Piolet Thompkins fills 5 millilitre bottles with fragrant body oil at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab in North Hollywood. He's among the 10 full-time employees at the perfume shop. Its catalogue includes 700 fragrances. Its Lupercalia (Valentine's Day) line includes 50 selections.
They say, "You can’t buy true love." But you can spring for a 5 milliliter bottle of scented body oil that might help you fulfill a sinful desire.
“Get laid…" laughs Elizabeth Moriarty. She’s a real pistol. She collects vintage pornography and she’s the mastermind behind Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Its complete catalogue includes 700 unique scents.
Moriarty says her Valentine’s Day fragrance line is dedicated to helping couples find the fun in stripping.
“And how absurd and ridiculous and awesome all of it can be," says Moriarty. "Instead of demanding roses and candy.”
To help men and women get in touch with their sensual sides, Moriarty’s scents are based on artistic pornography from the Japanese Edo-era, exotic bedroom toys that were popular in Ancient Greece…
“…and a fairly obscene poem by Sir John Wilmot,” said Moriarty.
She recalls that the 2nd Earl of Rochester was friends with England’s King Charles II in the 17th Century. Sir John Wilmot was also known for writing obscene stories and provocative political poems. None of which are completely appropriate to share here.
Moriarty’s eyes skim Wilmot’s classic, “Signior Dildo” and finally rest on the last line.
“…and if not their weight had retarded the foe, indeed it had gone hard with Signior Dildo,” Moriarty read.
She coined the moniker for one of her heart-thumbing fragrances. The collection offers about 50 different thumb-sized bottles: Womb Fury inspired by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. He believed that women are innately hysterical and need an orgasm to calm down. Then there’s Ode to Ares, which pays homage to the Ancient Greek God of War and Bloodshed.
"Probably our best seller from the line is Smut," she says. "It’s a red musk, sugar cognac. So, it has a lot of traditionally more sexual tone to it. It’s darker, more visceral.”
Perfumers go to cocoa, cocoa absolute, and chocolate to provoke sensuality. But what can you do if your flame has turned into a flicker? Moriarty suggests splashing on whatever worked while you were dating.
“Smelling that perfume that you wore when you were in the throws of passion brings back memories," says Moriarty. "I think, that can rekindle the kind of passion and enthusiasm that you had in the beginning.”
This self-proclaimed "artist of scents" says it’s all about what makes you fell sexy.
“Because sex is fun and funny and should be something that’s light hearted and not taken too seriously in and of itself," said Moriarty.
That would probably shock Moriarty’s Catechism teachers. She was brought up Roman Catholic. Those early days inspired the artist’s Sin and Salvation line, which includes the scents: Magdalene, Cathedral, and Penitence.
The experience also likely influenced Moriarty’s take on the annual day of love and affection. She calls it Lupercalia after the pagan name for Valentine’s Day. It’s also the name of the Ancient Greek festival of purification and fertility.