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JAUNDICED EYE : The Merchants of Musk Are Hooking our Youth

March 12, 1995|Bruce McCall | Bruce McCall, a cigar smoker, is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker

NEW YORK — Smokers Against Perfume, the activist citizen lobby, stepped up its aggressive anti-perfume crusade today by demanding restaurants provide separate facilities for customers who insist on bringing their personal fetish for rubbing odoriferous musks on their skin into public places.

"It's enough to ruin your meal," charged SAP spokesperson Sig (Smokey) Arette. "What right do these people have to fill the air I breathe with the stink of rotting orchids, extract of gardenia and, for all anybody knows, deadly nightshade fumes? We're not talking bath soaps here. It's the concentrated high-octane stuff radiating off necks, shoulder, bosoms and wrists. Lots of us would rather take in a lungful of cigar smoke than one whiff of perfume from across a crowded room."

Arette cited new SAP research showing that a control group of laboratory rats daubed with expensive French perfumes were no more sexually active than rats relying solely on natural bodily odors. "In other words," he said "perfume's central promise of enhanced allure is a deliberate lie, planted by the worldwide scent cartel in expensive ad campaigns--while perfume's deadly effects are left unchecked to wreak havoc on the nasal membranes of babies, senior citizens, orphans, widows and Tibetan refugees, to name just a few random victims."

He referred to another SAP scientific study, wherein 87 of 100 heavy Gauloise smokers left in a room for an hour with 100 Beverly Hills matrons claimed their cigarettes first tasted like Chloe and then like Hawaiian Punch, and stubbed them out an average of 42 puffs early.

Where will SAP strike next? Besides demanding banishment of perfume-soaked restaurant patrons, SAP wants to segregate them at fancy social soirees . "At the opera, at swank dinner parties, at debutante balls, you can't smoke but you can reek till the drapes shrivel," he says.

SAP plans to picket ground-floor perfume sections in leading department stores. "Inhalation of that sickly aroma, made up of billions of particles of pulverized flora and animal oils and chemicals you wouldn't feed your dog," Arette claimed, "creates an environment olfactorily toxic enough to make an Elks Club smoker smell like a picnic in Provence.

"And talk about free cigarette samples hooking the hapless young. Why do you think the merchants of musk spend billions on those free spritzes lining the counters in every perfumery in the land, if not to lure innocent young schoolgirls? They wonder in off the street and--whammo!--it's off the Dial and into White Diamonds, probably for life."

Finally, urging America's mothers not to hook their daughters on the costly perfume habit, noting perfume has long been associated with such social outcasts as Mata Hari, divorcees and ladies of the night, Arette called for a Perfume-Free Day nationwide. "Meatloaf, diesel fumes, ashtrays full of El Ropos, stale beer," he enthused, "let's remove the smell-screen and get back our taste for the odors that made America great!"*

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