Jan 9, 2014

Lange Wapper, the Phallic Giant of Antwerp

The Manneken Pis is not the only famous penis in Belgium.

Outside of Het Steen, the castle on the border of the central city of Antwerp, this statue shows two men of regular size looking up in awe at the crotch of the giant Lange Wapper.  One can imagine few more homoerotic spectacles.

Except when one realizes that the bulge was originally a giant penis that either terrorized or enchanted the townsfolk.  In the 17th century, the Jesuits objected, and had him castrated.  Eventually the statue was demolished, and this new, sanitized version was sculpted by Albert Poels in 1963.

There are other phallic symbols in Het Steen.  Over the entrance there's a bas relief of Semini, an ancient god of fertility.  His gigantic penis was also removed by the Jesuits.

Back to Lange Wapper: he was originally a water god, but by the 17th century he had become a trickster who could change his size and sex to pull pranks on people, especially drunks stumbling home from the tavern late at night.  He would also terrorize children like the boogie man of North America.

Transformed into a hero, today  he has his own selection of children's stories, and he appears as a supporting character in the popular comic book series Suske and Wiske (Suzie and Spike in Britain, Bob and Bobette in France, Willy and Wanda in the U.S.)

Lange Wapper Student Clubs all over Flanders, like this one in Leuven, hold  nude homoerotic initiation ceremonies in his honor.

The Flemish group Katastroof satirizes political and social issues, including homophobia ("I'm a Hetero-Man").  Their song "Lange Wapper" is about his return, but now he's fighting hatred (and he seems to have evolved into a penis):

He is big, terrifically large
And long and narrow, and very strong
Go and feel the hate from the churches and mosques.
It is time for a change
Lange Wapper is back

For even more penises, check out Prague, with more statues of naked men than any other city in the world, or the Museum of the Penis in Reykjavik, Iceland.