One of the most enduring urban legends in music is the story about the rock star who got their stomach pumped to reveal pints of sperm swimming around in there – and not all of it human. It’s been attached to some of the biggest names in showbiz, but does it hold up to any scrutiny? And if not, where the hell did it come from? Popbitch investigates…
There’s a very famous urban legend about rock’n’roll stomach pumping. If you’ve read Popbitch for any length of time, you’ll probably know the one. The rock star it’s attached to changes frequently, so you may have heard it attributed to Rod Stewart, or to Elton John, or Freddie Mercury, or David Bowie, or Jon Bon Jovi or (most likely) someone who famously gets very litigious whenever his name is brought up in conjunction with it.
In short, the story is this:
After a night of rock’n’roll excess, a celebrity rock star collapses backstage and is quickly admitted to hospital. The doctors in charge of his care determine that the best course of action is to pump his stomach to clear him of whatever lethal cocktail of booze and drugs they assume he’s ingested. Only, when they pump his stomach, they don’t find a bunch of half-digested pills swimming in whisky. Instead they find pint after pint of semen – up to a gallon in some tellings.
Not only that but, under closer inspection, the doctors discover that the semen isn’t just human stuff. There’s dog spunk in there too. Dog spunk.
Obviously we’d dearly love for this story to be true but, reading it now, you probably feel much the same way about it that we do. There’s just something about the whole thing that doesn’t quite stack up.
So why is it that we’ve we all heard some variation of it? How can something so deeply implausible have gained such widespread traction? Is there even a seed of truth to it?
We made it our mission to find out.
The first, most obvious hurdle that the story has to clear: could a human stomach even accommodate a gallon of spunk?
Tests on cadavers have shown that an adult human’s stomach can stretch far enough to hold about a gallon of matter before rupture, but nerve responses in the gut and other physical reflexes make living subjects feel deeply uncomfortable long before it gets to that stage.
(There’s a potential exception here if the rock star has gradually trained his stomach like a competitive eater, building up gastric capacity over time. He might be able to hold a gallon fairly comfortably in that case – but, as they supposedly collapsed and got rushed to the hospital, we can probably rule it out.)
More likely then, “a gallon” is a term of exaggeration rather than an accurate measurement. But what would be a more reasonable quantity of jizz to assume in a story like this? One pint? Two pints? Four pints?
The World Health Organisation has the average amount of seminal fluid expelled per adult male orgasm at around 2.5ml. To get a full gallon at that sort of rate, you’re looking at needing 1,875 men – essentially the standing capacity of the Brighton Dome – to all pump away at once. That is a significant amount of manpower.
So let’s be sensible and settle for a reasonable amount: a pint and chaser’s worth of it – the work of 250 men. How long would it take to knock up a batch that big?
Were the rock star to bring every single one of these men to orgasm himself, it would take a very long time. Most studies into male sexual performance tend to focus on penetrative intercourse, but they reckon it takes somewhere between five and seven minutes to bring a man to climax.
If we split the difference and say six minutes per orgasm, that’s ten men an hour. It would therefore take exactly 25 hours – without a break – to polish off 250 men. Obviously that’s impossible – and even if it wasn’t you’d be admitted to hospital with sheer exhaustion before you were anywhere near getting dangerously bloated with cum.
It’s also worth remembering that the body requires sustenance during this time, especially with this sort of rigorous sex routine. The average adult male has a recommended calorific intake of 2,500 calories per day to maintain his weight. Though the numbers surrounding semen’s nutritional value do vary, the common thought is that a single ejaculation has somewhere between five and 25 calories.
Taking the midpoint between those values, that works out at a total of 3,750 calories over the 25 hours. Given that the body will be in constant bobbing or pumping motion throughout (burning further calories in the process), that’s probably fine for a one-off, but not enough to survive on long term.
The stomach will be crying out for some sort of fuel and that’s exactly where all of this sperm is headed. It will land in a ravenous gut, one that will easily burn its way through the available protein as a matter of survival. That being so, over this sort of time frame, the prospect of building up a medically significant backlog of baby batter is a bit of a non-starter.
Of course, we’re assuming here that the rock star is doing all the handiwork himself, which needn’t necessarily be the case. With an ‘all hands to the pumps’ scenario (where each donor takes care of himself right up to the vinegar strokes, then the rock star dives in at the critical moment) we could trim the harvest time down quite significantly. If we allocate seven seconds per ejaculation (which, admittedly, is moving at quite a lick) it would only take half an hour to chug a pint.
As anyone who has ever had a beer will tell you, however, one pint over the course of half an hour is not the sort of drinking rate that will send you straight to A&E.
The only realistic way to cause a severe enough shock to the digestive system would be to get it all down in one go. So perhaps it had to happen the worst possible way? Perhaps what we’re expected to believe is that the semen was extracted from all of the donors in advance and then given to the rock star to drink in one big glass – like some sort of silky milkshake?
It feels like the least fun way to achieve the result, but it seems that the only possible way a rock star could ingest enough semen to induce a digestive emergency is to have 250 men wank into a glass – and then down it in one.
With that part of the puzzle sorted, regrettably, we now must turn to the dog spunk.
