What was TV like before DNA testing? I mean, what did daytime hosts like Maury Povich or TV psychics like Miss Cleo talk about if it wasn't the possibility of finding out your true, scientifically backed lineage? It's a TV landscape not even worth thinking about, because DNA testing is here, and here to stay. Case in point: On April 29, VH1 will premiere Swab Stories, a show where the mobile DNA testing clinic — the "Who's Your Daddy?" mobile clinic — will roll into town and come to the aid of people wondering if their own DNA is catfishing them. (Was I kidnapped at birth? Do I have a twin?) But who is Jared Rosenthal, the man behind Swab Stories and the Who's Your Daddy truck?
Rosenthal is the founder of Health Street, a mobile DNA testing clinic. According to his show bio, Rosenthal was once a suit-wearing, rat-race-entering healthcare executive. Despite being successful, it wasn't making him happy. So, he traded in the office for a mobile RV, designed the clinic-on-wheels, and hit the streets to do DNA testing for people in need of help. You might think the "Who's Your Daddy" thing is pretty cheesy, but Rosenthal reports that his new business didn't really take off until he got some of his graffiti artist friends to paint the slogan on the side of the RV.
"Initially I painted the RV myself, and I got this sticker [to advertise the drug testing side of the business]. I basically blew up a sticker of a cup of pee and I put it on the side of the truck," he told NPR. "We would pull up at a job site to test the workers, and they would see the big cup of pee coming! Some of them would be taking off, you know, running away. Companies started asking me, please don’t bring the pee mobile the next time."
He really must love working directly with the people who need him to give up a cushy corporate job for the former "pee mobile," since running a business out of a truck isn't easy. Rosenthal told the Wall Street Journal that giving up corporate life for one on wheels comes with its own set of challenges, including traffic, flat tires, break-ins, and parking tickets. “If you start a business in an office, the office doesn’t ever really need an oil change,” he told the paper.
Now, when the truck rolls onto VH1, don't expect the Maury level of hysterics and drama. Rosenthal is in this to help people. “DNA is a human need,” he told the New York Daily News. “I hope people see that this is a lot more universal than (they) realized...These tests hold the answers that are life-changing and powerful...The science part is easy to me, swabbing a cheek [and] putting it an envelope. The hard part is helping them through anticipation of the results and the fallout.”
As someone on the forefront, Rosenthal gets to be a first-hand witness to some A+ human moments. "I’ve had brothers that met for the first time right here in this truck, and I get to open up the results right in front of them and tell them things like, 'That’s your long-lost brother,'” Rosenthal told NPR. "I mean, it’s a pretty incredible thing that I get to experience."
Images: VH1 (2); Giphy