It was about halfway through their Netflix date that JeJe, a 25-year-old production assistant in Southern California, started to feel a strange warmth spreading across her privates. Intense and unexpected, the feeling overtook her and she began to grow hot and restless, squirming and fidgeting in bed next to her 24-year-old boyfriend, Joe Joe. Silently vibrating with the electricity of arousal in her leopard-print bike shorts, she tried to act natural, but she definitely didn’t feel that way.
As if compelled by some invisible force, she began to stroke his chest and kiss Joe Joe’s neck. “Babe,” she told him, “I’m horny. Like horny.”
Footage from a well-hidden camera he placed in their bedroom shows her clawing at him, half begging, half insisting that they fool around. He pushes her off and laughs, deflecting her advances with a “Not now!” and a bogus desire to watch a movie instead, but neither slow her down. It’s not until she grows impatient, straddles him on the bed then attempts to take her shirt off that he lets her know what he did.
“I put something in your drink,” he tells her, partially blocking a “Bless This Home” poster on the wall behind him. “It’s a prank.”
JeJe had no idea she was being filmed, nor had she ever expressed that this was something she wanted to try. “That is so not my personality to do anything like that on camera,” she says. “I would have never encouraged him to film something like this.”
Yet, he did.
A few hours earlier, Joe Joe had gotten his hands on something called Libido Max for Women, an over-the-counter “sexual enhancement supplement” that promises “maximum total-body pleasure” with an “amazing warming effect.” Inspired by a growing trend on YouTube where men dose women with these so-called “arousal pills” to see how they react, he planned to spike her drink with it and post the whole thing on their shared couples’ channel to get a laugh from their fans.
You never see him doing it in the video, but over a recent FaceTime call, he recounts putting four of the pink pills in her drink while she was out of the room (the maximum recommended dose). “No, I’m not drugging her,” he says in the video, as if he were aware of how it looked. “They’re just women stimulants… it’ll make the night last longer, you feel me?”
There are hundreds of these videos on YouTube. Often dubbed the “special pill,” “pink pill” or “v-pill” prank, they show people dosing each other with sexual enhancement supplements, secretly filming their reaction and either making fun of them for being horny or trying to lead them on while they’re feeling the effects. The trend goes the opposite way, too — in another iteration, women spike men’s drinks with Viagra or other over-the-counter analogs that give them never-ending boners and make them inconsolably horny for hours on end.
But whichever way the prank goes, there’s always a big reveal at the end — just when it seems like the person under the influence is about to rip off their partner’s clothes, they confess that they slipped something in their drink.
Sometimes, everyone laughs it off and it’s clear that the couple intends to make use of the pill’s effects. JeJe, for one, says she was “initially annoyed” but not particularly bothered by it, and after “enjoying the ride” when the cameras stopped rolling, she and Joe Joe talked about whether it was something she felt comfortable posting on their channel. “We’re already so open with our fans about our relationship,” she says. “We saw this as an opportunity to make them laugh and have some fun.” And they did — with just over 29,000 views, their special pill prank has become their most popular video.
Other times, things don’t go so well.
In a now-deleted special pill prank reported on by Polygon in 2018, a man bought “some of the strongest” pills he could find and spiked his girlfriend’s drink with them. Later, when he came clean about the prank to her, she was shocked and crestfallen. “Why would you do that, Derek?” she reportedly asked. “That’s not cool. I feel really weird right now. That’s not funny. You can’t put something in my drink like that. This doesn’t feel natural to me at all. Derek, you can’t record someone like that. This is embarrassing.”
Before it was taken down, the video was viewed 2.2 million times.
Save for one popular age-restricted video, none of the special pill pranks I encountered came with any kind of disclaimer. There are no warnings about the dangers of the prank or acknowledgement of consent, and there’s little to no recognition of the fact that spiking someone’s drink without their knowledge could be ethically hairy and even illegal. From the viewer’s standpoint, the dosing looks fun and lighthearted, and the message it conveys is clear: Slip one of these supplements to your partner, and they’ll be begging to fuck you in no time.
