Jonah Falcon was born with a blessing in, er, disguise. Until it took over his life. And tormented him.
June 12, 2003
STORY BY ROBERT KURSON
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARY ELLEN MARK
“I’m a showoff. You should see me in my bike pants.”
-Falcon at his home in New York.
WHEN JONAH FALCON WAS IN FIFTH grade, his class was allowed to use the school swimming pool. Like many ten-year-olds, the boy was modest and decided to change into his swimsuit in a bathroom stall. Locker-room noises ricocheted outside as Jonah dropped his pants. Then, silence. At first, he wondered if everyone had run away. He looked up and saw fingers wrapped over the top of his stall. Then more fingers. And eyes. His classmates, as many as could wedge themselves around the perimeter of the stall, had hoisted themselves up to peer at what Jonah had exposed. Jonah did not know it was unusual for a ten-year-old boy to have an eight-inch penis. He was unaware that his organ was already longer, thicker and heavier than any owned by his classmates' fathers. All he knew was that the silence and the staring boys made him want to burst out of the stall and run away. But Jonah didn't run away or close his eyes. Pinned inside the toilet stall, pants scrunched around his ankles, he saw a new expression in the eyes of the boys. They looked, Jonah thought, to be in the presence of God.
The average adult penis, according to the Kinsey Institute, measures just under six inches when erect. Most men - about eighty-seven percent - are between five and seven inches. Dr. Alfred Kinsey found that the largest reported penis was a bit more than nine inches erect.
Jonah Falcon's penis is 9.5 inches flaccid, 13.5 inches erect. Tense your forearm. Now wrap your hand around the middle of the muscle. That is the girth of Falcon's erection. Those who have witnessed it describe it as "grotesque," "gorgeous," "hideous" and "stunning." Falcon, who stands five foot nine, thinks his penis is perfectly formed, with a fifteen-degree downward curvature at the six-inch mark and absent the blotching, lumpiness and sudden bends that mark some oversize sex organs. A penis this size functions, physiologically, like any other, according to urologists, a claim substantiated by Falcon. His balls are proportionately huge, each the size of a grade-A jumbo egg. When erect, Falcon's penis generates enough heat to warm hands - campfire, style - from a distance of six inches.
Today, Falcon's beloved Yankees play the Mets at Yankee Stadium. He feels the subway calling. He will need his full supply of gear to attend a game of this consequence - glove, empty bag, yearbook and a pair of authentic Yankees pinstripe pants two sizes too small.
"People are going to stare at my dick," he acknowledges. "But I'm a Yankees fan, and that comes first."
Falcon packs his penis to the left and buttons his pants. The human brain needs several seconds to reconcile the sight. His dick stretches across his pelvis and settles against his outer thigh. The head of Falcon's organ rises in unmistakable relief from beneath the fabric. His balls, especially when he pushes them up as he does today, look like the wide, oval eyes ascribed to Martians in popular drawings. Never does the sight of Falcon's equipment suggest a kielbasa or any such inert object. In clothes, with every step, Falcon's penis is alive. He refers to his penis as "it" or "my dick." "I won't call it Little German or Ralph, like other guys," he says. "More insecure guys name their dicks."
Just one block into the trip, Falcon approaches two nattily dressed Wall Street types hailing a cab. One man elbows his friend frantically as Falcon passes. Both stare directly at his crotch as a dozen taxis fly past. Falcon focuses on their faces - familiar expressions to him. It is the look men get when they meet Michael Jordan or Keith Richards, the look of someone contemplating something fundamentally more powerful than himself.
A lilt begins to animate Falcon's stride. "People always want to talk about my potential," Falcon says. "But I have unlimited potential. I can do whatever I want."
“I have unlimited potential… I can do whatever I want.” What Jonah Falcon wants is to be taken seriously as an actor. But a brother’s got to make a buck while paying his dues. Falcon was once offered $1,000 to let someone suck his member. His response? “Why not?”
