The World's Weirdest Health Mascots

The setting: a doctor's office. The gown-clad patient, in cartoon Technicolor, appears nervous. His worries are confirmed when the doctor snaps on a latex glove unceremoniously. The patient gulps.

Cut to a cavernous red interior, where we meet Prosty. Prosty is half SpongeBob Squarepants, half Rodney Dangerfield. He stands next to the gloved hand, lamenting that its extended index finger has missed a spot of cancer on his side.

Oh, yes. It's exactly what you think it is.

Prosty the Spokesgland is a walking, talking prostate gland. Portrayed as the disgruntled everyprostate, Prosty is neglected and diseased. At the end of the clip, Prosty addresses the gloved hand directly: "Once more, and we are dating!"

It's just further evidence that although Prosty is a cartoon, he is not your average Saturday morning offering.

"Prosty the Spokesgland is not warm and fuzzy," says Dr. Faina Shtern, president, CEO and founder of AdMeTech foundation, the company behind Prosty's creation. "He's frustrated, he's angry. He does not get the attention that he wants to get."

If you're shocked by it, that's probably the point. Prosty is one of a new breed of mascots designed to draw attention to sensitive -- and sometimes embarrassing -- health issues.

And Prosty isn't the only one. While he acts as the glandular poster child for the "man-o-gram" -- a tongue-in-cheek moniker for a high-tech prostate imaging scan -- another bizarre mascot by the name of Petey the Pee Cup is making his rounds in Minnesota, campaigning for routine health checkups.

Unlike Prosty, Petey is no cartoon; he is a giant, foam rubber incarnation of a urinalysis jar. You can see Petey on YouTube, weaving his way through parades and racing the mascot for the Minnesota Vikings. Or catch him alongside Pokey, his huge, anthropomorphic syringe buddy.

Another far-larger-than-life mascot, who goes by the evocative name Mr. Testicles, roams the streets of London, encouraging Brits to make an appointment to get screened for testicular cancer. While the name may leave little to the imagination, the costume leaves even less: Mr. Testicles is a giant, walking scrotum, wearing nothing more than an exaggerated grin.

Such antics certainly get people talking -- but do they really help raise awareness? Those behind the creations say that while their ideas have met with their fair share of resistance, they do have a measurable health impact.

A Healthy Dose of Humor

On most days, Chris Iles is senior communications specialist in the corporate communications department for HealthPartners, a Minnesota-based, not-for-profit health management organization.

But on others, Iles dons the Petey the Pee Cup costume.

"I actually did it as a favor for our community relations person," Iles says of becoming the man in the yellow jar. "I have not heard the end of it to this day. It must be three months since I've put the thing on, and I'm still taking heat for it."

And while he says the job of being Petey "gets rotated around," Iles is the occupant of the costume in at least one YouTube video, provocatively titled "Go With the Flow -- Petey Around Town."

"It's not exactly what I went to college for," Iles says. "I try not to take myself too seriously."

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