“Ew!” ~ Touch by Fred Hayman

“Your advertising’s just dandy… folks would never guess you don’t have a thing to sell.” Bonnie Parker


     Faye Dunnaway might as well have been talking about Touch for Men by Fred Hayman when she said those lines to Warren Beatty in the classic 1967 film “Bonnie And Clyde”.

The bottle for Touch was so pretty and elegant that I was seduced by its classic apothecary bottle design. I bought it blind and on the promise of the notes it claimed to have. Three notes to be exact, Lavender, Spices, and Amber, a simple yet masculine Oriental Spicy, right up my alley. It sounded uncomplicated and elegant and like something that might hark back to the glamour of Beverly Hills in the 90’s when Fred Hayman was a big name people still remembered on Rodeo Drive.

Then it arrived….. I opened the package and took one look at the box.  Not good. It was rather gaudy… Oh well it was the 90’s after all.

I unboxed the bottle… Now it looked a little better with its oversized black cap and the red plastic “wax” seal with an H stamped on it in the center of the bottle… no name just the stamp. Well that was kind of classy; if you stood back a few feet and squinted. Then I opened the bottle.

I spayed it on and in a Newport Beach second I morphed into Summer Roberts from “The O.C.”

“It smells like Chino, Ew!!”

It stank like the inside of the plastic head of a Jerry Mahoney ventriloquist doll. I know because when I was 12 I smelled my cousin’s Jerry Mahoney Doll, and it smelled BAD. What is that, Lavender? I have never smelled lavender like that. Is it plastic flowers melting on a sidewalk in the summer?  The spices are from the back shelf of an old taco truck abandoned on the old I 5 just north of Gorman. Amber? No not amber but something akin to burning tires in a junk yard in the San Fernando Valley.


   It not only stank but it stank in the most obvious obnoxious way. IT WAS CHEAP!

Was this a joke? All I could think of was Divine in “Lust in the Dust.”

DIVINE: Yeah, I came here for the gold, because I’ve been poor all my life.
MAGRUERITA VENTURA: You’ve got it all wrong, honey. You’ve been cheap all your life.
DIVINE: Cheap?
[picks up a chair, and breaks it over Maguerita]
DIVINE: This furniture is cheap.

I have no idea how long it lasts because I had the hazmat team in here giving me the “Dr. No” decontamination scrub down about thirty minutes after the first spay.

Lets just put it this way, It had me, and not in a good way, at “Ew”.



SLUMMING IN BEVERLY HILLS ~ Red for Men by Giorgio Beverly Hills

Slumming in Beverly   Hills…… That is what we used to call it in my 1984 when I would take a friends from San Francisco down to see my old stomping grounds in and around Los Angeles. When I came of age in Southern California I knew just how lucky I was to be born there, right smack in the center of the universe. It had the four Ms, Music, Movies, Mountains, and Men at the beach that all looked like Jack LaLanne but only better. So going back I loved to show of the hidden treasures of Los Angeles to my friends from up North.

One of the stops was my special tour of Beverly Hills.

(Rodeo Drive in the 1980’s)

“On the left on Bedford   Drive is the notorious Lana Turner house, up Schuyler Road is the pink house Elizabeth Taylor ran from screaming into the street when Mike Todd was killed in that plane crash in 58. OH and up ahead on the right side of Rodeo Drive, see the white and yellow awnings? THAT is Giorgio of Beverly Hills.”

(Giorgio! What is going on?)

It all seemed wonderfully tacky and camp to my friends and I, this store founded by Fred Hayman that changed retail forever. Giorgio’s is where we saw Annette Funicello shopping with her mother. Out front I was nearly run over in the crosswalk by a very old Ray Milland driving his own Rolls Royce. He looked pinched and mean and incredibly small behind the wheel. My friend Allie stopped dead in the crosswalk upon seeing his first live movie star. I gabbed Allie’s arm,  fashed a dazzling smile and waved to Ray then hustled a star struck Allie to the corner. “Don’t be a rube!” I admonished him as if I were Lucy and he was Ethel and we had just walked into Don Lopper’s salon. “It’s just Ray Milland. Save the slack jaw for someone big like…Farah Fawcett-Majors.  Hey is that Burt Reynolds going into Bijan?”

Back in side Giorgio they had shelves heaped with Giorgio perfume in yellow boxes that looked like the awnings on the outside of the boutique. Other shelves groaned under the weight of Giorgio for Men. Oh and they sold clothes too. They served cappuccinos from behind a white bar and everyone in the store milled around drinking coffee just window shopping and hobknobing. Or so it seemed. You never saw anyone fash cash.

 (Richard Gere  on Rodeo Drive, NOT shopping at Giorgio in “American Gigolo 1980)

When I came across Red for Men by Giorgio of Beverly Hills the other day I thought the bottle was beautiful but oh lord. Who would be caught dead wearing something so campy and probably overtly and down right tacky today? Back in the 80’s sure! Big shoulders, Bigger Hair and BIG SMELLS!! But then I began to read what other reviewers were saying.  I narrowed my eyes to slits of doubt and read on. Then I checked out how much a blind buy would put me back. Next to nothing as it turned out. Oh well what the hell it might be fun.

Red is a really wonderful surprise. Not loud, not pushy, not stinky. But rather a really lovely leather class fragrance that arrested my senses and delighted me and all who came close enough to get a whiff! It wasn’t “Dynasty”, or “Hotel” or “Knott’s Landing” in a bottle. It was rather elegant and refined.

It opens with artemisia, basil, bergamot and caraway that some how convey the smell of redwood bark in a wet temperate Northern California rainforest. It is so far away from Beverly Hills that you might as well be on another planet. The heart of the fragrance is carnation, jasmine, geranium, juniper berries, rose and thyme and this combination is soft and embracing but is soon met with the rising notes of the dry down. A smooth polished leather like polo boots warming in the sun at the old Will Rogers polo fields where Sunset Drive meets the sea. The cedar, patchouli Oakmoss and Amber warm the leather even further an mix in the feeling of late afternoon in the wooded hills around the old polo grounds. That wonderful smell you get on hot afternoons in southern California when the heat carries the smell of the semi-tropical plants what grow there.

(Polo field at Will Rogers State Park)

It wears so well and projects just right. The silage is noticeable and garners some comments, always on the positive side. So I leaned a lesion from my trip to Giorgio. Even when you go slumming in Beverly Hills don’t be a snob, take a chance once in a while and try something you never dreamed you would like. You might find that Beverly Hills in a certain light looks a little like Paris!


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