Let me take you back. It’s a humid evening in Hanoi, July 2019. My friend and I were on our final leg of an 8-week post-graduation stint across Asia—I’d just had just received an offer for a dream MA course and was eager to celebrate. We hit the bustling streets of the Old Quarter, a popular tourist and party area, to avoid the crowds before ducking into a dingy bar. It was there that I was offered a balloon of laughing gas—foolishly, I took it. But before I get into the details, let’s clarify what a whipit is.
A whipit is the street name for a nitrous oxide charger, the term relates to the charger’s intended purpose—to refill whipped cream dispensers. Yes, the same mechanism that is used by chefs in a restaurant to whip up that ice cream sundae is the same used by students in dingy halls at the tail-end of a weekend sesh. On the streets, the term whipit also relates to the actual nitrous oxide gas that the mechanism produces from steel pellets of compressed air. Nitrous oxide gas, or ‘nos’ for short, is sometimes called laughing gas due to the euphoric effects it produces. Aside from its recreational use, the gas is also used for medical purposes—but don’t let this fool you, taking a huff from a balloon can come with serious side effects.
There are several short-term, negative side effects of inhaling nitrous oxide. Although short-term adverse effects are uncommon, they can’t exactly be ruled out. The most prevalent cause of the adversity is breathing the gas too rapidly or too deeply. The effects which follow include: tiredness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, shivering, and profuse sweating.
While there are fewer long-term side effects, it’s conceivable that prolonged exposure to nitrous oxide, or purposeful abuse of the gas, can cause health problems. Anaemia or a vitamin B-12 deficiency might result from excessive exposure. The latter can induce nerve injury, resulting in numbness in a person’s limbs, fingers, or toes. It’s found that regular use can even stop you from forming white blood cells properly. According to TalktoFrank, It may be possible to become psychologically dependent on nitrous oxide, meaning users can develop an increased desire to keep using it despite the harm it may cause.
I’d tried it a few times before. When I was at my University you practically couldn’t avoid them—the annoying metal canisters would litter the streets outside nightclubs and carpet the floors of Hyde Park—a student hotspot known for its summer barbeques, house parties and afters. I have to admit, I was naive.
I took the balloon, started to inhale and suddenly everything went black. I woke up around 30 seconds later, in a daze, slumped back against the wall—it felt like the entire bar was looking at me. Apparently, I’d passed out, flopping like a fish and gasping for air, after taking one drag of the balloon, which was, admittedly, gargantuan in size compared to what I had previously in my dingy student home. I was shaken, but wouldn’t you be too?
As a bar worker shook me back into consciousness—and with it my recollection of the world around me—I remember him reassuring me that it wasn’t the ‘dodgy’ gas but instead I’d just taken a hit too hard. Whether I believe him or not is something I still question to this day.
Of course, I’ll be the first to admit that this was probably an isolated incident—but it’s a story worth telling nonetheless. While I’m sure nos balloons, on the whole, are mostly harmless when done few and far between, it’s worth bearing in mind that taking it comes with its own risks. Luckily, the situation caused me no permanent damage but others weren’t as lucky. In 2012 Demi Moore was hospitalised after inhaling nitrous oxide. Matthew Howard, social worker and editor of the Journal of Addictive Diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill told VICE, “You can die using it in some circumstances,” but fortunately, “most people are engaged in intermittent episodic use. That’s not nearly as problematic.”
The end note: if you are going to indulge in a nos session, the least you can do is consider the risks involved. Personally, my experience has scarred me enough to never touch a nos-filled balloon again, but I respect the fact that for as long as it’s popular, people will still do it. So, if you are set on experiencing laughing gas, take precautions. Go at your own pace, don’t do it just because everyone else is and try to have someone with experience to guide you throughout the process.
Disgust, humour, embarrassment: these are the typical reactions you expect to witness when someone breaks wind across the room. But what if there’s a niche audience out there who consider farts as more than just a comedic tradition, instead basing their entire sex lives around it? Introducing the gastronomic little world of eproctophilia, loosely known as the fart fetish.
