Iconic 1970s Rush Poppers Company Goes Out of Business

Aug 30, 2010 · 222145 views

It’s the end of an era. Pac West Distributing (PWD), the company that makes Rush poppers has gone out of business. Nobody knows why, but according to the This is FYF blog, the company’s website has been down since Aug. 17.

Poppers, (not the fried, cheese filled jalapeno peppers) are small little bottles full of a volatile liquid like amyl nitrate or other stuff sold commercially as “air freshener” or “VCR head cleaner” and has been used for decades during sex by people looking to loosen themselves up and get jiggy with it. Its the sexy drug equivalent of huffing airplane model glue.

I’m always giggling at most sports bars and in the frozen food section of my supermarket whenever I see a box for cheese Poppers, whose ad slogan is “bring home the fun.” I’ll say.

How do they work? Amyl nitrite was originally used in medicine  in the early 1900s to counteract the effects of cyanide poisoning and was found to relax the smooth muscles in the body, mostly the anus and vagina.

In the 1970s poppers were popular not just in the bedroom but on the dance floor, and even the Al Pacino film “Cruising” shows him huffing a hankie covered with the fluid on the dance floor.

That’s Al huffing on a rag covered in poppers!

Poppers have a long history of abuse due to the rush of warm sensations and dizziness experienced when the vapors are inhaled. Most often, poppers are used recreationally by men who have sex with men as a sexual enhancer or by young substance abusers.

It also deprives the body of oxygen and heavy use can lead to nerve/brain damage. Plus the use of poppers has been associated with an increased risk of HIV infection. Fun times!

Although its illegal to sell them for human consumption, many gay clubs/bars, sex shops, drug paraphernalia head shops still sell them as “room deodorizers” although the smell isn’t something I’d consider pleasant.

If you’re still wanting to get a bottle, go ask film maker John Waters. In OUT magazine he told the interviewer that he’s not a “poppers pig” but he has a lifetime supply in his freezer.

“I made a giant bottle of Rush for my last art show, and the owner of the poppers company sent me a lifetime supply,” he confesses. “It’s really embarrassing ’cause I forget when people go to get ice and they see, like, a case of poppers.” He emulates an unsuspecting house guest recoiling in horror. “Oh, my God, he’s a poppers pig!” This picturesque expression prompts another tale. “My friend told me the worst story,” he says. “He went home with somebody that really was a poppers pig, who came out of the bedroom with a mask on that was hooked to a bottle of poppers so that he could give blowjobs and breathe poppers at the same time!” Waters laughs. “I’m afraid people think that’s what I am when they look in the freezer and don’t say anything.”


  1. jimmyV says:

    Test your knowledge, how many brands of poppers of you used or scene people use. Watch the video that I posted and find out? I used two of them, I would rather have great sex without them.

  2. Shrympi says:

    My lipstick be poppin’!

  3. Toppie Smellie says:

    Lord I feel so embarrassed for Pacino when I see scenes from that awful movie… but anyways, I think John Waters is lucky. I wish I had a case of them bottles in my freezer.

  4. http://advanceindiana.blogspot.com/2010/08/joe-popper-king-miller-dead.html

    Seems there’s more to this Popper story! Yeow.

    Joe Miller, one of the largest financial contributors to Indiana Democrats and the world’s largest manufacturer of Poppers is dead according to fellow blogger Ruth Holladay. She says a source tells her he took his own life last night:

    A known contributor to Dem causes, Joe Miller, a gay man, has died. By his own hand.


    Here is a portion of an email from a source:

    “You’ve probably heard that Joe Miller died late last night. Joe was a controversial figure in the gay community—I’m sure you’ve heard of his travels and tribulations. He made lots of money and spread it around. Rumors about his lifestyle are rampant, and always hahve been. Yet, he was largely a recluse.”

  5. Cordtyr says:

    Joe Miller owner of the Pac West Distributors of Rush , had his business raided last week by the FEDS. He supposedly was found dead at his home and it was initially reported as a suicide and then the local news paper pulled the story off the web and it has been hush ever since. So was the death due to him losing the empire he built, we may never know. He was a generous and philanthropic man and he would help anyone who needed it. He was a gentle soul and may he rest in peace. It is a sad loss to all those who knew him. I am anxious to find out more about the Federal raid and who initiated it and what they think they found and why they targeted him. It is so political, but he cover will soon be pulled from this and we may all be sitting with EYES WIDE OPEN.

  6. jimmyV says:

    It’s amazing how long Rush Poppers existed as a viable business, in the short amount of time I have been a member of the gay community I can’t tell you how many gay business’ I have seen change hands or disappear completely.

    The 1983 ban on poppers might have been a result of the toughing of war on drugs at the beginning of the 1980’s. But also lets me now that gay sexuality was much different before the Aids crises. Did it hinder how mainstream sex is? Look at how novel the sex shop still is in america. Will bathhouses ever become main stream in gay culture again? Or are they a tribute to the 1970’s that should be considered retro?

  7. GeoChi says:

    Gay bathhouses are a tribute to the ’70s, when gay men didn’t have other alternative places to meet and have sex with men anonymously. With the arrival of HIV and the rise of other STDs, gay bathhouses no longer seem like the place to be. Besides, if one wanted to have anonymous sex, one would now just hit Criag’s List.

    • Marc Felion says:

      Well, one of the sponsor of this site is a gay bath house and they do a healthy business.

      Every time I go there I always find more than a few men that I wouldn’t mind getting to know better. Unfortunately, I’m usually there on business.

      As far as STDs, most people get infected in their own homes, but that’s not to say you can’t get infected anywhere. If you are worried about that, practice safe sex.

      Finding a sex partner is like shopping, and Craig’s List may be fine and dandy but it’s like ordering from a catalog rather than actually visiting the mall to find the perfect fit. It’s about the experience- gym, sauna, baths.

  8. jimmyV says:

    When when I posted last , I did realize that steamworks was a sponsor, and I realize they bath houses in general are still relevant. The last two times I was in Chicago I maid sure to visit. Your s suggestive salesmanship at work.

    Your right Marc bathhouses do have there place it is about experience, if I go I bring a couple friends and we go to the bar first its not anonymous that way. They are relevant in a hole new way.

    The bathhouse is a masters class in the art of cursing, and gay vernacular. Had I seen a glory hole,tired a sling or even used poppers before going to steam-works….no

    Was it fun as a twink to discover these things..hell yeah . Do I wish sometimes being a gay history buff that I would have seen the movie “Cursing” before going or for that matter and the band plied on yes. i would have had a respect for what a bathhouse is and its place in history.

    I haven’t maid up my mind if I’m going to be visiting steamworks this weekend but I will not rule it out. Its part of the boystown experience.

  9. SarahH says:

    Bring home the fun! Hah ha…

  10. mike flower says:

    The hard times really hit after Bush was elected in 2000 & the overseas supply of real amyl was confiscated upon entry into the US. It wasn’t till after 9/11 when the US Govt stepped in to close down the European amyl makers. Meantime, this “popper” stuff sold, until now, was always headache-in-a-bottle, total crap. Then again I guess you had to have used the real thing to know.

    Unfortunately, this event will be another infringement on civil rights that will go largely unnoticed. Don’t expect any of the well known bloggers to notice this.

Leave a Reply

Login or Register


Facebook Conversations