Today’s Steam Room Stories, “Scents That Attract Men”, about men’s fragrances. And the smell of a man. You can watch the episode here. The core of the episode has a guy, call him SniffPit, who is into men’s fragrances and can describe them in perfumer’s jargon. He exclaims over another steamroom guy’s scent; guy says it’s Paco Rabanne (mighty expensive); SniffPit leans over to sniff it up close —
which creeps the guy out, so he bails. Next guy up hasn’t showered, is powerfully musky, driving SniffPit wild. SweatDog reaches under his towel to offer SniffPit a finger smelling of ball stink (SweatDog’s phrasing), which prompts SniffPit to offer his armpit and its pit reek to SweatDog. Lust rolls over them, they rush out to hook up.
The ingredients here are sweat, the axillae (armpits), and gay guys who are into armpits as a sexual pleasure.
Sweat. The function of perspiration — sweat — is to cool the body through evaporation, and (according to this website) over 2.5 million sweat glands are distributed over the body. From the site:
Sweat is mostly made up of water. There are small amounts of other chemical compounds, though. For example, sweat also contains ammonia and urea, which are produced by the body when it breaks down proteins from the foods you eat. Sweat also contains sugar and salts, such as sodium, chloride, and potassium. This explains the salty taste you experience when a drop of sweat finds its way to your taste buds.
Taste and smell. Sweat tastes salty, and slightly sweet. Yum. (I note that cum also tastes salty, and somewhat sweet.) Fresh sweat has only a slight smell, from the breakdown products in it. (Cum has something of a chlorine or iodine smell, from the breakdown products in it.)
Big however: when the sweat hits bacteria resident on the skin, we get an interaction that produces a body odor. From Wikipedia:
human body odor is primarily the result of the apocrine sweat glands, which secrete the majority of chemical compounds needed for the skin flora to metabolize it into odorant substances. This happens mostly in the axillary (armpit) region, although the gland can also be found in the areola, anogenital region, and around the navel.
Mostly in the armpit, secondarily in the crotch — magnified some by the axillary and pubic hairs, which trap both the sweat and the resident bacteria.
The axillae (and pubes). The mix of bacteria in these areas is more or less constant. Washing cleans things off, but plenty of bacteria remain — to yield a more or less constant smell for each of us, a smell that othera are pretty good at recognizing (even in blind tests). And we have preferences in these smells: some people we’re attracted to, some we’re wary of, some we’re repelled by.
As the Wikipedia article on axilla notes, “These odorant substances [in the axillary region] serve as pheromones which play a role related to mating.”
Most of this is below the level of consciousness most of the time, but some people, like the guys in the SRS episode, are consciously enthusiastic about personal odors. For them, the armpits are erogenous zones. (For the record, I’m an armpit guy.)
Erogenous axillae. Armpit guys like to bury their faces in other men’s armpits, nuzzle them, lick them, get the other guy’s smell all over their faces. Pit-licking is routine in gay porn (as well as real life), where it’s sometimes configured as submission to another man, serving him, but is equally interpretable as one man providing his body for another man’s pleasure.
Pit-licking has been depicted in shots from gay porn on AZBlogX, but not often as a thing in itself, as here:
In addition, there’s the incredibly common pitsntits presentations of the male body, an offer of the armpits and nipples for men who take pleasure in these areas of the body. So common that this blog has a Page inventorying postings on it.
Given all this, it was a surprise to me that guides to gay sex (like the various editions of The Joy of Gay Sex) seem to pay no attention at all to armpits as gay erogenous zones. Some sites mention armpit sex as a fetish, though that seems silly to me (unless armpit sex is sex for you, in which case it’s a fetish, not just a taste in sexual condiments).
The poetic take-away. From a 5/25/11 posting, a double dactyl (the poetic form) on armpit sex:
Musk and testosterone,
Masculine scents make a
Axillar pleasures plus
Signals send messages
Out to your date.