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Which men's fragrance makes women swoon? What can I wear to attract da laydeez? What scent makes the beauties go wild?

Those seem like normal questions--isn't naked action a primary reason to wear a scent, and don't you think about that when standing in front of a fragrance sales counter?

But phrase the question another way, the way you really mean it: “putting on which of these will make women suddenly think about orgasming with me, and me alone, because of how I'll smell?”

Anyone out there ask that at the fragrance counter? Could one of the cabinet's bottles really be a spell casting potion to make every woman -- or every man, for that matter -- suddenly want to be your private dancer?

Isn't the real meaning of the question simply absurd and vulgar, no matter how often we wonder it in pretty words? Who's to know what any object of our romantic desire--who is a whole human being after all--will like before asking about likes and dislikes, even if they're known? And aren't people all different?

“What scent will chicks dig?” sure gets answers though. Ask women--wives, girlfriends, friends, bartenders, co-workers, aunts, cousins, any cuties at all--what are those colognes that make you want to be in your man's neck all day, and they're likely to have an answer. Best of all, no lie, the smell they name will sound like a formula for giving out good vibrations. These women might even stress the seductive power of the scents they recommend. They might say “mmmmmm” after the name, and they'd be weird or unusual if they didn't. So why wouldn't we ask for a fragrance to help use up the bedroom condom supply before the expiration date?

Men talk about it, and women talk about it. Both hint that a fragrance can indeed endow a sex fantasy. But, to paraphrase a short story title, what is it we talk about when we talk about sex in a bottle?

Well I've worn millions of fragrances and I've split the compass on my round bed with millions of girls, so here's a primer on fragrances and getting laid.

First a story​

When I was in college I deejayed a few boogie-dance parties. You know the age, when you try to establish your identity by what comes out of your speakers and your smooth turning of the volume knob. I played fantastic beats that were easy to groove to--not any different from anything on the radio. But few people had heard what I played before, so most walked off the dance floor. They walked back on when I reached into the top-40 CD box. What they could groove to was what they knew already, what they had heard a thousand times on the radio, songs they'd hear in the car, driving down the road and singing along with Tina Turner.

Lesson: quality doesn't matter. The unfamiliar, even if it is the same or superior to the familiar, is ineffective. No one grooves, ooooos, or says “mmmmm” to the unknown.

Same thing for fragrances. You want them to sniff you and then dance out their inner (naked) selves for you alone, right? Well to get there, just like dancing to familiar songs, they've got to know your fragrance already to dance to it. And the hard part for you is that they don't play fragrances on the radio.

Just like you when you get a new bottle, women need to learn a scent and figure out the parts of it. At the discotheque, how's she supposed to know that the sweet reek near you isn't the crushed ice fruit drink she's bringing up to her lips, or the sticky spot of spill on the floor, or her friend's lip balm she just borrowed, or what the air-pressure flow just pressed through the door? The weirder your fragrance the longer it is going to take her to figure out it is a fragrance. Best way to assure she figures it out is that you stay talking to her for a while. Therefore you better have your conversation and listening skills up to par, because you don't want your personality to turn her off before your great scent gets figured out and she asks about how good you smell.

But there's a huge drawback to the familiar scent routine, and here's the straight dope. Only a limited number of scents are known to the general seduction-ready slice of the population. Any that the ladies smell, recognize, and maybe like, are going to be pretty common in the meat-market cesspool. Sometimes scent-familiarity is indeed your ticket to her attention, but you run the risk of smelling like all the other drooling Joes. “Oh god,” think of her saying, “he's wearing L'Eau d'Issey (by Issey Miyake, or Body Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent, or Le Mâle by Jean-Paul Gaultier), just like every other swingin' dick in this stupid bar.” Ouch. No points. (You need a list of the scents that are as common as top-40 radio pop? Check out those three.)

Maybe she'll like one of those and you'll get points. Maybe she'll hate how common it is. Sadly, you just never know which barstool beauty hates what.

Signal of you alone​

Ahhhh, this is the best part of having a regular fragrance. A lover comes to associate the fragrance with you and it makes her think about the niceness of naughtiness with you. Evermore she'll say your fragrance really turns her on. This is paradise.

