Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Scent of a Half-Man

My Palm Oil column for Coconuts ... in which I say thanks but no thanks to Eau De Upstart by Mario Maurer, especially when flying the cheapskate skies with Air Asia http://bangkok.coconuts.co/2014/07/02/palm-oil-thai-scents-

SUPER MARIO WANTS IT ALL                  ... Insta-Art © