Poppers = Euphoria

By Estevan Velasco

As a professional dancer, I worked for five years on cruise ships. Throughout this time, I experimented with many things pertaining to my sex life, including having sex with curious straight men, fooling around with guests in the sauna, and sniffing poppers with my friends on nights off.

My first experience with poppers came from a night of partying with my cast mates on our one night off within the week. Keep in mind that on cruise ships, access to any kind of recreational drug is zero percent, so we have to have fun without being too fucked up for safety purposes.

My gay friends offered me a sniff of their poppers which led me to sassily question their knowledge of whether or not this would kill my very few brain cells. “They’re legal,” they responded. “Just try them and see how you feel. It only lasts for a few seconds.” My naive, twenty-something-year-old brain trusted my friends so easily, so I figured, what the hell? A few lost brain cells won’t hurt. Two sniffs, one up each nostril, and I remember feeling as though all of my senses became more enhanced. For those of you that partake in marijuana use, particularly sativa. It felt similar to that; a sensation of not being in complete control of what is going on in my mind or body, but having an awareness of a heightened physical and emotional sense of being. Although I was not having sex at that moment, I understood that I was high, and it literally lasted for no more than twenty seconds.

Today, I know that poppers, also known as video head cleaners, can be used for sexual enhancement purposes, typically used to become more relaxed in preparation for anal sex. My initial reaction made me wonder why anyone would want to use them, and it gave me a gnarly headache which consequently turned me off from ever wanting to try them again from that point on. This first interaction with poppers did not leave a good impression on me. However, I am a man of giving second chances. About a year later, I tried them again with my then boyfriend of three years. Without drugs or alcohol, the sex was great, but as many couples do, we wanted to spice things up; cue the poppers! My second interaction was not that much better, as my clumsy boyfriend spilled the liquid in that brown vial all over my face, seriously putting a damper on my sexual mood. Yes, I was fine, and no damage was done, but damn I was definitely not into that cleanup. At this point, poppers and I were nowhere close to being friends, and I gave up on them completely from that point on.

The third time’s the charm, right? I am in my thirties now, I am not working on ships, I do not have a boyfriend, and I enjoy casual sex from time to time. A couple of months ago, I received a DM from a really attractive guy who was also in the entertainment industry. He claimed to remember seeing me perform, loved what he had seen on stage, and wanted to get to know me better. I’ve never met this man, but in regards to his Instagram, he was very much my type; very hairy, groomed facial hair, funky fashion, and conveniently local. Fast forward to the fun part: clothes are off, his hairy torso is on top of me, foreplay was so good it nearly preempted the climax, and out come the poppers! I have shared the history that poppers and I have with each other, so I was a little apprehensive. His notion of consent in trying the poppers and a sensual stare sent me into a state of instant submissiveness. Consent, in general, is sexy, so I was all the way in. Being seriously attracted to this man also helped. Yes, please allow me to take a whiff, Sir. The sex that followed was euphoric. I have never felt such passion like this before. Not even with my very hairy ex-English lover. We were both sniffing together. It became so much more intense. Physically, I felt so relaxed and calm, but emotionally, all I could think about was how beautiful his smile was and how sexy he made me feel. This was the first time we were intimate, so it was also a learning experience for us both. While I could have been overthinking about all the things that could go wrong, I really wasn’t even thinking. All I wanted to do was feel; feel him inside of me, feeling us breathe in and out together, feeling the passion as we stared deeply into one another’s eyes. This was the first time I experienced euphoric sex with a man I didn’t know. I have had lots of sex while being high off of weed, cocaine, molly, and alcohol, but nothing, and I mean nothing, has ever felt like this.

Now, to answer my younger self: can poppers kill your brain cells? As a disclaimer, any drug should be taken with precaution and should not be overly abused. Too much of anything is never good. According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, poppers, medically known as amyl nitrate, are a vasodilator medicine that causes blood vessels in your body to dilate and decrease pain sensation, therefore relaxing muscles and lowering blood pressure. Its past usage pertained to treatment for angina (chest pain) and cyanide poisoning. No, poppers do not directly kill your brain cells, but if they are not used correctly, they can cause damage to your body. They are extremely dangerous and can be lethal if mixed with another vasodilator like Viagra or other ED medication. Also, keep poppers away from cigarettes, candles, lighters, or pouring on your lover’s face, as they are highly flammable. Avoid entirely if you have a suppressed immune system (poppers reduce immune functioning for several days after use). For some cute history with current language and topics, give “Deep Sniff” by Adam Smith a read. It provides a detailed overview of where poppers came from, how they were named poppers, and ultimately provides a queer man’s point of view on the topic.

It’s been two months, and weekly sex with this man is routine. Will I start dating him? Maybe. Are we still using poppers? Frequently, but not always. I am so grateful that I have a better understanding of what poppers can do to make the sex that I’m having feel euphoric. If you get the chance to make your sex more fun and adventurous, then take it!

PROUD & Kinky Magazine - Issue 2

This article was originally published in the second issue of PROUD & Kinky Magazine. You may read it in its original format here.