But this is one of the idiosyncrasies of being known and attractive to someone. Think of the small things that we see in our lovers, the small things about them or the way they do things. The normal things and even the things they do but are unnoticed by them--how we think of these things and over time think them stunningly attractive and commandingly sexy. A girlfriend's sexiness wearing Converse All-Star low tops without socks. The flaw on the gray iris of another's left eye--like a thicker dark spoke from the pupil to the edge--pointing to 8 o'clock. Her terrific hair on the days she was too lazy to spike it. How she always needs an ice cube in her hot morning tea. That she wears the chunky, 1960s West German dome-crystal watch you got her instead of those thimble-sized “women's” watches. The sound of her voice when she's asleep. Her scent. Halston Night on one, Lady Caron on another, Naf-Naf. Any lily of the valley, any jasmine. Join all these unnoticed sexy things that we gather in observing and loving someone. We keep them in mental time capsules of special delights unique to that lover. These daily things are sexiness and beauty that are uniquely hers and which no magazine covergirl can ever match.

Our lovers make similar mental lists of us. Your fragrance left in various places—on the pillowcases, on tee-shirts and pajamas, on you and in the air after you've put it on. It is a sign of your personal space. Her being in your space now and also all the other times when you were out together having fun. Scent in your stuff, your laundry, your bed, all the subtle places of your daily existence. Best of all, since this scent is in her memory you are present there even when you are absent.

Yeah baby! Hear the chorus of women agreeing as they read this right now! That's the turn on, and isn't that what we all want? Isn't that what we're hoping for when we ask which one will pleeze da laydeez? Well, the scent-association paradise comes after, or through, great attraction. Great attraction doesn't come from scent first.

Running the fragrance computer program​

A friend posed an identical what-gets-tail conundrum once. He was coming over to sniff things from my collection so he could find a scent he liked. I spread the first twenty bottles on the dining room table between us. The ones he liked from that range would decide which bottles back in the cabinet would form the next range to smell.

“Remember,” he said, “I want something that will attract gay men.”

Reasonable caution! He's a friend, and we'd known each other's sexual preferences for a long time, and naturally he wanted to pick a scent to help him be attractive. But it is a question that is easy to ask, but logically has no proper answer. I don't know an fragrance that will attract men who are specifically gay any more than I know a fragrance that will necessarily start a woman's libido. So I turned the question around on him: you're gay, you tell me a smell that automatically attracts gay men.

He was blank. Because there isn't one. We want the fragrance to be like a computer program to run and extract only what we want from the world. Is there a fragrance out there that will only turn the switch in the noses of gay men? If it does, will they even like the scent? Further, if they like the scent, will it cause them to be attracted to the wearer?

Forget it. This way madness lies. So my friend and I turned to the twenty bottles on the table before us to start at square one--finding one that he liked and wanted to walk through the world smelling of. That's what the search for a seducing scent is. It's smelling twenty or forty or sixty before you find one that you can't get out of your head, one that you surprise yourself by remembering--recreating it somehow in your brain when it isn't in your nose anymore, even hours after later. You'll remember the sculpture of it, and different parts of it, and different thoughts it gave you when you sniffed it. You'll be very surprised.

That's the same thing as when a woman melts for your scent. Advertising campaigns show us the beautiful people languorously transported to some vacant or puckery ecstasy by, presumably, a scent some company wants you to buy. American men's magazines routinely call a new scent “a woman magnet.” And with fragrance brand name titles even, the fragrance industry tells you about getting you laid. Obsession. Envy. Romance. Passion. Crave.

But those won't make ladies give you bedroom eyes. They won't overcome the Ice Queen's thousand-yard stare after your pick up line, and they won't make them die of pleasure in your arms and leave you Titan of the bar-room meet market. When a woman says she gets a Jones for Hulk-Ra by Conan, or that it does wild things in her brain, it means, well, only that she likes the smell, not that she'll suddenly want to play the obey game.

Next month: Part Two: Ladies night and party time.