Cock Tales

The story of a man having his ribs removed is so old that it is literally biblical – but Adam’s reasons for abdominectomy were very different to those of Prince, if the rumours are to be believed. So just how did those stories about Prince getting bones removed to nost himself off get started?

The great thing about pop music is that it attracts all the weirdos. Hollywood has the beautiful egomaniacs, television has the desperately needy, and literature has the mad, tortured souls – but pop music? Pop music has it all. A sexy bunch of mad deviants with every crazy characteristic going.

There is nothing so scandalous that a musician won’t try. Whether it’s sticking a red snapper up a groupie’s vag, getting gak blown up their arse or wanking over the edge of a balcony with their light technician – pop stars have done it all.

So if anyone was going to try a bit of surgical improvement – say, have a couple of ribs removed in order to be able to autofellate (the polite term for sucking yourself off) – you can bet your bottom dollar that it would be a musician at the front of that queue.

However, despite what you heard in the playground, despite what you read on Reddit, it’s never happened. There isn’t a single reported case of anyone actually having their bottom set of ribs removed in order to facilitate fellatio. So why does the rumour about Prince and his self-administered gob job persist to this day?

Not that much of this needs saying, but let’s consider the evidence to disprove the rumour.

First of all, Prince doesn’t need any help getting his cock sucked. Even if Prince lived to be 150, he could easily find enough people willing to take care of the task for him. Hell, he could easily get by on the strength of Purple Rain alone, but given that he has a huge wealth of sexy music behind him, Prince is absolutely set for blowjobs, thank you very much.

Second, Prince has appeared topless on stage and in print a number of times throughout his career. Removal of a set of ribs would surely leave visible scarring on the torso. This is not something he would be able to hide.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, floating ribs aren’t really the biggest obstacle to getting your chops around your chopper. Flexibility in the spine and penis length are two much more important factors, so the removal of ribs (a very drastic procedure) may not even help.

There are smaller dribs and drabs of evidence too. That the recuperation time on such a procedure would be about six months, and there is no real window in his career where he could have had it done covertly. That no surgeon has ever claimed to have successfully performed a rib extraction for cosmetic purposes. That, since 2001 at least, Prince has been a practicing Jehovah’s Witness and there is a chance that such risky surgery would require a blood transfusion. (And if Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to accept something as potentially life-saving as a blood transfusion, then you can be sure that they would take a pretty dim view of spunking in your own mouth.)

But even without getting into the biological, chronological and theological arguments to disprove the rumour, there’s a more simple rule of thumb we can apply. Namely, that whenever an identical rumour goes round about two unconnected individuals, you can pretty much guarantee it is hokum.

And this exact same rumour has independently done the rounds about Marilyn Manson.

Prince may be considered to be one of the all-time great sex machines, but Marilyn Manson (the self-styled God Of Fuck) is a much more feasible candidate for undergoing major body modification for the purpose of slobbing on his knob.

In fact, you would think that Manson would be quite keen for rumours of this nature to circulate about him – even if they were false – because it’s a perfect fit for his shock metal persona. But where Prince has stayed notably quiet about this rumour, Manson has been a little more forthcoming in denying it. Both in his autobiography, Long Hard Road Out Of Hell, and in this interview on German television.

Obviously the whole thing is hogwash. But where did the rumour come from?

Well, there’s actually quite an illustrious history of rib removal rumours in popular culture dating back to the 19th century. It was a more genteel rumour back then (it was a more genteel time), the suggestion being that women would get their ribs either broken or removed in order to perfect the waspish waist look popular at the time.

It was nonsense then, as it is now. Surgery wasn’t something you generally wanted to undergo in the 1800s – especially not voluntarily – the efficacy and understanding of anaesthetics being somewhat patchy. And that’s long before you factor in the risk of infection or death. It was much easier and much safer (if no less barbaric) to just start pre-pubescent girls wearing corsets early so that they would stunt the growth of their ribs instead.

This iteration of the lady-based rumour still continues to this day. It positively haunted at Cher back in the 80s and 90s. It didn’t matter how often she appeared on stage in a sheer body stocking, or a strange carnival bra (or anything that would show the scarring that results from getting two bones cracked off the bottom of your ribcage and posted through a hole in your flesh). She felt so dogged by it that she eventually employed a physician to count her ribs and release a statement saying that she had the regulation amount.

It’s continued into the 21st century too, with the same rumours circling around the Mexican celebrity Thalia. She played the gossipmongers at their own game though, and stoked the flames by posing on Instagram and Twitter with a set of ribs in a jar. She suggested she had had hers removed to get her killer figure – but it turned out to be a practical joke.

Interestingly, although this rumour has existed about waist shape for women for two hundred years, no-one has ever suggested that women get the surgery to lick themselves out – even as a joke (a study into sexual humour showed up no recorded examples of autocunnilingus jokes).

However, when the rumour is applied to men, it is invariably about gobjobs.

This speaks to an even longer history of autofellatio obsession. Apparently we can’t stop thinking about men sucking their own cocks, and many cultures have tipped their hats to the practice. The Egyptians had hieroglyphics which appear to show various figures plopping their dicks in their mouths. The Finnish call it the ‘sauna knot’, because most people only try to do it when the heat of a sauna has relaxed their muscles. The Victorians had a typically Victorian approach to it in that they somehow kept stumbling across more and more pictures of it to decry (“Found another one! Ugh. Isn’t it beastly? Look at how beastly it is. Just horrible. Have you seen it? Look at it. Horrid, isn’t it? Oh, here’s another one!” etc…)

And people can do it. Hoo boy, can they do it. Ron Jeremy got an early career boost for his particular ability, and there are dozens of people who have uploaded pictures of themselves attempting the act to illustrate the Wikipedia page for autofellatio.

So our dual obsession of speculating about people’s ribs and thinking about men sucking their own cocks came to a head in the Prince rumour. And it stands to reason why. Prince (like Marilyn Manson) is a hypersexual, occasionally androgynous, wasp-waisted man. It’s the perfect combination of physical attributes and historical perversion.

Is there any man who has actually had their ribs removed though?

There is evidence of one man having had a rib removal for art. One Chinese artist did it as part of a performance art piece, without anaesthetic, in which he cut a metre-long gash the length of his body from his neck down to his knee, and another lengthways in order to extract the rib.

The purpose? So he could wear the rib as jewellery.

You’d think if anyone deserved to be granted the ability to self-administer a blowie it would be him. But if he ever did it, he’s been very tight-lipped about it.