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The Nads needed a hero.
In 2001, the hockey team from the Rhode Island School of Design was celebrating its 40th season, and while never a serious competitor in college sports, they were a way for some of the more athletically inclined art students at RISD to have some fun. The team’s name had begun as a joke, and there had been a time when the cheer “Go Nads!” could be heard booming from the stands of a full auditorium.
By the new millennium, however, the joke had grown stale. The seats were empty, and the team had fallen into disrepair. “Some of the players couldn’t even skate,” a RISD alumnus tells me. The team was in desperate need of reinvention. Without it, the Nads would need to be dismantled. Fortunately, during this dark hour, an exciting new mascot was born. His name was Scrotie. He was an approximately seven-foot-tall foam penis with a pair of balls, and he provided the team with the dose of Viagra it needed.
Scrotie was never the official team mascot, but for the past 21 years, he’s been a semi-regular presence at Nads games, where he’ll shout obscenities at the opposing team as fans chant his name. Unsurprisingly, the RISD administration isn’t exactly fond of him, but Scrotie has shown a surprising amount of endurance. On separate occasions, he’s been stolen, dismantled and canceled, yet his refractory period is usually short-lived, and he’s quickly back on the ice, humping the opposing mascot or slamming his head on the glass to rile the crowd.
But despite his resiliency and frequent appearances on “Craziest Sports Mascots” roundups, surprisingly little about Scrotie is known. Instead, passing unofficially from one generation of RISD students to the next has made his story twisted and unkempt, and each version of him has been characterized by varying degrees of success and controversy (there have been at least three — and perhaps as many as five — different Scroties over the years). Some stories about him stretch credulity, while others contradict one another. Regardless, they’ve all become part of the larger Scrotie lore.
The Nads themselves were created back in 1961, and the entire point of their name was so that the crowd could shout “Go Nads!” during their games. If that sounds odd, it’s actually par for the course for RISD, an art school that’s always had a sense of humor about its athletics. RISD’s fencing team is called “The Pricks,” the flag football team is “The Foreskins” and the basketball team is “The Balls.” The cheerleaders are even called “The Jockstraps” because, well, they support The Balls.
As for The Nads, they were a sort-of rag-tag hockey team consisting of RISD students and a random assortment of other people related to the school. From what I can tell — there isn’t much of a record of it — they enjoyed a relative amount of popularity until the 1990s, when the games became increasingly sparse. By 2001, they’d hit a serious lull in both game attendance and team membership. That’s when a handful of students — led by team captain Brian Chesky — decided to intervene. If Chesky’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the co-founder of Airbnb.
Unfortunately, when I reached out to Airbnb for an interview with Chesky about the giant dick mascot he created in college, he declined. “Brian is currently heads down in Airbnb’s efforts to help support refugee crises in Ukraine and Afghanistan as well as preparing for an upcoming earnings announcement and won’t be able to connect on this,” his PR people told me.
That said, Chesky has addressed Scrotie a couple times, and, to his credit, he’s been lighthearted about it. In one interview, he even said Scrotie “was [his] greatest creation yet.” It must have been, because I certainly see a resemblance between Scrotie and his later ventures:
Fortunately, industrial designer Paul Osimo — a Nads player and part of what I’ll call the original “Scrotie Braintrust” — was more willing to share Scrotie’s secrets. Osimo attended RISD from 1999 to 2003 and rejoined The Nads around 2007, as Nads membership isn’t exclusively for current students. “When Scrotie was created, the ‘Nads’ name had already been tried and true, and we decided we wanted to build a mascot,” he tells me. “A pal of mine named B. Sure — that was actually his name — was a puppet guy. I said, ‘That’s the guy who needs to build this stupid thing.’ So he got commissioned [by us] and built this huge goddamn dick. It was incredible.”
When Scrotie made his debut, Osimo says he was an instant hit with the crowd. His phallic presence revitalized the entire team, leading to bigger crowds and more student involvement — one student named Aaron Chang even designed new jerseys for The Nads, which Osimo says were the first professional-looking jerseys the team had. Along with Chang, Sure, Osimo and Chesky, the Scrotie Braintrust also included Nads co-captain Noah Breuer and a guy named Bob, who Osimo credits with giving Scrotie his obnoxious persona.
“Multiple people wore the Scrotie costume, but the best was Bob,” says Osimo. “Bob was a character. He wasn’t sober very often — he was the belligerent Scrotie. At a game against the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, he started slamming the big pink head of Scrotie against the plexiglass boards while shouting obscenities at them. This got the team extremely bent out of shape, and the spectators got very offended. They ripped Scrotie apart — they destroyed him.”
The “Bob” Osimo refers to was most likely a student named Bob St. Aubin, who I’d found a reference to in a 2004 article about Scrotie from The Providence Phoenix. The piece covered a game against Rhode Island College where Scrotie made an unauthorized appearance after RISD was told not to bring him. “Scrotie didn’t get too far,” the paper reported. “[He was] quickly accosted by security staff and RIC players, and forced to disrobe in a melee near the ice. ‘I went to take off the costume and somebody hit me with a stick or something, and the costume ripped,’ says St. Aubin.”
