Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How Long Is a Gorilla’s Penis When Fully Erect

The ditto machine, an early copier. A little before my time.
Once upon a time, before Wikipedia allowed us to research delicate matters with discretion, a Cosmo fact checker was given a manuscript entitled "That Marvelous Male Member." The assignment: to verify every factual item in the 1,500-word article. Now, when this fact checker, who happened to be a rookie (less than a week on the job), got to the part about the astonishing length of an adult gorilla’s erect penis, he called the Bronx Zoo and asked to speak with a primatologist. After a long, painful introduction (“I work at Cosmo and I’m checking this article and I know it sounds crazy but . . .”) the checker could procrastinate no longer. Out popped the question. “Four centimeters,” said the zoo guy without hesitation. As if he got asked this question every day. “That’s one-point-five inches,” he added helpfully. The researcher, my friend Steve, remembers this incident as if it was yesterday. The primatologist’s answer, 1.5 inches, was of course correct—a gorilla’s penis is astonishingly puny. Steve reminded me, however, that despite everything he went through to get this detail right, the magazine got it wrong. Apparently, some incredulous copy editor, stunned that Mother Nature had dealt the gentle giant such a low blow, changed “length” to “width” and “erect” to “flaccid.” I was reminded of this incident during a recent Facebook discussion of The Way We Worked, now showing at AVA Gallery in Lebanon. Many thanks to my friend Lori Flint for her mention of microfiche, which launched a flood of memories. In my next post I will tell you about the Kensington Ladies Erotica Society, a romance with Simba the ape, and my brief career as a sex expert for the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky.

1 comment:

  1. WHY WE DON'T NEED FACT-CHECKERS ANYMORE: "Food poisoning, crooked cops, dilapidated roads, violent drug cartels: Whether true or grossly exaggerated, these are a few of the stories about Baja California that circulate so persistently around the Internet that many travelers won't dare to venture beyond the resorts of Cabo San Lucas." So just how bad are those roads/cops/tortillas? Curiously, the writer never says, so—nothing to fact-check. FACT: Condé Nast Traveler used to have five full-time fact-checkers on its payroll. Now there are: 0.