Smells Like Romance: L.A.'s First Pheromone Party
Remember that time in college you walked into your dorm room and found the weird guy from down the hall sitting on your bed smelling your shirts? This is just like that, but less creepy and more organized.
Last night Cinefamily and art gallery Mastodon Mesa co-presented a Pheromone Party, thrown by Pheromone Party creator, filmmaker, rapper and California native Judith Prays, for those hoping to find love using their sense of smell and faith in science.
The first Pheromone Party was thrown in New York City about a year and a half ago and was a private party, consisting of 40 guests, mostly ad industry folks. It received a great amount of positive feedback and was successful enough (12 people hooked up that night and some formed actual relationships) for Prays to continue the dating science experiment.
For her next party, she told me, she wanted to bring it back to her home state, "the way Snoop Dogg always brings it back to his home town of Long Beach." California love, y'all. Last night was the first Pheromone Party open to the public, with more than 100 attendees, ready to smell strangers' T-shirts in hopes of finding their perfect match. The typical nervous anticipation one finds at organized dating events was in the air, this one having the added weird idea of, "Your future husband or wife could potentially be ... in this plastic bag."
How it works: Buy a plain white T-shirt, wear it for three days, and bring it to the party. Upon registering, put the shirt in a Ziploc bag that has your number on it. Inside the party are tables stocked with party attendees' numbered bags: pink for girls, blue for boys. Smell a bunch of shirts and when you find one you're attracted to, visit the cameraman, who takes a photo of you and the bag, proudly displaying your number of choice.
The photo then is projected on a screen; if the person sees you displaying their number and finds you intriguing, they have the go-ahead to introduce themselves. I imagine it going something like, "Hey girl. I saw you holding my Ziploc bag. I'm number 114." And then the girl either says, "Well, it looks like my nose can smell hotness. Would you like to head over to the bar for an absinthe cocktail?" or, "Uhhh. Cool. I'm gonna go smell some more dudes, sorry..."
The Pheromone Party website provides a few scientific tips on how to maximize your pheromone results:
"Odor Print Tips
-Minimize consumption of spices, garlic and onions during the collection phase.
-Engage in hygiene but minimize use of fragrant products.
-Don't shave your armpits.
-Don't engage in intimate contact while wearing the shirt.
-Use a plain, white, cotton T-shirt.
-Sleep in the shirt for at least three nights before the party.
-Put your shirt in the freezer when you wake up. Let it warm up before you put it back on. -Store it in the freezer until the party.
Some things for women to consider:
Strippers get more tips when ovulating. It is not proven whether this is because of pheromones or just actions, but worth considering for coordinating your odor print phase.
A women's ability to smell pheromones is proven to be restricted when she is on oral contraception."
What? Mo' pheromones, mo' money? Who knew...
Mobs gathered around the smelling table grabbing bags, stuffing their faces in them, and commenting to their friends. Participant Louis Silverstein said he "smelled a lot of sweet shirts and some bitter. It's weird. Like smelling wine."
A group of girls complained that they all smelled the same, like laundry detergent, and that "these guys didn't follow the directions." One lady sighed, "I keep smelling Old Spice. And lumberjack." A particularly vocal and animated guest, Valentina Martin, exclaimed, "This shirt smells like the water from Splash Mountain. Seriously, smell it." It did. "Pretty fucking accurate right? Maybe this guy has Disney hook-ups..."
Others argued over how many shirts you should smell. "Pick one and stick with it," one guy said. His friend responded, "No! You don't have to be T-shirt monogamous." Oh, how it parallels real-life dating behavior.
Guest Richard Tanner didn't think the shirts should be labeled by gender. "Pheromones are pheromones. I don't think they should have the blue and pink markers. You should choose whatever you're attracted to. I took a photo with a pink one and a blue one."
Guests also don't know the sexual preferences of anyone, so, theoretically, they could chose a shirt of someone not even interested in their gender. But the instructions on the board do say, "It's OK to experiment!"
The concept seemed, overall, to be quite a hit. I mean, once you get past the fact that people are stuffing their faces into strangers' unlaundered garments and all. The ambiance helped -- an outdoor courtyard, strung white lights, tiki torches, a DJ spinning tunes (I definitely heard some Al Green), sexy bartenders serving strong drinks.
And technically, it was also a room of single people hanging out, so you could just bypass the whole shirt thing and strike up conversations with anyone. Women had an advantage, as there were quite a few more men in attendance. As the night went on, there ended up being a bit of a long line to get your photo taken, mostly filled with guys being possessive over their shirt choice. Your best pheromone mate may never find you because she's in the hands of another man in line for the photographer. Such is life.
It was such a high turnout that a second table in back was created to make more space for bag sniffing. The table had a small tiki torch sitting on it (aren't tiki torches supposed to be on tall sticks?) and guests became concerned about the giant flame in the center of 30 plastic bags of T-shirts. Plus there were absinthe cocktails lying around, I might add.
But the only tiki-related incident came when I was talking to someone near the entryway, only to find a small tiki torch sitting on a waist-level table behind me (Seriously people, I thought the rule is that tiki torches are high up. Doesn't anyone watch Survivor?) and my shoulder bag caught on fire. Yep, I Liz Lemon-ed up the Pheromone Party. Luckily, I was just a casual observer and not an active participant, as dating events are awkward enough without being "the girl with the flaming computer bag." I left shortly after because I smelled like burnt Longchamp, and far be it from me to smell up a Pheremone Party with chemicals and ruin anyone's chances at love.
To top it off, we give you:
Top 6 Quotes From the Smelling Table
6. "It's like me in life. I smelled one I liked when I first walked in and now I've become loyal to it. I'm not going to smell any more."
5. "That one smells like a bro."
4. "That one smells like college."
3. "I like this one. It's like, Saturday morning. Wake up. Get some brunch..."
2. "You can't just smell the bag. Take it out of the bag and really get your face in it. "
1. "I don't remember my number."
Get the Theater Newsletter
Get a rundown of upcoming theater events and ticket deals in Los Angeles.