The Man With the $100,000 Breasts

Close your eyes and try to remember the wildest dare you ever accepted. Now open them and meet one twisted son of a bitch who’s got you beat by 38 inches.

Maxim, Jun 1998
By Michael Konik

When I first met Brian Zembic, he was living in a bathroom. This was not because he couldn’t afford to live in an apartment with a bedroom. It was because a couple of his degenerate gambling buddies bet him 14 grand that he couldn’t stay in a bathroom for 30 days straight.

I’d been hearing about Brian for months. A gambler friend of mine described him as “an animal, a guy who’d do anything to win a bet.” Finding him, however, hadn’t been easy. Brian doesn’t have a permanent address; he’s always jumping to another motel, another apartment, another country. It took me a month just to get him on the phone.

On a sizzling day in Las Vegas, I finally track him down. Brian is six days into the bathroom bet, and he’s going a little stir-crazy. It’s a nice bathroom, as far as bathrooms go, carpeted, brightly lit, bordering on spacious. But it’s still a bathroom. Brian’s allowed to keep the door open but prohibited from crossing the threshold into the adjoining hallway; a housekeeper brings him sandwiches whenever he yells for her. There’s a row of $100 bills on the mirror; each day Brian tapes another to the glass, a little way of reminding himself how much he’s earning during this self-imposed sentence. He spends most of his time reading and practicing magic tricks, which are occupations that could keep him busy for a month, no problem. But now, Brian explains, unforeseen circumstances are weakening his resolve: “Joey—one of the guys who made the wager with me—he owns the apartment, and he’s been sending people over here to take dumps. It’s brutal.”

Four days later his buddies cave in and buy Brian out of the bet for $7,000. “I didn’t think he’d do it,” Joey admits shortly after paying Brian off with a thick stack of hundreds. “I wouldn’t do it. You wouldn’t do it. I couldn’t imagine anybody with half a brain staying in a bathroom for a goddamn month. I thought it was a good bet.”

Anyone who really knows Brian Zembic understands there is no such thing as a good bet. He’ll do just about anything to put cash in his pocket—anything, that is, that doesn’t require punching a clock. To Brian, working means somebody owns him, owns his time and his freedom. When he needs money, which happens occasionally, he gambles. Backgammon mostly, a little poker, Ping-Pong when he can find a sucker—any activity in which his skill or knowledge gives him the edge. This includes taking insane dares. Like walking around for a year with a humongous front porch.

For Brian Zembic, life was not always so busty. He is, in fact, a pretty average guy—average height, average weight, average looks. Nondescript from top to bottom. He’s a 37-year-old from Winnipeg, Canada—what could be more average than that? Still, Brian’s always been an attention getter, a fast-talking, high-energy maniac capable of reducing the guys around him to a guffawing mess. Even though he’s notorious for never picking up a check—he’s probably the cheapest bastard on the planet—his buddies love taking him to nightclubs, since he’s a serious chick magnet. Friends call him the Wiz because Brian’s like a sorcerer: He does magic tricks, tells jokes, and makes women you’d be too scared to talk to giggle like teenagers. Essentially, though, Brian was like any other guy you’d be happy to hang out with. But two years ago, that began to change.

It’s a summer night in 1996, and Brian’s playing backgammon at one of his haunts, a gaming club in midtown Manhattan. The establishment is a dingy cubbyhole of a place. Inside, it looks like somebody’s living room, except for the backgammon tables everywhere and a cast of characters you probably wouldn’t want hanging around if it were your living room. This is Brian’s world. When he’s in town, you often find him here, playing for up to $500 a point with his high-rolling pals, a gang of action junkies escaped from the pages of a dime novel: magicians, card cheats, sports bettors. Guys who are prone to bet on which raindrop will hit the bottom of a windowpane first. The conversations in this crowd tend toward the deeply philosophical:

“What would it take for you to play Russian roulette?”

“I dunno. A million, maybe.”

“Yeah? How much for two bullets in the gun?”

On this particular night, Brian’s engaged in a passionate debate with his buddy Jobo, one of the most avid backgammon players who’s ever lived. Jobo tends to express his opinions with a stolid certainty that does not invite contradiction. Tonight he’s yammering on about how crazy it is that women get breast implants. How, in the hopes of attracting men, they actually jam big bags of salt water under their skin.

Brian suggests that getting implants probably isn’t so bad. “Look at Maggie,” he says, referring to a mutual friend with a sizable breast job. “She seems pretty happy with her boobs.”

“You think so?” Jobo asks. “Is that what you think? How’d you like it if you had to walk around with those things all day?”

At that Brian leans back in his chair and starts laughing. But everyone else in the club goes quiet, because they know that Jobo is not a man who likes to be laughed at. After a few seconds, Jobo lays his hands flat on the table and gives Brian a hard look. “Tell you what, pal,” Jobo says. “I’d give you a hundred thousand if you got a set.”

