Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What's the deal with your penis?!

Many dockside prostitutes in Cape Town & Durban say that Filipino seamen sew little plastic balls—ballitos—into the shaft of their penises.

Uh, what?!

When I first heard this, I couldn't believe it. But the ladies insist: oh yeah, those boys are NAUGHTY!

I learned this during the course of my research and was immediately curious. When I asked Filipino sailors whether it's true, most nonchalantly acknowledge it as a fairly common practice, especially amongst the older sailors. But they say it's dying out amongst the younger generation. (The "body modification" community calls this "pearling" or "genital beading."

When I ask why they do it, the seamen say that it makes them feel more "manly," more "part of the crew," and that it "makes the women enjoy sex more."

How do they do it? Most sailors insert their own ballitos (bulitas in Tagalog) by making a small incision in the shaft, then inserting the small silicon bead and sewing it shut. Some have a friend help. It's incredibly painful.

And as far as "styles" are concerned, three patterns stand out. The first is the single ballito on the top of the shaft. The second is a row of ballitos across the top of the penis, for maximum—bumpety-bump-bump-bump—clitoral stimulation. And the third, pictured above, is a comprehensive cover of ballitos around the shaft.

What was the inspiration? Filipinos say that they learned the practice from Japanese sailors. Yakuza (Japanese "mafia") members are known to do this and may have introduced it to the Asian seamen. The history remains vague.

So what do the women think? Most find it a strange custom and say it hurts. Some refuse to go with guys over this, taking it as a sign of poor character and health. But one woman I talked to got a twinkle in her eye and said, "yeah, those ballitos add a little something extra."

Indeed.

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