…ahem. Penis Enlargement.

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Penis enlargement sign on Mint Rd., Fordsburg.

I’ve been planning this post for a while. But when it came time to actually write it, I hesitated. I don’t want to offend anyone and I don’t want to invite the wrong kind of web traffic, if you know what I mean.

But this blog is about Joburg culture, and crazy streetside signs are a major part of the culture here. These signs are so prolific, in fact, that I had stopped noticing them until a series of visiting friends and relatives began bringing the signs to my attention recently.

wall of signs

Smattering of signs on Claim Street, Hillbrow.

A few weeks ago a blogging friend of mine, Travelling Tonito, suggested we start a penis enlargement sign challenge on Instagram. (Or maybe I suggested the challenge to him. I can’t remember.) The idea was that Tony would post a penis enlargement sign on Instagram, tag me, then I would post a sign, each time trying to find a more interesting sign than the last. We even created a new Instagram hashtag: #EnlargementSigns.

I don’t think Tony realized what he was getting himself into. Soon I was posting two or three signs for each one of his.


Fountain Rd., Fordsburg. This sign is particularly appropriate because the building behind it is called “Adonis”.

penis enlargement and motorbike

Main Rd., Melville. I’m fond of this shot for several reasons: the rainbow colors of the sign, the guy on the motorcycle (which seems appropriate for some reason), and the angle of the shot, which makes the “penis enlargement” text look abnormally huge.

Soon I began to branch out, shooting signs that advertise for things other than penis enlargement.

the Prophet

Claim St., Hillbrow.

“Prophet” signs are nearly as ubiquitous as penis enlargement signs, especially in low-income areas like Hillbrow. Prophet signs tend to follow a template, always advertising the town from which the prophet originates. Apparently Prophet Siziba wants to make sure we know that he hails from Zim(babwe). And his customers don’t have to pay until after the job is done!!

enemy on mirror

Claim St., Hillbrow.

Prophet Sithole from Chipinge will see your enemy on (in?) the mirror. I don’t have a clue why anyone would want to see their enemy on (or in) a mirror. I really should have called to inquire about this for the sake of the blog. But to be honest, I’m too afraid. I don’t want Prophet Sithole to see me on his mirror.

Bring back love

6th Ave., Melville.

I like the simplicity of some of the signs. “Bring back ur love(r)” is one of the few sign ads that I could personally get behind. If half the number weren’t missing I might be tempted to call it. But what’s the deal with the red paint?

abortion sign

Claim St., Hillbrow.

Abortion signs, unlike the other signs I’ve featured, are in no way amusing or funny. But I have to include the abortion signs because they are so abundant and interesting. Abortion signs also follow a template, with little tear-offs at the bottom for potential customers to take.

abortion sign2

Claim St., Hillbrow. Many of the abortion signs include disturbing details on the services provided.

When my dad came to visit South Africa a few weeks ago he immediately noticed the newspaper headline signs. So I began to photograph those, too.

escort sign

Lothbury Rd., Auckland Park.

All of the major newspapers in South Africa post these signs, usually advertising the most inflammatory news headlines of the day. Dad is a retired newspaperman with a particular affection for sensational news, so these signs were right up his alley. I barely used to look at them before Dad came but now I’m obsessed.

Bad samaritan

Jan Smuts Ave., Dunkeld. The Daily Sun is generally considered to be the trashiest South African rag. All of the Daily Sun headlines end in exclamation points!


Jan Smuts Ave., Dunkeld. Baby Mama Drama: “Papgeld” is a South African slang term for child support.

toilet news

Beyers Naude Dr., Cresta. The sign on top is my fave.

To wrap things up, I’d like to include a news article forwarded to me by my friend Kate, a fellow South African blogger (currently residing in New York) and streetside sign enthusiast. The headline of the article is: “Two arrested for penis potion.” It creates more questions than answers, but a good read nonetheless. (Click link above.)

expert penis enlargement

Lothbury Rd., Auckland Park. I’m not going to provide any commentary on this sign. Just read, observe, and enjoy.

I’m still photographing signs like mad so this could be the beginning of a series. Until next time.

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