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John Wayne Bobbit and the Bangkok Haircut

from Thai Touch by Richard Rubacher

On the fateful day of June 23, 1993, a man named John Wayne Bobbitt became front-page news throughout the United States and around the globe. The unexpected surgical action performed upon John Wayne by Lorena Bobbitt, his then-wife, was known as the “cut heard around the world.” In a fit of rage, she sliced off a chunky portion of John Wayne’s phallus with an eleven-inch kitchen knife. She claimed that she had been battered by husband Wayne. In revenge, she battered back. She also claimed that her husband left her “sexually unfulfilled.” Her third accusation was John Wayne’s promiscuity during their tumultuous three-year marriage. 


      To make sure that the misbehaving phallus would not be re-attached, Lorena Bobbitt drove to the outskirts of Manassas, Virginia, forty miles from Washington, D.C., and threw the despised object out the car window, into the shrubbery along the highway.

      John Wayne Bobbitt was rushed to the hospital. He begged the police to locate the vital missing part of his anatomy. With dogged determination, the police scoured the countryside for the severed organ. Luckily, it was found before the crucial eleventh hour. If not attached before that time, the likelihood of successful re-uniting of the flesh diminishes.   

      A year after the 1993 assault, Lorena Bobbitt went on trial. When CNN cut away from the court proceedings to focus on then-President Clinton’s visit to Kiev in the Ukraine, outraged viewers bombarded CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Courtroom interruptus was out of the question. Marital affairs contained more drama than international affairs. As a result, CNN was pressured into going back to court. The news channel no longer disappointed its American and worldwide audience during the two-week trial. 

      The jury learned why Lorena Bobbitt was driven to perform her drastic deed. During her marriage, she was subjected to repeated physical and mental cruelty and repeated ‘rape’ One witness for the defense reported that John Wayne boasted that he “threw her bodily,” “pushed her,” “shoved her,” and “tried to hit her with any object he could find.” Eleven other witnesses for the defense testified that they were present when John Wayne “beat and humiliated his wife in public.” A psychiatrist for the defense pointed out that, by emasculating her husband, Lorena made him feel as powerless as she had been. It was a reap-what-you-sow explanation. The fruits of karmic action resulted in a karmic reaction. The boomerang effect.

      The battered wife syndrome won the hearts and minds of the jurors. After a short deliberation, the defendant, Lorena Bobbitt, was found not guilty by reason of what was called an “irresistible impulse”—another term for temporary insanity and diminished capacity. 


In his detective thriller, Bangkok Tattoo, published in 2005, John Burdett, a barrister turned novelist, opens the story this way: 

    The bar girl is dressed in silk, so skimpy it barely manages to cover nipples and butt. Not that anyone notices, since she’s soaked in blood, raving about farangs and off her skull on opium in a cheap hotel in Soi Cowboy, Bangkok’s notorious red light district.

          On the floor lies the body of an American spy, her former lover. On the table, his severed penis. 

      The prestigious American Journal Of Surgery views Thailand as the foremost country in the world with the expertise to re-unite a severed phallus to its former owner. While the United States has seen only two incidents of the “cut heard around the world,” Thailand has witnessed at least 100 since 1978. During that span of time, Canada and Australia recorded one incident, and Sweden experienced three phallus separations. Thailand leads the world in both detachment re-attachment.

      What wife Lorena did to husband John Wayne is known in Thailand as the “Bangkok haircut.” The American medical journal pointed out that the Thai woman’s penchant for dealing with wayward husbands or boyfriends has also worked its way into popular parlance as “feeding the ducks”—after a notorious case in the kingdom in which an irate wife fed her husband’s pecker to the ducks on their farm.

      Some Thai women boil the male organ in water, taking joy that it will not be re-united. Others secure the hacked phallus to a helium balloon and watch the despised organ float to kingdom come. Flushing the critter down the toilet is another popular method of disposal. 

      The leading Thai specialist in restoring the male member is Dr. Surasak Muangsombot. He works in one of Thailand’s best hospitals, Paolo Memorial, in Bangkok, which specializes in surgical re-attachment of severed schlongs. 

      Dr. Surasak and his surgical team have reunited the phallus to 33 victims since 1978. I thought the good doctor would be a good man to talk to. I called, and the noted surgeon agreed to answer questions in a telephone interview.

      “Dr. Surasak, are you still at re-attachment number 33?”

      “Two months ago I re-attached the thirty-fourth penis to its owner.”

      He pointed out that the true number of cases could be closer to 1,000, perhaps more. The Thai ‘tradition’ has become so widespread that doctors have had to come up with imaginative and creative techniques to persuade wives and girlfriends—who want to prevent re-attachment—to divulge the whereabouts of the severed items.

      Dr. Surasak’s most difficult case was caused by an angry wife who had to be bribed to tell of the phallus’s new location. She had thrown it into a septic tank. A wrecking crew was assembled to retrieve it.

      “I asked the nurse to clean it up,” Dr. Surasak said, “and warned the patient that he may get septicemia. The victim said, ‘Do your best, and if it gets septicemia, I will die with my penis.’”

      The surgeon added that “it was fifteen hours between it being chopped off and re-attached, which is much longer than the books say it can be done, but, at the pleading of the patient, our team went ahead. To our surprise and delight, everything went fine.”

      While the success rate of re-attaching the phallus is “one hundred percent,” Dr. Surasak thinks that only about half that number can again experience the previous level of phallus functioning.

