An Interview with Noa Bulbulz
Shortly after I moved to Jerusalem last year, I got a friend request on Facebook from a woman in Massachusetts who I had never met. I get a lot of random friend requests, so I was not especially intrigued. Upon looking at her profile, it quickly became clear that she was an artist — specifically, a penis artist.
I was starting to become more intrigued. I love penis art, and I find that penises are often left behind in the body positive movement, so I'm always looking for art and media that deals with penises in a positive, unashamed, joke-free way (not that I am against penis jokes, but it sometimes feels like we can only talk about penises when we're making fun of them).
As I investigated further, I found that she had recently moved to Massachusetts from Israel. I was like, "No way! I just swapped countries with this person who shares my (somewhat uncommon) love of penis art!"
So when Noa asked me to come see her studio after I got back to Massachusetts a few weeks ago, I was excited to go.
I drove out into the Massachusetts countryside where Noa's home/farm/studio is. When I arrived, I was greeted by some free-roaming chickens on her front walkway. Noa welcomed me in, past the chickens and goats and wood piles, to her beautiful studio. I got to see her incredibly detailed penis replicas, in wax, silicone, and ceramic.
I was so happy to meet a stranger who is so comfortable with penises! As I ran my fingers over their tiny pores and wrinkles, there were no giggles or awkward glances between us. We were just two people enchanted by penises, wanting to appreciate them in the light of day.
Here's my interview with Noa of Bulbulz Studio.
Pleasure Pie: Why penises?
Noa Bulbulz: I always was fascinated with this organ. Such an interesting organ/object that has so many features embodied together that you can't find elsewhere. As someone who has never had one, and never will (˙◠˙), I have always been very curious about what it's like to live with a penis. What does it feel like from the other side — the side of the one who owns it? I don't that think that I'm very different from many other women who feel curious about it.
[Editor's note: Just a reminder that genitals aren't always indicative of gender identity — what we're really talking about here is people without penises, and that group includes some men, most (but not all) women, some nonbinary people, and some people who don't identify with any of these labels.]
In my distant past, I worked in a sex toy store and was really disappointed by the poor quality of the products. The smell that some of the products had — something between cheap petroleum oil and rubber.
They tried to tell me that there are more things to do than penises.
Also, I went to art school in Israel and my instructors were very conservative. I wanted to study art because I felt different and eccentric, but I ended up feeling that most of the lecturers tried to put me down. They tried to tell me that there are more things to do than penises. Of course there are! But I'm not interested.
PP: How does your work relate to body positivity?
NB: I support cock positivity! It's rare for us to see a penis as an individual object — something pretty we can look at without judging it the way society teaches us to.
My penis replicas glorify the cock in all its shapes and sizes, making it a work of art regardless of its size or form.
The replicas also bring the penis down to earth level. You can talk about it. You can hold it. You can look at it. It's not just a sexual organ anymore. It's a subject for daily discussion.
PP: When you create a piece from someone’s penis, what do you hope they will get out of it?
NB: I hope to fulfill a sexual fantasy and help their self-confidence and self-love.
PP: As an immigrant to the US, what do you think of the way sex is (or isn’t) talked about in this country? How does it compare to what you’re used to in Israel?
NB: I've been in the US for only two years, and from what I see on TV, there isn't really open sexual discussion of sex on American television at all. They can't even say the word penis, which is a bodily organ and is not a rude word!
I support cock positivity!
But the United States is such a big country, and I've noticed that the sexual talk varies from state to state. It feels that in Massachusetts there is not much of it. There are focused groups here that deal with it, but the discussion fails to rise beyond these groups. I can tell that people feel very uncomfortable talking about this kind of stuff. I've been to other states (on the west coast mainly) that were different, which is why I know it's not the whole country.
I do think it's a bit of a pity, because sexuality, sex, and, surely, sexual education are part of life. I also think when you need to call something sex positive or go to a cuddle party it means that we are in a problem. Because these things are so natural. Sex is positive! Cuddles are positive!
In Israel, talking about sex crosses populations, sectors, and occupations. You do not have to belong to a particular group to talk about it or listen to it. It's everywhere, and yes, they also talk about sex on the news if there is something interesting (for instance, there were a few articles about me by regular newspapers and radio stations).
PP: Anything else you want to share for our readers?
NB: Yes — the fact that I deal with penises does not mean that I want to be harassed on Facebook, in reality, or anywhere else.
Noa Bulbulz is an Israeli artist living in rural Massachusetts with her partner, dog, goats, and chickens. She makes penis statues, candles, dildos, lollipops, and more. You can find more photos of Noa's work and information about her artistic process on her website.
Questions and introduction by Nicole Mazzeo.