Ever wondered what it's like to get a piercing in that most private of places? Journalist and writer Willem de Blaauw, who lives in Amsterdam, decided he wanted to get the ultimate piercing.
I'm lying on this leather bed, with my trousers and underwear round my ankles. A guy leans over me and scrutinises my penis. He takes it in his hands and pulls back my foreskin. I relax and wait for what comes next.

No, this isn't the beginning of a sordid porn story. As a matter of fact, I'm at Mr B, the leather and rubber shop in the Warmoesstraat, to get a piercing known as the Prince Albert. For those not in the know, that's a ring inserted through a man's peehole, travelling through the urethra, and emerging again at the underside of the penis head. When I informed friends and acquaintances what I had planned to do, I got plenty of questions and strong reactions. 'Are you mad?' 'Rather you than me.' 'Why do you want one?' 'Doesn't it hurt?'

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It's not my first piercing. I got a nipple pierced ages ago, before it became a 'must have' in certain circles. My second nipple piercing followed a couple of years later. Now it was time to take the next step. I love piercings: they look sexy and seem to suit my body, like some people have a face for wearing glasses or hats. It just adds a certain extra something to my look. Plus, they give the wearer a plethora of new stimulating possibilities during sex and, unlike tattoos, can be removed quite easily when you grow tired of them.

It's taken me years to decide to get a PA-shorthand in piercing circles for the Prince Albert-because, well, I was scared stiff (certainly not literally) about the pain. One of the less pleasant side effects of a PA is that it can affect, how to say it, one's stream. This means that after getting the piercing you have to pee sitting down if you want to keep your trousers dry. That is, the piercing turns one's penis into a kind of 'showerhead'. But my friend Marinus (nipple piercings and PA) put me at ease about the pain. I also looked around online for news groups on the subject. According to the reports I read, getting a PA wouldn't be painful. It might not even bleed, and it didn't always affect peeing standing up.

It's said that Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's hubby, was asked by his wife to do something about that bulge in his trousers when Victorian fashion police dictated that men to wear tight drainpipe trousers. Legend has it the prince got a ring through his penis so he could attach it to a garter in one of his trousers legs. A 'dressing ring' it was also called, hence tailors started to ask men whether they 'dressed on the left or right'. But there's also another story, which alleges that Queen Victoria wanted her husband to have his foreskin permanently pulled back, so his member would always smell fresh. Whichever story is true, I couldn't help wondering if he was as nervous getting his piercing as I am.

'Just take deep breaths', the piercer at Mr B says. 'I'm going to put it in.' (No, dear reader, he's referring to the piercing. Keep your smutty thoughts to yourself...) Anyway, I close my eyes and try to relax, which is extremely difficult to do under these circumstances, as I'm sure you can imagine. I'm sure my dick has shrunk to the size of a pea. The piercer has already explained the procedure to me. All of the piercing equipment is new and sterile and I've picked out the ring that I like. Most people choose a closed ring with one ball in the middle, but I've chosen a C-shaped 1.8-mm ring with two balls, one at each end, made of surgical steel.

Suddenly I feel a very sharp prick in my, um, prick and somewhere in my head I can hear my skin tear apart. Or is the latter just an illusion? But the whole experience lasts only a split second and then it's gone.

It was by far not as painful as having my nipples pierced; that felt like a real blow to my body. And compared to my dentist visits in recent years (root canal, fillings) this was easy and quick. Afterwards, I don't even feel any pain. Still, I don't dare to look at first. I do some more breathing exercises, then look down. I like what I see: the contrast of the chunky steel against my flesh. Luckily there's no blood. I don't try to touch it, as it doesn't yet feel like part of my body.

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My friend Peter, who I brought along with me in case I fainted and had to be carried home, is sitting behind me. He's allowed in the room, but he's not permitted to look in case he also faints and the piercer ends up with two unconscious men on the floor. Finally Peter has a peek and congratulates me. Then my dick is wrapped in a plastic glove and a kitchen towel, just in case it starts to bleed. I'm glad to be wearing baggy combats, as the wrapped-up bit is rather big and would make a very suspicious-looking bulge in tight trousers, la Prince Albert. We go downstairs to pay, and then head down the street to the Bakkerswinkel to get a much-needed cappuccino (both of us) and cigarette (me).

I'd read on the Internet that peeing might sting in the first few days, so I braced myself at home later that day when I had my first PA pee. I sat and waited for the pain, but I didn't feel a thing. Great! One hour later, though, I had to pee again and it unexpectedly hurt like hell. I cringed and cursed aloud at the sharp, burning sensation. This happened twice more the next day. I also had to clean my ring three times a day with a special soap. It didn't hurt, but my flesh was certainly a bit tender. When I soaped it up and rinsed it felt more like a temporary medical device than a new toy.

I'd been told that the healing process would take between four and six weeks. Indeed, one month later my PA has healed, and it finally feels part of me. (And hey, I can still pee standing up.) I'm in the mood for sex again, and curious to find out what it's like to have sex with my PA. Being single, this means I first have to find a guinea pig somewhere to help me find out. Long live www.chatboy.nl, and indeed one Saturday evening I hook up with this guy and we end up in my bed. Without going into detail, I can report that my new adornment delivers all the sensual enhancement it's advertised to provide to both parties. In hindsight I only wish I had got the PA earlier.

My remaining worry is Schiphol Airport. I have this vision of having to strip when those detection devices keep beeping, even after I've already handed over my keys, wallet, mobile phone and whatnot. This might be another occasion where I'll find my trousers round my ankles... But then, I've always liked men in uniforms.

Willem de Blauw is a journalist and writer who lives in Amsterdam. This feature first appeared in Amsterdam Weekly.

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