Poppers have been on the scene for a long time. They were hella popular during the 1970’s and remain a consistent part of gay male sex. They remained a foreign element for me for the longest time. I remember the ammonia capsules that I were part of my First Aid Kit as a football manager. Someone shoved one of those under my nose once; I recoiled and never messed with them again. That stimulant is created when ammonium carbonate is mixed with perfume. The ammonia fumes from the salts irritate the membranes of the nose and lungs which triggers a reflex causing the muscles that control breathing to work faster. You may know them as “smelling salts”. Brett Farve was caught last season on the sidelines using them as a sort of performance enhancer (for the game, not for those dick pics he sent to that woman). Their use is also prevalent among certain college athletic teams and power lifters.
During the 80’s I worked at a convenience store next to one of Ferris Alexander’s porn movie theatres. There was an occasion when a fellow came in, bought a can of Lysol spray, went outside and promptly sprayed the whole can into a washcloth. He then put it to his face and passed out on the sidewalk. At the time, I thought that was just crazy business, but it turns out it’s something that was prevalent among the Native American population. This is an overt example of huffing, but I didn’t recognize it as such at the time.
The whole concept of huffing really wasn’t on my horizon until the late 90’s. And thanks to the A&E show “Intervention”, I now know only too well the pitfalls and means of excessive huffing.
Now, let’s not kid ourselves here -I do my best to not be my own fool. I don’t think I’m going to ruffle anyone’s feathers, but let’s face it – Poppers is huffing; it’s just a more socially accepted form of it. Granted, The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy once reported that there was “little evidence of any significant hazard associated with the inhalation of alkyl nitrites” and a 1983 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that "Available injury data did not indicate a significant risk of personal injury or illness from room odorizer abuse.", but there are still side effects – usually mild, though in some cases more severe.
I’ve often wondered what law enforcement thinks about them. Recently, Poppers manufacturers came under fire by the FDA. The plants producing them were shut down and sex shops pulled all product off their shelves. A month later, the plants were allowed to reopen, production resumed, and sex shops were selling them again (at a higher price, of course). As far as local laws, I am not aware of any that prohibit one from possessing Poppers. However, if I was stopped by a police officer, in my car or in the woods and had a bottle in my possession would I be ticketed or censured in some way? If anyone knows, please write me.
Scope of Activity:
The inhalation of nitrates during sex (gay male sex).
The Official Line:
With information from Wikipedia:
Poppers are a class of chemicals called alkyl nitrites. These are chemical compounds of structure R–ONO. In more formal terms, they are alkyl esters of nitrous acid. The first few members of the series are volatile liquids; methyl nitrite and ethyl nitrite are gaseous at room temperature and pressure. Organic nitrites are prepared from alcohols and sodium nitrite in a sulfuric acid solution. They decompose slowly on standing; the decomposition products being oxides of nitrogen, water, alcohol, and the polymerization products of the aldehyde.
Nitrates were initially prescribed to treat angina. At one point they were made available without a prescription (1960), but due to a rise in recreational use, that decision was reversed in 1969. Other alkyl nitrites were outlawed in the USA by Congress through the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, but the law included an exception for commercial purposes – which is exactly how the sex shops get around the law and why the terms “room odorizer” or “head cleaner” appear on the labels of bottles of Poppers.
Inhaling nitrites relaxes smooth muscles throughout the body, including the sphincter muscles of the anus. Smooth muscle surrounds the body's blood vessels and when relaxed causes these vessels to dilate, resulting in an immediate increase in heart rate and blood flow throughout the body. This produces a sensation of heat and excitement that usually lasts for a couple of minutes. It is unclear if there is a direct effect on the brain.
Alkyl nitrites are often used as a club drug (while dancing) or to enhance a sexual experience. The head rush, euphoria, and other sensations that result from the increased heart rate are often felt to increase sexual arousal and desire. Supposedly, Poppers enhance and prolong orgasms. However, this euphoric experience is not universal; some men report that Poppers can cause short-term erectile problems and headaches. Also, if one’s skin is exposed directly to the chemical in liquid form, minor burns may result.
With prolonged use, you will find that the rim of your nostrils will become inflamed or ‘scorched’ and your eyes will become red. Poppers can also mess with your immune system. The next day you may have plugged sinuses and a sore throat (although the sore throat could be due to having had a big old dick massaging your tonsils for an extended period of time).
For a time, during the peak of the AIDS scare, use of Poppers was thought to be a possible cause or source agent. That has since been disproved, although if you have HIV there is some evidence that that use of Poppers can have a very negative effect on your already damaged immune system.
Poppers are not for everyone. If you have a heart condition you should not use Poppers. Viagra and Poppers should not be used simultaneously, as in combination they may cause heart issues. And never smoke (period) and do Poppers at the same time - that shit is flammable, childrens! You gots to be careful!
I do happen to experience the euphoria described above. Initially, when I first began to use them it was incredibly intense; I felt like I was melting. Now, I still experience something akin to that, though since it’s no longer a new a sensation it seems less intense. I also have to inhale them more deeply, for a longer period of time before I am satisfied and the desired effect is achieved.
I worry that I use them as a crutch to get through less-than-wonderful sexual encounters. At one point I was very concerned that the only reason I was having sex with anyone was so I would have an excuse to do Poppers.
I discovered that doing them alone is not much fun, or at least I don’t enjoy them as much. I’ve also entertained the idea of being ‘addicted to Poppers’. However, I have managed to resist the urge to use them, time and time again, and have had sex numerous times without them since that concern was raised. There is also no evidence that Poppers are addictive, although I think they can be habit forming.