JONAH CARDELI FALCON WAS BORN IN 1970 to Cecilia Cardeli and a man who died shortly after Jonah's birth. Falcon has at times said that his biological father was legendary porn star John "Johnny Wadd" Holmes, who died of AIDS in 1988. Holmes was known for the length of his penis (which happens to be roughly the same size as Jonah's). Falcon claims to possess "confidential" information proving his lineage, but family members scoff at this suggestion.
Falcon asks that if I interview his mother, I do not speak to her about his penis. "I'm pretty sure she knows about it," he says. "But it's not a topic for a mother."
I ask Cardeli about Jonah's childhood. She interrupts. "I know the reason you're calling. Look, it's genetic. He was born like that, and he was always big for his age. But it's not his big penis, it's society's need to fixate on it. We're in a world where men see their manhood in their penises."
As an only child, Jonah shared a four-story house in Brooklyn with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents. Cardeli says that the blond-haired, blue-eyed boy was reading by eighteen months, a claim his cousins substantiate. When Jonah was six, his mother decided to find work and sent her son to Puerto Rico to live with his grandmother. He stayed for three years and climbed avocado trees and made water balloons and sobbed when his mother left after visiting.
When she did return to New York with him, Jonah's mother sent him to live at the Infants Home of Brooklyn, a residence that provided, among other things, foster care for children. "I don't think my mom could afford me," he says. "But it's no big deal. My past has so unaffected me." He stayed at IHB for three happy years, where he was appreciated for his first-rate mind and during which no one, including Jonah, thought much about his penis.
But after that day in the locker room, he was treated with deference. 'When Jonah was ten, an older neighborhood kid told an eighteen-year-old woman, "I've got a buddy who's got the biggest dick you'll ever see. It's probably a foot long. He's kind of shy. Want to fuck him? "The woman said she did. So Jonah, who was five foot zero, maybe ninety-eight pounds and mostly bald in the crotch, agreed to meet this woman. He didn't know what sex was, but he showed up, and the woman showed up, too - red hair, average build, brown eyes. Jonah had no clue what to do, but he knew that people had sex lying down, so he lay on his back and waited. He remembers "fondling and fucking" and that the woman was probably on top, but all that is vague to him now. What still echoes is the woman's refrain: "Holy shit! I've never seen anything like that in my life. Holy shit!…
Along the route to the subway station this late Saturday afternoon, Falcon will need to pause every few blocks for an "adjustment" - a reconciliation of penis and pants to facilitate comfortable locomotion. The move, perfected over twenty years, is Houdini seamless; if you don't know what to look for, you never see it. As he walks, Falcon shifts his baseball glove from his left hand to under his right armpit, pivots so that he is facing a store window, pulls out the elastic waistband of his skintight baseball pants with his right hand, then uses his left to lift the penis back into its sideways position - it had drifted down his leg and was pointing earthward. Once his organ is securely wedged to the left, he releases his pants with a thwap, flips his glove back onto his catching hand and resumes his stride up New York's Eighth Avenue.
"Jonah," I say, "don't you ever worry that those pants might make you appear freakish to people?"
"The point is to be obvious," he says. "Wearing tight pants is not just about getting attention. It's about watching other people get obsessed with me. I'm a show-off. Look at people check me out. My bike pants are even more impressive. You should see me in my bike pants."
On his way to the subway station, Falcon passes maybe 150 people. At least half of them housewives, merchants, businessmen, children - notice his penis. Some avert their eyes and quicken their pace. Others openly gawk. "Good Christ," "That's fake" and "Yeah, right" echo in Falcon's wake, and with each notice he becomes energized, until he stands outside the subway station like a model unveiling a prize on a TV game show. One young woman circles in front of Falcon for a second look, after which she seems horrified. "It's her fault for staring," Falcon says. More often than not, women merely giggle when they see Falcon's penis cellophaned in the bike shorts he favors. Men ask about it. Some men - usually straight ones - even ask to see it. If the mood strikes him, Falcon might honor the request.
Tonight, no one asks to see it. But Falcon cannot buy a subway token or purchase a candy bar without causing a hushed pandemonium. A frat boy who spots him walks sideways to a pay phone in order not to break his line of sight and places a call - his only words audible above the subway-platform noise are "baseball pants."