Now, a hundred grand to Jobo isn’t going to change his life one way or another. He plays backgammon matches against Saudi sheiks for stakes nearly that high; so Brian knows Jobo isn’t bullshitting. But $100,000 to Brian Zembic—$100,000 for not working—well, that’s the mother lode.

“How big would they have to be?” Brian asks.

“Big as Maggie’s,” says Jobo. Maggie’s breasts, it must be noted, are 38C.

They hammer out the wager’s fine points: Brian’s responsible for the surgery costs. Jobo will put the $100,000 prize in escrow. To collect, Brian has to keep the implants in for a year.

“You know I’m crazy enough to do it,” Brian more or less announces to the room. Jobo just shakes his head. “No you’re not. Nobody’s that crazy.”

For the next couple of months, it’s business as usual. Jobo and Brian play a lot of backgammon together, and every time they see a woman with big breasts, they joke about their bet. But things take a strange twist during the autumn of ’96, when Brian gets a can’t-miss stock tip from a gambler named Fat Steve. Jobo, who owns a bunch of shares in the same can’t-miss company, assures Brian it’s the stock of the century. So Brian plunges $125,000, a huge chunk of his savings, into the deal. Meanwhile, Jobo’s unloading his shares as quickly as his broker can find a sucker to buy them. In one week, the shares dive from 61/2 to 5, and Brian Zembic’s out nearly $30,000.

When the Wiz finds out he’s been duped by Jobo, he flies into a rage. A week later, still pissed off and looking for revenge, he calls Jobo and threatens to get the breasts.

“No way,” Jobo says. “You waited too long. Bet’s off.”

Brian begs to differ. So Brian and Jobo then do what all men of honor do when confronted with an intractable difference of opinion: They convene an arbitration panel of three fellow gamblers. These are men whose combined weight probably eclipses that of the Packers’ offensive line, guys who have mastered the art of consuming 6,000 calories a day while doing nothing but playing cards, backgammon, and an occasional video game. They look like a trio of Buddhas.

In a large booth at a gaudy Chinese restaurant off the Vegas Strip, Brian and Jobo make their case before the panel, which has dubbed itself the Titty Tribunal. Over plates of moo shu pork, the Tribunal deliberates for five minutes before issuing its ruling: The bet’s on.

Suddenly, Brian’s little joke is anything but. Now he’s either got to go all the way…or admit he was bluffing and fold. Any doubts he might have harbored pass quickly, though, thanks to a profound analytical technique Brian often resorts to when confronted with tough decisions: “I just don’t think about things too much,” he explains. “Once I make up my mind, it’s over.”

So a few days later, Brian contacts a plastic surgeon he occasionally gambles with. “Would you give me breast implants?” Brian asks the doctor. “In a heartbeat,” Doc says. “I do this kind of work on transsexuals all the time.” Doc assures him that putting implants in a man is virtually no different than in a woman. A little nip, a little tuck, sew it up, and out the door. Doc’s fee is $4,500. Brian has the cash, of course, but doesn’t want to give up 4.5 percent of his expected profit. So he makes the surgeon a proposition: They’ll play a little backgammon. Brian has the doctor’s fee paid in two hours.

A few days later, Brian’s sitting in the waiting room, filling out forms before meeting with the anesthesiologist. Brian is only hours away from going under the knife—and when he wakes up, he’s going to have breasts. At this point, most men would get queasy. After all, if our balls—our testosterone-filled balls—are the essence of our manhood, breasts—protruding, insistent breasts—are surely one of the hallmarks of womanhood. Most men would be wondering and worrying, allowing visions of embarrassment and unwanted femininity to dance through their muddled minds. Most men would be asking themselves questions: What’s going to happen when my poker buddies see me built like a centerfold? How am I going to explain this to the first woman I talk into bed? What the hell is wrong with me?

But Brian is calm. Eerily calm. That’s why he’s the Wiz.

And so, on a gray October afternoon in Manhattan, Brian Zembic has clear plastic pouches inserted through his nipples and filled with 14 ounces of saline each. He’s now the proud owner of two big and bouncy breasts.

All Brian can recall about the first hours after the surgery is that he felt groggy and vaguely top-heavy. If, upon waking from the anesthesia, he immediately reached for his chest, he has no memory of it. But he does remember that at first, he feared touching his new breasts. They felt so foreign, so strange, jiggling around up there. “I was afraid of popping them,” he says. “I thought that if I touched them hard, they might fall out.” So for a while, Brian just looked. Most of the time he kept his new assets hidden under a sweatshirt. But sometimes he’d stand in front of the mirror, lift his sweatshirt, and ogle his breasts, just as you or I might slobber over a stripper. Because, truth is, they looked pretty damned good.

