At the 1983 Urodynamics Society conference in Las Vegas, pioneering urologist Sir Giles Skey Brindley delivered what was singularly the most uncomfortable lecture in the history of academia. What began as a presentation on the treatment of erectile dysfunction quickly transformed into an unwanted session of show-and-tell.
In 2005, conference attendee Laurence Klotz recalled Brindley's speech for the British Journal of Urology International. It all began when Klotz ran into Brindley in a crowded elevator en route to the groundbreaking urologist's talk.
Klotz noticed that Brindley was sporting loose track pants (foreshadowing!) and some snapshots unfit for everyday scrapbooking. "[I could] vaguely make out the content of the slides, which appeared to be a series of pictures of penile erection [and] his dress seemed inappropriately casual," Klotz noted.
Approximately 80 people had shown up for Dr. Brindley's evening lecture, an overall meager showing. Several attendees were decked out in formalwear, in anticipation of that night's conference reception. Dr. Brindley's presentation kicked off with the revelation that he had been injecting his own John Thomas with vasoactive agents. Indeed, the good doctor had the pictures to prove it:
His slide-based talk consisted of a large series of photographs of his penis in various states of tumescence after injection with a variety of doses of phentolamine and papaverine. After viewing about 30 of these slides, there was no doubt in my mind that, at least in Professor Brindley's case, the therapy was effective. Of course, one could not exclude the possibility that erotic stimulation had played a role in acquiring these erections, and Professor Brindley acknowledged this.
Up to this point, Dr. Brindley had basically exposed the audience to a 26-years-before-the-fact session of Chatroulette. That's certainly uncomfortable, but — in all likelihood and in a purely historical sense — there have been worse vacation slides from sojourns to Hedonism.
Anyway, Brindley continued his lecture by insisting that absolutely nobody could maintain a state of sexual arousal during a lecture such as this. Was this a veiled slight at the audience? No. This was simply the signal that Brindley was about to unleash the fruits of his labor:
[Brindley had] 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.
At this point, I, and I believe everyone else in the room, was agog. I could scarcely believe what was occurring on stage. But Prof. Brindley was not satisfied. He looked down sceptically at his pants and shook his head with dismay. ‘Unfortunately, this doesn't display the results clearly enough'. He then summarily dropped his trousers and shorts, revealing a long, thin, clearly erect penis. There was not a sound in the room. Everyone had stopped breathing.
But the mere public showing of his erection from the podium was not sufficient. He paused, and seemed to ponder his next move. The sense of drama in the room was palpable. He then said, with gravity, ‘I'd like to give some of the audience the opportunity to confirm the degree of tumescence'. With his pants at his knees, he waddled down the stairs, approaching (to their horror) the urologists and their partners in the front row. As he approached them, erection waggling before him, four or five of the women in the front rows threw their arms up in the air, seemingly in unison, and screamed loudly. The scientific merits of the presentation had been overwhelmed, for them, by the novel and unusual mode of demonstrating the results.
The screams seemed to shock Professor Brindley, who rapidly pulled up his trousers, returned to the podium, and terminated the lecture.
Sir Giles published these findings — "Cavernosal alpha-blockade: a new technique for investigating and treating erectile impotence" — six months later. He later contributed to scads of important urological research, but he would always be remembered for his crowd-scattering oratory.