what scent? it’s a S E X U A L E M E R G E N C Y

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Periodically, usually twice a year or so, in various locations around Tokyo, Yokohama and Kamakura, the D and I will host an event. In the whirl of work and every day living, of catching the train, getting off the train, getting back on the train, of tapping the same old keys on the computer screen, walking back up the hill and getting into bed;  getting up again, putting on the coffee, washing the coffee pot, getting back in the shower and ironing your shirt, checking your workbag and plugging in your phone, clocking in at the office, months and months can go by living in your own little world without catching up with people. I am a solitary creature in my own way and definitely do need my space ( we both have entirely different work schedules and basically only properly see each other three days a week), but you can get into a pattern of routine and repetition that can start to feel like plaque building up in your mental arteries. It is at this point that I find I just need to say ENOUGH, gather up all my friends with me and dance.

Duncan in fact met each other for the first time at a party, and, being the decadent hedonists that we ultimately are, have been creating fun, immersive, sense-surrounding parties together ever since. Though I also enjoy meeting friends a couple of times a month in restaurants and Japanese izakaya –  the much healthier and more conversation-conducive version of a pub (where you can actually sit down and eat good Japanese food rather than just eating crisps and knocking back the pints standing up); as well as also having the occasional dinner party at home from time to time, ultimately, for me, I think you can’t beat the excitement, energy and liberating dreaminess of a dance party.

And we definitely do know how to throw one. We go all out. When we have hit on a theme, which usually comes spontaneously upon walking into a new venue – we both love strolling and exploring the city, trying this street and that corner and then ooh what’s that place up there… that place with the light in the window, then it’s time to build the soundtrack: think decoration, costume, guests, invitation design. Suddenly the workaday grid recedes; inspirations rise up, and a creative fever is again ignited.  Some parties work; others don’t, but it never stops us from wanting to keep doing them. I can imagine a zimmerframe geriatric rave some day in the future, octogenarian old dears tortoising about the dancefloor with walking sticks and glass eyes ( “Oh, I remember this one……..”) My parents still dance with their friends, my great aunt was a showgirl, so I know I am in good hands.

Looking back now ( as I sit here knowing I have to get ready for work but feel like writing this first), reminiscing on our shared ‘festography’ of twenty years I see, to my mirth, that the first party we held together, in 1995, was entitled Nervous Exhaustion And General Debilitation; a small, appropriately named house party chez nous to ‘celebrate’ my twenty fifth birthday in London, where I happened to be going  through quite a dark period of post-university what-to-do maelstrom and no idea what to do with my life. In some ways that period was my low point, so there was lots of Jacques Brel and other miserable wintery, Amsterdam canal-side music, and though I enjoyed it myself, I can’t entirely vouch for the other guests. My mood does rather intend to dictate the proceedings.

We have had a couple of other parties in London as well, including the slightly weird Facebook In The Flesh a couple of years ago, for which we invited people from all aspects of our lives from the present and past, people who had never met each other before, except perhaps in the form of electronic social media, and bunged them all together in a theatre bar in North London. For that one, I made the honourable, but unworkable, mistake of surrendering my control-freak tendencies regarding the music and went for a ‘bring your own’ policy that for me personally was quite disastrous: people constantly ejecting and inserting their own cds into the player and never achieving the flow and pull I want from the best party soundtracks (at the next event we are splitting the work with two other DJs for an injection of freshness).  Although some great connections and friendships were forged between people that evening, I found that party a bit of a stress.

