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You know what's a pretty good palate cleanser from politics? Thinking about gigantic scrotums.westwing/Getty

This week's Stranger feature, "Death of a Kinkster," by Daniel Villarreal, tells the wild and tragic story of Jack "Tank" Chapman, a young Australian man who moved to Seattle for love and wound up dead.

His partner, Dylan Hafertepen, is a notorious (now infamous) figure in the bear scene, both locally and nationally. He rules over a harem of "pups," or gay men who, in this case, agreed to do whatever their "Master" desires. Chapman and others had a contract that essentially gave Hafertepen total control over their lives, including handing over their wages.

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But the story only gets stranger from there: Chapman and others in the harem also gave Hafertepen control over their bodies. He branded them with tattoos reading "Property of Master Dylan," required them to work out frequently and take supplements so they looked like giant, bulbous, muscle men, and—here's where it gets really weird—he was also into huge (and I do mean "huge") scrotums. That is, ball sacks artificially inflated with liquid silicone.

This is not a safe practice. It is not FDA-approved nor legal when administered by an non-licensed medical professional, and in Jack Chapman's case, the practice proved deadly after silicone reached his bloodstream. Chapman's death was at least the third death allegedly connected to Hafertepen, and I highly encourage anyone who needs a break from Trump and his fragile ego to turn off CNN and go read Villarreal's story. As mentioned above, cantaloupe-sized ball sacks are actually a pretty good palate cleanser from politics.

As for why anyone would inject their ball sacks with silicone: for some, it's connected to body dysmorphia. Peter Dovak, an online friend of Hafertepen's for years, wrote on his Tumblr, "I dream of being on the cusp of immobility; forced to take slow, plodding, and thunderous steps wherever I go... It's not enough to have a big dick. I dream of a package so big I could barely walk; with a shaft as thick as a can of paint, and balls so big and pendulous they hang down to my knees like beach balls." (Dovak died in 2017 after a silicone injection gone wrong. Dovak's surviving partner said he found the man who injected him through Hafertepen. The man who performed Dovak's injection killed himself the day before authorities were going to charge him with manslaughter.)

Hafertepen suffered from body dysmorphia as well, viewing himself, he wrote online, as "skinny, underdeveloped, small, yet fat in places, completely undesirable." When he wrote this, he was objectively neither skinny nor underdeveloped: 5'8", 225 pounds. And while body dysmorphia is hardly exclusive to gay men, injecting your ball sacks with silicone isn't exactly something you see in the other major wing of the gay community: lesbians.

Of course, this could be because lesbians don't, all that often, have ball sacks. Or it could be because we're just scared of needles. Either way, I polled a number of lesbians from around North America to find out just what they think of scrotal inflation. Here's what they had to say:

I really don't like testicles (texture, size, location, male obsession, fragility etc.), so this practice doesn't interest me at all. I don't feel jealous or turned on. I do feel a little disgusted, but I try not to to yuck the yum of another.

However, as a healthcare professional, this trend is disturbing in that it can be dangerous if improperly practiced (i.e. done at home which it is). Much like the "foreign body in anus" problem that stems from items without flared bases being inserted into the rectum, it can have devastating consequences. FOURNIER's GANGRENE! We see a lot of this in my workplace, and it is disgusting. It requires SURGICAL DEBRIDEMENT. That means the cutting away of infected and necrotic tissue to stem the rapid progression of a NSTI. Bye-bye ballsack, bye-bye penis. Might even have to say goodbye to a large chunk of your groin, perineum, and abdominal wall. Heads up, women can get this too!
—Emily, Seattle


Oh my god what's wrong with you?! You HAVE. GOT. TO. BE. KIDDING. with this question!

But because I'm a good sport, I will play along. I once saw photos of said gargantuan balls at Folsom Street Fair and the first thing went through my head was "Do those balls come with pants?" Like how can you fit eggplant-sized testicles in your 501s? The answer is you can't. So are you wearing roomy weightlifter pants? Or chef's pants? Or maybe some fashion-forward drop-crotch numbers? Or are you not wearing pants at all? But if you're wearing shorts, how are you preventing your squirrel-sized nutsack from sliding right out of the leg-hole? And if you don't wear pants or shorts because of your colossal testes, are you just wearing a jock everywhere? And if so, how many restaurants are you allowed into? Do you have fancy XXXL jocks for special events like weddings and brises? What happens when the temperature drops? I'm really all about the practical questions. People do all sorts of body mod and we as a species have done so since we were plucked from Adam's rib. Lolz. Cool. Get tattoos, pierce your nose, stretch your neck, split your tongue, make your boobs the size of children's basketballs—I do not care. But when you have a ballsack like a bindle, where does it go?

Second question—what is a sexual partner meant to do with that? Third question—doesn't it kind of dwarf the main event? Fourth question—are the balls meant to distract from your face? Fifth question—do you work from home? Sixth question—stretch marks, what's up? Seventh question—how big is too big? Eighth question—do you know there are other things you could spend your money on? Ninth question—what do you think about me pumping silicone into my labia so that they look like two giant slices of honeydew? 10th question —really?

At the end of the day, as long as those balloon balls don't end up coming within a foot of my face, I'm pretty ok with them. Do you weird thing. Let your freak flag fly. But know that when the dirty bomb hits, those jumbo nuts are really gonna slow you down. Godspeed.
—Lauren, Washington, DC


This email led me on a very interesting google image search, what fun!

I don’t really care one way or the other, but am curious as to why it’s done. Does it improve sex? Is it aesthetically pleasing to some? I feel like it just makes their dicks look small which is appealing to no one, amiright?
—Michelle, San Diego


I thought men wanted big dicks.
—Claire, North Carolina


Pretty confident that I do not know enough about sex to understand the question.
—Carolyn, New Mexico


I'm not disgusted as long as it’s not somehow painful or hurting others. Def glad to be a lesbian! I wonder what they get out of this. Does it make them feel better? Similar to our clits when we have a full bladder?
—Irene, Florida


To me, this falls under the rubric of dude stuff—not even gay man stuff, just dude stuff. It's sort of like a wolf spider mating dance, or a bird with complicated plumage. There's something performative and "look at me" about male sexual fetishism that I think is very special—like, they don't get to be sexy and looked at by the dominant culture in the same way that women, who are plastered all over beer ads and mud flaps, are. Most of them have to actively work to get gazed at—by men or women. So they do a lot of really out there things to their junk, like sounding, and then post photos of it on the internet. The most vanilla form of this is sending an unsolicited dick pic to someone trying to sell a sofa on Craigslist. Silicone balls is a little farther down that Kinsey scale. But it's all a part of the same phenomenon.
—Sarah, San Francisco

If I ever get cancer and insurance will pay for a breast reconstruction, I’m totally getting a single sports-bra-shaped uniboob, with either a single long nipple, or three nipples like Blinky the Fish’s eyes from The Simpsons.
—Cassandra, Toronto

I just showed my wife a pic and she squealed and looked away.
—Sharie, Seattle

Out of respect for the deceased, The Stranger decided not to publish photos of Chapman's body parts injected with silicone, but if you'd like to see what it looked like, here's a safe-for-work photo of Jack Chapman with Hafertepen. If you want to see what a penis with silicone injected into it looks like, there's a (major trigger warning) NSFW photo here. Click at your own risk.