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culture

Glen Callender Brings “Foreskin Awareness” to Pride

This man would like to show you his foreskin, for the greater good.

Photo by James Loewen.

The Foreskin Awareness Booth
The Pride Toronto Street Fair (Church Street, between Charles and Carlton Streets)
June 29, 7 p.m.–1 a.m.; June 30, noon–1 a.m.; July 1, noon–11 p.m.
FREE

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.

Comments

  • observerator

    “…they’ll see foreskin like they’ve never seen it beforeskin.”

    This line alone is worth the price of admission… wait, it’s FREE?!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Intactive/100002216540067 Hugh Intactive

      May the Foreskin be with you.

  • Asdf

    CAN-FAP…? Amazing!!

  • Circumsized

    I am extremely happy with my circumcised penis.

    • Over the River

      That’s good, it’s been with you your whole life.

    • Roger83

      Good for you, but not everybody appreciates missing an important part of their penis.

  • PrideSkin

    Beautiful. Nothing natural about circumcision. I’ll be there.

    • Anonymous

      My partner was born without any. I think that counts as natural…

  • Joe

    Foreskin should not be removed from any human being unless they have given their complete consent. Outlaw it for anyone under 18!

  • T.O.bias

    Sounds like a H.O.O.P. fundraiser … “it’s like a Doberman, let it have it’s ears!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZuvuZXkg84

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Intactive/100002216540067 Hugh Intactive

      I swear the scriptwriters _must_ have intended the movement to have the acronym H.O.O.D. but someone stopped them because of the fourth word.

  • Anonymous

    I guess we’re fresh out of important things to worry about in this city.

    • Ron Low

      I’m so sad that forced amputation of healthy normal EXTREMELY PLEASURE RECEPTIVE body parts is not important to some.

      Foreskin feels REALLY good.

      • Anonymous

        I’m just going to suggest that the world might be a better place if men found a more interesting thing to think about than their penises.

        • Frederick Rhodes

          Having been excessively circumcised at birth usually preoccupies my thoughts. I wish I wasn’t forced to become a limp dick by some procirc fanatic. All the guys who are happy that they caused me sexual dysfunction and not them, are just plane evil, selfish and ignorant. I know how Anders Breivic feels. People who practive eugenic through infant circumcision are prone to eugenics by ethnic cleancing. An eye for an eye. It’s karma. It’s better to become educated on preventing surgical excision than to excise to prevent education.

          • DAFUQ???

            “… People who practive eugenic through infant circumcision are prone to eugenics by ethnic cleancing. An eye for an eye. It’s karma…”
            Did no one else read this?! How has this been liked by two people?!

        • Bearence

          Of course! Because the only thing anyone can justify having any strong feelings about are the Really Important Things. That’s why every show on TV is about feeding the hungry and the newspapers are completely focused on housing the homeless. That’s why the government devotes 100% of its funds and energy on preventing war.

          I’m glad you took the time to roll your eyes and express your disdain for the subject. Otherwise none of us would have realized that the needless surgical removal of one’s body parts without one’s consent is not as important as, say, discussing the latest episode of Big Bang Theory.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Intactive/100002216540067 Hugh Intactive

          The ones who think about them too much are those who are so determined to cut parts off them. Nothing would please Intactivists more than if circumcision had never been invented and nobody needed to give the foreskin a moment’s thought – just enjoy it.

      • Anonymous

        This is the thing I don’t understand. If you’ve never been circumsized or vice versa, how can you comment on the pleasures of one over the other?

        • Brian

          You couldn’t speak from personal experience, but it’s been well documented that the foreskin contains the five most sensitive parts of the penis; get rid of that and you change the sexual experience, period.

        • Ron Low

          Just ask Glen, the intact guy in the article. He’s going from town to town explaining that his foreskin is the best part of his penis.

          In my case I extended my skin tube as an adult so it now can function much like a foreskin. Having slack skin rolling over the corona during arousal does feel REALLY good, and my wife appreciates the reduction in friction against her delicate mucosal orifice. I also now benefit from the protective covering for the glans, which has reverted to being supple, shiny, ticklish, and more pleasure receptive.

          So I have lived with and without slack skin and foreskin feels REALLY good.

