Back in the '80s, my first encounter with a really big penis nearly made me faint. That's actually a good thing, considering one needs to be barely conscious, or Zen-like relaxed, when dealing with a part of someone else's body that just might tear you in half.

The memory of the ribald days of my misspent youth bubbled to the surface after someone recently gifted me with The Big Penis Book (Taschen, 383 pages, $59). And what a gift it is.

Edited by Dian Hanson, the oversized, flesh-colored tome is a treasure trove of every big dick that ever worked the streets of smut, porn or anything that called for the services of someone with an unnatural growth between their legs. The hefty hardback is bookended by two industry legends, known both in the gay and straight outré oeuvre: long gone but not forgotten 11-inched John Holmes (1944-1988) and "Long Dong Silver," an entirely fabricated character created by photographer Jay Myrdal and the very much still alive Daniel Mead.

Although much has been written of the dick-obsessed Holmes and his coked-out adventures in both straight and gay porn—before he died of AIDS—it was news to me that the "thing" attached to the 18-inched Long Dong was nothing more than a prosthetic created by the makeup dude who worked on the movie The Elephant Man. During photo shoots a light and flexible foam latex sleeve was placed over Mead's penis, glued down to his pubes, and voilà, the "legend" would then "perform."

Frankly, the guys in this book look like they're stretching their "truths." Many of them look Tom Cruise-short, so, of course, their normal-sized "fellas'' would look bigger if they were shot in just the right way. And more than a few look like they just got off their shift at the carnival.

It's hard to tell if these testicular titans are gay or straight, but I have a hunch most of them jumped between the sexes. In the introduction, Taschen's "sexy book editor" Hanson recalls an interview with Jacques Peretti, the producer of the documentary The Perfect Penis, who claims, "Men born with abnormally large penises almost invariably find their first sexual experiences with men."

Which makes sense, considering women I know run from the sight of a babymaker that might require post-coital vaginoplasty.

So, why write about big dicks when the world is full of them already? Especially when they're screwing us economically, socially and politically?

Because when Rome burned, more than just fiddles got played. Big dicks are a great distraction in any crisis.

The sweetest surprise for me was found on the very last page, in the "Appendicks." That's where I was reunited with one of my first (porn magazine) loves: Rick "Humongous" Donovan. I had no idea he was so short in height—5-foot-8—and that's what made his 9-inch dick look so much bigger. Truthfully, all I really remember about him were his puppy-dog eyes and bent-looking mouth. In this book I guess size really does matter, but for me, at least, there really are more important things than "that."