      “So far, there has not been a single documented case of a new baby. Out of the 34 cases I’ve done, I don’t think that any can sustain a prolonged erection. That makes it difficult to make a new baby.”

      “How did you get started in re-attaching severed phalluses?”

      “My previous experience in re-attaching appendages was an amputated finger.”

      “Then in 1978 you had your first case of—”

      “Yes, it was in 1978.”

      “How many students have you trained in this kind of surgery?”

      “Fifty-six. They are practicing throughout the kingdom, including government hospitals.”

      “What about the cost involved?”

      “Two hundred thousand baht—that’s five thousand US dollars. The cost includes hospitalization, medications, the surgery, and follow-up care.”

      “What!” I was incredulous. “I thought it would be 20,000 US. Maybe more.”

      “You must remember that Thai people are poor.”

      “What about men who can’t afford the 200,000? Can they get the treatment with the ‘Thirty Baht Plan’?”

      “All hospitals subscribing to the Plan must provide the necessary services to the unfortunate victim. If the hospital is not equipped, the person is transferred to another hospital.”

      “How many of the victims have been farang?”

      “To my knowledge, none.”

      “I thought that many would have been farang.”

      “Thai women are smart. They don’t want to cut off their bankroll. They realize that farangs are well-endowed financially.”

      “Someone told me that a German in Pattaya had his phallus sliced off by his girlfriend.”

      “When did that happen?”

      “About a year ago. The enraged woman, I was told, had her cheating boyfriend take her to his favorite German restaurant, where they enjoyed their favorite dishes. They drank two good bottles of German wine, went home, and had good sex. After the cutting, she fed the phallus to the duck.”

      “Did you hear that story in a bar?”

      “Hmmm, yes.”

      “A good bar story.”

      “Has anyone ever had the experience of two ‘Bangkok haircuts’?”

      Dr. Surasak laughed. “That would amount to being struck by lighting twice. That would make him a real loser. So far, no repeat customers.”


Doctors, psychologists, and social commentators claim that the slashing epidemic is due to a combination of factors. Polygamy was common practice in Thailand until it was banned a century ago, but it still persists, and the phallus—in Hinduism and animism (both of which have a powerful influence in Thai spirituality)—is revered as a symbol of power and fertility. (Only in Thailand has Mother Nature carved a statue of rock that has a striking resemblance to the phallus. The rock is on the island of Koh Samui, and is a popular tourist attraction for both Thai and foreign tourists alike. Mother Nature has also carved the female sex organ into the same rock formation, right next to the male member. They are known as ‘Grandfather’ and ‘Grandmother’ by the local folk). Carved wooden and stone phalluses are found everywhere in the kingdom—in shops, on ships’ prows, and in the rock gardens and shrines of big hotels, condos, and office buildings.

      Thailand tries to emulate the West, where the practice is one man, one wife. But Thai psychologist and media commentator, Dr. Wallop Pryamanotham, agrees that the Bangkok haircut stems from the outlawed but flourishing Thai habit of keeping secret wives.

      “In those bygone days,” the psychologist said in a newspaper article, “a man could have many wives.” Despite the ban, men still act the same way, keeping second wives and mistresses—known as mia noi (‘minor wife’). One method of revenge is for the woman to take extreme measures. According to the doc, “The women are saying, ‘If he won’t have sex with me, I’ll make sure he can’t have it with other women.’”

      Dr. Wallop added: “The symbol of potency is cut off. His power is gone.” Apparently, this is revenge of the most meaningful kind.


Back in the USA, an enterprising woman in Oklahoma cashed in on the member mutilation scandal. Samantha Cudek, the manager of a pet supply shop in Tulsa, decided to call her new dog-chew product the “Bobbitt Jerky.” The name recognition translated the item into hot sales. Through word-of-mouth, customers she had never seen before flocked to her store. Samantha increased her sales ten-fold, then twenty-fold. “Dogs love bones,” she intoned, “especially a Bobbitt bone.” The news resounded through Tulsa and beyond.

      Samantha Cudek became an instant celeb. During radio talk show interviews, she delighted her hosts with quips like, “We know the power of a bull. Our Bobbitt bone is made from a bull’s penis.”

      Another Samantha quip: “Your dog’s stamina will increase with the Bobbitt bone because it’s made from a Nature-made body part.”

      “The Bobbitt bone is a foot-long beef stick,” Samantha said. She also claimed that the dog chew was good for teething puppies.

     The product is indeed made from a bull’s phallus.

     Even staid scientists have succumbed to the Bobbitt hoopla. The following is taken from the respected Internet site, Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopedia):   

    Eunice aphroditois . . . is an aquatic predatory polychaete worm dwelling at the ocean floor at depths of approximately 10-40 meters.

          This organism buries its long body into an ocean bed composed of gravel, mud or corals, where it waits patiently for outside stimulus to reach one of its five antennae. Armed with sharp claws, it is known to attack with such speeds that its prey is sometimes sliced in half. Although the worm hunts for food, it is omnivorous.

          Little is known about the sexual habits and life span of this worm, but researchers hypothesize that sexual reproduction occurs at an early stage. . . .

          The female may attack the male’s sex organ after mating, detaching it with her sharp bone plates and then feeding it to her young.


     These creatures can grow to nearly three meters and are thought to have a very long life span.

     The common name applied by marine biologists is “Bobbitt worm.”

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