Falcon wedges himself into the first subway car bound for Yankee Stadium and grabs one of the overhead straps. He knows that many of the people who stare at him presume he's some kind of Dirk Diggler, the big-dicked character from the movie Boogie Nights. Falcon hates Boogie Nights. He loathes that Diggler doesn't learn a goddamn thing in a two-and-a-half-hour movie except - no shit - that his dick gets him places. He hates the cheap prosthetic penis Diggler pulls from his pants in the film's closing scene -how the hell do you cut corners and buy a giant rubbery dick with painted-on blue veins? Most of all, Falcon hates that he had been writing his own screenplay about the life of a guy with a huge penis, a better screenplay than Boogie Nights, one with real dialogue, where the main character ends up with a life, a meaningful life.
AT AGE TWELVE, JONAH ENROLLED AT AN East Harlem school for brainy kids. Teachers were astounded by his fine intellect, but they were also struck by his awkward social skills.
"Jonah was extraordinarily bright," says his math teacher Jeff Nelson. "He breezed through college work. He could have taught my class. But he was a strange kid. He didn't like to share his knowledge. He'd get upset with kids if they didn't understand."
By the seventh grade, Jonah's penis had grown to 9.5 inches erect. By fifteen, he had reached 10.5 inches and showed no signs of stopping. Neighborhood kids knew about Jonah's penis and occasionally begged him to show it to them. Sometimes he agreed, studying their facial reactions for signs of amazement and wonder. He looked, he says, for signs that people liked him.
"Jonah never fit in," says Alex Covan, a classmate and sometime friend. "I think it was extremely difficult on him. I really remember him being alone."
By the time he had graduated from junior high school, Jonah was thriving in the stratosphere of mathematics. His mother, who earned a modest income as an accountant's clerk, bought him the latest computers, software and role-playing games, even as they lived in a tiny public housing apartment. After scoring off the charts on entrance exams, Jonah enrolled at the prestigious Bronx High School of Science, breeding ground for New York's most brilliant and promising children.
Bronx Science should have been Jonah's salvation, a place filled with like-minded kids experienced at being different. But even there, his craving for attention and his lack of social skills painted him as an outcast. He told no one at school about his secret and thanked God that students were not required to strip for gym class. After school, he worked on his computer, read science fiction and tracked his weekly penis growth. His grades began to slip - 80, then 70, then 65. But he never stopped measuring himself. "I knew something special was happening," Falcon says.
One afternoon when he was fifteen, two men approached him outside Bronx Science. "Are you Jonah Falcon? Have you had sex yet? Would you be interested in making some money?" Jonah felt weird and told the men he was not interested. Then he went home and worked on his computer. A few days later, someone at school said to him, "Remember those guys? You know they're porno filmmakers, don't you?" That's when Jonah realized that people knew about him.
Falcon is in his element at Yankee Stadium. Armed with two hot dogs, a jumbo pretzel and a Diet Coke, and with his bag safely over his groin, he begins a monologue - on baseball, life, baseball, sex, baseball, acting and baseball - that will motor on until well after the final pitch. There are a half-dozen independent conversations in progress around him in the cheap seats, and Falcon manages to insert himself into each of them. "The bullpen does not suck; they have tired arms," he tells a pack of Mets fans to his left. "Score that 'catcher unassisted,"' he tells three college guys. When the scoreboard asks for the Yankees' single-season doubles leader, Falcon does not wait for the multiple-choice answers. "Don Mattingly, 53; Don Mattingly, 53; Don Mattingly, 53," he machine-guns into the air before anyone in the section has a chance to answer. Kids grin at his knowledge, and he grins back.
“While his high school classmates tossed their caps at graduation and toasted to success at Brown and MIT, Falcon vowed to follow his heart and become an actor. Or a writer. That is where his passion lay - in making others happy, in causing people to say, "I really enjoyed you in that, Jonah," or to approach him and ask, "Aren't you Jonah Falcon?" or to invent the term Falconesque, which would be most wonderful of all. But first there was the matter of baseball. For two years, Cardeli had saved up the tuition for the Rich Martin All-Star Baseball Camp, where they both thought Jonah might take his first steps toward becoming a Yankee. He made several spectacular fielding plays before camp let out.