I did smell great, though, I must say, as I had planned my scent aura days in advance. Staying at Duncan’s parents’ house in Norwich I had decided on a rose, oudh,  and patchouli theme which I then executed delightedly with militaristic precision. Clothes, washed and perfect smelling in advance. A long, and very languorous bath late morning using Cussons Imperial Leather soap (great as a starting board for any perfume you want to put on later), and then oodles of patchouli essental oil floating and shimmering in the bath water to settle gently on the skin and be ready in perfection, hours later, for the ensuing night’s events. Then: significant amounts of strategically placed Montale Aoud Rose Petals, on body and clothes, with a ‘subtle’ undercoating of Aoud Lime in certain places for added raunch, but never overcoming the glorious smell of Turkish Delight that I managed to evince when the aromas finally coalesced together much later that evening ( I am sure I actually killed people on the train carriage going down, but never mind ). The efforts I put into smelling good for that party created a scent that got me masses of compliments (oh my god what is that perfume ?) and that will now form the olfactory soundtrack, in my mind, of that strange evening forever.

No, the best parties have all, to be honest, been here in Japan. Starting with Tenshi 2000 in 1999 (angels and celestial beings to celebrate the new millennium, an event with way too elaborate costume changes: I can still see me and one of my friends in kimono, long white wigs and Venetian masks drunk, literally caught up in the wires behind the DJ booth unable to move or  come out to our planned performance to the music from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind), the brilliant Voodoo followed, for which Duncan created an unbelievable ‘altar,’ and which featured an actual earthquake in the real world during the party that could have led to a veritable disco inferno with all the candles we were burning; Petrushka, a far more innocent and magical affair that I wrote about recently in my review of Equus Lalique; You’ve Got To Say Yes To Another Excess in honour of Helen and her partner when they came to Japan for the first time; Red, in which I sprayed the whole club and its velvet banquettes with Guerlain’s Habit Rouge and L’Heure Bleue; the Hitchcock homage Birdland (Duncan dressed up as a giant crow); Death Of An Infanta/Strangers In Paradise (dark, funereal classical piano concert by my friend Yoko and I, followed with a light and twinkling after party in a nearby restaurant); Baked Alaska (a big middle finger to Sarah Palin); Bomb The Boudoir; Kirsch (an ode to the cherry and our adventures in Berlin); the sweltering, delirious Delicious Banana (which I described at length in my piece on Gorilla Perfume’s Ladyboy); Crocs Of Gold (hilarious summertime alligator party in Yokohama); The Rite Of Spring, Firecracker, and many may others. What links them all is atmosphere; a slow build up, always a build up; wonderful friends all dressed up and ready to party, and then, eventually, an explosion of booze-soaked pop and fun where reality is left entirely behind and, hopefully, indelible, future memories created. For me, these gatherings work as markers of time passed, and vivid ones, something to share, dance, live.

In truth, though I really enjoy my teaching job in many ways – the interaction with kids, the imparting of knowledge and helping students to get into their dream colleges, the positive power that giving encouragement can produce; the adrenaline of it all – and enjoy the financial stability in gives me, despite the many accumulative stresses, I know I am a person essentially who is always reaching up to more to touch the beyond; in art, music, perfume, nature wherever: the dreariness of the world and its money-obsessed, zomboid and brainwashed surrogates is simply unacceptable to me after a while. As is the rigidity of the Japanese education system. I get so damn BORED with those textbooks. And the western world. The unthinking materialism. The received ideas. The media-created, Simon Cowell TV hell crassness (thank god we don’t have a television, actually). Duncan is the same. We need poetry. We need beauty. To just escape. Even if it means growing old disgracefully. I don’t care.

The last party we had, in June 2013, was an homage to the Madagascar trip that never was to be , Music For Chameleons: a fine, exotic and rainforest-humid event, foretelling our eventual, and incredible, journey through Java that did manage to achieve something quite oneiric and otherworldly, though I do say so myself. Coconut incense drifting; birdsong everywhere; me (in Vaniglia Del Madagascar and Yves Rocher Noix De Coco), and D wandering about in giant chameleon masks (the man is an absolute whizz at creating whatever props are need from all manner of sources from fleamarkets to 100 yen stores); chameleons on a video projector slithering all over the walls…..it was a lot of colourful, junglish fun: sly and sensual, red: gold and green.