Maintaining an erection while doing Poppers can be difficult for me, so I don’t do them when topping. I have had success flip flopping with them, and that is especially true when their use is combined with 420. In those instances maintaining at least a three-quarter erection was possible for an unusual length of time, as were multiple orgasms.
The first time I tried them was in 1987 – and I HATED them. Why would anyone do this to themselves, I thought. They were awful. It didn’t make me feel sexual at all; instead it scared the hell out of me. I didn’t try them again until I switched over and became a hard core bottom, which was about 2001, I think. I was working downtown, spending a lot of time cruising the skyways and checking out the active Tea Rooms. The person responsible for turning me onto Poppers at that time was this little black stallion that I used to meet up with once or twice a month in this warehouse space in the basement of a certain downtown landmark. He was very short, had a tiny, tight body, and was extremely cute. He also had a huge dick, which I didn’t appreciate nearly enough at the time. Anyway, I do believe he was the reason I started to do them. I started purchasing them about that time, too.
The other person who was influential was this older, redheaded dude that I used to host at my place from time to time. Initially, I just adored that sense of fading away I was able to achieve with him. He had a thick dick and it was early in my career as a bottom, so melting onto a dick definitely was preferable to getting all anxious about it.
Shortly after that I started doing them while cruising in Tea Rooms. One learns quickly in those situation that little brown bottles coming in contact with ceramic tile will result in a loss of Poppers, broken glass, and a big mess. I also learned, the hard way, that Poppers when spilled on linoleum can cause serious damage to the floor. I think it was also about then I began to grow concerned about the harmful effects of Poppers. I mean, if they can do THAT to linoleum, then just think what they are can do to soft tissue and brain cells.
I love it when my tops use Poppers. There is something super sexy about them taking a hit and then fucking me. It’s like the Poppers have the opposite effect on them, like they become Superman or something. It makes me view them as very powerful. I also love watching porn or amateur porn (on XTube) where dudes use Poppers, either while having sex with someone else or while masturbating. The baters who talk about it while doing it, as if you are in the room, send me over the edge every time. I also love it when a top orders his bottom to take a hit. God, that gets to me, big time - I feel like a school-girl talking about Justin Bieber, for Christ-sakes. Jeesh.
Okay, heart returning to near normal level.
I use Poppers so frequently that I can’t single out an instance when they were more responsible for me having a good time than any other time. They’ve become such a part of my act that no single instance is distinguishable from the others. I have written about Poppers previously on this blog. That post can be found here: http://wonderlandburlesque.blogspot.com/2009/04/pop-pop.html
It is more fun when the person you’re with does them, too. Or enjoys them. Or likes you enjoying them. Or forces them on you. A dom top who holds a bottle to my nose and orders me to inhale? Hot. Sharing them face to face can be sweet, too. Weirdly romantic – probably something akin to what those goth couples doing absinthe experience. It’s interesting… writing about this? It makes me feel like a drug addict. Next, I was going to compare it to something that Courtney and Kurt must have experienced when they did heroin together, but I think that’s going too far. Heroin seems so selfish and withdrawn. Poppers temporarily touch on that sort of feeling, but really are more about the initial rush. And Poppers are social – I mean, what’s more social than getting fucked?
Oh… Brands! Which have I had good success with? I really like Man Scent and Amsterdam. But really? I think they are all pretty much alike. It comes down to keeping them cold and sealed tightly once they are unsealed. A lot of users will tell you that once the seal is broken, it’s all down hill from there, but I have found that if I mix what’s left in all my mini-bottles into one bottle, sometimes they come back alive.
I’ve gotten over that whole – never snort from a bottle without a label thing. It used to freak out when someone would hand me a plain brown bottle. I mean, what are you handing me? Who knows? Are you trying to gas me or something? In instances where I feel unsafe, I just refuse. No harm in saying no. Better safe than sorry.
The one thing I have not experienced? Have you ever seen one of those gas masks with the hose on the end and they stick a bottle of poppers on the end of it? I’ve seen this on Xtube and it looks intriguing, but then again, it also looks like something that might make me vomit. Yes, too much of a good thing is rarely a good thing, and in the case of poppers, I have a feeling that less is more… as in more fun. But because I have never tried it, I can’t say for certain whether or not it is something I would enjoy. So, if the opportunity presented itself – I’d more than likely (provided I felt safe with the person I was with) I would try it. The one thing about those Xtube vids that I’ve seen that disturb me a bit? The guys are also bound at the time, so they have no ability to resist or take the mask off if it would make them ill. Being tied up at the time certainly ramps up the amps, making the whole scene more intense, but I would probably ask to try it out without my hands being bound first. Again – better safe than sorry.
Writing about Poppers has been rather like the product itself – kind of a rush. That said, I have tempered my usage quite a bit. About three years ago I wouldn’t do anything sexual without them. Since that time I’ve relaxed that rule and discovered that getting fucked without them can actually be more pleasurable. Without them I remain hyper aware of my body and more responsive and sensitive to changes; such as the stretching and pulling of muscle tissue. There have been times when I think my performance as a sexual partner has indeed suffered because of my use – nobody likes a dead-weight bottom; one who just lays there and makes the top do all the work. That’s boorish, boring behavior. Excessive Popper use, I have found, can lead in that direction.
At the same time, I doubt I will ever give them up, or at least not until I withdraw from the field of sexual encounters. And I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon.
Next week: Twinks