    • Anonymous

      What a stupid comment. Are we only allowed to worry about the important things?

      • Anonymous

        No, t_rek. If you think judging other peoples’ body parts is a valuable use of your time, then I say go for it.

        • Anonymous

          Are you being ironic? What is circumcision if not judging the value of others’ body part?

          • Anonymous

            How about telling people with perfectly normal, healthy sex lives that there is something wrong with them?

          • Brian

            If you’re missing part of your genitalia, there IS something wrong with you. Sorry.

          • Anonymous

            Shaming those who are different, check. This movement sounds like a barrel of laughs, sign me up.

          • Brian

            I’m not “shaming” anybody, I’m stating a fact. Also, who’s different? I was circumcised, too. Funny that you’re trying to take the high ground and pass yourself off as tolerant and open-minded while making wild generalizations about those who are against circumcision. Real cute.

          • Anonymous

            A lot of guys have been deprived of normal, healthy sex lives because their unnecessary circumcision went wrong – something not always evident until over a decade after it’s done.

            Unless I’m completely misreading things here, this organization doesn’t exist to shame people who were cut without their consent, but to get them to rethink inflicting it on their sons when the time comes.

    • Roger83

      Yeah, who cares about human rights!

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, because you know what has a great track record for human rights? Telling minorities that their practices are barbaric.

        • Ray Miller

          Forcing unnecessary genital surgery on children is wrong, regardless of who practices it and for whatever reason.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Loewen/649731936 James Loewen

    How we treat children is extremely important! Forcibly cutting off part of a child’s genital organ is a sick barbaric act.

    Tremendous respect for Glen’s excellent, thought-provoking show. Looking forward to CAN-FAP’s west coast appearances and the end of genital mutilation of children. Speak out people end the barbaric and sexually repressive act of cutting children.

    • BDavid

      A classic reponse of those who have been circumcised or circumcised their children is to dismiss the issue. Cutting off parts of children’s sexual organs is a human rights issue. Their is no excuse other than absolute medical need to remove part of the penis. And that is very rare. No parents religion, personal preference over rules a child’s rights to have all of his sexual parts. Circumcsion is on the way out just like female circumcison- it’s about time.

      • Anonymous

        I like how framing anti-circumcision as a rights issue distracts people from the fact that it targets minorities.

        • Brian

          I like how people try to distort the anti-circumcision movement into something it’s not when they clearly have no meaningful argument against it.

        • Anonymous

          Circumcision is still widespread in Canada and the US, far beyond the numbers of minorities. Ontario’s prevalence was 43.7% in 2007 – which “minority” group is that big?

          The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends against circumcision on newborns – are they a hate group?

          • JordanW

            Canada’s** prevalence was less than 14% in 2009. Ontario has one of the largest minority populations in Canada.

          • Anonymous

            That’s a dramatic drop from the 31.9% reported by the Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey in 2007; what’s your source? (All provinces from Ontario west, and PEI, had rates higher than 30%.)

  • Gbenji

    circumcision reduced infection with the HIV virus by 60 percent:
    http://bit.ly/i0H8Pk

    • Anonymous

      Condoms reduce it by over 99%.

      • Anonymous

        Therefore, since condoms exist, nobody has AIDS.

        • JohnW

          Therefore, since circumcision exists and is much more popular in the US than the UK, the US has a lower HIV rate. Also, Jewish people don’t have AIDS. Neither do the majority of Africans.

        • Anonymous

          Are you even trying to follow the conversation?

          • Anonymous

            Sorry for the terse reply, I was so baffled by your condom comment that I must have had some kind of seizure. I don’t understand: do you think that circumcision makes condoms ineffective? Or do you think that nobody ever has unprotected sex? Or are we not allowed to use two prevention methods at the same time? What is it?

          • Anonymous

            Really?

            Circumcision is piss-poor at blocking HIV compared to condoms.

  • Rena

    I saw this guy before the parade on Sunday (or maybe it was someone else, but he had the same t-shirt). He was standing on Bloor St with no bottoms on where all the marchers line up, and he was standing suspiciously close to the Jewish groups ;)

  • Anonymous

    (reply fail)