By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
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By R. Scott Moxley
By Gustavo Arellano
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Illustration by Bob AulForget streaming digital-information hookups. Forget streaming video. If you're looking for a wildfire growth technology, look no further than hot, streaming pee.
You might think there's quite enough pee in the world, what with drunken clubgoers peeing in yards and municipalities dumping our ocean full of pee and crap and wondering why those tourist dollars are getting scarce.
Ick! Enough! Stop!
Who the hell would be so sick and perverted as to crave more pee—specifically your pee?
Your employer and your government, of course.
And for entrepreneurs Jerry Wills and Dennis Catalano, that has created a veritable golden shower of success. For less start-up money than it would take to buy a cheap car, the pair developed the Whizzinator and brought it to market a year and a half ago. Their Costa Mesa-based Puck Technology has since sold more than 4,000 devices at $150 a pop to folks who would prefer to keep their pee to themselves.
The Whizzinator is an undergarment incorporating a bladder, heat pad and prosthetic penis that is worn in front of your standard-issue penis. If you are so inclined, it will produce for those desirous of your urine 80 cc of substitute synthetic urine.
The joke's on them!
Instead of getting your genuine urine to play with, it's as fake as plastic dog poo, though, according to Wills and Catalano, tests will show it to be real, unadulterated pee, freeing up your own pee for you to use on yards and oceans willy-nilly. Isn't the free market grand?
Back when the drug-testing mania started, I made a vow never to submit to one. Along with trampling on my little 81⁄2 shoe-size worth of sovereignty, I think it is equally dehumanizing to employers when their personal assessment of your character and abilities literally doesn't amount to a jar of piss. Granted, they did that to themselves—and to you—but they can hardly help it, the fear-gorged corporate ticks.
It has been an easy vow for me to keep since I don't have a family to support; live a carefree, grasshopper life; and no one of consequence wants to hire me anyway. But what about most people, those with greater commitments and fewer opportunities? Conservative Orange County Register editorial writers will tell you that employers should be free to require tests because you are equally free to choose where you work, and in their lofty-if-utterly uninhabited-by-real-persons world of absolutes, that is true. But those scrambling to find a living wage—as employers move jobs overseas, where workers have even fewer rights—may not see the beauty in the purity of this reasoning.
If an employer is paying you $7.75 per hour or even $375,000 per year, should he be able to determine what you do off the clock? In profiting from your talents and time, did he also acquire your rights to the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness we've read about? I can see some point to keeping airline pilots from having crack as their co-pilot (though their industry might better test for liquor and sleep deprivation). But sharing a joint before an Angels game on Saturday isn't going to affect your ability to make doughnuts on Tuesday, and in any just society, it is none of your boss's goddamn business.
This certainly isn't a new topic, but that's all the more reason to talk about it because it is the insidious, incremental abrogation of our personal freedoms—collateral damage in the endless "war on drugs"—that is strangling this country. Were a spaceship to land, I would love to see our leaders try to explain to a disinterested alien how a nation that watches its citizens pee into cups is any less wacko than the Taliban.
At least for now, the free market that allows corporations to get away with drug testing also allows entrepreneurs like Catalano and Wills to devise ways to mess with the tests.
"I'm a little cynical on the subject of rights," says Wills. "The only rights you have now are what you can get away with. You can't look to the government to protect them."
Both he and Catalano are in their mid-50s and consider themselves products of the 1960s. "They're still the Establishment and the Pigs to me," Catalano says. "We put this product together with the intent of making money, but there is another serious aspect to it, and it is that we really feel that we're helping out a lot of people."
Along with customers whose recreational activities have put their jobs in jeopardy, Catalano says, "There's a whole spectrum of people who have cause to not want to give their DNA-filled urine to others. An employer can tell if you take any psychotropic drugs and maybe will decide they won't hire anyone who is on Prozac. They can tell if a woman is pregnant or not. They can tell if you smoke. They can tell if you have legal drugs in your system or a medical condition that might make you a less desirable employee to them simply because they don't want the liability.
"Our intent with the Whizzinator," Catalano concludes, "is to protect your Fourth Amendment right—to keep yourself and your bodily fluids private to yourself."
It is indeed a weakened republic when the only thing standing between the Fourth Amendment and totalitarianism is a 31⁄2-inch prosthetic penis. You may be pleased to learn that the Whizzinator is an equal-opportunity appendage, available in white, tan, latino, brown or black. (You, of course, will want to check this out at www.thewhizzinator.com.)
They aren't just off-the-shelf schlongs, either.
"We have them made by a large sex-toy manufacturer in the Valley," Catalano says. "When we met with their head guy, we told him we needed something that realistically looked like a flaccid penis. He chuckled and said, 'Well, we deal in fantasy here.' But we got their designer to come up with something that looked very average. It had to be believable, comfortable to wear and easy to use, to pull out and put away." For women, they make the Whizzinator available "with the wiener on the side," detached so they can use the rest of the apparatus without the bulge.
He says they have an East Coast competitor whose "delivery system" is a yellow tube and whose "urine" is merely water, yellow food coloring and creatine. Meanwhile, the Whizzinator's powdered synthetic, at $12 per serving, was formulated by a chemist and extensively tested to fool the prevalent testing methods, he claims.
Since many testers check the temperature of your urine—your external body temperature of 92 degrees is low enough to flag you for a retest—the Whizzinator comes with a simple heat pack to bring your synthetic pee up to a piping 98 degrees.
Even so, the pair emphasizes that it takes practice to make a convincing use of it. Catalano says, "We spend a lot of time on the phone with customers. One fellow, a New York travel agent, was so nervous heading to his drug test that he had Jerry on his cell phone, walking him down the sidewalk and leading him through the door of the place."
What a lot of needless fear and bother.
"I'd hate to lose the income, but it would tickle me pink if this hysteria changed and we went out of business," Catalano says.
I won't hold my breath—or bladder—waiting for that saner day. But, should it arrive, can we allow such a bold product to perish? I say nay. Let the Whizzinator become a godsend to women who've envied the pleasures of peeing like a man, proudly misspelling his name in the snow. With the Whizzinator, those who have to pee real bad can now pee twice at once. Let the Whizzinator rescue the pee-shy: "Hadley, let's terminate Pixley. I think he may be pee-shy." "No, sir. I personally saw him pee 80 cc just yesterday. And damn if it wasn't warm."
All those purposes make so much more sense than the one it is used for now.