Falcon enrolled in a state college to study theater. Often, he would announce his life plan - to himself, to professors, to whomever: "I will become a recognized actor. I will become an artist."
"Jonah was very talented and creative," says a man who attended a film class with him. "But he hadn't developed any real ability to interact with people. He was alone, and that stood out. He was a solitary figure."
While other aspiring artists took classes and rehearsed, Jonah made nightclubs his audition hall. People noticed him. Sweat pants gave way to skintight trousers and white bike shorts. He discovered the weight room. For seven years, Falcon did little more than accumulate sex partners -1,500 by the time he was twenty-five, mostly women, he says.
He swears he has never been a hustler. "I have been offered money and accepted money," he says. "But I have never solicited. I've never been a prostitute." Falcon's wallet seems to confirm this claim. His savings total $500. He eats frozen dinners. Still, he seems to have benefactors.
Falcon travels often to Los Angeles, where he stays with friends and "admirers." He has made several trips to Europe. He is not above taking money for sex if offered.
"I've had guys blow me simply because they expressed so much desire and admiration," Falcon says. "I took $500 from a lady on the Upper East Side to pose in my underwear for Polaroids. I've been offered $1,000 just to let someone suck it, and I'll say, 'Why not?' It's really about my ego. My ego is bigger than my sexuality."
His longest romantic relationship, with a woman, lasted a year. Some who know him think he's straight. Others believe he's gay. His cousin, Ben Lewin, says Jonah is neither straight nor gay. "Jonah will be with whoever loves him," Lewin says. "Jonah will love whoever won't hurt him."
By twenty-six, Falcon found himself empty. In seven years, he had not established a single lasting romantic relationship. He was forty pounds overweight. No one in the clubs seemed to mind. On some days, Falcon knew that this was not the path of a man with unlimited potential. But even on the shittiest day, he could still look down and think, "Even if I had made the Yankees, there have been lots of Yankees. But no one has this. If all else fails, at least I have this."
SEX IS DIFFERENT FOR A MAN WITH A 13.5 inch penis. Falcon can receive oral sex while lying on his stomach, suck himself ("I haven't since I was eighteen") and penetrate his own anus. His ejaculations, rather than flying eruptions, are events of massive dribble. He has never been able to insert more than nine of his 13.5 inches inside a woman. Blowjobs hurt because at this width, teeth are inevitable. Falcon takes between fifteen and thirty minutes to generate a full erection, but can perform at half-mast without a woman realizing much difference.
Men brave enough to ask Falcon about his penis often feel compelled to tell him what they would do with such a gift. The riffs are all alike: The men would fuck every girl in the country; walk around nude all the time; wear the skimpiest Speedo to the beach and thrust their bulging package into the faces of tanning women. They often tell Falcon, "Man, I'd give anything to see you ram my girlfriend," and Falcon wonders about this, about why they might want to see their women hurt.
Because he is capable of plowing and splitting, Falcon has learned to make love
differently; in essence, to rely less on his penis. When he was younger, he would push until he could penetrate no further, often hurting his partner and ruining the mood. With experience, he says, he learned to use angles, massage interiors, stroke rather than bang. He calls upon his mouth as much as his penis, sometimes taking hours to kiss, lick, rub and masturbate his partner before his penis ever makes an appearance. "I get the impression that other guys don't do that," says Falcon. "I have to do that. And it works."
Just before turning twenty-seven, Falcon says he woke from the fog of his life as a walking penis. He attended acting workshops, stood in line at auditions, knocked down doors for roles as an extra. He became the author of countless online and print computer-game reviews, for which he developed a sterling reputation for honesty and detail. He trimmed down to 155 pounds. None of what he dreams of, he says, will come by way of his penis. He is not Dirk Diggler.
"Huge cocks get old," Falcon says. "Talent doesn't."