Eproctophilia is a sexual fetish where individuals are attracted to farts. Considered as a subset of olfactophilia, where people derive sexual pleasure from body odours in general, eproctophilia engages all five senses to truly blow away enthusiasts.
Eproctophiles can be turned on by the sound, smell or discharge that comes from a fart. Some enthusiasts in the community enjoy farting on their sexual partners while others prefer being farted upon. Their preferences further range between the types of smell, fabrics worn and inhalation techniques used. Regardless of their preferences, however, members of the community agree on one thing: that their fetish is not the same as coprophilia—the fetish of faeces and defecation. Neither is any material substance nor immediate health risks involved in the former.
In the first-ever academic study on eproctophilia, Doctor Mark Griffiths, a chartered psychologist and professor of behavioural addiction at the Nottingham Trent University, interviewed an eproctophile to break down the fetish. “I have had my face farted on by both men and women, at point-blank range,” the interviewee admitted as he went on to explain a list of highly specific preferences. “In terms of sound, I prefer a deep bubbling sound. In terms of smell, I like acrid sulphur. I also prefer the farter to be clothed.”
The clothing aspect here was credited with three reasons. “Firstly, the sound tends to be better with fabric, particularly jeans or nylons. Second, the smell lingers in cloth, whereas it is a relatively quick blast of smell in the nude. Third, I like the look of butt cheeks better when they are defined by fabric.” The interviewee also highlighted how the fetish allows him to be dominated and humiliated by someone else—both factors that are masochistically arousing.
Another interesting insight from Griffiths’ academic study was the necessity of attraction to the person for their farts to be sexually arousing. “To see a beautiful, delicate lady passing wind is a breach of expectations in a profound manner,” the eproctophile said during the interview. “That a beautiful woman is capable of producing a disgusting sound and smell is what attracts us and makes us want to experience it.”
This social factor also plays into the genetics behind the attraction. The bacteria in a person’s gut is unique to them, which might be particularly arousing for some eproctophiles. For starters, have you ever noticed how you may not always be repelled by the smell of your own gases? This is because you have been accustomed to the bacteria in your gut. According to AsapSCIENCE, one of the major reasons why we categorise another person’s farts as ‘stranger danger’ is because of an evolutionary defence mechanism. However, this perception of disgust depends on a combination of variables such as age, gender, culture and personality. In this sense, some individuals are less sensitive to and repelled by some farts than others.
You might want to open another window for this one. To date, eproctophiles have a subreddit, Quora forum and dedicated genre on PornHub with more than 15,000 videos. Not to mention an entire fartdom of its own created specifically for the fetish. Eproctophilia also has a dedicated list of performers known as the “gassy queens of OnlyFans,” who make as much as $4,200 in under a month.
“I eat lots of veggies and protein generally, so they come naturally with my normal diet,” said Kiera, who goes by Goddess Fart on her OnlyFans—specialising in tidy, airy farts with the occasional “foamy chuggers.” In an interview with MEL Magazine, the gassy queen highlighted how she often gets patrons who hire her to create custom content. Such content usually involves her farting on camera while dishing out verbal degradations.
Her videos, however, involve very little nudity—with the camera focused on her lower half while she is clad in leggings. Although Kiera herself does not have a fart fetish, the performer overcame her initial hesitation by realising that she provides a popular service. “There is a stigma associated with any fetish that isn’t mainstream,” she said. “But I realised how popular this fetish is and it isn’t anything to be ashamed of at all.”
Did I forget to mention that smelling your partner’s farts is also the key to living a longer life? A study, published in the journal Medicinal Chemistry Communications proved how farts could actually reduce the risk of several life-threatening illnesses including cancer, stroke and heart attacks. According to researchers, it has also been proven to prevent arthritis and dementia in old age.
As the gassy queens continue to break hearts and winds, fart fetish embraces something that everyone does but hates to admit. So, let all of that sink in before you whip out that worn-off whoopee cushion for another prank or download one of those beatboxing apps based on fart noises to poke fun at the coveted phenomenon.