Next up, though, and entirely different, coming this Sunday –  really bad timing actually, considering that is happening right before exam season (  b a d  t e a c h e r  alert  !!!!!   ) is our upcoming winter event to welcome in 2014:  SEXUAL EMERGENCY . This was an idea that I got based on a ridiculous poster I saw in Berlin for some underground sex club two years ago or so: the name really stayed with me as it tickled me (the idea of people getting that het up about a bit of rubber): and so here we go: our first overtly ‘erotic’ dance party, to held in a small place in Ebisu, Tokyo over a period of twelve hours. It’s going to be hot, it’s going to be heaving, we’ve got ourselves some cabaret acts, a sartorial theme: (‘dress…..is less’), and a raffle (some hilarious unmentionable ‘prizes’ to be given away in a prize draw), plus a hot and sizzling soundtrack that I hope will genuinely people in a bit of a tizz. Last week, while still on winter break, we went for a New Year stroll to do some pre-party reconnaissance in the markets of Ueno; old-school, downtown Tokyo, with plenty of kinky shops for lingerie, masks and the like, and came across a bizarre shop (non-sexual, in intention I believe) for military enthusiasts. Now, I am the last person to be interested in guns, and war, and all the fetishistic accoutrements that go with it, in fact I loathe such mindsets, but, perversely, we both did find it intriguing and extremely amusing to be in such an alternative world, a  place surrounded by gun geeks, weirdos and combat specialists, all looking so intently and avowedly at the somewhat disturbing products on offer (the clattering sound of machine gun fire from U.S military documentary videos as a backdrop) that before you could say bob’s your uncle there I was in the changing rooms trying on full military gear and a gas mask. So strange to transform yourself in this way, so anti-intuitive and yet peculiarly……er, stimulating actually, especially when D then also insisted I try on some jack boots….

That was me sorted out anyway. It was all soon taken to the cash register, both of us unable to resist laughing, to the obvious consternation of the assistants and the deadly serious, grenade toting customers. This is certainly a ‘look’ I have never tried before but will undoubtedly relish once I get going, but the far more pressing question right now is to be honest WHAT SCENT?

Over the last few months I have been wearing nothing but orientals; thick, cosy Bal A Versailles, which I have been basically obsessed with;  Guerlain Tonka Impériale and Spiriteuse Double Vanille; natural perfume Florascent Tonka, and of course that old winter chestnut Shalimar parfum, with just the occasional spritz of Tom Ford Grey Vetiver on my coat for an interesting, fresher, contrast. Like most perfume freaks I feel this is the precisely the time for these scents that act as a kind of furred, second skin; a barrier against the cold (its’ getting freezing here this week, and the Japanese heating systems are entirely inappropriate for it). Somehow, though, I don’t want to be warm and fuzzy, vanillic and cute in my pervy outfit (‘hey there cuddly soldier, you cheeky odalisque!): no, I want a bit of real, manly  raunch. Fierce, macho. But the kind of macho I can take and actually revel in, which doesn’t include many scents, to be honest. All standardized ‘men’s colognes’ are utterly out of the question; the dime a dozen citrus woody acrids – I would be forced to shoot myself with my fake plastic shotgun. Ouds are possible; so is patchouli, vetiver, and especially leather. Should I be raiding my Amouage sample box for some of that hairy Arab bliss? Getting out my vials of Sécretions Magnifiques? Smother myself in a bit of Jovan Musk For Men? I think I have probably narrowed the selections down, in fact ( I want to reek, to spray the uniform in advance ) to either Ungaro Pour Homme with its sweaty, animalic patchouli lavender, Azzaro (ditto), Kouros – an old, rank, sexy favourite – or perhaps more likely, and the main contender right now, vintage Givenchy Gentleman, one of my holy grails of masculine with its prolonged, aromatic patchouli and leather (on me, not the least bit gentlemanly I can tell you; the question is : with, or without, deodorant?) The contrast between my fabric-softened, fresh-shampoo olfactory work persona and the thought of this weekend Tokyo weirdo stomping stench amuses me. I want to delve into something, into unchartered, presposterone territories. I want my scent to rise up on the dance floor mingling with other bodies; my real smell, and a perfectly chosen perfume. I want the chosen scent to throb.