It didn’t take him long to realize that he’d need a little structural support. So he asked his friend Maggie, she of the large and implanted breasts, to take him shopping for his first bra. The department store’s vast selection was overwhelming: lacy, sheer, underwire, snap-in-front, snap-in-back, push-up, demi-cup. Staring at all of the brassieres made Brian feel like, well, a girl. He settled on the plainest white sports bra he could find and bought it without even trying it on.

“For Christ’s sake, take ’em out! I was bluffing,” Jobo says when Brian calls him two weeks after the operation. He offers to settle the bet right there, on the spot, for $50,000. But the Wiz intends to collect the entire $100,000. The breasts, Brian tells him, stay right where they are. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Jobo screams into the phone. Brian tells him again: The tits stay put. “OK, then I’m going to get my money’s worth, you cheap, ugly little son of a bitch!” Jobo shouts. “Get your ass over to the club. It’s time for a show.”

For his debut, Brian briefly considers wearing the baggiest trench coat he can find. “But then I thought, I should be proud of my tits,” Brian says. “Not many guys would have the balls to walk around with a pair of hooters.”

It’s nearly midnight when Brian arrives at the club, dressed in his usual T-shirt and bomber jacket. Jobo quickly assembles a small crowd of gamblers and motions for Brian to lift his shirt. And there they are: two mounds rising over a hairy belly. Jobo laughs so hard he almost pukes. “You keep those for a year,” he says, “and it’ll be worth every penny.” Mikey Large, a regular at the high-stakes backgammon games, keeps begging Brian to give him another peek. He likes the breasts. A lot. Brian calls him a pervert; a sick, twisted lowlife. And then he flashes him anyway. To Brian the boobs are a new toy, like a cool watch or an expensive car; half the reason for having them is being able to show them off.

Proving to your buddies that you have titanium testes is one thing, and winning a $100,000 bet is certainly worth the sacrifice. But realistically, having perky breasts could damn near ruin a man’s sex life. In fact, this was the single aspect of the bet that troubled the Wiz. Around women, he thought, he’d have to hide his breasts; his year would be filled with ingenious subterfuges, deceptions, and excuses. But he quickly learned that when he was dressed in baggy clothes and a jacket, almost nobody could tell he was stacked. And when he shared his secret with several female friends, a few weeks after the operation, it became clear that most women would not regard him as a nauseating freak. They liked his breasts. So much, in fact, that as Brian so eloquently puts it, “I was getting chi-chi three weeks after the surgery. Since I got the breasts, it’s been like one woman after another. I’ve never gotten so much in my life.”

Slightly incredulous, I track down a couple of the women Brian claims to have slept with. One of them, Jeannie, a leggy stripper who works at one of the topless joints off Las Vegas Boulevard, says Brian and his breasts fulfilled all her fantasies at once. “It’s just awesome to get fucked and have tits to suck on,” Jeannie explains. Sharon, who works as a blackjack dealer, is a smashing redhead Brian had pursued for months with no luck. “I thought he was funny. Kind of silly and harmless,” she says. “But one day he left me a little love note with a photo of his boobs. If you know him, you realize only Brian would do that. I could hardly stop laughing...and I got curious.” According to Brian, the women he’s been with “want to suck on them and play with them. All the stuff guys like to do.” Which is why he started shaving his chest. “Girls like them better smooth,” he explains. “Don’t you?” But does Brian get off on his own boobs? Unfortunately not, he says. “I never had much feeling in that area before the operation and I don’t have any now. To be honest, I’m a little disappointed.”

One day in June of ’97, Brian and I are hanging out at Joey’s apartment in Vegas. The Wiz is showing me some magic tricks, and although he’s astoundingly good at them, my mind keeps wandering. In the interest of investigative journalism—and, honestly, because I’m going insane with curiosity—I ask Brian if I can feel his breasts. “Oh, man!” he says, grimacing. “Do you have to?” Most guys don’t bother asking him, because they’re afraid the Wiz will think they’re gay or perverted. But I tell him that it must be done.

And then Brian starts giggling a nervous giggle that reminds me of a teenage girl letting her high school boyfriend get his first grope. He lifts his T-shirt and peels up his sports bra, and there before me are Brian Zembic’s breasts, round and womanly and quite appealing. I reach over and give the breast closest to me a perfunctory squeeze. And you know what? It feels pretty good. I’m thinking I might even enjoy a breast such as this, if only it didn’t have razor stubble all over it. “Not bad,” I say, relieved to have discharged my reportorial duties without incurring any messy psychosexual complications.

He seems pleased with my reaction. Maybe even proud. Brian knows these implants aren’t an organic part of him. He knows they’re a synthetic miracle temporarily joined to him by a $100,000 bet. He knows that one day they’ll be gone, disposed of in a medical-waste bin. Still, you can tell that Brian is far from ashamed of his breasts; he’s got pride of ownership in them, as though they were washboard abs he sculpted himself through long sessions in the gym. And the truth is, they are the crowning, singular feature that makes Brian Zembic unique. They fulfill the legend of the Wiz.

