CIA Designed A ‘Fake Scrotum’ To Help Pilots Conceal Devices During Strip Searches


CIA Designed A 'Fake Scrotum' To Help Pilots Conceal Devices During Strip SearchesTina Krohn for the International Spy Museum

The real-life CIA operative from Argo was a master of deception – although, this particular invention to help spies in the field is a bit nuts. 

For the first time ever, the world can see the ‘scrotum concealment device’ in the flesh – an artificial set of testicles designed to help pilots hide an escape radio in the event of a strip search.


It was the brainchild of Tony Mendez, a former CIA chief of disguise, back in the late 1960s. Now, it’s on display for the public at the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C.

Scrotum Concealment Device Tina Krohn for the International Spy Museum

The latex ‘device’ was designed to be glued onto a man’s scrotum. The idea behind it was down to fragile masculinity: Mendez suspected that male security guards would likely get a bit testy when it comes to ‘thoroughly searching’ through a man’s genitals for any contraband, so in theory, it’s perfect.

However, the fake balls weren’t destined for greatness. Only the one prototype was made, denied a full roll-out in the field after CIA director Richard Helms reportedly blushed upon seeing a demonstration.


A spokeswoman from the International Spy Museum said in a statement:

Some people don’t seem to notice it – we have the largest collection of espionage artefacts ever placed on public display, so there is a lot to see and engage with at the museum.

But if you stand near the artefact, you can see something light up in visitors’ eyes when they notice it and you typically get some kind of reaction like ‘oh my god!’ or ‘oh man!’ – particularly our male visitors who may have an easier time envisioning wearing the artefact.

There is a level of wonder we see when people try to figure out how it would’ve worked and how/why someone would’ve come up with such a crazy concept. We love seeing the reactions to it.

Mendez, who sadly passed away in January last year, was famous for his ‘creative and out-of-the-box problem-solving [he] used to solve challenges that came his way’.


Perhaps his most well-known plot was the Canadian Caper, in which he masqueraded as a Hollywood producer in order to rescue six Americans caught up in the hostage crisis in Tehran in 1979/80 (this was later adapted for the Oscar-winning film, Argo).

Tony Mendez ArgoPA Images

The spokeswoman added: ‘As goofy as it may look, at the same time, this sort of item could have saved lives.’

You’re telling me a genius painstakingly recreated an ultra-realistic set of balls, only for it not to be used in the field? That’s diabollockal.


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Topics: Technology, CIA, history, Spy


International Spy Museum
  1. International Spy Museum


Cameron Frew
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