Rush, Jungle Juice, Blue Boy, Labyrinth, Private Reserve, Man Scent, Taiwan Blue – the Seven Dwarves of disco fantasies invading the psyche of those craving moderated rebellion. This is the gag-inducing aroma of an anarchist sexual revolution that begins at perversion and ends at perversion and refuses to touch daylight. This is what your parent’s warned you about: the sweat of sinners ladled unwilling onto the bodies of the pure.
But to us it’s just poppers. No gimmicks. All thrill. Minimal risk. Just. Poppers.
I met my first popper at the age of 17. Monterey provided little to no entertainment past the hours of 9pm so I often found myself either at our local Denny’s befriending Santa Cruz junkies or perusing the Fremont Adult Bookstore, spending what little cash I had on celebrity sex tapes. I’ll call these my glory years. After a few months of these late night jaunts, I conjured up the (somewhat unnecessary) courage to ask to see items in the front case. These artifacts of suburban deviance ranged from tattered copies of 90′s Hustler to poorly blown bongs masked by neon green cartoon weed paintings.
There – amongst the carnage – a singular bottle of Jungle Juice. Boredom often leads to irrational decisions. Boredom + the thirst for teenage defiance can only lead to great decisions. I kept the bottle for over a year knowing that New York deserved my popper high but Monterey did not. I was right. Being savvy to poppers catapulted me into the world of queer decadence upon my move to Manhattan. I didn’t have to use. I just had to know. Knowing was enough.
There is cultural shift taking place within the poppers legacy. Poppers were once a bottled billboard for dungeons, and leather, and uniforms, and the art of gaping. They were once an amuse-bouche wafted at clubs ensuring a heavy night of petting. In the post-disco era (or as I call it: the Book Of Revelation) poppers were confined to bedrooms and underground fisting soirees. And then the straight population moved in, taking poppers out of the shadows and back under the strobe lights.
I want to complain. I want to tell these straights that they are doing poppers wrong. I want to be the Joan Of Arc of poppers riding in on a white stallion demanding that Rush be given back to the queers. But I simply cannot. They have come out of hiding and they are here to stay. And I am not complaining.
This is the designer drug generation. We are an age of extremes – addiction or sobriety seems to be our only choices. With the endless buffet of mind-altering substances at our disposal, why would one opt for simple poppers? Simple, legal, arguably-dated poppers? Because poppers refrain from commitment. They allow you to dabble in promiscuity, to tap into a carnal awakening lasting mere seconds. Poppers radiate authentic pleasure, sexual pleasure, that reptilian pleasure ignored by the Victorian media. Poppers are a brand. Ye who holds the poppers holds the power. Poppers represent that delusional, harmless, wickedness edge of one who breathes life into the mundane.
Don’t call it peer pressure. Call it a good weekend.
“I’m asking my boyfriend for a mason jars of poppers for Christmas,” my girlfriend excitedly texted me one Monday afternoon. Soon after came the followup text, “Oh shit, I think he hid my poppers. What now?”
I went over later that night with a fresh bottle. She smiled and our cheeks went red for many many hours.