Balls. Nuts. Stones. Eggs. Bullocks.
That's what Oakland Park's James L. Riedy self-published book "The Pleasures of Testicles: A Celebration and Exploration of All Things Balls" ($10.95, Outskirts Press) is all about.
Of course, the retired humanities professor could have written about a lot of things. He's already a published author, with a well-respected and thoughtful tome, 1981's "Chicago Sculpture," for example. The Wisconsin native earned bachelor and master degrees in journalism; worked in magazine publishing in his adoptive hometown of Chicago; had his own radio show there; and taught at City Colleges of Chicago.
But he had his heart set on balls.
"Some of my friends and relatives are shocked and aghast at my producing my just-published book," says Riedy, from his vacation home in San Jose, Costa Rica. "And I have the impression that some of them are not talking to me anymore."
Riedy began to crack that nut 20 years ago when, drawing on his background in humanities and an appreciation of the visual arts, he gave multimedia lectures for the American Urological Association, Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and The American Culture Association.
"When I first started, I knew absolutely nothing about testicles other than I owned a pair of my own," Riedy says. "This was before Google. But I have to tell you that when I talked about testicles and gastronomy, it was standing-room only at the national convention of the American Culture Association in New Orleans."
Even before those whimsical presentations, the idea of morphing the topic into a book was already rolling around in Riedy’s mind.
"I was in a book store in Seattle about three decades ago," he says. "I came upon ["The Book of the Breast"] by Playboy Press. Even at that time it occurred to me that there were books on breasts and vulvas and penises and derrieres, but no one had done anything on testicles.
"I produced an 11-chapter manuscript covering every aspect: articles on the depiction of testicles by artists; the etymology of words we use to describe testicles...I wrote about them from an anthropological, religious and artistic point of view."
But finding a publisher to take the project further was a bust, so he put his balls book on the backburner. Eventually, when the advent of the Internet allowed for worldwide research from the comfort of his Oakland Park condo (he moved to South Florida from Chicago eight years ago), the topic once again dangled in front of him and he decided to self-publish in January.
"I was able to use two of my chapters of the original manuscript in the current book," he says. "But now I refer to [the product] as more of a handbook for both sexes that expands the boundaries of frisky occasions and celebrates the natural joys of a man’s nether regions, his jewels."
There is a chapter where he traces "the history of various words we use to describe them going back to Shakespeare’s time, and then [I make a] footnote of 200 terms that are used in the place of testicles and balls."
Other chapters cover aesthetic pleasures ("...everything from shaving the balls and piercing them and having tattoos and using various means of inflating them") to sensory pleasures ("...which includes touching, fucking, tea-bagging, fondling, massaging").
Aside from references in literature, from Jean Genet to Philip Roth, there’s also a bit of a dissertation on size, including a description of a clinic in Bay Harbor Islands in Miami-Dade County that offers testicle enlargement procedures for about $4,500 for single and $6,000 for bilateral implants.
"I even talk about how a Republican in the Legislature of Maryland tried to outlaw truck nuts saying that children should not be exposed to giant plastic testicles hanging from the tractor trailers."
But he thinks that what may have his family's and friends' you-know-whats all twisted are the chapters on fetish pleasure, ranging from electrical stimulation to inserting needles into the scrotum.
"There's a company in St. Petersburg where you can make arrangements to have your own ball-busting scene put on video. It's $600 for one lovely girl and one location, with each additional girl costing $300."
And how far did his research go?
"Oh no," answers Riedy, laughing. "I depend on all the descriptions on the Internet."
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