The article also made reference to the Scrotie-tearing incident at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, but mentioned that St. Aubin “patched a number of rips” as opposed to creating a whole new costume. I note the difference because this might be where the second Scrotie was born, though it’s not entirely clear. Osimo also says that it’s possible that Scrotie #1 was retired, then Scrotie #2 was murdered by the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, forcing Scrotie #1 to clock back in.
Scrotie did have a consistent act, though. His vulgar, aggressive persona has always been part of his appeal, and during games, he often acts as the lead antagonizer for a rowdy RISD crowd. “RISD is the country’s best art school with the worst sports team, and we’d host other art schools and chant ‘safety school’ at them during the game,” says theater artist Sean Devare, who attended RISD from 2008 to 2012. Robin Wajler, a RISD student and one-time Scrotie-wearer also tells me that Scrotie would often shout, “The Nads are your dads!” to which the crowd would respond with, “We fucked your mom!”
Osimo says the first — or second — Scrotie might have been retired or stolen around 2009, but not before the Nads’ rivalry with a Narragansett Beer-sponsored team called “The Clams” was established. The footage below is from November 1, 2009, where you can see Scrotie and The Clams’ mascot “Clammie” tackling and humping each other — a common sight at a Nads-Clams game. As Osimo explains, “What better mascot for a giant penis to have a rivalry with than a clam?”
What happened to Scrotie in the video isn’t entirely clear, but in 2010, a new version of him was born. While the original Scrotie was a cartoony, pink-tipped caucasian penis, the new Scrotie was bright red and purple, with detailed veins, pubic hair and bright blue, diseased-looking balls. And though he retained the cape that he’d been wearing for years, he was outfitted with a new Superman emblem with an S-shaped sperm on it.
This version of Scrotie was built by Devare, who had experience in puppet building and dove into the design with vigor. “I wanted to build a Scrotie that would last,” he tells me. “I thought the old Scrotie was like the Adam West Scrotie, whereas I wanted to build the Christopher Nolan Scrotie. I wanted it to withstand a riot, so I really built it up. As for the color choices, as a mixed-brown person myself, I didn’t think a clearly caucasian penis should stand for all penises, so I wanted something less specific on race. This was also around the time that these new superhero movies were emerging, so I decided to go for it by giving him bright, superhero-like colors.”
Devare wore Scrotie himself most of the time, and says that his debut at the beginning of the 2010 school year was a big success. Unfortunately, there were a number of complaints about his new look, and he was retired after just a couple of years. Former RISD facilities staff member and longtime Nads player Jeff D’Amario tells me that Devare’s Scrotie was actually destroyed, though his Superman emblem was rescued by a faculty member who was particularly fond of it. The shield remains in his office to this day.
After that, an old Scrotie — perhaps the first or second iteration — came out of retirement, as images from around this time show a very haggard-looking Scrotie at a handful of Nads events. However, current Nads coach Rick Chrusciel tells me that this might have actually been a fourth Scrotie. He also says that one of the Scroties shot water out of the top, and another shot rolls of toilet paper out of it, too.
According to D’Amario, this Scrotie was stolen, leaving The Nads without a mascot. But Nick Augusto, who plays on The Nads and is a RISD graduate, tells me that after a two-year absence, he and several other Nads members redesigned and rebuilt yet another version. The goal was to get Scrotie back to his cuter, cartoonier roots, but to keep the nonspecific race element that had been introduced by Devare. So, in keeping with the classic Nads color scheme, they created a bright red dick who has, once again, proven to be a hit with audiences.
“It was kind of like Field of Dreams — if you build it, they will come,” says Augusto. “We built a new Scrotie, and then more kids started coming to The Nads games again. We had a good thing going before COVID. Now we haven’t had a season the past two years.”
Nowadays, D’Amario has become Scrotie’s caretaker. He keeps Scrotie at his home, and brings it to the hockey games, which are held off campus at Meehan Auditorium in Providence, Rhode Island. “Too many people would take Scrotie to parties when he was kept on campus, so he’s in my home now,” D’Amario explains.
But rowdy college kids aren’t the only threat the mascot faces nowadays, as the RISD administration seems to have soured on the taste of Scrotie as of late. Osimo says that since Scrotie’s inception, the mascot has kind of occupied a “gray area” in which he was tolerated by the administration, but never quite welcomed — some found him funny, and others didn’t. As such, more rules have been built around the mascot. He’s still allowed at games, but has been banned from campus, as well as from the most recent “Winter Classic,” where The Nads face off against The Clams. “We’re getting to a point where I think Scrotie may soon not be able to be a thing anymore,” laments Osimo.
One can only hope that won’t end up being the case. Over the past two decades, Scrotie has not only survived all manner of violence and mayhem, but he’s also proven to be The Nads’ biggest asset for drawing a crowd. Even more so than most mascots, Scrotie and his raucous spirit have become part of the team’s very soul and because of that, he deserves to be there.
After all, what are the nads without a scrotum?