Smells like…Poppers! A guest post by Melanie Tushmore
The following blog post contains information on the drug “Poppers” and should not be viewed by anybody under the age of eighteen.
If you’ve ever been clubbing, you may well have noticed a rather bizarre, chemical smell occasionally waft by. If you’ve ever been in the more “pumping” gay clubs and bars, the smell may well have given you a head rush!
What are poppers?
Poppers, or “liquid gold,” are small bottles of the liquid chemical alkyl nitrate, or amyl nitrate.
What do people do with them?
Mostly associated with gay clubs, Poppers have been a staple of clubbing culture even before the boom of gay clubs. Viewed as a “mild drug” those that take poppers sniff the vapours straight from the bottle, as the nitrates dilate the blood vessels and – in layman’s terms – give you one mighty head rush.
A brief history of Poppers:
As early as the 1960s, reports emerge that amyl nitrate is being purchased over the counter by “healthy young people” and used “recreationally.”
In 1975, the book titled “Amyl Nitrite (Poppers) as an Aphrodisiac” is published.
In the early 1980s, government bodies stick their noses into scientist’s work, to see if Poppers can actually cause any harm to “a reasonable human being,” and thus conclude that there “no obvious or demonstrable hazard” to taking Poppers.
But it can still be dangerous!
Side effects can include dizziness, nausea, and long term use can result in burning of the skin, Eg. around the nostril area where Poppers are inhaled.
Ewww! Sounds gross.
Conflicting reports on Poppers:
In the mid to late 1980s, researchers argued the why’s and where for’s as to whether the use of recreational drugs (and they included Poppers in this list) were to blame for the HIV virus.
Subsequent reports concluded that Poppers weren’t to blame for HIV (go figure) and the world begins to grasp a better understanding of how viruses are contracted. E.g, the careless use of intravenous drugs would obviously be bad for one’s health, as would unprotected sex put you at risk of contracting viruses.
So practise Safe Sex!
And Don’t Take Drugs!
Yet Poppers remain legal in the United Kingdom, Poland and China.
In the U.K., poppers are widely available and frequently sold in gay clubs/bars, sex shops, and over the Internet. It is illegal to sell Poppers advertised for “human consumption” and in order to bypass this, Poppers are usually sold as “odorizers” or “video head cleaning fluid.”
Over in the United States, butyl nitrites were officially banned, but manufacturers responded by selling chemical variants as “room odorizers” marketed under such names as “Rush” and “Locker Room.”
So why take Poppers?
Ah, the million dollar question! Reports state that Poppers have “short lived effects on sexual experience,” and suggest that they may “make an orgasm feel like it lasts longer; and may make an erection feel stronger (although some men have trouble getting an erection after sniffing poppers); and may make it easier for some people to have anal sex by helping to relax anal sphincter muscles.”
Well, that explains a lot!
In the harsh reality of club land, Poppers are around! Not as threatening as more “hardcore” drugs, but they are a frequent visitor in most clubs, gay or straight.
The last time I went into one of my favourite gay clubs in Brighton, I almost passed out from the fumes of poppers in the (unisex) toilets. There was no one in there however, and it must have been one hell of a party to have left such a strong aroma!
That memory inspired this blog post, as I have always found the general acceptance and “blind eye” turned on Poppers interesting. My stance on drugs is still an adamant “just say no!” but I do like to be informed. When I was younger, working in a bizarre shop, I often unpacked the delivery of Poppers and would ask my manager, “What are these?”
Long before the internet was around, finding out about taboo subjects was even harder. I hope this post has been enlightening. Please check the following websites for further information.
Leading on from my post, when I wrote my story A Bar Tender Tale, I wanted to put my characters inside a vibrant gay bar in Brighton, reminiscent of my own nights out.
Poppers are but a tiny, minuscule part of clubbing life, but I still find them interesting. In gay bars, I love the glitz and the futuristic, “other worldly” aspirations some bars have (see pics for reference!) and the wonderful camaraderie of acceptance.
Oh, and I’ll always remember my friend disco dancing. Not a sight quickly forgotten!
