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.

Though close to shock, he maintained composure long enough to pack a few things and take a cab to the emergency room. There he came under the care of a Catholic surgeon who made no effort at disguising his disdain. "He was extremely irate, and he was rather brutal in his treatment of me," Gelding recalls. "He didn't take any measures to stop the blood flow."

The doctor did stitch his scrotum and assigned a nurse to sit with Gelding, to make sure he wouldn't kill himself. Then a psychiatrist showed up to see if he was crazy. "That's a typical reaction from medical professionals," he says. "[The psychiatrist] certified that I was perfectly sane, and that this was an event that was unlikely to happen again."

The psychiatrist was wrong.

Less of a man, and liking it: Bob Capeheart of Gainesville
David Blankenship
Less of a man, and liking it: Bob Capeheart of Gainesville
The essence of manhood, once removed
Gelding
The essence of manhood, once removed

Three years later Gelding became a eunuch at the hands of a San Francisco cutter. He is uncharacteristically taciturn about the procedure. "I don't like to talk about that," he says. "A lot of guys are like that. They will watch videos of other people getting castrated, but they won't discuss their own procedure."

As with his first attempt, there were problems. Once again Gelding wound up in an emergency room. This time, though, his testicles were gone by the time he got there. He made up a cover story about an S&M party gone terribly wrong. That sort of thing is plausible in San Francisco, he notes. The hospital staff bought his story and even called a police officer to take a report. "There, I was a victim," he says.

Life as a eunuch has been good. Gelding controls his sex drive with biweekly testosterone injections. He's patient, clear-headed, and doesn't get angry. Best of all, he doesn't have to think about his balls anymore.


On a sunny Saturday afternoon in April, Gelding answers a knock on his front door in the nude. He just moved and is working on the bathroom of his new house. "This is my painting outfit," he explains, stepping aside. "This way I don't get all sweaty."

From a pragmatic standpoint, painting in the buff makes sense. It's easier to wash paint off your skin, after all, than out of your clothes. But there's more than pragmatism at play here -- there's good old American shock value. Although it seems incongruous that a man who cut off his balls to control his emotions would seek such thrills, there's no denying the idea that Gelding relishes the spotlight. Why else play such a prominent role in the world of eunuchs?

At the same time, he's uncomfortable with having too much of his own identity revealed, especially when it comes to his role as a cutter. Much of the concern is practical: Practicing medicine without a license is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to five years in prison. But there is also an undeniable sense that Gelding -- despite all his exhibitionism -- is sometimes uneasy talking about himself.

His living room is still a jumble of boxes, papers, and furniture. Navigating through it, he stops in the hallway outside the bathroom and picks up a small plastic bucket of paint. Then he hikes the volume on a boom box on the floor, which is tuned to a classical station playing Wagner. Once back in the bathroom, he climbs a stepladder and gets back to work, dipping just the tip of his brush in the bucket, then applying paint to the wall in short, even strokes. He's methodical, working the same square foot until it glistens under a smooth, thick coat of off-white. Only then does he move on. Once in a while, a minute flaw will catch his eye, and he'll mumble something, rub the spot with his thumb, then go over it again and again. A small chain dangling at the end of his pierced penis sways to and fro with the rhythm of the work.

Gelding's piercing runs vertically through his penis, close to the natural urethral opening, so that there are three holes instead of just one. This allows him to accessorize with his extensive collection of genital jewelry, which includes a device known as a barbell, an inch-long stainless steel rod with a pea-size knob on each end, which fits through his perpendicular piercings.

He also has four tattoos: an eagle on his right arm, a ram's head on his left butt cheek, and a tiger on his right butt cheek. On his right calf is a tattoo of a testicle speared by a sword, over the word EUNUCH.

He paints, talks, listens to Wagner, pauses, and paints some more. In the course of the conversation, he offhandedly remarks that, yes, he is a cutter himself, a question he had dodged a few days earlier by noting, "Let's not go into that. It's illegal in all 50 states."

Gelding says he acquired his skills by assisting other cutters and with the help of a lover who happened to be a veterinarian. He performed his first procedure in 1978 and his last one about two months ago. By now he's probably castrated 50 men, though he stopped counting at 35.

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