The Penis Picture Game

Note: This is NOT an open letter to Representative Weiner, but it may as well be.

About six or seven years ago, my wacky group of Bay Area friends played a game. But first, let me tell you a few things you might not know, because a) some of you never dated online and b) things may have changed in the last five years.

Thing you need to know Part One:
In the early part of the last decade, online dating was still relatively new. Among other novelties, men and women were just figuring out how to take pictures of themselves and post them online. Remember, in 2002 no one was using Facebook or Twitter. Waaaaaaaaay back then, you had to jump through a few hoops to get the picture you took (with your digital camera, not your phone) on to the computer and actually "viewable."

Thing you need to know Part Two:

For most people living in San Francisco circa 2005, Craigslist served as the Origin of Everything. Everything. Every apartment, job, community activity, pet, furnishing, event, laugh, or friend you could hope to get, have, give or make came from Craigslist.

All of my first SF friends, my first SF jobs (which led to my later jobs, including the friendship I have with one of my current business partners), my SF apartments, my a cappella group, and, yes, MY HUSBAND, came from Craigslist. In fact, some of you are reading this blog because of CL.

{I have thanked @craignewmark on Twitter many times for all that he's indirectly given to me.}

Thing you need to know Part Three:
Some people treat (or at least treatED) Craigslist like the Wild West. And for my friends and I who would sometimes use CL to meet people FOR TO ACTUALLY DATE, we always found it disconcerting when men would reply to earnest, well-crafted, thoughtful, funny personal ads with pictures of their genitalia. Which happened every time.

Yes. Every. Time.

Actually, I once wrote a post about some of the most disconcerting personal ad replies I received, all of which are true and verbatim.

No matter what the personal ad was about, I would receive at least one picture of a penis. Occasionally the man's headless body would be attached to the penis, but the penis was always center stage.

Why? I never understood this. Even if I were looking for meaningless sex, which I very clearly was not, a body-less penis is not enticing. Beyond "rapport" and "chemistry," I can't imagine ever, ever wanting to have sex with a man based solely on what his junk looks like.

I mentioned this phenomenon to my friends, and it turns out that I am not special. Men LOVE sending pictures of their penises to online women! It happens all the time! (Rep. Weiner is totally late to the game.)

So we decided to have some fun. Enter The Penis Picture Game.

We -- my friends and I -- decided to host a contest, to see who could receive the greatest number of UNSOLICITED penis pictures in a certain amount of time (it was something like 48 hours).

The rules went something like this:
1. You post an ad ANYWHERE in the terrifying forest of Craigslist personals. I think we all selected to post in "Casual Encounters." Because duh.

2. Your ad would obviously be made up. You could tell any story you wanted. The key was to try to think like a man (OR HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE, WHATEVER) who would want to send you a picture of his penis as enticement. What would be the most compelling? What personal ad says "please send me a picture of your ding dong"?

3. Your ad could not explicitly ask for photos of any kind.

4. All photos of naked penises would be counted, whether disembodied, on headless naked men, or on full pictures (v. rare!). Photoshopped pictures were certainly allowed, and the most amusing by far.

It was totally, totally fun. The ads went up and the photos poured in.

Now, I can't remember all the details, but tallying up the photos was hilarious. Our winner received over 20 pictures. Many of us received the same pictures, and some of us received the same pictures from different men, meaning either the men were posting under different names, or using the same database of fake penis pictures, which is the SADDEST THING EVER.


Stop. Think. What personal ad would YOU post to garner the most unsolicited penis pictures? What topic do you think won our contest?

I had high hopes for my post -- something about a bored housewife looking for action while her husband was out of town -- but alas. My idea was either too trite, or maybe married men were a little more nervous to send penis photos? Who's to say. I was not a winner.

The winner was my friend Justin, who smartly made up a post about a collegiate girl who was embarrassed to still be a virgin, and was looking for a meaningless tryst to get her first time out of the way.

Right? Virgins. Gets 'em every time.

HILARIOUSLY MISGUIDED CONCLUSION: Men who are inclined to send penis pictures -- real or imaginary -- over the internet think virgins are the most eager recipients.

I don't know what to do with this sensitive and highly scientific data, but there it is. And if for some reason you are a man who wants to send penis pictures over the internet and you are reading this, please know:
1. No virgin is posting a casual encounter ad on Craigslist, unless she is a he, which you will discover eventually.
2. Of ALL the things a virgin wants to see in her inbox, a picture of a naked penis is not among them. No, it is not. No. Just, no.

While discussing our results, we decided we needed to add categories. "MOST" was clearly the winner overall, but we added special distinctions -- honorable mentions, if you will -- for Most Photoshopped, Most Frequently Sent, Saddest, Best Looking, and, well, Blurriest.

The end.