The party theme may be ironic, but I don’t know, when we are all there, boys and girls getting down on the dancefloor, I have a feeling, and a hope, that something will get loosened, that despite the inevitable hilarity of the theme the event should hopefully create, that underneath it all something quite genuinely warm and sexy will transpire. So is the Givenchy the correct choice, in your view, or do you have any other suggestions?

I have only two more days left in which to choose…..

36 Comments

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36 responses to “what scent? it’s a S E X U A L E M E R G E N C Y

  1. Have a fantastic one. It’s sounding fab. Liking this muse through parties of the past. You did smell delightful at Facebook in the Flesh. For some reason I’m thinking – wear something with licquorice in! Dunno why that’s occurring.x

    • I could revive Elephant…but that would be one sickly soldier.

      • I’ve still never smelt that one. Is it very sweet? Apparently licquorice has aphrodisiac qualities for men (like ginseng) – so perhaps with the theme and all this is what came to mind (though I don’t consciously remember having known this… perhaps one of those olafactory facts floating around in the flotsam and jetsam of the unconscious…). but I think I was thinking something more spicey… licquorice and cumin, perhaps even licquorice and cedarwood… I can’t think of any with this combination but I’m a little out of flow on the perfume front at the mo. When I next go to London, I’ll immerse and try and find one that suits what I was envisaging. I’m suddently thinking Etro Patchoulie would have been good too. I love that one. So treacley and woody with just a hint of sweetness. But I’m just noticing you went for eau de Soir and Gentleman. Tres bien. Anyway, more importantly – how did it go?? xx

      • Kind of gorgeous. A blurry maelstrom. Photo essay coming very soon!

        Elephant is worth trying I reckon. They still have it in Harrods. It is VERY sweet and spicy but also very deep; patchouli, licorice and plummy epices. I would love to know what you think of it: last time I looked the Harrods Kenzo counter were still selling it – miraculously it seems to have survived and has a kind of cult following.

  2. This sounds too wonderful, and if I were in Japan I would be hinting hard for an invite. Gentleman sounds like it would strike just the right note.
    This Halloween I was lucky enough to go to a party with the theme Good Faery, Bad Faery. I ended up in a fitted cream lace top, the soft flowing cream lace skirt that I got married in, a black lace scarf with a spiderweb design, and your jasmine oil with a light gardenia overspray. There is nothing like a good wild party now and then.

  3. All the way through it is shouting out for Kinski by Geza Schoen with castoreum as a top note. It is dark and animalic – almost predatory yet gives the feeling of power dressing. Gas mask with a dab of Kinski behind the ears! We will need photographs of the event afterwards please 🙂

    • That sounds amazing, but I think I rather wish it were you I could meet on the dance floor wearing it. Many of my favourites contain castoreum but in overdose I find it troubling. I used to love Fendi Uomo, another excellent Italomacho, until I suddenly became overly conscious of the beavercoat

  4. These parties sound brilliant! Good luck with more in the future 😀

    • Thanks L.

      But what would you wear?

      • Ah yes a complete oversight! Sorry. Well, I’m no stranger to alternative dressing up parties… I would however steer clear of Kouros if the party well and truly does get sweaty, though, that could be part of the Kouros appeal. I wore Armani Prive Ambre Soie once to a particular event and liked some of the reactions. Other folk went eau naturelle and that was as compelling as those scented. If you’re going in military garb complete with gas mask, are you going to smell yourself at all? 😉 Go for Acqua Di Parma Colonia Essenza I think. It’s dark and raspy.

