By Nicole Cohen
Rick Welbanks will drop his pants for almost anyone. The 24-year-old Neill-Wycik resident is notorious among Ryerson engineers for exposing himself at campus bars and having his private parts videotaped at parties.
For good reason. Six month ago, Welbanks got pierced in a place that most people don’t often get to see. He has a Prince Albert, a steel hoop that enters the bottom head of the penis and comes out the urethra.
The thought would make most men grab their crotch and cringe, but Welbanks is no stranger to pain. He has 10 piercings including his nipple, septum and tongue. Genital piercing is his latest endeavour and something he’s proud of.
“I’m not one to brag about his penis, but it gives you a leg up, a little something extra,” he says.
Genital piercing has been mainstream since the 1970s.
“What was perhaps initially strange, people have become comfortable with and is not taboo,” says Tee Defacendis, who pierces about 14 genitals a week as owner of Passage on Church Street.
Although most people think it’s uncomfortable, the procedure actually heightens sexual pleasure.
“If you take a sensitive area and put a ring through it, it’s going to offer more vibration, more contact, more movement when you’re being sexually active,” Defacendis says.
The origins of the Prince Albert are far less erotic. Stemming from the Victorian era, the dressing ring, as it was known, was used by Prince ALbert to create a smooth look when wearing tights—he’d attach a cord through his dressing ring to his belt loop, or so the tale goes.
Welbanks’ Prince Albert is the crown in his family jewels, and he’s received rave reviews from the ladies.
“You can’t just stick it in, thrust and repeat,” he says. “You have to think about where [the piecing] is and what spots you need to hit.”
A Prince Albert is positioned to stimulate a partner’s G-spot. If it doesn’t hit the spot, Welbanks says. “It won’t do much for you except be neat to look at.”
Natalia, 21, was attracted to genital piercing because she was looking for something unusual but not ostentatious.
Five years ago, she had a small hoop placed just above her clitori. “The are has become significantly more sensitive—it’s an added bonus,” says the first-year radio and television arts graduate student.
Men have about eight options for genital piercing and women have six, Defacendis says. Most piercings are named for the area they’re located; males can get the ampallang, apadrayas, dydoe, frenum, guiche, and the most popular, the Prince Albert. Female piercings include the clitoris, inner and outer labia, the hoot, venus and triangle.
A Prince Albert is inserted with a needle. Because of the tender nature of the male genitalia, a steel guide tube is inserted down the urethra to catch the needle.
“It’s uncomfortable because generally that’s a one-way street. I wasn’t used to something going back in,” Welbanks says. “The actual piecing isn’t that painful.”
He experienced some spot bleeding, common to most genital piercings. But the hoop doesn’t get in the way during intercourse or oral sex.
For a test drive, Welbanks arranged an oral sex session with a friend who had her tongue pierced with a barbell stud. Both parties emerge unscathed and satisfied with their piercing.
For most female piercings, the surrounding area is frozen to minimize pain. Although the genitals are a sensitive place to pierce, Defacendis says the nerve endings are distributed over a greater area so there’s no aching or throbbing.
“The actual piercing felt like a mosquito bit,” Natalia says, although she experienced some discomfort for a week.
Depending on which area is pierced, healing can take a few weeks to 10 months. Defacendis recommends abstaining from sexual contact for at least six weeks and cleaning the piercing twice a day.
Prices go from $35 for the piercing and $25 and up for jewellery.
“It’s hard to slap some hard-earned money down on the counter and pay some guy to put a steel hoop through your dick, but it’s definitely worth it,” Welbanks says with a smile.