“Interview with The Bad Odor Collector, Randy Stargas, by Larry Quest,” presented by Jeff Crouch and Christopher Woods

Jan 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Prose

Q. Is it true that you have made a living ferreting out bad smells? How does one get such a job?

A. Are you trying to insult me? Do you think I make a living from my odorous work, my holy cause? Let me tell you something. All that I have done in the odor field has been funded from my own pocket. I was fortunate, in some ways, to have a trust fund from my family, who owned a large fertilizer concern. That is what funds my work. I can’t possibly compete with the odor collectors of Europe , who have been in the field longer and who received generous government grants. I am one man, doing the best I can.

Q. No sir, I am not trying to insult you at all. I am simply curious as to how people manage to fund their pursuits, and well, I have my answer now. But I hope you understand my point.

As a culture, I believe we let our fiction fail us because we do not ask ourselves such questions as-can Superman really afford a loft apartment with his newspaper job? And if we don’t force our fiction into the neckbrace of economic realism, will we bother to question anyone?

So, you have funding. It must be nice. Tell me a little about those odor collectors in Europe .

A. They are all spoiled rotten and lazy. They do not care about odors. Oh no. For them, it is simply a job. None of them has the dedication that I do. Now I hear that the EU will soon build an odor museum. That has been my dream for decades. But without funding, I must store things in my garage. My wife left me two years ago, and took half our estate. She’s also turned our children against me. None of them understand my passion. (pause) Are you even listening to me?

Q. The way I understand your plight with your children is that one of them is a huge Kurt Cobain fan, and Kurt Cobain was a huge fan of the Patrick Süskind novel, -please don’t interrupt me, I’m nearly finished-Perfume, and well, when you caught your kid reading this book, you had a near seizure and went on a relentless cursing spree, cursing everything in your life for three days straight. What’s your story, really?

A. All that is in the past. It hardly matters now. My son is dyslexic and cannot read. His mother paid him fifty dollars to carry that inane book around the house. Now, as to my temper, yes, I do have a problem with it. But that has nothing to do with collecting odors. You would rather dredge up old family history. I am trying to catalogue every odor in the world. By myself. The odds of it all

Q. I have it that the inspiration for your collection is Voltaire. Can you elaborate? 

A. To a degree, yes. The master, truly, was Condillac. You probably know the story of his conceived statue. Think about. Our sense of smell came about because of necessity, to find food. Sustenance. It meant little else early on. Over time, we learned to grow our own food, to hunt with firearms, and so on. The sense of smell was relegated to the back of the senses, in a way.

You must also realize that smell is associated with pleasure, and with pain. My devotion to the sense of smell originated with displeasure, with pain. My step-father, a medical doctor, used to force me to inhale ether. I was maybe two, three years old. It is my first memory. The rubber smell, the clamminess, the blackouts. I shudder to think about it even now. But ether was one of the first odors in my collection. After that, I knew the best course was body odors. That pursuit, collecting body odors, is dear to my heart.

Q. You know, of course, that I spoke with your wife before I interviewed you; please don’t glare at me-I’m not going to pursue that issue right now.

Yes, she mentioned that you were selling her body odors, and yes, you don’t have to make that gesture. I understand completely that you deny the accusation. I wasn’t going to that topic.

Your wife mentioned that you abandoned your family on a vacation to Paris some years ago, that you went on a truffle hunt in the Périgord region of southwest France , and that when a member of the party donned large rubber gloves, you stripped naked and began doing somersaults.

Was there anything to this behavior? You see, I’m not familiar with truffle hunting parties, and I am quite curious about the abuse you suffered as a child.

Yes, I will try to refrain from discussing your family.

A. My wife likes to talk about my nude truffle adventure. It was good, organic fun. Later, I joined a nudist club. We travel once or twice a year to exotic places. I had no choice. My wife is a very nasty woman. In her salad days, she was a mainstay at Plato’s Retreat and other orgiastic clubs. She has no morals whatsoever. But in response to what you said, yes, her body odors were quite interesting. Her odors were like a roadmap of all the places she had been, and of all her different partners in debauchery. My wife’s body was something of a United Nations in those randy days. So I do owe her something, I suppose, for the cornucopia of unusual odors.

As for the abuse I suffered, there’s not much more to say. The ether left an odd smell on my clothes. The other children at school seized upon my different smell and beat me mercilessly.  The school authorities never investigated, naturally. So my step-father had free rein with his ether until I left home at sixteen. On my own, I found a job as a shipping clerk in a garlic processing plant.

Q. How do you preserve the odors that you collect? And how does someone experience your collection?

A. If the odor sample is rare, such as an Errol Flynn fart from long ago, the 1938 Adventures of Robin Hood film to be exact, people must simply be satisfied with the label. The bottles are clear, so they can closely observe the odor. When the odor is either plentiful or can be easily replaced, I have atomizers so that the curious can spray themselves. One example would be urban pollution. One can see it too. If you should ask why you should you believe I have a captured Errol Flynn fart in a bottle, I must ask you to respect my integrity. There are things I know about this world. Things that a person like you will never know, or likely appreciate. My battle for an odor museum is not always about money. It is also about combating small time creeps like yourself. One must believe. When I say that I have Mary Pickford’s halitosis captured in a bottle for the ages, it is a matter of both fact and faith. One day, when our species evolves a bit more, the doubters will be extinct. Oh happy day.

Q. I’d like to know why you called me a creep, but before the interview turns rotten, who is your internet friend known as Cheeseball? I am referring to your www.limburgertoenail.com/ site.

A. This interview is already rotten. It’s over as far as I’m concerned. Cheeseball is a private matter. We share a passion or two. You would never understand. I must get back to work now, but before I do, I have a small favor to ask. May I smell you? I mean, very closely? I’m always looking for new specimens, you see. My creep vials are few, and I feel sure you can be of service.

Q. No.


Larry Quest, the interviewer, is a freelance journalist currently under contract with Oddities America Magazine, and his many interviews with odor collectors include a series of interviews with fart collectors including a twelve year-old named Greg, a college fraternity, and a group of dirty old men known as the Twerps. In addition to this series, Quest also produced an award-winning series on drughouse architects. But sure to read his work online: www.larryquestlive.com

Fortunately, but unknown to Quest at the time, his interview with the Bad Odor Collector was taped, and it is now online at www.odditiesamerica.com . Here you can see Randy Stargas, the Bad Odor Collector himself, attempt to pin Quest for his smell. The difference in weight and height between the two is itself comedy. When Stargas opens one of his jars and comes after Quest, Quest bolts out of his chair and manages to topple a box full of Stargas’s smells at which point Stargas becomes hysterical.

But we, the people who taped the interview, want to know: do you think these segments worthy of a TV Reality Show or of a website plagued with malicious ads? Vote online at: www.odditiesamerica.com.


Jeff Crouch is an internet artist in Grand Prairie, Texas. Google “Jeff Crouch” to see where he has been.

Christopher Woods lives in Houston and in Chappell Hill, Texas. It is in the latter place that he hears coyotes cry at night. He doesn’t mind them as much as the occasional skunk that shows up unannounced.

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