Longform

Organ Lessons

Lombardi's Restaurant at Arizona Center is deserted at 3:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, but David chooses a table off to the side, just to be safe. And while he doesn't normally drink at lunch, he's already fortified himself with a Royal and Seven.

He glances around, picks up a blue crayon, draws a smiley face on the doodle paper spread over the table. Dropping the crayon, he smiles weakly and orders another drink.

David's an outgoing guy--some might even classify him as a swinger--but it's not every day that he tells a total stranger about the elective surgery that left his penis scarred, numb, lumpy and leaky.

He's one of thousands of men--including many from the Phoenix area--who have had operations in the past couple of years to have their penises enlarged. And he's one of a growing number who say they were maimed in the process.

David wanted a wider, stronger penis for his girlfriends who like wild sex. He snickers. "Girls don't know that it's not a bone, it's just an organ. Especially if they're drunk."

In 1993, the word was out in Los Angeles--or, rather, it was out in ads in the Los Angeles Times sports section: Dr. Melvyn Rosenstein offered a simple operation to enlarge the penis. A ligament attaching the penis to the abdominal wall would be cut and reattached at a lower point, offering up to three inches in added length. Fat from the stomach would be injected into the penis for added girth.

Surgery time: one hour. Recovery time: a week for most activities, a month for sex. Cost: $5,900.

A friend told David about the procedure, and he called for more information. After a half-dozen conversations with Rosenstein and his associates, David flew from Phoenix to L.A. and headed for Rosenstein's office--a medical building around the corner from the old MGM studios in Culver City. There, he offered up his private parts.

He opted for both procedures, even though he claims he was a healthy five inches long. "If he's gonna thicken it, obviously he's gotta lengthen it."

From the beginning, there were problems.
Despite Rosenstein's promises of a speedy recovery, David says he was bedridden for more than a month.

"I was telling people that I had a hernia. They didn't believe me, because a hernia only takes a couple weeks to heal."

David's a salesman; he worked the phone from his bed. His penis was so sore and heavy, he had to prop it up with a towel.

"It was so depressing," he says. "It was so bad. I could barely even go out. I had to force myself. To go out, I had to take about three Vicodins. Then I would drink a lot, to kill the pain. That's how I would do it."

Instead of being delighted with his enlarged penis--two inches longer, and 25 percent wider--David was horrified. He says he was given far more length than he asked for, and because the operation extends the flat area right above the penis outward, he had a half inch of pubic hair at the top of his shaft. "It looked terrible," he says.

Then the stitches where the ligament had been reattached dissolved, and the incision opened up, creating a painful and disconcerting dangle.

"I felt like--oh my gawd, John Bobbitt!--I was halfway there." David flew back to Rosenstein's office for emergency surgery, free of charge.

A few weeks later, the skin on top of the shaft of David's penis opened up, and fluid leaked out. He called Rosenstein again.

"He said it was juices oozing," David recalls as the waitress slips a steaming plate of shrimp, clams and pasta before him.

But David suspected it was the fat that had been injected into his penis. When the broken skin healed, it left a scar, a loose clump, and a loss of feeling along the top of the shaft.

It was six months before he could have sex--gingerly.
Through his pain and suffering, David remained loyal to Rosenstein.
Then he developed an odd-looking bubble on the tip of his penis. No problem, Rosenstein told him over the phone; it can be fixed in half an hour for $750.

David thought the repaiR>rs should be free.
"I hung up, and I called a lawyer right away," he says.
He filed a lawsuit against Rosenstein in early 1995. He wants at least $2 million.

New Times first wrote of Everyguy's quest for a salami-size penis two years ago ("A Groin Concern," January 5, 1994). Rosenstein's ads were appearing in the Arizona Republic, and he operated a Phoenix sales office where "medical assistants" peddled the promise of a bigger, better penis.

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at amy-silverman.com.