Although strange, they are strikingly handsome when boiled and pollished." In the late 1990s, i was approached via telephone by a person claiming to be a 21 year old transgendered HIV-positive recovering drug addict cross-dressing prostitute named J. Leroy -- who, strangely, although claiming to be from West Virginia, had a fairly neutral middle-aged woman's accent, with no trace of Appalachian dialect. Le Roy" told me, he was giving to the world the true story of how, as a young teen, he was forced to dress as a female and to prostitute himself to truck drivers, but that he was given a raccoon penis bone to wear as a token of his hidden maleness by his pimp.

This person wanted to purchase a quantity of racoon penis bones amounting to more than our entire previous year's sales -- in order to sign them and give them away as promotion for "his" new book, "Sarah," a memoir of his search for his postitute mother. Curious about such an unusual claim with respect to such a well-known folkloric talisman, i spent quite a lot of time on the phone with "J. Le Roy," and came away convinced -- as was Susie Bosselmann, my office manager, who also talked to "him" -- that the person we were dealing with was a woman, not a man, and that she was considerably older than "he" claimed to be.

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Susie is in her 60s and she grew up in Oklahoma, an area contiguous with Missouri and Texas.

I had thought that the wearing of raccoon penis bones was limited to the Midwest, but she expanded my horizons when she said that she and her husband had recently been at a gun show in Kentucky and had seen "a beautiful coon dong necklace, with hundreds of 'em strung together, just like a Cherokee Indian ceremonial necklace." She would have bought it but it was too expensive, she said.

She said, "No, we just made necklaces out of them." In May, 1996, Michael Redman added something new on the subect: the use of the raccoon penis bone as a gambler's charm.

Here's what he said: Just got back from New Orleans for my umpteenth Jazz Fest visit & spent some extended time in the Voodoo Museum in the Quarter.

Albert was eventually sued for fraud, for signing a moie contract with the name of her phoney persona -- but to this day, i still get a chuckle when i hear from folks who tell me that they have genuine raccoon penis bones "signed by JT Leroy." Any further information on the luck-bringing or magical uses of penis bones would be much appreciated.

In particular, i am interested in the geographical and ethnological distribution of the custom of tying them with red thread.

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