In many ways, poppers (also known as “video-head cleaner” or alkyl nitrites) seem like a relatively straightforward vice. You open the little glass jar, inhale and enjoy the frustratingly short high. But like most other recreational drugs, poppers can be taken through a variety of methods. You might learn these techniques in a nightclub or with experienced friends, but the last two years of the pandemic have made IRL education harder and harder to come by.
Fortunately, there’s YouTube. Inspired by YouTuber ReportOfTheWeek and his coverage of fast food, Luke and Chris, two pseudonymous Londoners in their late 20s and early 30s who bonded over their love of poppers years back, decided to share their hobby and knowledge with the world via their own channel, RushingOnEmpty. On it, they showcase various techniques of inhaling poppers (like mixing them with Sprite in a cup so the carbonation enhances the inhaling experience), review popper brands and post videos of themselves enjoying the high that poppers yield. As they put it, they’re “aroma adorers. Headache havers. Sock suckers. Popper pigs.”
I recently spoke to the duo about their relationship with nitrites, each other and their newfound YouTube community. It’s also worth mentioning that they did poppers in between answering each of the questions — or so I’m told!
Tell me a bit about your background with poppers and how the two of you met.
Chris: We first met a few years ago at a nightclub in London. I saw Luke in front of me sniffing away like one of those little truffle hunting dogs, when suddenly, security appeared out of nowhere and confiscated his bottle. He was visibly upset and began complaining of being “psychologically castrated” by the experience. I introduced myself and offered him my bottle. The rest is history.
Luke: A friend introduced me to poppers in Berlin four or five years ago (shout out to her). A couple of years later, I met Chris on a Sunday afternoon in the smoking area of a London nightclub. I took one look at his weak, frail body, his pale skin and his dilated pupils, and I knew he was a popper pig.
What inspired you to make a YouTube channel about poppers — and what’s the reaction been like?
Luke: We were originally inspired and captivated by the fast-food blogger TheReportOfTheWeek and his series “Running on Empty.” We saw a gap in the market and replaced McDonald’s Happy Meals with inhalant muscle relaxants.
Chris: We may genuinely have the horniest fanbase on YouTube, although we still need to crunch the numbers on that one.
Luke: We’ve also received a lot of support and enthusiasm from friends and acquaintances. One friend produced an intro video for us, while a fashion designer friend is currently putting together some limited edition merch designs — keep your eyes and nostrils peeled for that!
Chris: They may actually just be making fun of us now that I think about it.
Where did you learn your popper techniques?
Chris: Some of these techniques have been poorly documented on the internet for years and were essentially no more than poppers lore, desperately in need of video tutorials from two brave lads willing to take the plunge. Others are our homegrown ideas.
Luke: When you’re a professional popper connoisseur, you’re always on the lookout for new ways of getting absolutely mangled. Our minds are always conjuring up ways of turning ordinary objects into vehicles for isopropyl nitrite, be it an aroma diffuser, a cigarette or a cocktail. [Similar to amyl nitrites in the U.S., isopropyl nitrites are the most popular variety of nitrite in the U.K.]
What’s your favorite brand of popper as well as your favorite technique?
Chris: Believe it or not, not all poppers are made the same. If you can find it in your country, we highly recommend pentyl nitrite-based poppers. We recently picked up a bottle called Skull Fuck, which is shaped like a human skull. I can only assume they were inspired by Damien Hirst when they conjured up that one.
Luke: The most intense technique is definitely the sock method, which involves dousing a sock in poppers and placing it in your mouth [typically, poppers are inhaled nasally, but dousing a cloth in poppers makes it a semi-safe way of inhaling orally without the liquid coming into contact with your mouth]. We have a tutorial video on our channel, which is by far our most popular upload. Go and try it, but beware, it’s guaranteed to knock your socks off!
Chris: In fact, this method is so intense and debilitating that we’ve only ever done it twice in our lifetimes. Save this one for special occasions!
What do you enjoy most about poppers and sharing these experiences with the world on YouTube?
Luke: I’ve always maintained that being an absolute fucking cretin is one of life’s simplest but greatest pleasures. The world is a mess right now, but if we can bring some people together for a quick head rush, then we’ve done our part.
Chris: Keep on popping!