Is this the mystical penis of Russian holy man Rasputin?
Grigori Rasputin, the “Mad Monk” who served the Russian Romanov family and indulged in legendary debauchery, was rumored to be pretty stellar in bed. So much so, in fact, that one woman claimed to have had such an intense orgasm that she fainted. According to the 1978 song by euro disco group Boney M, obviously a trusted source of historical accuracy, Rasputin was “Russia’s greatest love machine.” It is only natural, then, that after he was allegedly poisoned, beaten, shot, and drowned on December 30th, 1916, his infamous instrument of love would linger on.
The first phallic object believed to be Rasputin’s penis turned out to be a sea cucumber. The second one, a 12-inch pickled phallus on display at the Museum of Erotica in St. Petersburg, Russia is, according to its owner Dr. Igor Knyazkin, the true mythical member of Rasputin. This one, like the well-endowed echinoderm before it, is said to have magical properties – such as the ability to cure impotence just by looking at it.
But is it really Rasputin’s penis?
According to rumor, Rasputin’s johnson (cut me some slack, it’s hard finding different words for the male sex organ without sounding like cheap paperback erotica) had developed it’s own cult following.
It is said that in the 1920s, Rasputin’s daughter Maria (then a circus performer who later tamed lions with the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus) discovered a group of women in Paris had been venerating her father’s penis. They believed it could bestow fertility, and even gave small pieces of it to those in need.
“And then there is the business of Rasputin’s member, supposedly cut off by [Prince Felix] Yusupov and then gathered up and saved by one of Yusupov’s servants, a secret follower of the starets,” Douglas Smith writes in Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs. “Sometime later, according to this bizarre tale, the severed penis ended up in Paris where a few of his surviving votaries kept it preserved in an icebox, taking it out only for their strange sacred rites. From there, after further adventures, it made its way to the collection of Russia’s first museum of erotica in Petersburg, a hideous hunk of graying flesh suspended in a jar of formaldehyde.”
Dr. Knyazkin says he bought the penis in a wooden casket from two French antique dealers in 2000 for $8,000. According to them, the organ was cut off and taken to France by a fanatical follower. When Maria discovered it, she took possession of it. But when she needed money in the 1970s, she supposedly sold it.
As Smith notes, however, according to 1917 accounts by Dmitry Kosorotov, who performed the autopsy on Rasputin after his badly mutilated body was dragged out of the Malaya Nevka River, Rasputin’s genitals were intact and undamaged.
“I am 99 per cent sure it is real,” Knyazkin told the media.
Rasputin expert Eduard Radzinsky wasn’t so sure.
“Stories about Rasputin’s penis started almost immediately after his death,” Radzinsky said. “They are all myths and legends.”
NOTE: This post is dedicated to Barbara, who longs for the days when Cult of Weird was actually “weird” and featured things like penises in jars.