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Slaves to titillating news and ....

You have already read or heard about the three guys who were arrested for “operating” — yeah, I guess the pun is intended, although I should probably cut it out (stop it, NOW!) — a sadomasochistic castration dungeon here in Waynesville. How could you not? It is literally all over the media. On the Internet, a quick Google search of “Waynesville castration” turns up more than 10,000 hits.

It’s in newspapers all over the country, including the Washington Post, which featured this priceless quote from District Attorney Michael Bonfoey: “Assuming that the victims consented to this — and we don’t know that for sure yet — that doesn’t make it a defense. We can’t have people who are not medical doctors lopping off limbs and other body parts.” Indeed.

Not to be outdone, local television is going the proverbial extra mile. On the day the arrests were announced, WLOS sent a film crew over to get the full story, including a trip to O’Malley’s to tap the beer drinker’s perspective, a crucial piece in solving the castration dungeon puzzle. Sure, they could have sent the crew to Belks or to Earthworks Gallery, I guess, but who is going to have a more insightful perspective on this particular issue than a guy who just finished his second pitcher of Guinness stout?

I didn’t see the entire interview, but it isn’t too hard to imagine.

Reporter: “Sir, what is your take on discovery of a castration dungeon right here in Waynesville?”

Drunk Guy: “Well, I didn’t know we had one. I mean, I heard we might be getting an Applebee’s, but I had no idea about the castration dungeon.”

Reporter: “Crazy, isn’t it?”

Drunk Guy: “Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be hangin’ out there too often. Probably not too many chicks or whatnot. Hey, I did go to this bar called the Dungeon in Myrtle Beach one time. Now that place ROCKED! Don’t think they castrated anybody, but they had 10 cent draft and a wet T shirt contest every Thursday. Whooo!!!”

Reporter: “Do you have any final thoughts about voluntary castration?”

Drunk Guy: “I can’t see myself volunteering for it. I mean, there ain’t enough beer in the world for that.”

In the background, a second drunk guy can be seen mugging for the camera, bobbing and weaving behind the first drunk guy during his interview, intermittently pinching either side of his T shirt, pulling it up and forward as though it were a small cloth billboard. The shirt reads, “Lurleen Loves Jeff” in broad, airbrushed strokes.

Reporter: “You, sir, your name is Jeff?”

Jeff: “Yep, it’s short for Jeffrey. Lurleen calls me that when she’s mad at me about something.”

Reporter: “Jeff, there are reports leaking out today that as many as eight illegal surgeries were performed in a house in Waynesville, and that men traveled from across the country, even from South America, to be castrated here. Your thoughts?”

Jeff: “My thoughts? First off, I seen pictures of those dudes, and they don’t look like no doctors to me. They look more like roadies for Molly Hatchet if you ask me. I personally wouldn’t let those guys cut my toenails. Number two, why Waynesville? Why not San Francisco, or someplace where you expect crazy stuff to happen? And third, am I going to be on TV? What time? I need to call Lurleen! Hey, Lurleen, I’m on TV!”

The reporter, possibly suspecting that she needs to get a woman’s point of view for balance, moves to a table where three women are engaged in a heated debate over who is hotter, George Clooney or Brad Pitt. They are drinking Bud Light on draft.

Reporter: “Excuse me, ladies? We were wondering if you had any opinions about the arrests today of three men who were running a sadomasochistic castration dungeon here in Waynesville?”

First Lady: “Shame they closed it down, if you ask me. I’ve got some good candidates for that surgery. Believe you me, it would be a public service.”

Second Lady: “I heard they were making movies out of it. Can’t say I would want to watch it, but it’s probably better than sitting through ‘Brokeback Mountain’ again. What a rip-off.”

Third Lady: “I still say Brad Pitt is WAY hotter than George Clooney, and you can quote me on that. You won’t catch Brad Pitt up on Brokeback Mountain. Or in a castration dungeon.”

Reporter: “Well, there you have it, Darcel. Live from O’Malley’s, the citizens speak out.”

If I had been in O’Malley’s when WLOS arrived and had been asked for my perspective on this issue, I’m not sure what I would have said. Maybe something similar to DA Bonfoey’s remarks in the Post. I’m just not sure that we can draw any definite conclusions from the existence of a castration dungeon in Waynesville. Does it tell us anything about the disintegration of values in our society? The lack of affordable health care? Is it a metaphor for the “vanishing male” in an overly sensitive, politically correct, genderless culture?

And what does it say about Waynesville? It probably says that we need some other reason to be famous than for preachers who throw Democrats out of their congregations, or for freak show “doctors” who decide to set up shop in our fair city. So, here is a wish for today. Please, oh please, the next time we get national recognition for something, let it be that a local potter just won $100,000 on “Jeopardy,” or that a toothy eighth-grader won the national spelling bee. The Haywood County Chamber of Commerce would appreciate it, I’m sure.

(Chris Cox is a writer and teacher who lives in Waynesville. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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