Poppers are almost as essential to a gay man in the 21st century as a good jockstrap or an encyclopaedic knowledge of Mean Girls. While yes, they’ve technically been around for quite some time now, we’re certainly entering a new golden age. Companies producing their own take on poppers are, if you’ll pardon the pun, ‘popping’ up left, right and centre. But while things have been moving forward full speed across the world, Australia has had it a bit more rocky than most. It gets a bit complicated. So we’ve created this guide so you know what’s going on with poppers in Australia, and more importantly, provided some suggestions as to what you may want to get your hands on!
A quick runthrough of Australian poppers history
Poppers in their current iteration are somewhat of a recent repurposing of their original usage. You see, poppers partly get their effects from the fact that they act as a muscle relaxant, the properties of which have been known for quite some time. Originally used to treat angina, doctors would prescribe poppers to sufferers in order to relax the muscles around the heart. Any other enjoyable ‘side-effects’, were just that. For a time at least.
Fast forward to the mid-to-late 20th century and those ‘side-effects’ had become more and more sought after. Poppers earned themselves pride of place on the dance floor, before becoming a staple between queer men. That is before 2016, when the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of Australia proposed a wholesale ban on poppers.
This ban sought to classify poppers in the same category as heroin. As you might expect, the proposal was, ofcourse, met with waves of pushback. Yes, the obvious sources you might expect spoke up. LGBTQ+ activists spoke up and made sure they were heard, but it was perhaps the unexpected sources of backlash which had the most impact. A former federal police chief spoke out against the bill, claiming “No other ban has been effective”, questioning what evidence there was that a ban on poppers would have the desired effect.
The TGA compromised. Under the full weight of negative feedback received from seemingly across the board, the body watered down its proposals. Isopropyl nitrite poppers were still banned, yet amyl nitrite poppers, those often favoured by popper enthusiasts, were given special classification. Amyl-based poppers would still be available for purchase with a prescription.
The problem now lies with the fact that most pharmacies do not stock poppers, and many gay sex stores have had their stocks sucked dry. This leaves Australians with few options than to important. In all its mercy, if you can call it that, the TGA allows Australians to order up to 90 days worth of amyl nitrite poppers for personal use when accompanied by one of these doctors prescriptions. Luckily, online stores such as Twisted Beast are able to ship to Australia.
Australia isn’t the only country whose lawmakers have taken a sudden interest in poppers, though countries like the UK seem to have come out more unscaved. Back in 2016, the same year that Australia proposed its ban, the UK also attempted to remove poppers from sale under the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act. This was until Chrispin Blunt, a newly out lawmaker from the ruling party, stood up in parliament, admitted personal use, and demanded an exemption for poppers. This exemption was granted, but poppers stayed in a grey area until their legal status was confirmed in 2020 by the then Home Secretary. Poppers have since continued to be sold in gay venues throughout the country.
So, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the amyl nitrite poppers that are available to import to Australia.
Twisted Beast Originals
Twisted Beast is well known for its branding. No one is trying as hard as Twisted Beast when it comes to creating poppers that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to display on that fridge shelf that’s technically built for eggs.
When it comes to Twisted Beast you can’t go wrong with the originals. These are the poppers that kickstarted a whole company, and while these come in three levels and three different strengths, the Twisted Beast Gold poppers are an extra-strong amyl nitrate formula that is acceptable for Australian customs.
Twisted Beast Amyl
While we’re on the topic of Twisted Beast, we should also mention their new line of self-titled poppers. Twisted Beast Amyl comes with a larger 18 ml bottle compared to Gold’s 10 millilitres. Not only does this range pack more volume, it also packs more of a punch. Twisted Beast Amyl ranks as ‘infernal’ on the strength chart – and if you couldn’t tell just from the name, that’s as high as it goes.
Is there anything more iconic when it comes to poppers than that yellow and red bottle? Well, lucky for you, trusted favourite Rush also comes in amyl nitrite. Compared to the other poppers mentioned above, Rush only ranks at a ‘unholy’, and while that’s strong, it’s not *as* strong as the above, so may be more palatable to those just dipping into poppers for the first time.
So, that’s a quick overview of the Australian poppers scene. Despite some turbulence, amyl nitrite is still available. And let’s be honest, that’s the best formula anyway.