  5. Katy

    I think the Givency Gentlemen would do very nicely. What instantly popped into my head was a ridiculously proper feminine, like Chanel Número Cinq, layered with your favorite fougere, I use Tabac, to butch it up a bit! Let me muddy the waters no further, have a lovely time and I am sure whatever you choose to anoint yourself with will be nothing short of spectacular!

  6. Dearest Ginza
    You have made me all sentimental for so many parties from my own past. Names like ‘Tis Pity He’s A Whore’, ‘The Moomins Go To Mars’, ‘Hackney Beach Bordello’ all come flooding back.
    I shall go away and watch Bruce Weber’s film for ‘Being Boring’ and think up a theme (and occasion) for another gathering.
    I’d like a reason to wear lots of Anubis by Papilon Perfumery publicly so perhaps ‘The Fall of the House of Ptolemy’ an Edgar Alan Poe meets Cleopatra extravaganza might be in order…
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  7. Dearest Ginza
    PS Sometimes I wish there were a *love* icon one could press to indicate an attitude to certain posts.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • Being Boring….

      Sigh. How beautiful that song is. Understated but devastating.
      Sadly I don’t have quite the perfected physique of the figures in the halcyon 90’s video, but shall rock on relentless. What else is a crazed, non-reproductive ‘aesthete’ to do? X

      • Dearest Ginza
        Interestingly something in the guts of that song seems to infect or affect (maybe both) people regardless of whether they ‘get’ the lyric. It has an internal sadness, the chord structure perhaps or Neil Tenant’s ineffably melancholy vocals, that people seem to connect with.
        I know a woman in her seventies who always associates it with her father who died thirty years ago, a straight laced school master.
        Now, how ever did I get there….?
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

      • Katherine

        Yes, perfect song 🙂

    • Ditto.

      But what went down with the Moomins?

      And what is this elaborately named esoteric scent you mention?

      • Dearest Ginza
        Being Scandinavian, the Moomins played a large number of full on pop / dance records then decided that whilst Mars was fun it wasn’t for them so headed back to Moomin Valley, which I believe is to the north of Gothenberg.
        Anubis is brilliant I have bagged a sample it is soon to be released more widely here… http://www.papillonperfumery.co.uk/
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  8. Veritas

    Agree with others to Givenchy Gentleman…wore it myself a lifetime ago….one of the many,many reasons I love reading your posts is that I can live vicariously through you….can’t remember the last time I went out to dinner alone with my partner…let alone attending an “adults only”party….

  9. Ana

    I like both Kouros and Gentleman,so whatever you go with out of these two they will be perfect,but to my mind Kouros is slightly more perfect in this circumstance than Gentleman.I like the contrast between its slightly flamboyant,very sexual nature and the soldier garb.It’s hard to choose,I like both and my partner has full bottles of them,they are his favorites along with Paco Rabanne pour Homme and Cartier Declaration ,so I’m probably biased,because I adore him when he wears these scents.They are forever linked in my mind with the image of a very loved by me human being

    • Paco Rabanne is a wonder: I wear it on occasion for its generosity and warmth. A kind of strength of ease. Not dangerous enough for this party ( although with the terrible cold I seem to be coming down with it looks like it might be irrelevant: even if I can go to my own party I probably won’t be able to smell anything ).

      I have realized. I think for some reason I consider Kouros a summer perfume : Gentleman seems more hairy and sly, more effectively insidious.

  10. Sally M

    I want to come to the party!!! It sounds (as does your description of previous parties – I’d loved to have come to the Baked Alaska one in particular) like it’s going to be an absolute blast. I can so relate to your experience in the military store – a couple of days ago I went to a similar place here in Portland as someone had suggestion using ammo containers for storing my perfume samples. I felt as if I had stumbled on to the set of Apolcalypse Now. Needless to say, I received similar incredulous looks from my sales person when I explained my purpose for said container.
    But onto my suggestion of what perfume to wear for your one night on The Western Front (although it’s certainly not going to be all quiet…) I’m firmly in the Kouros camp, for 2 reasons. Firstly, it reminds me of an ex-boyfriend who (in spite of the fact that he is an ex and I have been with The One for 28 years) was the one in that purely sexual way that is only experienced when at the height of the awakening time of young adulthood. Sex in a bottle it was and with all of the body heat that will be generated by your leaping about and confinement in military garb, should fit the bill of the party and knock everyone flat (probably quite literally). Secondly, the meaning behind the word Kouros seems apropos too: I found this when digging around; the last part particularly resonated to me with your soldier theme:

