By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
ACT I -- FOREPLAY. EIGHT PENISES ON PARADE, 10 IF YOU COUNT THE two in capes. I've been invited to sit in on the Los Angeles auditions for Puppetry of the Penis at STAR 98.7's Jamie & Danny Show. Puppetry's producers and its two stars, Jim MacGregor and Mark Neal, will choose a few men to do guest spots on their show at the Coronet Theater. Will there be legions of John Holmeses snaking around the block? Adonises on polar-bear-skin rugs? Fig leaves? Frat boys? Frisky baby mole rats? All I know is, I won't have to get naked -- I'm a girl -- and even one penis trick will be one penis, uh, trick more than I've seen in some time.
ACT II -- PERFORMANCE. ANXIETY.AT half past 7, the hopefuls are seated in the waiting room -- it's as glamorous as a Laundromat, with more tension than an STD clinic. There's Jay, first name only, who is boyish in a nerdy Edward Nortonesque way; a jolly-faced Santa Claus type with wife; and "Reverend Pokechop," an 82-year-old man with the glassy-eyed stare of a retired serial killer. Invading my every thought are penises yet unseen, unsheathed, unbent. Every question becomes a double entendre: Is it harddoing this? Do you feel like you're upto it?
"So (penis!) what do you (penis!) think of the (penis!) competition?" I ask Santa.
"How can we know the competition with their pants on?" he answers. Several men nod in agreement, but nobody moves a muscle.
ACT III -- CLIMAX. AT 8 ON THE DOT, we're shuttled into a back room. Producers on one end, auditioners on the other. MacGregor and Neal loaf on the casting couch, capes wrapped around them like cocoons. The producers, in polo shirts and khakis, are clustered around a glass table, absently tapping pens on yellow pads. What they're looking for, they explain, is not just presence, but presence. Penis presence. That special spark.
"Let's get to it then, shall we?" Neal urges. The eight auditioners, corralled at the front of the room, disrobe. Oh, happy dagger!
"Are you going for the biggest bloody little dingo?" asks a guy in a postal-worker uniform. In Australian accent, he introduces himself as "The Cockodile Hunter" and then staggers like he's been speared in the groin. "This croc's a strong bastard!" he grimaces. MacGregor and Neal walk the guys through several of the show's infamous maneuvers: the "Eiffel Tower," the "Loch Ness Monster," the "Snail," which evolves out of the "Parachute," and the "Hamburger" (Santa Claus' is mostly bun). And then the boys improvise. One does an Elvis impersonation -- swivel pelvis, grab penis, sing -- while another nervously coaxes the clam out of its shell -- ("Sorry, I took an antihistamine this morning; I've got shrinkage.") Everybody except for Robbie XXX, who is a porn star and who knows better, keeps his socks on.
Robbie's penis prompts a bout of spontaneous clapping from the judges. Jay's is flanked by really, really red balls. I cannot see what Reverend Pokechop's penis looks like, but I'm okay with that. What I do note is that he keeps his shirt, cap and tie on, and that he seems in fact to have forgotten that the lower half of his body exists at all. Screw the "Loch Ness" or the "Hamburger" -- instead the Reverend launches into a standup-comedy routine about Harry S. Truman, a German brewing dynasty, slavery and the Civil War. It's a routine, he wheezes, that he's been perfecting since 1946, since "before the days of women's lib when my momma was a stripteasin', so no sir, I ain't no tittybagger. By the way, how many of you ladies would like to try some of this greasy-dick beer?" -- at which point he whips out a can of beer from a crumpled plastic bag, leers, pops the tab, and pours. The woman standing next to me takes a step back and whimpers: "I . . . am . . . so. . . afraid."
ACT IV -- DENOUEMENT. THE ENTIRE process repeats when the men are called into the DJ booth, only this time live and on-the-air. They march across the hall in groups of twos and threes. "Remember, everybody, we can't say cockon the radio," DJ Danny Bonaduce warns. His co-host, Jamie, is curled up lotus style behind the console. For reasons unknown, she's holding a glittery pink jelly vibrator shaped like a tongue. She bashes it on the table like a gavel and points to the first auditioner, Jay: "You look so normal. Why are you here?" The rest of us try not to look offended.
Jay says he's on a dare, because his friends "are expecting it." Santa Claus and several others claim they're here for free tickets. The Cockadile Hunter says it's his patriotic duty. Robbie XXX says it's organic to what he does in other spheres of life; then, while curling his dick around his forearm in his signature "wristwatch" maneuver, and looking extremely pleased with himself, he says, "Hell, I didn't have anything else to do, anyway."
"Aaw, man, I can't follow that!" cries a 50-something man in rainbow socks. He crosses his arms and sulkily refuses to take off his pants. Jay, naked except for red Converses, grins triumphantly. The show cuts to a commercial. As he exits the booth, Robbie hands DJ Jamie his business card. "If you ever want to have dinner sometime . . ."