This Artist Removed Their Genitals Then Served Them For Dinner To The Highest Bidders

Mao Sugiyama, whose artist name is Ham Cybele, or just HC, is a Tokyo-based illustrator and performance artist. After undergoing gender-nullification surgery in 2012, they decided to create a performance piece in which they prepared a meal of their severed genitals for the highest bidders, in order to raise awareness about asexuality.

Shockingly, around 70 people arrived to bid for their chance to dine on Sugiyama’s special meal. Because of public outrage, Sugiyama was eventually charged with indecent exposure, which almost landed them in jail.

  • Sugiyama Cooked And Served Their Genitals To Raise Awareness About Asexuality

    Sugiyama Cooked And Served Their Genitals To Raise Awareness About Asexuality
    Photo: Jonathan Pielmayer / Unsplash

    In an initial tweet, Sugiyama, who goes by HC in their art career, proposed the idea of the meal. CalorieLab translated the tweet into English from the original Japanese:

    [Please Retweet] I am offering my male genitals (full penis, testes, scrotum) as a meal for 100,000 yen [$1,250]. I’m Japanese. 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. The length at full erection was 16.1 cm [6.3 inches]. 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.

    Sugiyama's tweet went viral, and they became notorious. They decided to organize a banquet in which there would be enough of their genitalia for five or six diners. On April 13, 2012, Sugiyama hosted said dinner at the Asagaya Loft A event space in Tokyo.  

    Initially, the artist considered eating the severed genitals themselves as a performance piece, but offered to sell the meal instead. Sugiyama identifies as asexual and used the event to raise awareness about not just asexuality, but about other sexual minorities as well.

  • Around 70 People Showed Up For The Dinner, But Only Five Could Be Served Sugiyama's Genitals

    On the night of the banquet, around 70 people arrived to try their luck at snagging a coveted seat at the genitalia dinner table. Understandably, there was only so much of the dish to go around. Six diners were chosen - they each paid around $250 for the meal. 

    One of the paying diners didn't make it to the table, so in the end, only five people were served Sugiyama's dish. The remaining 60-odd diners were served a crocodile and beef-based dish instead. The banquet opened with a small piano piece, and a panel discussion with Sugiyama in which they spoke about why and how they chose to host the event.

  • They Paired Their Genitals With Button Mushrooms And Parsley

    Donning a white chef's hat and shirt, Sugiyama stood before the crowd and on a portable gas burner proceeded to publicly season and cook their own genitals. They were supervised by a licensed food preparation specialist.

    The day before, Sugiyama tweeted they started the process of thawing out their severed genitals, which they kept frozen in the weeks prior to the event. They underwent elective gender nullification surgery in March of 2012. At the banquet, Sugiyama braised the severed penis, testicles, and scrotal skin, then proceeded to garnish the dish with button mushrooms and Italian parsley.

  • Diners Critiqued The Meal And Their Reviews Were Less Than Savory

    In what would have been one hell of a Yelp review, the diners commented on and critiqued Sugiyama's meal. Sugiyama admitted they practiced recipes on pig and cow genitals prior to the big event.

    According to an in-depth article released by CalorieLab, following the dinner, one of the diners complained that the penis shaft almost bent his fork - he had had to spit it out after a few bites. Another complained the dish was tasteless and that the only flavor came from the red wine in which the meat was braised.

    The testicles got even tougher reviews. They were difficult to chew or eat, and had poor flavor. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Managing Culinary Director of Serious Eats, went so far as to critique the preparation and offer their opinion on what their own approach to cooking genitals would have been: sous vide, or at least a very slow, proper braising.

  • Sugiyama Underwent Gender Nullification Surgery A Few Weeks Prior To The Dinner

    Identifying as asexual, Sugiyama elected to have their nipples and full genitalia removed shortly after their 22nd birthday on March 31, 2012.

    Sugiyama elected to undergo this surgery, and admitted that earlier in life they tried to burn off their own nipples with lye. As an artist and a person who identifies as asexual, they felt they no longer needed their genitals, and thus decided to use them in a controversial performance piece to raise awareness about asexuality.

  • The Diners Who Ate Sugiyama's Genitalia Were From All Walks Of Life

    There were five diners who paid for Sugiyama's genital dinner. One was a 30-year-old couple who were simply curious to try the dish. Another was a 22-year-old woman who just wanted to know how it would feel to eat genitals. A 32-year-old manga artist said he wanted to conduct research. And a 29-year-old man thought, probably correctly, that eating a penis and testicles was likely a once-in-a-lifetime chance.