San Francisco: The Return of the City’s Healthy Penis Mascot

Listen to what San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee had to do when he took office:

Yes, this exists.
Yes, this exists.


Lee, who wryly admits he made more money as a city administrator, came into office facing a $385 million deficit out of a $6.8 billion budget. “We had to cut to the bone many of the critical departments: police, fire, social services, health,” he said. “The city of San Francisco was trying to climb out of a big hole, and we didn’t have a vision yet.”

The cut police and fire to the bone.


San Francisco may have banned the exposure of genitalia, but that’s not stopping the Department of Public Health from bringing back its giant Healthy Penis. Yes, the beloved six-foot-tall mascot for safe sex is literally coming out of the closet and will be back at parades and other city events – and this time he comes with free penis-shaped stress toys!

The health department sparked some controversy when it debuted the three characters, all penises but in different hues, back in 2002. But the penis costumes – worn by health department staff and aimed at encouraging gay and bisexual men to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases – became popular and have been copied in San Jose and Cleveland.

The penises went into retirement in 2006, debuted again in 2009, and now are back for a third time to encourage men to get tested for STDs every six months. Those who do get tested will receive a Healthy Penis stress toy and a coupon that looks like a dollar bill – but, of course, with a Healthy Penis in place of George Washington. The coupons can be used for discounts, free coffee and other goodies at 25 local businesses.

I wonder how much those stress toys and freebies cost?

Would they put another cop on the street?  Add another firefighter to the truck?


The budget for the program this year is $122,575.

Of that, $59,980 is for advertising in the Bay Area Reporter, on Muni buses, and on 92.7 FM. The rest is for staff, including a part-time Web designer, creative director and product manager.

In the land of liberalism gone wild, it’s more important to spend taxpayer money to tell grown men to take care of their genitalia than to solve a crime or put out a fire.