This article was published on January 26, 2011

Herps and Purps goes viral as the grossest iPhone app yet

Herps and Purps goes viral as the grossest iPhone app yet
Courtney Boyd Myers
Story by

Courtney Boyd Myers

Courtney Boyd Myers is the founder of, a transatlantic company designed to help New York and London based technology startups gr Courtney Boyd Myers is the founder of, a transatlantic company designed to help New York and London based technology startups grow internationally. Previously, she was the Features Editor and East Coast Editor of TNW covering New York City startups and digital innovation. She loves magnets + reading on a Kindle. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter @CBM and .

You’ve heard of FatBooth, the app that lets you make your friends look fat. But have you heard of Herps and Purps?

Herps and Purps is an iPhone app that lets you take photos of yourself and your friends and make it look like they not only have a black eye, but also have the Herpes virus.

Offensive? Funny? Gross? It all depends on your sense of humor, I suppose. And in New York City, we have a reputation for being pretty brutal. What makes us laugh on these cold, concrete streets is usually far from politically correct.

The app creators, Winslow Porter, Elie Zananiri and Matt Richard, met while students at NYU’s ITP graduate school. (Elie and Matt are pictured right.)

In a Computational Camera class taught by Dan O’Sullivan, ITP’s Associate Professor of Communications, the three friends behind Herps and Purps learned all the different ways cameras can analyze a face. “Using the Open Computer Vision library’s software, all you need is a well lit face that’s looking at a camera and you can pretty much do whatever you want,” explains Porter. (For the record, O’Sullivan does not support the app and ITP didn’t show it at their bi-annual student show.)

The idea for the app was born two years ago when the guys were biking to Coney Island and chatting about the Chris Brown and Rihanna scandal. Remember when the paparazzi shot photos of both of them with lip blisters and then he beat her up and gave her a black eye?

“Those things go hand in hand,” jokes Porter, “You know, having herpes and getting beaten up.”

With the idea and the skills to build it, the guys moved to Montreal for a week and entered into a coding lock down. After it was first rejected by Apple under the clause of being “defamtaory, pornographic or obscene,” they decided to submit the app under a different developer account, change the copy to “A playful way to decorate images of your friends,” and make it 13+ instead of 18+. And guess what? After nearly two years of work on the app, it finally went through.

“We’re still worried about them pulling it now,” says Porter “And we’re still trying to figure out all of the legal issues surrounding us. The sole purpose is fucking with your friends. Next, we want to create an app called Defriender, so you can make your friends look like meth heads, nerds, etc.” Hilarity ensues, but due to legal issues, they can’t post photos on their site so a gallery may or may not be in the works.

The Herps and Purps app has been supported by NYTimes’ Nick Bilton who also had the students in one of his ITP classes and Expert Lab’s Anil Dash who tweeted, “I think Herps & Purps is the new Instagramplz! Lesions are the new sepia!”

You can use the app to take new photos and to tweek old photos as well. So far, the guys have made about $500 off of Herps and Purps, which is available for $.99 in the app store. “Spread the love,” as they say.

Winslow Porter and I had some fun last night playing around with the “viral” app…

(note that my 3GS doesn’t have a flash, so we made due with mood lighting.)

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