Orange Is the New Black makes a signature practice out of inviting viewers into unfamiliar, strange, and often illuminating worlds: The women’s prison system. The fluidity of sexuality. The struggle of the trans community. The used-panty business.
Oh, yes. Never before has a television show invited its audience into the community of panty-sniffing fetishists in such an enlightening way.
One of the most memorable plot points of Season 3 of Orange Is the New Black, which debuted on Netflix this month, was the decision of the show’s de facto heroine Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) to secretly sell panties worn by her fellow prisoners to fetishists outside the cell walls.
The outrageous, arguably genius, definitely illicit operation turns Piper into a bit of a crime lord, and involves sneaking panties out of the prison’s underwear-making factory, charging her “girls” with wearing them around the prison yard until they’re properly soiled, smuggling them out of the prison with the help of a corrupt young guard, and then finally having her brother and sister-in-law push them out to rabid customers via an online store.
Prison panties, it turns out, are a hot commodity.
While that’s disturbing in its own right, the real reveal from the plot arc is just how much of a market there is out there for used panties. But while the panty-sniffing market has apparently been thriving for years—Piper’s brother himself proves to be somewhat of an aficionado in the realm—there is also, evidently, an inherent danger in the practice. And it stretches back over a decade.
In 2002, a South Carolina woman named Christine Vetter, then 21, pleaded guilty to federal charges of mailing obscene and filthy items after operating a website called blondestrippergirl.com. The site was in operation from 2000 to 2002 while she was a student at Clemson University, during which she sold thousands of dollars’ worth of her own soiled underwear and—perhaps more alarmingly—used feminine hygiene products and sex-related items.
She reportedly had over 125 customers around the country, which, we must say, sounds remarkable given that this was 13 years ago before the web became the perv utopia it is today. She was arrested when a letter was mailed to her with a label on it claiming that it contained child pornography. As it turns out, there was no child porn; the letter was from a disgruntled customer of Vetter’s hoping to get her in trouble.
Vetter faced five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine under a federal law—one that we’d presumed was rarely cited up to this point—that prohibits “mailing indecent and filthy substances.” (You can view the law here.) In the end, she was sentenced to five years’ probation after aiding federal authorities in the investigation of her customers.
Now, perhaps obviously, blondestrippergirl.com no longer exists. But the Wayback Machine does! What did a used panty-selling website look like in the year 2002? It looks very 2002. And it has puns!
“Thanks for cumming in!” it begins. (Get it?)
“Here you will find many things that I sell,” the site continues. “I am a true amateur!”
Curious what the “many things” that she sells are? Well, the illuminating “Special Package Deals!” section answers that question.
For $20, you could have purchased Package No. 1, a maxi pad and pantiliner. Package No. 3 ($30) has period-stained panties thrown in. And Package No. 6 is where things get a little weird: “watermelon anal pop with anal hair, white satin panties with heavy cum stains and a small ass stain.”
Much of Piper’s panty-selling escapades were played for laughs over the course of the arc on OITNB, particularly when her brother starts relaying some of the reviews her customers gave of her product. Piper, bless her, really took the reviews to heart!
One might wonder, then, how deeply Vetter felt the reviews of her own panties, left in the “Guestbook” section of blondestrippergirl.com. Mark thought that, “SexyBlonde is a very beautiful, sexy and sweet girl and a very honest and generous seller who goes out of her way to please her customers.”
A person that goes by the name Krooze gave the website a 9 rating out of 10. “I gave you a 9 here so you wouldn’t get a big head,” he said. “Love you and need some panties. You’re fantastic!” Then he signed off: “Squeezes, Krooze.”
While it’s fun to dwell in the past on blondestrippergirl.com, the truth is that the online used panty business isn’t exclusive to Vetter, who had the misfortune of being caught. In fact, in the 13 years since Vetter was charged, the enterprise has blossomed. Thanks to its recent Netflix spotlight, used panty fetishists are out of the shadows, and growing in number.
As VICE reported, the used panty business is booming in the wake of the OITNB arc. A spokesperson for Pantydeal.com—yep, it’s a thing!—told VICE that following the premiere new registers spiked from 150 per day to a whopping 1,000. Apparently, sellers make an average of $500-$700 per month on the site.
And while Pantydeal.com provides a more sophisticated platform for peddling panties—a practice that porn stars have been doing for years—VICE also reports that some entrepreneurs operate in darker bowels of the Internet, selling to panty-sniffers through Reddit.
Of course, authenticity is always a concern.
The development in which Piper’s sister-in-law controversially muddies the integrity of the product by re-creating the scents and moisture that one would find in soiled panties by using a recipe of household ingredients also, apparently, is a real problem in the used panties fetish community.
VICE interviewed a MyFreeCams.com model who sells her panties on the side, and she warned of this very thing. “Sometimes girls will use saliva, snot, or other random substances out of laziness just to sell the panties, so when Piper’s (the main character) brother was talking about that fishy-honey substance they made, they were totally right,” she said.
The most obvious question, but perhaps the one that some of us may not even want to know the answer to, from all of this is: Who are these people? Who buys women’s used panties online?
Well, Pantydeal.com helpfully spells it out for you.
“The sniffing used panties trend had small beginnings some twenty years ago in Japan, however men from all over the world are participating in the used pantie trade,” the site says. “Males and females have a different scent that only the opposite gender is keen to pick up on. Men who purchase used panties get an erotic thrill when they sniff the underwear, very much like some males enjoy sniffing women’s shoes.”
So with that in mind, we’ll leave you with Piper’s rousing speech from the recent OITNB season, in which she passionately convinces her fellow prison mates to join her illicit panty crusade:
“Sisters, we may be incarcerated, but our panties will travel the world. And in that way, long after we are gone, our smell will linger in some gas station in Toronto, in some office cubicle in Tokyo. And in that way, we are known. And in that way, we are remembered. Do you want to be remembered? Then sweat profusely, and fart with abandon, and make a reek, make a reek, my sisters, make a reek to last one thousand years!”