Perfume comes from many sources: flowers, tree resins, herbs. One source that is a little controversial is the glands of animals. Musk comes from the civet, something like a mongoose, the North American beaver, and from the Asian musk deer. Of course, most of these compounds can be replicated through chemistry, but synthetic or not, a good perfumer should be familiar with the secretions that certain glands can naturally produce.
We applaud Black Phoenix for getting involved with glands. (We’re, on this site anyway, extremely concerned with the adrenal gland.) In Black Phoenix’s case, they have turned their attention and imagination to human male testicles.
Or in more common parlance: balls.
First off, Black Phoenix have introduced some new perfumes based on Tanuki. If you are only familiar with the Tanuki Skin from Super Mario Bros. 3, they have provided a brief description:
Bring a little more light and laughter into your life with our Pon Poko series! The garden is bright under the moonlit night! Let’s thump a snazzy little beat on our golden drums together!
These scents are inspired by prints of Tanuki made in the late Edo period in Japan around the same time that erotic shunga prints were also made. Unlike the shunga, the tanuki’s prehensile dangly bits aren’t meant to be sexual. They are meant to represent good fortune and prosperity…which only makes sense.
A Tanuki’s scrotum is like a naughty version of a Swiss Army Knife. In Tanuki No Yudachi, their sacks are used to protect them from the rain that has struck during the night. The scent has Japanese lily and white grapefruit for that lovely tang of of a rainstorm that is clearing away all the built up grunge you get during the day. But behind that is rice wine and bourbon vanilla–all for that drink you’ll need after you get home and want to warm up from the cold and the wet of the rain. In Tanuki No Amiuchi, you see some tanuki playing a version of Duck Hunt, but rather than using light guns, they’re using their ball-bags to bag some birds. The scent evokes the forest and grasslands where birds and those who hunt them congregate. Sandalwood incense and white cedar gives you the woods and matcha and vetiver gives the grass. Then there is Tanuki No Orai where the tanuki use their low hanging fruit to carry along fruits and other goods to market. You get the sweet fragrance of white and golden peach, mango, and persimmon. For variety, you also have the spiciness of shishito peppers and the headiness of lotus petal. These are just a small selection of the large county the tanuki provide.
The second ball of the pair is scents based on the cult Jim Henson film, Labyrinth. If you’re not familiar with the underappreciated epic, it’s about Sarah (played by a young Jennifer Connelly who is saddled with babysitting her baby brother Toby. In a fit of sibling-inspired anger, she wishes that the goblins would take her annoying brother away. The problems begin when the goblins actually take the baby. The dangerous and seductive Goblin King, Jareth (David Bowie) makes a bargain with her: if she can traverse the Labyrinth and reach the Goblin city within thirteen hours, she can regain her brother. So with both allies and obstacles, she goes on her quest to reclaim her brother and confront the Goblin King.
So what does this film with Henson’s creature design, a script written in part by Terry Jones, and songs by Bowie himself have to do with balls? Black Phoenix is using the crystal balls that the Goblin King is constantly juggling and manipulating as an indirect reference. This is further reinforced by the particular style Bowie uses called contact juggling where the balls never leave your hand. They are not making any connection with Bowie’s prominent rather large ‘package’ on display through his tights. Nothing at all. This is a film for the whole family, you’re being smutty just thinking about it. You are all weirdos. All I have to say is… Bowie’s wife, Iman, is a very lucky woman.
Speaking of the Goblin King, Jareth is truly a scent worthy of a king. With light notes of white musk and lilac, it doesn’t smack you across the face for attention. However, the hints of oudh, ti leaf, and yes, leather, impart the commanding arrogance of power. Like the Goblin King himself, it knows it is regal and has no need to broadcast it. From the highest to the lowest, Hoggle, Sarah’s reluctant ally, reflects the salt of the earth. You get the scents of fermented pumpkin, tobacco, and brown leather. You can totally see Hoggle in a leather jerkin, smoking a pipe, and drinking some pumpkin brew because pumpkins are all he has. Then there is the Labyrinth itself, distilled into 13 Hours, the time Sarah has to solve its mysteries and travel to its heart where both Toby and Jareth await. You can smell the creeping ivy that reaches and entangles, the black stone that surrounds and obscures, and dried rose-hips which beguile and intoxicate. This perfume suggests you are complicated but a worthy conundrum to solve.
So if any of these perfume tickle your sack or you’re curious about what other scents are on offer, please go to Black Phoenix’s website. You can also check out Black Phoenix’s Etsy store, where they carry “overstock, trunk show and one-off items” from their shelves. And I would end this with another tacky sexual reference, but I’m worn out.