Opinion: Private (parts) dinner

POSTED: 06/27/12 12:26 PM

You know the silly season has arrived when you read the following headline: Japanese man, 22, cooks his own genitals and serves them up to paying guests at a dinner party.
The story comes from the British newspaper Daily Mail, but even the respectable Dutch Volkskrant thought the report curious enough to serve it to its readers. Not as news of course, but in its section “Remarkable.”
And remarkable it is. Under the headline, the Mail tells its readers with gusto and in bold lettering: Mao Sugiyama cooked his own genitalia and garnished them with mushrooms and parsley; five guests paid around £160 ($250) each for the meal; Sugiyama, 22, who is asexual, voluntarily underwent surgery to have his penis removed.
But the beginning of the story is a lot less assertive: A man who had his genitals removed seasoned them before cooking them for five paying dinner party guests, it has been claimed.
Keen readers understand where this is going. It has been claimed, but by whom? When? Where?
Well, the last question at least has an answer: it happened in Tokyo, but it obviously did not stay there. The Mail identifies Sugiyama as an illustrator “who took his frozen penis and scrotum home from hospital and organized a grim party.”
Initially, the illustrator offered his cooked penis to one guest for around $1,250, but in the end he decided to split it between several diners. Sugiyama made the offer using Twitter, and he had a chef prepare his private parts with mushrooms and parsley.
To entice potential diners, Sugiyama offered the following information (according to the Daily Mail that is): “The organs were surgically removed at age 22. I was tested to be free of venereal diseases. The organs were of normal function. I was not receiving female hormone treatment. First interested buyer will get them, or I will also consider selling to a group. Will prepare and cook as the buyer requests, at his chosen location. If you have questions, please contact me by DM or e-mail.”
The Mail noted that 70 people attended the grizzly dinner; while five of them feasted on the genitals, others had to make do with beef or crocodile. The diners said later that the genitals were rubbery, almost suggesting that Sugiyama had failed to remove a condom, and that they had little taste.
The story even identifies at least one of the five diners: Shigenobu Matsuzawa, a 29-year-old event planner. The others were a 30-year-old couple, a 22-year-old woman and a 32-year-old man. All guests signed a waiver, protecting Sugiyama against lawsuits in case they fell ill after eating his private parts.
Now we are waiting for the next report, namely that this story was made up by some editor in an attempt at creativity and, not unimportantly, to fill a blank space in his newspaper. Oops: isn’t that what we’re doing here?
But no, the follow up is taking a different direction: Tanaka Suginami, mayor of the Suginami Ward in Tokyo where the artist held his evening of fine Japanese cooking, has filed a criminal complaint. The basis for the complaint is the public display of obscene materials. Public safety inspectors are looking into possible violations of food sanitation and hygiene laws.
Oh, one more thing. Sugiyama had his private parts removed “to become asexual.” For good measure he also had his nipples removed. But while the artist considers himself now asexual, he sure as hell caused a stir.

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