Still, Falcon has yet to break through as a working actor. When people inevitably ask why he does not accept the money and worldwide fame pornographers regularly offer, he removes his Woody Allen glasses, cocks his head as if he hasn't quite understood the question and says, "I want to be an actor. I want to be taken seriously."
Yet some who know Falcon question the contradiction between his philosophies and his actions. At his ten-year high school reunion, asked to recall his most memorable experience, he wrote, "Appeared on national television to display my 13.5-inch erect penis." He has posed in his bike shorts for a German magazine. He still wears those bike shorts.
Jeff Gomez is a successful developer of video games and a producer of short films. He is a man with serious show-business connections, the kind of person Falcon ought to know. After meeting him online, Gomez took a liking to the aspiring actor. "I thought Jonah had an interesting look for one of the characters in my new project," he says. He agreed to help Falcon and invited him to dinner with his business partner. "He put on this crazy show in the restaurant," Gomez says. "He started acting like Kermit the Frog, and he seemed so lonely, so desperate to fill every moment of dead space with words. And he mentioned his dick size."
Gomez e-mailed Falcon the next day, expressing his disappointment and urging him to treat his craft professionally. He concluded by saying, "I wouldn't be wasting my time writing all this to you if 1 didn't think you had talent and potential."
Gomez took another chance; it was something about Falcon's sincerity and sweet inner core. He invited him to a nightclub to meet several prominent movie directors. Falcon arrived in a tank top and skintight silver pants. Gomez shuddered but made the introduction.
"After about a minute, Jonah began to dance," Gomez recalls, "first a kind of distracted half-boogie, then all-out crazy, like a go-go boy, until he drifted out of our circle completely."
It is past 11 P.M. when the game ends at Yankee Stadium. Falcon packs his pencil, score card and glove in his bag and heads back to the subway.
Near midnight, Falcon approaches the entrance to his Chelsea apartment building, the same home in the same public housing project he has lived in since boyhood. He still lives with his mother. The smell of urine pervades the lobby, and chicken bones litter the floor. Near an elevator door painted with the slogan "Rose and Johnny 4-ever," young children play tag and toss water balloons.
Upstairs, Falcon walks into a corridor in which a color cardboard cutout of Jesus hangs. He slowly turns the key to his apartment and enters. He creeps past his mother and grandmother, who have fallen asleep on adjoining couches in front of a flickering TV. The apartment is cramped and narrow, with damaged walls and weathered carpeting. Falcon's room is at the end of the hallway, past his mother's room and the bathroom they share. As he opens the door, it is clear that the life of Jonah Falcon is stuffed into this closet-size room - his projects and computer disks and books, his twin-size bed and empty two-liter soda bottles, his letters from the Screen Actors Guild, his dreams. There is almost no floor visible beneath the clutter.
Falcon logs on to his computer to check the expanded stats for the evening's game. He looks at me, and it feels like he sees my thoughts - this is not the room of a Bronx Science graduate; this is not the room of a man with unlimited potential. He stops studying his statistics and steps toward me. He looks me in the eye.
"You think my dick is the only thing I have going for me? Have you read my writing? You can look at me longer than that. Look at me." There is silence in the room. Then Falcon says, "I want to show it to you. I want you to see it." He turns off the overhead light so that only a small desk lamp illuminates his body. The sound of a TV infomercial wafts in from the other room. Falcon pushes down his baseball pants. God. Holy shit. Jesus Christ.
As his penis hangs there, its uncircumcised head reaching halfway down his leg, the failed dreams and disappointments that wallpaper this room begin to disappear. Falcon knows the effect. He has seen it before. He seizes the moment by grabbing the base of his penis with his left hand and twirling the organ furiously, creating a blurry snake of skin and then a propeller sound, and while his penis speeds around, Falcon looks as if nothing in the world could touch him. Even if he had made the Yankees, there have been lots of Yankees. If all else fails, he has this.
In a minute, Falcon's pants are back up around his waist. He takes a breath, then claps my shoulder and says good night.
"Do you think," he asks as I walk out the door, "that you'll tell people about me tomorrow?"
ROBERT KURSON is a contributing editor at "Esquire." He is currently at work on a book.