In 1983, Dr Giles Brindley gave a urology conference talk in Las Vegas that attendees would remember decades later, for reasons that will quickly become apparent.
Now, for the layperson attending an American Urological Association (AUA) conference, the whole thing might seem unforgettable. It's not often you see quite so many genitals, likely with all manner of medical problems, so you'd probably remember that time you were in Vegas and saw all those peeholes. But to shock a urologist so badly that they remember it for the rest of their lives, you'd have to do something special and/or ill-advised. Brindley did both, while demonstrating his new treatment for erectile dysfunction.
One attendee of the conference, Laurence Klotz of the University of Toronto, saw Brindley in the elevator just before the talk was about to take place. Brindley was carrying a box of slides showing what appeared to be numerous erections, and wearing "inappropriately casual" clothing. Sure enough, Brindley arrived on stage at the lecture a short time later, still in his blue tracksuit.
The initial slideshow (it gets worse) began in the most alarming way possible. Brindley first showed the conference the penis slides, as he explained his hypothesis that injection with vasoactive agents would induce an erection. He explained that he didn't have access to an appropriate animal model, and had decided to go instead down the route of self-testing. He had begun injecting his penis with "various vasoactive agents, including papaverine, phentolamine, and several others". The pictures he was displaying were before and after shots of his own flaccid and erect penis.
This, amazingly, was pre-amble before the big show.
"The Professor wanted to make his case in the most convincing style possible," Klotz wrote in a paper remembering the talk. "He indicated that, in his view, no normal person would find the experience of giving a lecture to a large audience to be erotically stimulating or erection-inducing."
"He had, he said, therefore injected himself with papaverine in his hotel room before coming to give the lecture, and deliberately wore loose clothes (hence the track-suit) to make it possible to exhibit the results. He stepped around the podium, and pulled his loose pants tight up around his genitalia in an attempt to demonstrate his erection."
Brindley looked down disappointed at the bulge, before remarking "unfortunately, this doesn’t display the results clearly enough" and dropping his trousers and underpants, "revealing a long, thin, clearly erect penis".
The room, according to Klotz, was as shocked as you'd expect.
"He then said, with gravity, ‘I’d like to give some of the audience the opportunity to confirm the degree of tumescence’."
Brindley "waddled" towards the front of the stage with his pants around his ankles, like someone caught short in a toilet attempting to retrieve a toilet roll from an upstairs cupboard. It was here that several people in the front row – some of whom could have been partners of urologists attending the lecture before the evening ball – began to scream.
Pulled abruptly back to a world where pulling your penis out is not merely seen as an interesting academic point, Brindley yanked his trousers back up and immediately terminated the lecture. Klotz notes that Brindley was a "true lateral thinker" who helped progress medicine in numerous ways, for which he was eventually knighted. However, in his excitement to display his results, he caused alarm as well as a lecture Klotz and other attendees would never forget.
"The scientific merits of the presentation had been overwhelmed," Klotz wrote, "by the novel and unusual mode of demonstrating the results."
Sometimes, it's best to stick to a nice graph.