I've always had a hard time following instructions. I've bailed while signing up for Blue Apron countless times after thinking of all the steps I'd need to follow; an IKEA shelving unit almost fell on me once because I refused to anchor it to the wall. Don't even get me started with installing my new printer.
But when it comes to poppers, I'm all ears. I'm a huge fan of the popular gay men's drug, marital aid, nightstand staple and nightlife accessory—how could I not be? One whiff relaxes the posterior and imparts a reliable and pleasant head rush. Poppers are like reparations from God to the gay community for eons of persecution; Lord knows we'd be having way less sex if they weren't around to loosen things up for those of us who use them.
While many gay guys are fans of poppers, the majority of users imbibe with moderation. They can be quite strong, and it generally only takes a whiff or two to feel their effects. And they're somewhat risky to use if you don't know what's in yours, so less is definitely more (yet they're relatively safe compared to drugs like alcohol or cocaine). But a subset of popper fans have taken to testing the drug's limits, in a fetish designed to push users to inhale as long and hard as they can.
In DIY tutorials posted to sites like Xtube, Pornhub, and Tumblr, "poppers training videos" give users step-by-step instructions to get the most out of their little amber bottles. They range from a few minutes in length to well over an hour; the general format is akin to an erotic P90X workout video, where a montage of gay-porn clips is interspersed with instructions to inhale one's poppers, hold the "hit," then release. That "hit, hold, release" pattern increases in frequency and intensity as the video plays, with the intensity of the porn accompanying it increasing to match. Skill levels vary from "beginner" videos (shorter hits, shorter "hold" times) to "master."
As I barely have time to keep up with my own schedule, let alone a poppers drill sergeant who wants to dictate when I can and can't breathe, I reached out to poppers training fanatics to see what drives their appeal.
Dom*, a 36-year-old trainee from Texas, said that poppers training videos are his "go-to" for masturbatory entertainment. "I've seen all of them that I can get my hands on," he said—but admits that he doesn't follow their instructions religiously, because, "I feel like that would cause brain damage." He said he has yet to pass out or overexert himself in the process..
One's interest in training videos will vary depending on the type of porn their creators include; like most people, I have specific tastes, and the Andrew Christian twinks some videos worship definitely don't make me want to follow along for 15 minutes. Start out with a hairy daddy while "Spacer Woman" plays, and I'll gladly see where that journey leads.
For someone like me, who isn't completely obsessed with poppers, these videos might not hold much appeal. I can only make it through a couple before I have to throw the towel in. But can my state of consciousness somehow be altered to keep my head in the game? Actually, yes, as it turns out, thanks to a subset of poppers trainers known as poppers training hypnosis videos. There really is something for everyone on Pornhub.
Take this offering on Pornhub, helpfully titled "CUM DUMPSTER (POPPER HYPNO)" (link NSFW, unsurprisingly.) It begins with an assertive narration from an anonymized voice as a "hypnotizing" tone and a Twilight Zone black-and-white spiral animation plays: "Relax," it tells us. "Pick up your bottle. Put it to your nose. Inhale." It then instructs the user to "take ten deep hits," counting them out for us. Soon after, sub-Darude-quality trance music begins to play as a quick-cut montage of messy gay porn flashes before our eyes.
I asked a poppers-training video producer on Pornhub, who goes by the username "Altriak," to share a little insight into his creative process. He said he was initially drawn to the genre because its videos offered a constantly changing stream of porn scenes—but he quickly exhausted the number of poppers-training videos he could find and found himself waiting for new uploads from other creators. Rather than sitting around, he began editing his own, carefully selecting his own unique formula for their aural and visual progression.
"I found the videos that were progressive in terms of what sexual acts they perform seemed the hottest (going from blowjobs, to rimming, to fucking, for example)," he wrote me in an email. "I also found that going from slightly less provocative acts (like one-on-one with condoms) to more provocative (threesomes and groups without condoms) generally helped the rise in intensity as well."
Seems easy enough. But while it may seem easy to string together clips from films that are already out there, he said that finding music to accompany each montage is a task all on its own. "I try to find songs that get even more intense as the song plays--kind of how sex generally progresses," he said. That much I can confirm; the music in these is crucial. I have to admit I was particularly interested in one of his videos over others, because its entire soundtrack was the excellent dark electropop band TR/ST perfectly synched to gay porn. (But to take it from the bad trance soundtrack of most other poppers trainers, their core audience might be closer to the circuit queen set.)
It goes without saying, but using any drug is dangerous, including poppers, and using them for the lengths and durations these videos dictate would definitely raise your physician's eyebrow. Dom suggested they are also fun to watch with other people, so the buddy system may also be appealing to newcomers who are worried about passing out and falling through glass coffee tables, or worse.
That said, we all need something to distract ourselves from this mess of a country today. If a hypnotic, dominating daddy telling you to take a pull on nitrites does it, then hey: Self-care comes in all forms.
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