My doctoral program in New York (1997-2001) was not only about studying sexuality. I spent a lot of time seeking out ethnic groups with legendary penises:
The Basque, reputedly the largest in the world.
The Bushman, reputedly always in a tumescent state.
And the Formosan of Taiwan.
When I first moved to New York in 1997, I had to live in a grad student apartment, where I was assigned 3 roommates: Max, the most obnoxious guy on the planet; a beefy Turkish guy who mostly kept to himself; and a Taiwanese guy named Huang, who also happened to be a fellow grad student in the Sociology Department.
Huang was not nearly as muscular as Max, but also not as obnoxious. His only faults: he occasionally had a girl over to giggle in his bedroom, and he called his family back home every Saturday at 4:00 am.
In each case I could hear him quite clearly through the wall.
My Mandarin was limited to Wǒ xǐhuān zhōngguó rén, "I like Chinese men," but at least I could recognize the language. And when Huang spoke to his family, he wasn't speaking Mandarin.
Turns out that he was fluent in Mandarin (and Hokkien, French, and English), but his native language was Paiwan, from the Formosan family, related the Tagalog of the Philippines and the Javanese of Indonesia.
There are about 400,000 Formosan aboriginals in Taiwan, about 2% of the population, mostly living in the mountainous south.
"We get discrimination," Huang told me. "The Chinese think yuánzhùmín are uncivilized, barbarians. Like the Indians in America."
The Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Park in Yuchi, about 150 miles south of Taipei, invites Chinese tourists to see aboriginals performing traditional arts and native dances, like the pow wows in the U.S.
"But the Chinese woman like us," Huang added with a grin.
"Oh, why is that?"
"Yuánzhùmín men are bigger than Chinese men." He pointed to his crotch. "Dá jībā!" Apparently that meant big penis.
I reddened, shocked that a straight guy would be comfortable enough to discuss his penis size with me. Or maybe he was bisexual, and expressing interest. "Well -- I'm sure some of the Chinese men like Formosan dá jībā, too."
"No, they are jealous."
"When you tell a woman you are yuánzhùmín," Huang continued, "She always ask if the stories are true, and she want to see it."
"Well - are the stories true?" I asked. "Can I see it?"
"No, no, not for gays." He giggled. "Just for women."
Maybe I could see it by accident?
No -- he didn't go to the gym, and he didn't strut around the apartment in a towel.
When I moved out of graduate student housing to a place in Manhattan, I lost hope of ever finding out if the stories about Formosan men are true.
But my hope was restored in July, shortly after I returned from my trip to Estonia with Yuri and Jaan. Some of the sociology students drove up to Montreal for the International Sociological Association World Congress, and Huang and I shared a hotel room.
Surely he would change clothes in front of me, or sleep in revealing briefs.
No -- he changed clothes in the bathroom, and slept in pajama bottoms. Not even a bulge was visible!
But after the Keynote Speech, I realized that I had left my jacket in the hotel room -- it was rather chilly in Montreal -- and rushed back upstairs.
I slid the key card through the slot and pulled the door open.
The first thing I noticed was cheesy 1970s music.
The second was the heterosexual porn playing on the tv.
He yelled and pulled the covers over himself. But he was still tenting.
"I forgot my jacket," I said, stepping forward to grab it from the coat rack.
"I'm sorry...I'm sorry....I thought you are not coming back until very late."
"Don't worry about it. By the way, you're right -- it really is a dá jībā."
I'm certainly not going to make a joke about Huang and hung, but he was.
See also: The Secret Identity of the Elevator Hookup