Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Goat Testicle Millionaire

I haven't read this yet, but I'm posting about it right away, because a blog post title like that is a gift from the gods, and you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

These two books delve into John Brinkley, who made $800MM selling goat testicles to Americans as a cure for impotence.

One day in the fall of 1917, a Kansas farmer named Bill Stittsworth, 46 years of age, showed up at the clinic that had recently been opened in the hamlet of Milford by a medical quack named John R. Brinkley. "His visit didn't seem like the Annunciation," Pope Brock writes in this hugely amusing if somewhat sobering book, "any more than he looked like the archangel Gabriel." Stittsworth reluctantly admitted that he was suffering the condition for which Viagra is now prescribed. As Brinkley tried to dream up a solution, the farmer looked wistfully out the window, "pondering the livestock," and said: "Too bad I don't have billy goat nuts."

Precisely what happened thereafter "is in dispute," but two nights later Stittsworth returned to the clinic, "climbed onto the operating table," and awaited Brinkley. "Masked, gowned, and rubber gloved, Brinkley entered with a small silver tray, carried in both hands, like the Host. On it were two goat testicles in a bed of cotton. He set the tray down, injected anesthetic," and Brinkley was on his way. Two weeks later Stittsworth "reappeared with a smile on his face." As he told other farmers about his good fortune, men -- and then women -- began to queue up for injections of billy goat magic, with the result that Brinkley soon "became a pioneer in gland transplants" at exactly the moment when America was ready for them.