By nine p.m., the night’s entertainment had hit the stage. Miss Anthropic, a local drag queen, literally dazzled in rhinestones under the lights of the bar. She took up the microphone on the small platform stage at the far end of the venue and started the evening with a medley of songs ranging from Cabaret to The Rocky Horror Show.
The bar was packed out with punters, and they all jostled toward the stage end of the bar to get a good view. Nathan, Justin, and Stuart were on manic bar duty. There would be spates of busy ordering, then a welcome reprieve as customers took a few minutes to give their full attention to Miss Anthropic’s audience participation.
Auryn sat at the end of the bar with his drink and looked around with quiet curiosity. Nathan tried to stay nearby and talk to him when he could, mostly to give off the clear message to anyone else that this man was his.
It wasn’t easy. Nathan near bristled with tension any time someone came near Auryn, which of course did happen. Nathan’s quick eyes didn’t miss a thing. But what could he do? Throw a drink over anyone who tried to talk to him?
“Would it be socially acceptable,” Nathan whispered to Stuart when they had a moment, “to pee on the floor and mark my territory?”
“Watersports?” Stuart smirked.
“No,” Nathan grumbled. “Like, not piss on him, just all around him so no one else talks to him.”
Stuart raised an eyebrow. “Nath, you need to chill. We’re in a bar, a busy bar. We can’t stop people talking to each other.”
“I know but—”
“Look, don’t worry about it,” Stuart insisted. “Try not to turn into a bunny boiler just yet.”
Nathan grabbed up a bar cloth and tried to flick Stuart with it. “Oh shut up!”
He was right, though; Nathan knew he was. Don’t worry about it, he repeated to himself over and over again.
Yeah, easy for him to say!
Nathan’s beady eye caught movement from a guy who was standing near Auryn waiting to be served; there was a distinct body press, accidentally-on-purpose. Nathan felt his eye twitch in irritation. Justin was about to lean forward and serve the man, but Nathan almost knocked him over to get there first.
“Yes?” he bit out.
“Oh hi, yes….” The man, whom Nathan noticed with chagrin was rather tall and handsome, ordered a round. Nathan waited a beat then realized he had to go and make the drinks.
Should have thought that plan through, he huffed to himself, turning away reluctantly to make the order. He wasn’t sure if he was imagining things, but he could have sworn he heard the man say, “Would you like a drink?”
Nathan took a sneaky look over his shoulder. It confirmed the worst case scenario; the man was talking to Auryn! Actually, Nathan corrected himself, surely worst case scenario would be Auryn accepting a drink….
If Nathan had been a cat he would have been spitting and bristling by now. Seeing as he was just the barman, he had to be quiet and mix the drinks. He was torn over adding a gob of spit, but he wasn’t sure whose drink was whose.
Nathan walloped the drinks down on the bar, pleased to interrupt the man trying to chat up Auryn. Little victories, he told himself. He couldn’t stay with them though, he had to continue working. Nathan tried not to glance over too often while he was mixing drinks. He also had to resist the urge to hold up the mixer tap and spray lime soda like a citrus waterfall all over this pushy guy.
Yeah, that’d show you.
Stuart rescued Nathan from further manic thoughts by asking for help bringing up more beer.
“Oh, by the way,” Stuart said when he and Nathan were safely in the storeroom. “He’s so into you.”
Nathan was surprised. “Huh? What?”
“Your Welsh guy? I’ve been watching him. I wanted to see if he was looking at anyone else. In case he started acting like your last knob of a boyfriend.”
“Oh. And…?” Nathan struggled to lift one crate of new bottles while Stuart hefted up two at once.
“He watches you the whole time. I’ve seen a couple of guys try to chat to him, but he’s not remotely interested. Oh, and he only smiles when you’re there in front of him.”
“Ohhh.” Nathan found a sudden surge of strength and lifted the crate. “That’s good to know.”
“Yeah, lucky bitch.” Stuart smirked at him and they hurried back to the bar.
Yes! Lucky me.
* * *
Buy A Bar Tender Tale now
Thank you Kay Berrisford for letting me drop by.
* * *
Thanks so much, Melanie. A Bar Tender’s Tale is a brilliant read and the setting (Brighton, UK) is awesome. And Meleanie is the author of several other exciting novels. Visit Melanie Tushmore’s website to find out more.