Film & Video
2 min

The search for cock

Xtra talks to The Final Member co-director Jonah Bekhor about the inspirational penises behind this fascinating documentary

A scene from The Final Member, shot in front of the Icelandic Phallological Museum. Credit: Jonah Bekhor & Zach Math
The trailer for The Final Member, a documentary about the search for a human penis. Jonah Bekhor & Zach Math

The Icelandic Phallological Museum, the world's only penis museum, is a popular tourist attraction in Reykjav√≠k run by a charming and curious man by the name of Siggi Hjartarson. Hjartarson has spent the better part of 40 years collecting penises and phallic curiosities, but he kept them in his home until opening the museum in 1997, on his birthday, to a endless parade of curious visitors. While his collection features examples of penises from more than 90 species, a human one proved difficult to find. This epic quest and the men who came forward offering their goods to Hjartarson take centre stage in filmmakers Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math's documentary The Final Member. Xtra recently chatted with Bekhor. 

What are your favourite items in the museum and why?

The big specimens are, of course, the bull’s penis that started the odyssey for Siggi, the sperm whale for its sheer size, and the hamster penis bone, if you spot it: it’s less than two millimetres long. But tucked away in the corner of the museum, Siggi has a uniquely Icelandic specimen — a “Hidden Man,” which is a classic folkloric creature that is said to be invisible to humans. Basically, it’s an empty jar, but Siggi claims some women say they can see the specimen.

What surprised you the most about Siggi, a man who has dedicated his life to the hunt for penis specimens?

Siggi is an amazing man. He was a celebrated teacher in Iceland. He's highly politically engaged. He's written or translated 22 books. What’s so compelling about his museum is that it’s not some novelty tucked away in a town in the north of Iceland. It’s this unique, ingenious social science experiment that challenges the taboo that surrounds the penis. There is nothing salacious or lascivious at all about what he is doing. He challenges people through science and Siggi’s deft use of humour to look at the penis differently. In its own subtle way, it poses the question that resonates: why is something so central to human existence still considered taboo? Yes, there is an element of collector’s obsession in his almost 40-year odyssey to complete his museum and his refusal to give up until he finds the human penis, but his ethos of challenging conventions that he feels are repressive or wrong through education and humour speaks directly to who Siggi is as a man.

What do you think attracts the film's potential penis donors, Pall Arason and Tom Mitchell, to donating their genitals to science?

I think for Pall and Tom, they share a profound sense of wanting to create their own legacy, and they are both iconoclasts and pioneers. Tom has a dream for his penis to become the most famous penis in the world, and he sees the museum as an opportunity to achieve ultimate fame for Elmo (his penis's nickname). Pall is a 90-plus-year-old pioneer of adventure tourism in Iceland and became an icon in the process. He is also known as the greatest lothario and womanizer in the history of Iceland. He is a lifelong boaster, braggart and self-aggrandizing guy, and he sees his specimen being the first human in the museum as his ticket to his lasting legacy.

Did you wind up with anything from Siggi's handcrafted museum gift shop?

Siggi made us each a lamp made out of bull’s scrotum. They are unique pieces that give off a very specific glow.

Check out the film's trailer.