was set to have three segments: formal wear, swimwear (known as "Cocksplash") and talent. Each contestant would also make personal statements and display their penis prowess through dancing, singing and speechmaking. Most importantly, the competition isn't nearly focused on size as much as it is on swagger. This is how we would pick the winner.
A fully supportive scene: DJ Syntax played thumpy techno while doing the robot, dressed like C-3PO's less cool cousin. Twenty-somethings sipped on "penis coladas," waved dick-shaped light sabers and applied temporary wang tattoos. Oh, right: The pageant was also Star Wars-themed.
"SMALLEST PE-NIS! SMALLEST PE-NIS!" the crowd of hundreds began to shout as they became increasingly more inebriated and impatient for the festivities to begin.
Chicken Bitches assured the audience and judges that our purpose was to celebrate small peen in every way possible. In a culture that puts pressure on the size of someone's manhood, our collective job was to praise, not denigrate.
The cocky contestants: The contestants took the stage. Cromwell, a jubilant man, had a huge smile plastered to his face. Rip Van Dinkle, an old bearded man, seemed to be straight out of Woodstock circa 1969. Chino Loco was a stout man with glasses. The Gentleman was a masked, more subdued kind of guy.
Then there was Puzzlemaster, a long-haired man with lots of sass and experience, having competed last year. Rip Van Dinkle and the Puzzlemaster both flew in from other parts of the country, drawn to a competition that would accept them as they are.
The no-judgment judging: Fittingly, judges could not measure penises. In fact, contestants weren't allowed to be naked, but their "formal wear" left very little to the imagination. When the contestants strutted out in black Speedo-style briefs with see-thru mesh crotch cut-outs, the audience went wild.
From what I could tell, most of the contestants just hit the two-inch mark while flaccid. (The average, if you're wondering, is 3.61 inches.)
Of course, my accuracy waned as the crowd and the judges got exceedingly drunk, flinging phallus-shaped objects into the air. A comedy band called Afterbirth Monkey took the stage during an intermission and flashed the crowd with a large dildo, while the singer took her top off to reveal penis-shaped nipple pasties. After all, it was all about celebrating bodies, right?
The performance: The point wasn't size or looks but charisma, so each contestant took a turn explaining why he wanted to win. In their speeches, most wanted the glory of the crown. But Chino Loco's speech was by far the most moving: "I'm Chinese and I got a small dick. For the first time in my life, I get to celebrate the fact that I have a small dick."
When it came time for the talent portion, Rip Van Dinkle recited a poem: "I'm a Baby Boomer, 80 million strong/ And to prove my point, behold my baby dong." Others sang or did standup comedy. But in what can only be described as a total showstopper, Puzzlemaster performed his own version of "Goldmember," rewritten as "Golddinger."
Using scorecards with numbers 1, 2 and 3 ("Because this is a smallest penis pageant, one is the highest score," we were told by event organizer Aimee Arciuolo) and an endlessly replenished plastic bucket of wine and beer, we doled out our scores for all categories.
We shot up our "1" score cards in a unanimous vote. Puzzlemaster's dong charisma had won the day.
The truth about size: As with sex, what mattered was what these contestants did and felt about their bodies, not society's conventional standards. While some men have humiliation fetishes tied to their small penises, most contestants were in it for something larger. My fellow judge Krystyna Hutchinson agreed, saying she wanted men to feel "more comfortable" with their bodies. That, more than the glittery thongs and a virtual peep show, may have been the whole point of the day.
As the day closed out in a haze of alcohol, sweat and glitter, despite the silliness involved, there was something powerful about owning what you consider your "worst" trait and celebrating it in front of a cheering crowd. Taking a format so often used to judge beauty, the pageant instead spotlighted a part of male anatomy that so rarely gets praised. For once, small cocks weren't mocked.
The real prize: I met the winner, Puzzlemaster, at the bar after the competition. He said he didn't even identify as having a ridiculously small penis, but that it was a "head trip" to win. He was most concerned with the media storm and attention winning the crown might bring. I immediately felt comfortable with him, as if seeing (and evaluating) almost completely nude had triggered a sense of familiarity between us — almost, funnily enough, just like sex itself.
"Hey, want to get out of here and grab a pizza?" I asked.
"Definitely," Puzzlemaster said.