Pre-Valentine's Product Testing: Do Pheromones Work?

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Chris, Fred, Jamey, Mike, and Eric. Photo: Photos: Yael Kohen

When the publicist for a company called Pure Romance called last week to offer a pheromone-based perfume called Basic Instinct for potential Valentine's Day coverage, we were, of course, drawn in. So we slapped the stuff on a dedicated New York reporter and sent her down to The Otheroom, in the West Village, to see how it worked. (We also forbade her from paying much heed to the slight allergic reaction it caused on her ears, nose, and throat.) Five men at the bar gave her a whiff. Did it work? Well, at the very least, we now know that telling a man you're wearing pheromones can make an effective pickup line.

Chris List, 37, software designer
It piqued my interest when you started talking about pheromones. I'm a pretty outgoing guy; I would've talked to you anyway. I don't know if it would be for some sort of subliminal attraction reason, but you never know. Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe it is.

Fred Gurnot, 38, animator–computer graphic designer
I'm a smoker so it's like I'm immune. I smell incense; I don't smell you.

Jamey Evans, 48, graphic artist
Am I supposed to smell you? It smells nice, a sweet smell. But is it making me aroused or something? No.

Mike Kishko, 31, engineering professor
You know what would work in this kind of weather? A match. Anything that radiates heat will attract men like you don't even know. A space heater? That will get you a man. Scientifically speaking, there are no pheromones, they have not identified pheromones, and whatever you're wearing was probably scraped off of a baboon's testicles that has absolutely no relationship to sexuality at all. That's the bottom line.

Eric Berger, 28, business student
It's only going to work on somebody who's close enough to smell it. If you're close enough to someone that you can smell it, then you're already interested. And the pheromones are just an added nice-smelling thing. So their smell, no matter what it may be, is already a turn-on for me because I'm already attracted to them. That's what I think. —Yael Kohen