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Pheromones are wildly publicized as the invisible yet inherently alluring chemical that triggers sexual attraction in mammals, and for some, a new means of finding a match. Atlanta-based artist Judith Prays, 25, is behind the idea of “pheromone parties,” hosting her first experiment two years ago in New York City.
“The first time I dated someone for purely physical reasons, it was amazing how well it went,” she told The Daily. “I was so into his smell even when it was objectively nasty. So then I just thought, what if I could choose people by smell?”
In 2010, Prays invited 40 people to test her theory. Guests were required to wear the same shirt to bed for three nights in row without any deodorant or fragrance, and then bring the shirt to the party. Shirts were separated by individually numbered bags and separated by sex.
Over the course of the evening, guests were encouraged to explore the piles of smelly shirts. If a scent piqued a guest’s interest, he or she posed for a picture holding the numbered bag containing the shirt. Later, the photos were projected onto a wall and guests watched to see if someone holding his or her shirt signaled the perfect icebreaker.
Despite the thought of guests’ awkward facial expressions while attempting to place pungent smells, Prays called the dating experiment a success. The artist said of the 40 singles in attendance, 12 guests “hooked up,” and half of those couplings progressed into relationships.
Behavioral neuroscientist Charles J. Wysocki, told The Daily the idea is similar to his lab testing. ” Wysocki, of Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, noted he would suggest participants go through a 10-day cleanse before the event, using no perfume or deodorant and also avoiding certain types of food that could alter signature scents.
“Attraction to pheromones seems to be how many animals do it,” he said. “Either way it’s a good indication that you’re off to a good start.”
If someone can open a conversation with a complete stranger’s body odor, NewsFeed thinks that’s a pretty good start, too.