Smith and his alter ego, a sexually charged redneck named Kentucky Johnson. "He's an outlet for all the shit that's stuck in my head," Smith says. "I'm afraid he may die when I'm castrated."

The only thing Smith seems worried about is losing the demons that fuel his creativity—most important, an alter ego he calls Kentucky Johnson. Part deranged redneck, part rapper (espousing what he calls "hick-hop"), Kentucky looks like a Confederate nightmare: picnic-blanket shirt, fire-truck-red suspenders, Burt Reynolds mustache, leather boots, and reflective state-trooper shades.

"Kentucky represents the parts of me that I don't like," Smith says before slipping into character. "Everything he says is sexual and perverse, and that's an outlet for all the shit that's stuck in my head. I'm afraid he may die when I'm castrated."

But if Kentucky Johnson has to die in order for Brian Baxter Smith to live, then so be it. Smith laughs. By this point, he's completely baked. "It takes balls, doesn't it?" Pun intended.

"I won't be running a marathon anytime soon," says Chris, a 35-year-old in the publishing business who asks that we refer to him by just his first name. While the rest of us were getting digital cameras and nose-hair trimmers for Christmas, Chris treated himself to a castration. Three weeks into the healing process, he's positively giddy.

"Imagine being so addicted to something that there's no stopping you getting your fix," Chris explains. Now instead of spending hours of prime time latched to a computer exploring his chopping-block fantasies, he can kick back and catch up with the shirtless jungle boys from Lost. "In a sense, I got my life back." Next up is introducing the 21st century to the three-bedroom 1950s-style rambler he just bought. And maybe even love. "I've met an incredible guy and hopefully we can make a life together," he says. "He's perfectly fine with the change I've made." Which isn't surprising—he's a eunuch too.

He doesn't even mind if Chris keeps the "leftovers" around. Chris won't say where he stores them, but it's fun to imagine them floating in a place of honor on the mantelpiece next to scattered pictures of nieces and nephews and sea-blue getaways. Just another snapshot of a place he'll never go again.

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