Please retweet. I am offering my male genitals (full penis, testes, scrotum) as a meal for 100,000 yen…. I will prepare and cook as the buyer requests, at his chosen location.”
On Sunday, April 13, Tokyo illustrator Mao Sugiyama (who goes by the nickname “HC”), publicly seasoned and braised his own genitals on a portable gas cartridge burner, and then served them to five eager diners who each paid about $250 for the meal (a sixth was a no-show). The genitals had been returned to the asexual Sugiyama, frozen and double-bagged in plastic, following elective genital removal surgery on his 22nd birthday in early April.
After initially considering eating them himself, Sugiyama offered the meal on Twitter in mid-April to the first person willing to pay 100,000 yen (about $1,250). But after the notoriety that his tweet caused, he organized a public banquet, dubbed “Ham Cybele – Century Banquet,” at the “Asagaya Loft A” event space in the Suginami Ward of Tokyo. “Century” in Japanese is a homophone for the Japanese word for “genitals”; “Ham Cybele” refers to the Anatolian mother goddess, prefixed with an appropriate word for tough meat to create a phrase whose initials match Sugiyama’s artist name of HC.
The day before the event Sugiyama tweeted, “I’m starting to thaw them out,” and posted this photo (warning: not for the squeamish). On the day of the event a crowd of about 70 mostly twenty-somethings gathered, five to a table, to listen to a piano recital and panel discussion before the dinner.
Although only five servings of the genitals were available, the other diners were served alternate beef- and crocodile-based dishes. The cooking was done by Sugiyama himself, dressed as a chef, under the supervision of a licensed food preparation specialist.
The five genital eaters comprised a 32-year-old male manga artist (there for “research”), a 30-year-old white-collar couple (who were “curious”), an attractive 22-year-old woman (who wondered how it would feel), and 29-year-old event planner Shigenobu Matsuzawa, who tweeted before the event, “It’s a once in a lifetime chance, so I decided on the spur of the moment to do it.” Matsuzawa posted a detailed blog post on April 14 after the banquet, including about 20 photographs (the source of our photos here). He boasted on Twitter that he was getting twice the traffic he’d gotten when his blog was once profiled on prime-time Japanese television. But on May 19 he suddenly deleted the post and replaced it with a new post explaining that the removal was due to privacy considerations. Sugiyama himself had linked to and seemed to endorse the blog post.
Diners were required to sign a waiver releasing Sugiyama and the event organizers from any liability arising from the consumption of the genitals. Sugiyama stated that before his operation he had been tested to be free of any venereal diseases (although during the panel discussion he admitted that he had gone on a one-month sex binge with anonymous internet partners just to make sure he wouldn’t regret the operation). He stated that he had not yet started receiving female hormone therapy the time of the operation. He also added that the pre-severed penis could attain an erect length of 16.1 cm (about 6.3 inches).
Close-up photos of the braised genitals showed a sliced penis shaft with clearly visible corpora cavernosa and urethra, a sliced testicle with the look and texture of sea urchin sushi, and scrotal skin with about 3 mm of pubic hair growth. Rounding out the presentation the chef garnished the genitals with button mushrooms and Italian parsley.
Sugiyama told the tense but giggly crowd during the pre-dinner interview that he would be contributing his genital recipes to the Japanese recipe website Cookpad.com. (Note: A photo from Sugiyama’s Twitter stream of two large, meaty balls together on a plate has been misidentified by some websites as his testicles. They are actually beef steak cubes that Sugiyama used to develop his recipe before the real event.)
Sugiyama had also intended to include his nipples on the menu, but his attempt to burn them off with sodium hydroxide did not result in anything usable.
What was the verdict by the eaters? According to the deleted blog post by Matsuzawa, the hard, rubbery penis root almost bent his fork, and he spit it out after a few chews. The only taste was of the red wine that it had been pre-stewed in. The scrotum was surprisingly even harder and more rubbery than the penis, but tasteless. (Matsuzawa didn’t mention the pubic hair.) The testicles were hard on the outside, soft and glutinous in the middle, with a fishy or gamey taste. One of Matsuzawa’s friends in attendance asked for a piece of the penis and ate it, but after the event became distraught and expressed regret that he had lost his common sense in the heat of the moment.
A spokesman for the Suginami police told CalorieLab that they had received many inquires and complaints from concerned citizens, but that they were unable to pursue the matter because there is no law prohibiting cannibalism in Japan. Nevertheless, the spokesman said, “We’re going to talk to the people at Asagaya Loft A and ask them what is going on and why they hosted such an event.”
Sugiyama is cheerfully answering questions from curious Twitter members about Ham Cybele, his operation, and especially his new corset, which he’s wearing to help maintain an androgynous shape as his female hormone therapy progresses (the hormones are for “health purposes”). He tweets that his surgery cost him 1 million yen (about $12,500). He reports that video of the Ham Cybele event was taken and that it and a written “Ham Cybele Official Report” will be available at a later date.
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