Most of us who have them get smacked for playing with our dicks in public. But onetime show-biz agent Simon Morley has made an art of pulling his pudding in front of others. In Morley's wildly popular touring show Puppetry of the Penis, he and pal David Friend twist their twangers into some 40 shapes -- a kangaroo, the Eiffel Tower, the Loch Ness Monster, and their signature installation, The Hamburger -- all in plain view of an ever-growing audience. The show, subtitled "The Ancient Australian Art of Genital Origami," opens here on May 1, and Morley removed his hands from his pants long enough to chat with me about the joys of knotting his knob for money.
New Times: So. You get paid to play with your dick.
Simon Morley: I know. Odd, isn't it? I still wake up regularly and look around and go, "What the hell is going on?!" Don't tell anyone.
NT: I promise. How does one get a job publicly diddling oneself?
Morley: Basically it's a party trick that's been taken way too far. Some years back, my brother had just returned from tennis camp, where he learned to make a hamburger out of his genitals, and I thought it was the funniest thing I'd ever seen. It's quite a bizarre memory, the first time you see a hamburger made from a penis. It's like, "Where were you when JFK was shot?" Anyway, we built a healthy number of installations, just to make each other laugh. Word got out that we did this, and I'd be at a party and people would be plying me with alcohol -- "Come on, show us a hamburger!"
NT: Normally the penis is kept hidden away. Are you going to tell me that Puppetry of the Penis is about taking away shame-based attitudes about genitals?
Morley: To be perfectly honest, there's a lot of that sort of dialogue going on. It started as harmless fun, but the decision to take it to the stage gave it a kind of serious social significance. People want to talk about what the show really means, what its social significance is. What it really means to me is I'll be Penis Man forever. I'll never live this down.
NT: This is a comedy, but to laugh at a man's penis is pretty serious stuff.
Morley: Yes! Female nudity is viewed altogether differently, but the penis . . . well, everyone wants to be so serious about it, when actually it's a terribly funny bit of equipment. It's just a piece of skin, and I think people take it a little too seriously.
NT: Has it been a long, hard road to success?
Morley: When we were first breaking the show in Australia, people thought it was dirty. Eventually people saw that Puppetry of the Penis was completely nonsexual, but marketing it in the beginning was hard. So to speak.
NT: Do you have a favorite installation?
Morley: The Hamburger, because it was the first one I learned. I'm also partial to the Loch Ness Monster. That one is my favorite one to do in the bath. Oh, and La Tour Eiffel is quite nice, too.
NT: I'm guessing you have to pay closer attention to grooming than the rest of us.
Morley: Well, not really, to be honest. We don't sort of shave up or anything like that, if that's what you mean. And I think the last time I was in a gym was when I was 15 years old. We like to stay very natural, looks-wise. There's really nothing Chippendale about the show. It's just a couple of fellows knotting up their tackle.
NT: There isn't really an Ancient Australian Art of Genital Origami, is there?
Morley: I have no proof, but I'm sure it was a form of communication used by early man at some stage.
NT: Have you thought about doing a double bill with The Vagina Monologues?
Morley: They're not really keen on us, actually, the Vagina Monologues people. It's sort of a case of "Women like to talk about it, and guys like to show it."
NT: But not just anyone can audition for this show. I mean, guys with little hoses . . .
Morley: We do get them. But you have to have a large enough one, you know -- you have to be able to make the shapes. The real prerequisite is that we are looking for utterly shameless men.
NT: Utterly shameless men with great big schlongs. Who have to remain flaccid during the show. Is tumescence ever a problem? What happens if, you know, after playing with yourself on stage for a while, you . . .
Morley: Well, I'll tell you. With a thousand people laughing at your genitals, you're not gonna get excited. On the off chance that I do, I just think of Nanna. I think of dead puppies.
NT: You must get raw down there. You're always playing with it.
Morley: No! Not at all! I don't get sore at all, ever. Occasionally we have had to do three shows a night, and that's pushing it.
NT: Does your conscience ever bother you? I mean, there are thousands of out-of-work actors who've trained in their craft for years, and you're selling out theaters by playing with your wiener.
Morley: Right. Yeah, it does. I was a promoter and I used to manage comedians, and so I do realize how it is -- they're working like mad to get a break, and all of a sudden I'm making shapes out of my genitals and I'm appearing off-Broadway and in the West End, and touring the world and all that. I have a lot of friends who are actors, and I don't think any of them really is peeved with me. And they all have the opportunity to come on board. If they can kick off their pants, they can join the dream.
NT: Can you give me any tips on how to get started at home?
Morley: Well, it's most important to warm up, and to make sure there are no pretty ladies around you.
NT: That shouldn't be a problem.
Morley: And you have to be able to bend it. After that, it's really a matter of popping yourself in front of the mirror and see what you can come up with.
NT: I'm terrified to ask about your head shot.
Morley: Well, it's a matter of which head shot you'd prefer. I'll be glad to send you one of each.
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NT: Oh, that's okay. So, I'm thinking this isn't a great first-date show.
Morley: Oh, you're wrong. I think it's a perfect first-date show, because it breaks all the ice. Your partner may very well get you home and say, "Okay, give me some of what we saw up on stage tonight. Make a hamburger!"
NT: I'm guessing that men go home and try some of what they saw you do. Is there a disclaimer: "Don't try this at home"?
Morley: Most definitely not. We teach you how to do The Hamburger! And in fact, most don't wait to get home to try it out. I've always thought it would be interesting to be in the loo after the show.