Most often, pranksters dose each other with legal, over-the-counter “sexual enhancement supplements.” Also called “arousal pills” — or the more colloquial “gas station dick pills” — these libido boosters are made of mostly natural ingredients and are sold everywhere from sex shops to CVS. Joe Joe got his at 7-Eleven.
The most popular enhancement supplement for men (or people with penises) has, at least in recent years, been an ever-evolving suite of single-dose pills called Rhino. There’s Rhino 8, Rhino 17, Gold Rhino, Rhino 69 and pretty much every other combination of the word “Rhino” and a number you can think of, all of which contain almost exactly the same ingredients but in different, completely arbitrary concentrations. For women and people with vaginas, however, there’s only one reigning true blue: an arousal pill called Pink Pussycat.
The sources of Pink Pussycat are murky and secretive — one vendor who wished not to be named said he “wasn’t allowed” to say where he got them — so it’s difficult to tell how long it’s been around or how popular it’s become. But if the recent explosion in reviews of it on TikTok, Twitter, Reddit and YouTube is any indication, it’s having a real moment.
A quick chat with some of its fans reveals why. Kink educator and YouTuber Da Kinky Kid says she came at least 50 times on it and had to “tap out” for the first time in her life. Myeshia Mayo, a 21-year-old in Michigan whose TikTok video about her experience went viral, says it made her so wet that she “soaked through her jeans” and “lost count how many times [she] climaxed.”
Even Cardi B is in on the trend. After she tweeted about it in 2018, Pink Pussycat sales reportedly shot up from 100,000 units a month to over a million. And while it’s hardly the only female enhancement supplements on the market, it does appear to be the most talked about (though Kangaroo, a competitor, is a close second).
Like most sexual enhancement pills, Pink Pussycat is marketed as a “supplement” composed of “natural” ingredients like amino acids, herbs, roots and other plants, most of which act as energy boosters or vasodilators to increase genital blood flow — hence the horniness. It lists several known aphrodisiacs like cinnamon bark, ginseng, cordyceps and goji berry on its label, but they’re mixed in with a number of odd, occasionally fictitious ingredients as well. There’s “deng sen,” a made-up “Chinese herb” found on many arousal pill labels, a mysterious ingredient known only as “Proprietary Formula” and something called dismutase, which shows up twice on the list in two different forms. Even stranger, Pink Pussycat purports to contain “cornus,” which isn’t actually a single ingredient but an entire genus of 30 to 60 dogwood plants.
In any event, it’s clear that whatever’s on the label is probably not what’s in the pill. Perhaps that’s why Pink Pussycat and many of its OTC contemporaries can only be found in head shops, sex shops, gas stations and specialty sites. Libido Max for Women, the pills Joe Joe slipped to JeJe, have a slightly more upstanding ingredient list, which might explain why they’re sold at more reputable national chains like Walgreens and Walmart along with a number of other brands like Steel Libido and something called “Butt X-Large.”
Yet, regardless of where they’re carried and what ingredients they claim to contain, all arousal pills are subject to the same, pesky problem: As so-called “supplements,” they’re staggeringly under-researched and completely unregulated. As of today, there is little to no research investigating their safety or efficacy, and according to the FDA, dietary supplements are not required to be proven safe before they’re marketed. That means what’s in them — and how much of it is in there — could be anyone’s guess. In fact, the FDA is so hands-off when it comes to supplements that it rarely gets involved unless there are reports of illness or injury after the product has already been on the market.
They haven’t been able to completely avoid getting their hands dirty when it comes to sexual enhancement supplements, though. In recent years, the FDA has banned dozens of both male and female sexual enhancement supplements after finding that they contained unlisted quantities of actual prescription drugs like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, all of which can cause serious side effects like chest pains, extreme headaches, sustained, painful erections requiring surgical intervention and sudden drops in blood pressure that lead to hospitalization. Dangerous interactions with other prescription drugs have been reported, too.
