Recent research may indicate that humans are more sensitive to body odor than our evolutionary ancestors. Is this good news?
It could be for Phillip Miner, a nightlife promoter who’s hosting a party called “Phromone” for underarm fetishists (the next one will be held Feb. 10). The pent-up demand for nightlife — after spending so many months in relative isolation — may be paving the way for unexpected ways to let loose, but Mr Miner believes the pandemic has contributed in another way: ripening (sorry ) for a feast for the stinking and their admirers.
“Working from home really gave people a reason to give up deodorant, and many people found that they resonate more with their own natural body odors,” said 40-year-old Mr. Miner for an episode of Pheromone in January.
It took place at Nowhere, a two-decade-old bar in the East Village that’s no stranger to parties catering to niche interests in the gay community. Past events have included Fuzzy (for the furry and their admirers), Chunk (for the fat and their admirers), Studio 5 ‘4” (for the shorts and their admirers) and Fire in the Hole (for redheads and their admirers). admirers).
Keeping social distancing also prohibits smelling other people’s scents. “It’s a lot more taboo in the time of Covid, which we’re obviously very aware of,” said Mr Miner, stressing that Nowhere followed state, city and federal regulations, including requiring proof of vaccination for access.
Pheromone is not the first party to focus on the armpits. Mr. Miner has modeled his party after the Stank party in San Francisco, which recently celebrated its ninth birthday. Body odor has also reportedly become a common feature of gay clubs in Berlin and London, according to a 2020 article in the Face, a British-style magazine.
According to Lara Golz, a DJ in Berlin who goes by the name Golden Medusa, it’s common to see people sniffing each other’s armpits at clubs like the Kit Kat Club and Berghain. Another club, the Laboratory, lists “no perfume” as one of the rules posted at the entrance.
And while Mr. Miner may have re-marketed it for the pandemic era, armpit fetishism — or “maschalagnia” — has been part of America’s gay subculture for decades. Jeremy Atherton Lin wrote in “Gay Bar: Why We Went Out” that throwing out deodorant was a rite of passage for him in the beginning. In the 1970s, some men carried magenta handkerchiefs in their back pockets to mark their interest in armpits.
The evening started around 10:30 pm
The DJ, who goes by the name Furtrap, played an exuberant mix of house, disco and pop remixes, but the crowd was mostly chatting. Topics heard included the new ‘Scream’ movie and whether Lady Gaga, Madonna or Britney Spears would be the best partner in ‘Dancing With the Stars’.
As the bar filled and the drinks emptied, men who drank beer quietly now drank beer quietly with their shirts off.
The intoxicating smell of sweaty armpits also intensified, even behind a KN95 mask. A bartender said the smell made this a less popular shift among the staff.
Several attendees were unaware of the theme of the party, but didn’t seem to mind. “Are you kidding?” said Drake Reed, 29, a graduate student living in Queens. “This is the smell of strangeness.”
Some had traveled further. Carlos Ruiz and his husband, Miguel Rojer, were from Florida. “We don’t have parties like this in Miami,” said Mr. Ruiz, 35, a marketer, with a broad smile.
While the possibility of a date was ubiquitous, Mr. Miner said he was more interested in nurturing social spaces than throwing sex parties. “In all my projects, I have a guiding philosophy that shame and secrets lead to very negative consequences,” said Mr. Miner, who also publishes Natural Pursuits magazine, which celebrates “casual nudity” in queer culture.
At least one participant appreciated his efforts. After taking a deep breath, he yelled to no one in particular, “Oh my gosh, I’m so happy!”