My Life as a Eunuch

What's a man to do if he doesn't want his balls hanging around? Simple: Just find someone to cut them off.

It was more than 40 years ago now, but Gelding has no trouble recalling the day his life took a very odd turn.

He was 12 years old, riding the school bus. It was crowded and there was no place to sit, so he stood. The bus hit a bump in the road, and he accidentally knocked into the boy in front of him. "He reached back very calmly, grabbed my balls in my pants and squeezed them," Gelding recalls. "He said, 'You bump into me again, and I'm going to crush them.'"

The sensation was excruciating, degrading -- and delicious. Gelding was enthralled by the idea that another person could so casually bring him to his knees. He couldn't stop thinking about it. Over the years his obsession blossomed into a very strange, quite illegal avocation.

Gelding is a "cutter," which in body-modification circles means he castrates other men. He's also a eunuch himself. After decades of obsessing over his balls and a botched attempt at cutting them off that could have killed him, he was finally castrated in 1994.

For legal reasons "Gelding," age 54, didn't want his real name used for this story. But he's a legendary figure in the eunuch subculture, where he acts as a kind of den mother for the genitally obsessed, someone to whom a man can turn when he decides the cojones need to go. In the past four years, he's counseled some 4000 men. He also acts as a broker between cutters and potential cuttees, and less frequently, performs the surgery himself.

"I know what's involved," he says. "One of the reasons why I am doing this is to help other guys avoid the problems. In that respect it is humanitarian. In another respect I will admit to a certain amount of sexual excitement from the whole idea."


Castration is a time-honored tradition. Chinese emperors employed eunuchs as court advisers as long ago as the Sixth Century B.C., and by the time of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) there were some 100,000 of them hanging around the halls of power. Romans used eunuchs to guard harems. Even Christians got in on the action periodically, with a sect called the Valesians taking Matthew 19:12 to the literal extreme: "For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake."

But castration as a show of asceticism has fallen out of favor in modern times. Today, short of cancer or a desire to become a woman surgically, there is no medical reason to get emasculated. It's certainly not something you can brag about at the class reunion. Even as an extreme punitive measure for sex offenders, castration is looked down upon.

All of that makes Gelding a figure of considerable intrigue. Not that you'd know it by looking at him. He stands five-foot-nine or so and has a beefy build, a trim goatee going gray around the edges, and close-cropped hair. He's openly gay, prefers bottom but will be a top when the situation arises, and calls himself a "bear" because of an impressive crop of body hair.

Conversations with him cover a lot of ground, from computer-programming languages to ball torture, from chaos theory to bull ejaculators. (Gelding's verdict on the fourth: "Interesting but not particularly pleasurable.") No matter the topic, he speaks in even, measured tones that project either clinical detachment or a complete lack of embarrassment; it's difficult to tell which.

By trade he's a computer consultant who has been in the business since the late '60s, when he programmed with punch cards for the Air Force. He lives in a modest Broward County bungalow, complete with a tile roof and a swimming pool, which he is remodeling. To his neighbors Gelding appears to be little more than a well-groomed bachelor.

His Website -- people/gelding.html -- offers quite a different impression. On display is an array of eye-popping photos, most of Gelding himself, along with the fantastic tale of how he lost his balls.

While vacationing in a strange city, Gelding was taken hostage by two "hot, hairy-chested, leather-wearing men." They blindfolded him, took him to a secret location, and strapped him to a table. Then they forced him to sniff amyl nitrite and smoke a joint before wrapping a wire tightly around his testicles. One of them flashed a large knife, and with a quick stroke made him a eunuch. "The pain was a shock," he writes, "but it was unexpected and over quickly. I stared stupidly at the guy's hand holding my balls." It's a gripping story made more so by Gelding's reaction -- he's scared, fascinated, and sexually excited at once.

It's also a lie. A cover. A fantasy. Gelding's real trip from obsessed preteen to middle-aged eunuch is much more convoluted.

He grew up in upstate New York, the middle child and oldest son of three. Family life was structured but not overly disciplined, he says. "We had rules, and we followed them. We weren't let alone to roam free."

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