Brian has no regrets about taking Jobo’s bet. He hasn’t had to stop picking up girls or carousing with the guys; he’s not treated like a leprous outcast. “Everything is just like before,” says the Wiz, “only I can’t jog.” Fact is, most strangers can’t even tell he has hooters. But what about his family? Can he keep his rack from them? Of course he can—but Brian doesn’t have to. His family, back in Canada, thinks this saline-pouch adventure is a hoot. “It hasn’t fazed them a bit,” Brian says. “My brothers laugh their asses off.” And his dad says, hell yeah, if someone handed him $100,000, he’d do it too.

Life with breasts is sweet. In fact, not only is Brian a richer man for having them, he’s a better man as well. “This has been an educational year for me,” he says. “Having breasts gives you insight into what life is like for women. You start to see what pigs we men are, the way we talk about breasts—like they’re jewelry, or a hat, or something.” The Wiz doesn’t use words like objectification, but he now knows how it feels to have a part of your body talked about as though it didn’t belong to you.

The one-year deadline came and went last October. Brian Zembic won the bet. Jobo deposited $100,000 in a Swiss bank account. End of story? Not exactly.

Early in 1998, a full 16 months after the operation, I start to get curious about whether Brian ever had his breasts removed. I manage to track him down in Monte Carlo, where he’s playing in a monster backgammon tournament. Jobo’s there. So is Joey. They’re all sharing a hotel suite, chasing down “chi-chi,” and running up a $10,000 room-service bill. Nothing’s changed for these three.

And the breasts? They’re still there.

“I don’t know. It’s kind of fun to have them,” Brian mumbles over the phone. “Who knows,” he says, “maybe I’ll keep them for another six months, a year. I don’t know. I don’t want to have the operation in Europe.”

That’s when it dawns on me: Brian Zembic, Mr. Do Anything for a Bet, isn’t counting the days until he can get Doc to take out his breasts and find himself another wager to conquer. Although he would never say it, the fact is, Brian Zembic loves his breasts. He loves that he’s the only Joe Six-pack walking the earth who has the balls to do what he’s done.

If you asked me to bet, I’d say Brian may never have his breasts removed. Maybe he thinks he’s starting a trend. Or maybe, at the very least, he hopes to be remembered as the guy who brought an unimagined meaning to the expression tit man.

For the last time, I try to get the Wiz to tell me exactly when he’s going to face the scalpel and lose the breasts. But he’s got to run. Seems there’s this hot 19-year-old he met on the plane who’s crazy for his tits, and he’s got a date with her for dinner, where, if all goes as planned, he’s pretty sure she’ll give him a hand job in the restaurant.

“And she better do it!” Brian Zembic shouts into the phone. “I bet Jobo a thousand she would.”

The names and identifying information concerning peripheral characters have been changed.

Double-dog Dares

True reader stories from the front lines of hilarious stupidity

If His Balls Could Talk
“My boyfriend, Doug, has taken some pretty wild dares. When he was in the Marine Corps, his buddies bet him $290 that he wouldn’t hammer a nail through the sac of his balls. He did it. After six guys pissed into one cup, he won $490 for drinking it. Years later, when I told him I didn’t believe the piss story, he drank a cup of mine. For nothing.”—Jessica Azbell

Singing for Supper
“When the car conked out in Grand Island, Nebraska, we went to a heinous all-you-can-eat restaurant. The bets started flying: For $10, my friend Barnaby approached an elderly customer and loudly accused him of ‘hogging all the lime Jell-O.’ For $25, Brian dropped to his knees and serenaded the chef with a song he made up on the spot about ‘the best damn green beans in Nebraska.’”—William Tenango

Milkin’ It
“I was bet 30 bucks that I couldn’t drink two gallons of milk in 20 minutes. I won—and threw up for an hour afterward. There are still stains on the floor.”—Tim Forgie

Out of (Birth) Control
“My friend Todd and his girlfriend took a dare to go up to the home of an old lady and ask her if she had a condom. When they did, she answered the door and said, ‘No, I don’t, but you kids have a nice time.’”—Eric Feld

Bombed Away
“At a Fourth of July party, someone bet me that I couldn’t hold a lit bottle rocket in my mouth. Being lit myself, I did it. Of course, the rocket blew hot sparks all over my face, leaving red dots and white burn blisters.”—Mark Bick

Spam I Am
“Dared to wear something outrageous to a high school basketball game, I bought nine cans of Spam, sliced the meat, and glued it all to a cheap suit. I got a standing ovation from my friends, but nobody would sit next to me because I smelled so bad.”—Jason Pearson

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