    “Kouros literally means “young man.” In ancient Greek art, Kouros refers to a style of sculpture, nude statues of standing young men, depicted in a particular style which began to appear in the Archaic period around 600 BCE. The youths are portrayed in perfect physical condition, if not overtly muscular. They are mystic symbols, symbolic of the deified soul. They have achieved this divinity through valor while in their youth and have attained a special happiness, a blessed joy gained through heroic death.”

    Anyhoo, I’m sure whatever you choose, I hope you will all have a fantastic time. Do post about it and let us know – as another poster said, we will have to experience this vicariously through our ‘puter screens.

    • I love your analysis of Kouros. There is no doubt that it is one of the most successfully, frank, sexual perfume ever created. When it works it can be irresistible, but as others have said, when it is sweaty and goes ‘off’ into that creamy endocrine mess of hot piss it can be nightmarish. I wore it once to one of our parties and it was compliments all around. I love the beginning, on clean skin, and especially with a touch of jasmine. There is a crispness above the spiced, oranged animalics at that point which makes it extremely seductive. Mmm, I wonder. You know I think the fact that all the males in my family wear Kouros has put me off it somewhat. Naturally my brother and father are influenced by my scent obsession, and though Greg smells quite good in it ( quite warm and husky ) I can’t bear it on my dad. He will splash some on his face first thing in the morning, and it is just so INTENSE. The animalics just sit on his skin and so I have learned different angles of the scent, its dangers.

  11. SUDDENLY I AM THINKING I VINTAGE EAU DU SOIR

    • Sally M

      Yes! This would be perfect – it has great longevity and all of the stages are strong and clean – no worries about smelling like an overflowing urinal 😉 It is rich but doesn’t cloy, so when the heat of the party rises, it wont overwhelm.

      • and on me, damn sexy for some strange reason. It would have more ambiguity, less raunch in a way, but also a intense, sensual clarity. I save it for special occasions: this might be one of them.

  12. Katherine

    Brilliant brilliant brilliant is all I have to say to all this! And great inspiration. I hope your army gear doesn’t smell of surplus shop. Very cool look by the sounds of it, making me think of Throbbing Gristle Discipline but obviously much more fun and warm and sexy! Love what fun you can have with scent as a man. My boyfriend just wear’s Gillette deodorant, which does for some reason smell great on him, but then I guess I like his natural smell. I do like the way he dresses though, he can pick much more specific and subtle ways to be slightly subversive to what I manage to scramble together myself :). Hope you beat the cold and have a suitably raucous time!

  13. Katherine

    Also, imperial leather soap, brings back memories!

  14. What an amazing and captivating post! I can just picture the parties and if I lived in a bigger apartment, it would be wonderful to have one. Very inspiring. Maybe one day!

    In any case, I thank you for inviting us into your world a little bit. It sounds divine both in terms of energy and in scent. A club bathed in L’Heure bleue and Habit Rouge? Delicious.

    I’m catching up to these posts, but I will throw my two cents in anyway: I would do something perverse by layering Gucci Rush on top of something really raunchy.

  15. David

    So what did you choose? I really like going through your archives before I go out. By the way, in so many ways, Tokyo is so much more intense than Sao Paulo because so much simmers below the surface there.

    • I can imagine that to be totally the case, and it’s just a question of whether you like things (overly) repressed or expressed, to be introvert or extrovert. I lie somewhere in the middle.

      (in the end, I chose Eau Du Soir, though not sure it was the right choice in the end)

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