“Female” libido enhancers have been indicted far less than male ones, but Health Canada — i.e., the Canadian FDA — did issue a warning against Pink Pussycat in 2018 and the actual FDA has found Viagra in pills like the now-defunct USA for Women. That’s likely because female pills of its class are likely to be just as risky as the male ones. A side-by-side label comparison between them and Rhino 17 reveals that the ingredients and the packaging design are almost exactly the same. Unsurprisingly, women who react negatively to them experience many of the same unwanted side effects men do, but you won’t find any warnings printed on the labels. The lack of regulation means arousal supplement manufacturers can remain mum about potential side effects, too.
Joe Joe says he thought long and hard about these things when he was plotting out his prank. “I definitely did some research beforehand,” he says. “I wanted to keep it safe for her, because she doesn’t really take pills like this. I was super, super nervous that she’d have a bad reaction.”
When the only side effect she experienced was excessive horniness that persisted for a few days, he was beyond relieved.
More importantly, though, both he and JeJe were okay with what happened. Months before their special pill video went live, they had a long and detailed conversation about how to navigate consent in their YouTube pranks, coming to the mutual conclusion that dosing each other with over-the-counter drugs was fair game. “When we first got together, we talked about what would be okay to prank each other with and what our boundaries were,” explains Joe Joe. “We wanted to know how far it was okay to push each other.” Illegal substances and prescription drugs were a hard no, but laxatives and energy pills? A-okay. “We’re young, we’re having fun,” says JeJe. “That’s just our relationship. We do a lot of crazy stuff on and off camera, so it was within our limits.”
But it’s not clear whether other purveyors of the special pill prank are doing their research or having conversations about consent. In 2018, Polygon reported on another video — since removed by YouTube — in which a man’s girlfriend complained of feeling “weird and tingly” and grew concerned about her increased heart rate. Apparently, it wasn’t until the end of the 30-minute video — when she was “thrashing around on a bed” — that he told her what he’d done. Before it was taken down, it racked up more than 500,000 views. In another also deleted video, YouTuber Conner Bobay’s girlfriend becomes increasingly upset when he confesses the prank to her.
“You’re putting stuff in my body that you know freaks me out,” she reportedly says. “I can’t even take Advil.”
That one had 3.6 million views. As is the case in most special pill videos, it’s unclear which supplements were used.
More recently, a lesser-known special pill video from the channel 876Squad had to be reposted after the original was taken down for lack of consent (which, for some reason, they admit to right away in the video’s description). The group didn’t respond for comment, but according to the video’s description, consent was granted the second time around. (Funny, because from the looks of things, the girl in the video got straight-up drugged.)
Then there’s the ironically named CeyNoLimit, a YouTube mini-celeb who gets “revenge” on his girlfriend for dosing him with Viagra in a previous video. His weapon of choice is none other than Pink Pussycat, but though the label says not to take more than one pill every 60 hours and to avoid taking it with other supplements, he throws a second arousal enhancer into her drink, doubling her dose with a serving of Kangaroo. Like JeJe, she ends up fine, but given the opaque and risky nature of these supplements, it’s easy to imagine a scenario in which twice the dose leads to twice the problems. “Get that camera out of my face,” she says when he tells her what he did. “This isn’t funny.”
“Funny,” however, is exactly what most people think these pranks are. Comments on special pill prank videos are 99.999 percent laughter and encouragement, with little refrains like “LMFAO!” “Make her your girlfriend already!” and the winking “We all know what’s happening after” far outweighing any other reaction. Users often remark how “cute” the couple in the video is and even appear to be inspired by their shenanigans — e.g., “I’m gonna have to try this on my girlfriend!” is a popular reaction.
In other words, terms like “drugging” and “consent” are strangely absent from the milieu.
That might be because many of the pranks do appear benign — and they usually come from couples with a demonstrated history of pranking each other — or because anyone who appears concerned tends to be singled out. In the comments section of YouTuber Denny2Tyme’s special pill video, one concerned user wonders aloud whether what they’re watching might be more serious than a prank. “But isn’t this technically spiking someone’s drink?” they ask. “I wonder if people can’t get arrested over such things,” says another.
