This man would like to show you his foreskin, for the greater good.
Some people have to look very hard in order to find their true vocations. All Glen Callender had to do was look down.
For two years, the Vancouver-based freelance writer and performance artist has been an anti-circumcision activist, working under the aegis of his personal foreskin-promotion organization, CAN-FAP. His major outreach activity is something he calls the Foreskin Awareness Booth.
The booth is a tent that Callender erects at festivals in different cities. He invites strangers inside, and then attempts to win them over to his side of the circumcision debate by showing them his foreskin—he is uncircumcised—and demonstrating, among other things, how easy it is to clean, and how many red, seedless grapes he can fit in there. (Apparently, he can fit quite a few.)
Starting tonight, the Foreskin Awareness Booth will make its Ontario debut at the Pride Street Fair, which will be taking place along Church Street throughout the weekend.
Callender spoke to us about his project. Our edited, condensed interview is after the jump.
Torontoist: What, exactly, should people expect when they visit your booth during Pride?
Glen Callender: Well, it’s a 15- to 20-minute show. I demonstrate my foreskin, so it’s like Puppetry of the Penis, but educational and political. I do some tricks with my foreskin. I educate my audience about the foreskin anatomy and function.
Because you didn’t learn about the foreskin in sex ed, right? If you were like me, you went through sex ed in school, there was no foreskin on the diagram of the penis that they showed you, and you didn’t really learn anything about the foreskin. My objective is to correct that oversight, and show people how wonderful a foreskin actually is.
It’s a show about the benefit of foreskins, the harm of circumcision, and the right of all boys to enjoy all of their penis.
You started in 2010, is that right?
Yeah, that’s right. Almost 4,000 people have witnessed my foreskin in the Foreskin Awareness Booth over the past two years. I’ve been at it a while.
If there’s one body part that I really should be associated with forever, it’s the foreskin. And it is my ambition to—and I already basically do—have Canada’s most famous foreskin. I don’t think there’s any other Canadian foreskin that’s better known than mine. And I’m proud of that.
As somebody who does have a foreskin, what exactly was it that made you decide to take up foreskin awareness as a cause?
Well, I have a really, really, great foreskin. I can’t lie, it’s a great foreskin. It’s extremely enjoyable, very sensitive, and I’ve always had a really, really great relationship with my foreskin. When I learned of circumcision when I was a boy, I already had a good relationship with my foreskin at that point, and it absolutely horrified me to learn that they were strapping down babies and cutting off their foreskins. That feeling of horror has never really gone away from me.
When you lose a part of your body, you lose a part of your life. You lose all the experiences you would have had with that body part. And the foreskin has really good experiences.
So, those of us without foreskins are missing out. But what exactly are we missing out on?
Well, circumcision removes well over half the nerves of the penis, and removes the most sensitive and orgasmic parts of the penis.
I teach a seminar in Vancouver where I actually show intact men—men with foreskins—how to have orgasms with their foreskins. There are several areas of my foreskin that I can achieve orgasm with independently of the rest of my penis.
That’s not part of my Foreskin Awareness Booth show. I don’t masturbate, or get an erection, or ejaculate in the show. My show in the Foreskin Awareness Booth isn’t a lewd show or a sex show. It’s an educational show.
Do you find that this is a message men want to hear? How is the mix of people that come to this booth?
Overall, the response to the show is amazing. Toronto will be the eighth city that I’ve done the show in. I’ve done in Vancouver, Whistler, Victoria, Edmonton, San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, and now Toronto. And everywhere I’ve gone the response has been just phenomenal; it’s been amazing. People really like the show; they learn things they didn’t know about penises before.
And believe me, at Pride, men who are, you know, dedicated to penises, do appreciate learning new things about the penis that they didn’t know.
Is that why you choose Pride celebrations as a venue? Because there are so many penis-positive people around?
Well, it helps. I am a queer performance artist myself. I’m bisexual. So I enjoy being part of Pride just as a queer myself. Certainly, the community there is more sex-positive, so it’s easy to do my show at Pride without any complaints or any difficulties. But I have done the show at regular street fairs.
What about circumcision for religious purposes? Is that a different story?
It’s exactly the same thing. The idea that a child has to lose part of his body to satisfy the religious agenda of its parents has no place in the modern world. And I know many Jews who are angry about their circumcisions, because they’re not religious, they’re secular.
That winds up all my questions, but was there anything else you wanted to add?
I’ll just say that if people come see my show, they’ll see foreskin like they’ve never seen it beforeskin.
Oh yeah, one more question. Exactly how many red seedless grapes can you fit in there?
Well, you know, I can’t reveal that. You have to come to the show to find out how many red seedless grapes I can fit in my foreskin.