Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: A celebrity makes a trip to the emergency room to have a gerbil removed from his rectum.
Origins: Contrary to widespread public belief, "gerbil-stuffing" is unknown as an actual sexual practice, nor are we aware of a verified medical case of a gerbil having been extracted from a patient's rectum. Despite the assiduousness with which doctors record unusual items removed from patients' rectums in order to write them up as illustrative cases, we haven't yet found a medical journal article involving a gerbil removal. (Doctors, like most people, often repeat urban legends and stories told to them by others as first-person experiences, hence our standard for declaring this true is a peer-reviewed journal article rather than anecdote.) The notion of gerbilling (not necessarily restricted to homosexuals — the insertion of items into the rectum for purposes of autoeroticism is practiced by heterosexuals as well) appears to be pure invention, a tale fabricated to demonstrate the depravity with which "faggots" allegedly pursue sexual pleasure. (While people do stick all sorts of unusual items up their rectums, they also do so for reasons other than sexual
Like similar legends such as The Promiscuous Rock Star, this tale has been applied to various public figures who are known or believed to be homosexual, and it has stuck with one in particular: Richard Gere. Although the legend homed in on various targets when it first appeared (including a Philadelphia newscaster), it has clung tenaciously to
Versions of the following gerbilling fiction date back at least to 1993 when a faked United Press International item appeared on the Internet, one that named Vito Bustone and Kiki Rodriguez of Lake City, Florida, as the accident victims. (The gerbil's name was withheld by request of the family.) Other versions have been falsely attributed to the Los Angeles Times with the events said to have taken place in Salt Lake City, Utah. Rest assured that neither news outlet ever published a news article about these fictitious events:
"In retrospect, lighting the match was my big mistake. But I was only trying to retrieve the gerbil," Eric Tomaszewski told bemused doctors in the Severe Burns Unit of Salt Lake City Hospital. Tomaszewski, and his homosexual partner Andrew "Kiki" Farnum, had been admitted for emergency treatment after a felching session had gone seriously wrong.Sightings: Look for some tongue-in-cheek references to the
"I pushed a cardboard tube up his rectum and slipped Raggot, our gerbil, in," he explained. "As usual, Kiki shouted out 'Armageddon,' my cue that he'd had enough. I tried to retrieve Raggot but he wouldn't come out again, so I peered into the tube and struck a match, thinking the light might attract him."
At a hushed press conference, a hospital spokesman described what happened next. "The match ignited a pocket of intestinal gas and a flame shot out the tube, igniting
Tomaszewski suffered second degree burns and a broken nose from the impact of the gerbil, while Farnum suffered first and second degree burns to his anus and lower intestinal tract.
Last updated: 18 November 2001
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