So the doctors decide that gastric lavage is the best course of action. Fair enough. They’re medical professionals. They’re better trained than us and they swore an oath to first do no harm. But how on earth did they come to discover that there was some dog spunk in the mix? How does one even begin to tell them apart?
It’s an excellent question and – to our minds – one that hasn’t been addressed in nearly enough detail.
To rattle out the topline facts about canine semen:
– A healthy dog expels a white, pearlescent fluid at sexual climax
– Per ejaculation, a dog can offload up to 30ml of fluid
– Each sample of that fluid contains anywhere between 300 million and 2 billion sperm
That’s the theory, but what does it mean in practice?
First of all: if you are looking to pad out a pint of cum, then dog jizz clearly makes an excellent filler. A single hound can take the place of up to a dozen men in terms of yield, so if a rock star was genuinely keen to chug a full pint of the stuff, then dogs provide a plentiful and sustainable source.
That said, compared to their human counterparts, sperm cells are found in relatively dilute concentration in their ejaculate. A highly fertile human can fit nearly a billion individual sperm cells into a much smaller ejaculation, making for a much richer soup than dog stuff.
Why does that matter?
We know that dog sperm has a similar white, pearlescent look to human sperm. That would make it tricky – if not impossible – to tell from sight that there was dog sperm lurking in the evacuated stomach contents.
Even if the doctors decided to have a sample analysed (presumably out of their own curiosity, rather than any medical necessity) considering that it would be all mixed in with the semen of literally hundreds of men, it’s improbable that any sample would contain a significant volume of the dog stuff.
And even it did, the dog sperm would be overwhelmed by human contributions. The analysts would have had to go through the rock star’s expulsion with a fine toothed comb to isolate any little doggy swimmers hiding in among the hoards.
All of which leads us to three possible conclusions:
a/ Doctors, upon retrieving a pint of sperm from the stomach of a famous rock star, investigated it with such precision that they managed to isolate and identify up to 250 different DNA profiles contained within it.
b/ Doctors, upon retrieving a pint of sperm from the stomach of a famous rock star, struck so lucky that – against massive statistical odds – they hit upon one of the relatively few dog sperm cells contained within in the cum cocktail.
c/ The whole thing is a fiction and it never actually happened.
The answer is c, of course. There’s no way it’s anything else. The chain of events necessary to have it happen once is staggeringly unlikely. For it then to have happened again to Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, David Bowie, Elton John, various members of New Kids On The Block and many others (including the one who sends legal letters if his name is attached to it) the chances are just too astronomical.
So where does this story come from? If it’s not true – and it isn’t even plausible – how is it that everyone seems to have heard it?
It’s actually got a pretty inglorious history.
The Tale Behind The Tail
It’s no coincidence that all of the people attached to this outrageously graphic rumour were all big in the 1980s and early 90s. It’s also no coincidence that they’re all men.
Decades previously, a variation of the same story had been attached to certain women – ones who were seen as being promiscuous, flirtatious or sexually liberated. In order to cast aspersions about their virtue, these sorts of deliberately shocking stories were whipped up to paint any woman who enjoyed sex outside of matrimony, or with more than one partner, would soon end up sucking off dogs in a spiral of sexual degradation and deprivation.
As time rolled on, and the idea of women being sexually autonomous individuals who could happily make the choice of what – and who – they did became more prevalent, the story stopped being told about them.
Instead, the focus changed and puritan ire was cast instead upon gay men.
The 1980s saw the AIDS epidemic come to international attention, creating a huge moral panic about homosexuality. All sorts of confected scare stories started doing the rounds to stoke the fires of fear and hatred – often involving HIV carriers leaving infected needles in unexpected places: in phoneboxes, or cinema seats, or strapping them to bannisters, for innocent, god-fearing heterosexuals to chance upon.
These stories weren’t circulated to warn of genuine health hazards. They were designed with the specific intent of discrediting HIV patients as sexual deviants who were undeserving of sympathy (or any basic rights), spread to dehumanise the victims of a deadly epidemic.
The rock star stomach pump story – alongside the Richard Gere/gerbil-up-the-bum story – is born of this same tradition. It’s by design that the tale was predominantly attached to male celebrities of the era who had a particularly flamboyant nature. Some of them were gay, some were bi. Some had sexually ambiguous stage personas, some of them just had blowdried hair. It wasn’t a particularly accurate approach – but that was sort of the point.
The broad strokes with which this story was applied shows the intention behind it. Anyone who was seen to be promoting an unwholesome, un-Christian lifestyle – of drug-taking, of promiscuity, of sexual experimentation – would find themselves being tarred by it.
The reason that the story still gets passed around to this day, while the other ‘AIDS panic’ myths of that same era have faded to history, is because many of the stars it was attached to went on to have careers and legacies that long outlasted that particular culture – but that’s where they all came from.
Which is a bit of a downbeat note to end things on. If you were reading this in the hopes that there’d be some funny punchline to all of this, we’re sorry. There isn’t one. The business of gossip isn’t always a guilt-free laugh.
However, if you were reading this in the hopes of finding out conclusively whether its actually safe to drink dog spunk or not, well, good news. It’s fine.