BWE EXCLUSIVE: The Armpit Interview


armpit.JPGOn Tuesday, I created a Celebrity Math where some Chris Klein, Salty Aroma, and Knut equaled an adorable Suri Cruise, posted it to this darling blog, and went about my daily business. Two hours later, I received an e-mail with the subject line “THAT IS MY ARMPIT!” Armpit? Who? Tom Cruise? Dad? Where am I? Upon further inspection it became clear that the armpit in question was from the photo used to describe “salty aroma”. A young man, his pit fully splayed and sniffed in a very scientific manner. Little did I know I was dealing with Christopher Maute, who might officially have the most famous armpit on the internet, and possibly of all-time.

Google “armpit”, and you’ll see Chris on the first page. Read an article in a Macedonian Newspaper, and you’ll see Chris. Go to any scientific lecture on the effects of body odor, and chances are, there his picture will be.

Knowing a scoop when I smell one (har), I couldn’t let greatness slide right through my fingers. So I am please to bring you an interview with Mr. Maute — the story behind the most famous armpit picture on the internet, the stress that comes along with the fame, and specifically, what Italian men smell like. Enjoy.

First of all, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. There is so much the world needs to know about you.

If only that were really true, but a boy can dream.

armpit 3.JPGA picture of a man smelling your armpit has become one of the top hits on Google Image when searching for “armpit.” How did the picture come to be?

Well, in addition to working in a lab, I am also occasionally a participant in some of the studies.

This picture is a confluence of two events:

Firstly, there is a lab that sometimes need ‘donors’ of body odors and I happen to be a particularly effective source. (Did I mention I’m Italian?) Secondly, my lab does research dealing with the disgust response. With this as the backdrop, my boss needed a photo of a genuine disgust look.

The interview continues after the jump!! Learn about the downside to have the most famous pits around…

I just happened to be in the midst of preparing to donate body odor and had spent 8-9 days without the luxuries of deodorant or any fragranced products whatsoever so, being a greasy I-talian I was a walking onion and garlic hoagie.

Not knowing that she needed a photo for the article, my boss approached me, almost frantically, with a cohort of colleagues and a camera and said, “Take your shirt off.” Not “Hi, Chris” or “How was your weekend” or “I’m so glad to have you working in my lab”. No. “Take your shirt off!”

Now my boss has an incredibly sadistic sense of humor so a precedent had been set for some non-scientific antics to occur in the lab. Because of this I, unquestioningly, took my shirt off.

Within moments she was snapping pictures of my co-workers smelling my pits. First one side, then the other, then both pits, any configuration she could come up with. It was frantic and I have to admit I was a little scared.

Having smelt me over the previous week she had determined that there was no better source of disgusting odor than my armpits.

Hence the now unexpectedly popular picture.

How often do you see your armpit used online?

I’m only aware of the incidents that have been redirected to me so I don’t really know, but over the past 5-6 years I’ve seen it at least 10 times.

Where is the strangest place the picture has ever ended up?

Aside from in a mathematical equation about Suri Cruise? In a Macedonian online newspaper. It was particularly weird b/c: a) it was written in Macedonian or whatever the language is called so I didn’t know what it was about and b) Macedonia is very liberal about nudity so one of the ad banners for this apparently respected online newspaper had a naked woman posing . . . suggestively.

Do you take your armpit celebrity status for granted?

Like all celebrity it has a honeymoon phase where you’re flattered that the picture is being used and circulated, but after the novelty has worn off it’s like “Oh God there’s my armpit AGAIN!”

Have you been recognized?

As mentioned above, my boss loves to torture me so she has used it in every presentation she’s given since that pic was taken and strongly encourages others to do so as well. There have been times when people have walked out of her talks and patted me on the back, total strangers mind you, saying “Nice picture.”

What do your friends and family make of this?

I must admit that every time I see the pic used in a different way online I send it out to my friends and family. My brother tells me that he has never seen his 11 year old daughter, my godchild, laugh so hard in his life.

Everyone has a comment about my smirk and can’t determine which is more disturbing, the smirk or the context of the picture.

armpit 2.JPGWas anything discovered through this stinky experiment?

Unfortunately I cannot go into that BUT I can tell you a quick story:

The specific stink they are interested in comes from the apocrine glands in the armpit, which only secrete during times of arousal, such as stress. To mimic the stress response I had ADRENALINE INJECTED INTO MY ARMPITS!!!! Let me say/write that again: I had ADRENALINE INJECTED INTO MY ARMPITS!!!! I am not kidding. After the injection my glands secrete some goo that is collected with a pipette. This is actually a standard in the field and I signed a consent giving them permission to do so.

Describe your odor in more detail.

Well, since you didn’t say ‘aroma’ I’ll assume you mean my man-stench.

It’s a robust, pungent, musky smell. The onion and garlic reference is actually a preferred criteria of the scientist collecting my stink and he claims that, ounce for ounce, my sweat is the second most concentrated source of what he’s looking for of the people he collects b.o. from.

What sort of deodorant do you prefer, if any?

I’m an Old Spice man but have to admit that I prefer their antiperspirant to their deodorant. I’ve acquired a aversive response to the deodorant lately b/c I sometimes take my vitamins on an empty stomach, which makes me a bit nauseous and I keep my vitamins in the bathroom so the taking of the vitamins, the nausea and the smell of the deodorant are a gestalt for me and I think I’ve effectively conditioned myself to become nauseous at the mere smell of my deodorant. Eat your heart out Pavlov.

What is going through your mind in the picture?

Something like, “I wish I hadn’t shaved my chest earlier this week.”

Have you learned any lessons from having a pic of your armpit all over the net?

Never trust my boss when she has a camera in hand and says “take your shirt off.”

Anything you would like to promote?

Funny you should ask, I happen to have a funk rock band in Philly called SOLID. Further, considering the etymology of the word ‘funk’ (probably ultimately from French dialect (Picard) funquer to give off smoke: a strong offensive smell []), I find it highly appropriate to promote the fact not only am I notoriously funky, but my band is as well. Maybe even more so.

Thanks for your time, Chris!!

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