  1. Thank you Ms Sammis, I just shot iced tea out of my nose...I'll be sending you the bill for my new keyboard.


    Early days of AOL elicited similar peni photos. Ah, good memories ; )

  2. I really , really wish I had those kinds of friends when I was single. Best. Game. Ever.

  3. That's hilarious. A terrifying statement on the nature of humanity, but hilarious none the less.

  4. Ahh 2005. The year I discovered you, met my husband (via CL! I like to tell people it was before CL was just a place to find prostitutes- I mean, they were there too, but there were other things and people then there too), and sent out way too many posts. Oh the good ol' days of the internet. And goodness I remember 1995. And now that I think about it, it's a good thing I was smart back then because otherwise I would have totally ended up on the evening news as the 15 year old abducted after agreeing to meet with some 50 year old that said he was 17... I've been getting penis pictures for a long time.

  5. huzzah to you!

    reminds me of a similar CL story. my friend sean and i had a competition to see who could write the most bizarre CL personal ad and would just continually one up each other. they were so weird and (we thought) funny that eventually two women responded saying "we are not interested in dating you but you are definitely people we should know".
    so we met them and they introduced us to many people who became our excellent friends. CL was and is awesome.

  6. Hilarious. Just hilarious. Also, I kind of offended a male friend of mine earlier this afternoon when I burst out laughing when he said he was going to try sexting out since it could help his political aspirations (he was offended that I thought the very idea of him sexting was so ridiculous!).

  7. Isn't the internet just one whole dick shot?

  8. It's funny you talk about 2002 being sooo long ago. My husband and I met online in 1999, but before that (in 1997) I'd traveled around the US in my car staying with people I'd met online. Of course, it's even funnier that I know people who can't remember a time before myspace and twitter. :)

  9. Hilarious. I received an unsolicited photo in the year 2000, from a guy I'd been slightly-flirting an online video game. Horrifying. Thank god he lived across the country. :P

  10. Actually, you are assuming that these men want to impress the poster. But what if they get their joy out of shocking somebody? Then I think your results are totally reasonable: philandering house wifes are not easily shocked, but virgins ...

  11. I have also dabbled on CL personals, and received a ton of penis pictures, despite having a completely normal ad (I did, however, receive plenty of normal replies too).

    The most disappointing? A funny, eloquent guy who I replied to. He replied back and his email was again great! But he sent a picture of himself and of course, it was of him (including his face -- super cute) with his penis out. I should note that none of our emails even referenced any sex talk, and I was not posting under casual encounters.

    But, better to know by email then being on a date and having to deal with him pulling his penis out. (Which sadly, has happened to a friend...)

  12. Ummm, is it wrong that I want to see your contest pics? Seriously, you crack my shit up, Kristy!!

  13. Wow. And sad. And hilarious.

  14. There totally needs to be a Most Misshapen category. I've seen my fair share of weirdly shaped dicks, and dear god there is a wide variety. Also, Most Strangely Colored. I was once married to a man who had a giant white blotch on it. I now consider it the telltale sign of an asshole. Blotchy dick? Guaranteed douchebag.

  15. It was said on the Daily Show the other day that if a girl isn't impressed by the fact that you're a four term representative, or (Brett Favre) that you're a football legend, I don't think a penis pic is going to seal the deal.

    As an aside, if I were a virgin, receiving a bunch of penis pics before theoretically ever seeing one in person would make me want to keep things status quo. Because a friend and I also did the fake CL ad from a "girl who was new in town" and got some eyeball-burners in reply.

  16. Hilarious! I have to ask some of my friends how many wiener pics they received. Once, a guy I worked with emailed me a picture of himself that showed everything EXCEPT his penis. He was gentlemanly enough to cover his member with his hands. I did, however, get a clear look at the two weird tattoos he had on either side of his penis. Um... yeah ... Did I mention I worked in HR at the time? Yeah, he sent a naked photo of himself TO THE HR LADY! Good thing he was pretty because he was dumb as FOOK! Thanks for the laugh today.

  17. Um...I really don't get the whole disembodied penis thing. Does it work the other way around? I mean...would a guy get all excited if he were to receive an email saying "Hi! I'm Debbie. Want to hook up?" with a photo of her disembodied vagina? I mean...really???

  18. Oh, this is AWESOME. A quick note on penises and pictures of penises:

    I don't think guys understand that most women don't view penises they way guys view breasts. I mean, don't get me wrong -- I like penises. Very much. (Well, PENIS -- just my husband's at this point, really.) But, while I like knowing it's there and that it can do what it needs to do, I don't, like, want to stare at it or pull up a picture of it on my phone. In fact, if you stare directly into its eye, don't you turn to stone, or KY or something? I don't know, I never hold my gaze for too long.

  19. I'm late to this post, but remember 'those' pictures as if it were yesterday. Even in the UK, and we're not generally very forward about this sort of thing.

    I so hope that things have improved since.

  20. Hilarious but funny!
    I'm impressed how you stated your experiences with your friends long time ago. It's so funny but it's the reality nowadays. I do agree @kgseymour wherein most women don't really view penises. I read this answer to yahoo stating that the only time a woman wants to see a male penis is if she is in a relationship with that guy..other than that keep your penis in your pants. I do agree with this because women are more attracted to personalities rather than wanting his penis.


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