A third user puts it more bluntly: “[Omg] this is sexual assault.”
This is where it gets hairy. Detractors are immediately called “extra” or reminded that what’s happening on screen is “cool” because the people in the videos are either friends, dating or fucking (as if the closeness of the relationship neutralizes the need for consent). Commenters will also immediately defend the couple by telling concerned citizens to watch the rest of the couple’s videos, the insinuation being that if they prank each other all the time, something like a special pill moment should be par for the course. If it’s a revenge prank for a similar dosing or another embarrassing incident, all the better — in the court of popular opinion, the prank game is eye for an eye.
The upbeat, lighthearted and often comical tone of the videos also makes it difficult for some people to see how these pranks might be problematic, especially when the substance involved is both legal and readily available. “I mean the Viagra just makes you horny, not like some Bill Cosby shii,” one user writes in the comments section for a special pill video in which a group of men dose some “boujee models” (though the video pixelates the “Viagra” they’re referring to, it’s clear, even through the blur, that it’s Pink Pussycat).
A few people who are dosed do appear to be having fun on them, too. While it’s impossible to know what moments have been cut from the final reel, it’s hard for viewers at a distance to argue that it’s not just one of the “wild and crazy” things the couple does together, and we don’t know for sure whether they’ve discussed consent a la JeJe and Joe Joe.
Most importantly, no sex or physical escalation beyond kissing ever takes place on camera. Part of that is because it would get the video flagged, removed or demonetized, but the other part is because an essential part of the special pill prank is that the person being dosed gets teased and led on by the prankster in order to prolong their funny or embarrassing reaction. If sexual interaction is deliberately avoided, then what the commenter above said is technically true — what we’re seeing on screen isn’t Bill Cosby.
At the same time, it is technically drink spiking, a crime that can be charged as a felony in most jurisdictions regardless of what the substance in question is. In California, where JeJe and Joe Joe live, the state’s Penal Code classifies it as “willful poisoning,” and if the substance being used is deemed to be harmful, it’s punishable by up to five years in prison. Who you are, who you give the pill to and what the pill’s made of doesn’t matter — as long as it can be shown that you dosed someone with a risky substance they didn’t know they were taking, it can be argued that you committed a serious crime.
There’s little legal precedence for poisoning or assault cases involving over-the-counter supplements, but Lou Shapiro, a criminal attorney in L.A., says he “wouldn’t want to be on the side arguing that it’s not a violation of the code.”
By the same token, special pill videos may also violate YouTube’s community guidelines regarding harmful and dangerous content, especially the ones surrounding the promotion or consumption of substances that may cause adverse effects. Extremely dangerous pranks — including drugging someone with legal substances — are also not allowed. In 2018, Polygon brought a number of special pill prank videos to YouTube’s attention and they were subsequently removed, but given that there appears to have been a recent explosion in these videos in March, April and May of this year, it’s unclear whether the platform has been on top of it since then (YouTube didn’t respond to a request for comment).
Still, to couples like JeJe and Joe Joe, it’s all in good fun. Because what Joe Joe did was within JeJe’s boundaries, she says she was able to laugh at what happened and look at it as a novel experience that led to some unusually hot off-camera action. “We do look at these things as pranks, and we would never intentionally harm each other,” she says. She even got him back.
At the same time, both she and Joe Joe worry it could inspire someone to pull the prank under less consensual circumstances than theirs. “I wouldn’t suggest doing this,” says JeJe. “I just don’t feel like anyone should not know that that’s coming to them. In general with our videos, we’re concerned about our influence on other people, and we don’t want to inspire anyone in a negative way or cause any harm.”
Right now, they’re considering putting a disclaimer up to let their viewers know that what happened was consensual and shouldn’t be tried at home.
Until then, they’ll be pranking each other and posting about it, always with one eye open and a healthy sense of paranoia about open beverages around each other. “I am not taking any more drinks from this guy,” she laughs. “No, no way.”