No need to get your panties in a wad. Just grab a pair of her soiled lacies and let the folks at Forensex labs get to the bottom of this potentially sticky situation.
"We believe that everyone has a right to know if there is infidelity in his or her relationship," states an online promo piece for the Phoenix-based company. "In today's environment of deadly sexually transmitted diseases, it becomes more important to verify suspicions."
Believed to be the only service of its kind in the country, the lab's www.sementest.com site has been urging potential customers to "Send us your dirty panties!" since early August. According to company president Scott Farrell, his firm has already run more than 40 pairs under the microscope. The price of this undercover snooping -- beginning at $350 and running as high as $550 if additional DNA testing is requested -- might cause potential customers to soil their own underwear. Still, as Forensex's literature points out, the test is "a lot cheaper than the cost to have a detective tail a suspected straying spouse for a week." The testing, says Farrell, involves a chemical procedure similar to that used by police at the scene of sex crimes.
The unusual enterprise is an offshoot of Lab Express, a medical testing lab that Farrell has operated in the Valley for 11 years. Although most of his business is of a more routine nature (in addition to doing blood work, the lab does drug screening for various private and governmental concerns), Farrell decided to diversify into dirty underwear after he began receiving unsolicited inquiries from people who'd seen ads for the lab's DNA paternity tests.
"They evidently thought 'DNA, forensics, whatever,'" says Farrell, whose company is probably best known for its catchy "Got Laid?" STD testing ads that run during The Howard Stern Show on radio. "Now they're calling us all the time."
Although early customers actually brought soiled undergarments into his office, Farrell's new marketing thrust ("Is She Cheating?" is the intriguing teaser used in print and radio ads) is a mail-order operation driven via the Internet. Typically, a customer will send in garments or portions of bedding suspected to contain semen stains; using code numbers to ensure anonymity, the results are relayed via phone or mail.
Ideally, says Farrell, the doubting partner will have abstained from sex with the suspected infidel long enough to eliminate him as the stainee. If there's any doubt, though, the customer can come into the office for a mouth swab that will determine whether the stain is consistent with his own DNA. And if it isn't? Well, somebody better have a pretty good excuse as to how she happened to get somebody else's semen on her panties.
"One guy who called had been impotent for five years," says Farrell of one as-yet-unresolved case that recently arrived at the lab. "His wife had gray hair, he had gray hair and he found a pair of panties with stains, plus three black hairs. So he has a good suspicion she's cheating on him."
Although most of his customers are male ("It's a pretty big market -- I think there are a lot of paranoid men out there"), Farrell claims his services are also useful to women who smell an extramarital rat. "After [sexual climax], a man will continue to ejaculate semen for two hours afterward," he explains. "So unless the guy's masturbating during the day -- or he doesn't change his underwear -- the wife probably has a pretty good reason to believe there's infidelity."
On a more sober note, Farrell is working on a marketing campaign aimed at parents of sexually active children. He recently received a call from a woman who suspected her teenage daughter was being molested by her husband's best friend.
But professional keyhole peepers aren't likely to lose any sleep over this high-tech snoop through literally dirty laundry. As Farrell himself admits, the lab test is useless in detecting an errant spouse who's been engaging in oral sex, or one who's involved in a lesbian fling.
"Once you've determined that there's semen on the panties, then what?" says a spokeswoman for Global Investigations, a Scottsdale firm that handled local cases featured on NBC's Unsolved Mysteries. "This test sounds inconclusive and needlessly expensive. If someone's really serious about [finding out whether a spouse is cheating], they're going to need surveillance work."
Farrell, meanwhile, is content to keep his eyes focused on messy unmentionables.
Asked how his lab disposes of all the dirty scanties that do find their way to his office, Farrell laughs.
"Maybe I'll set up a separate Web site."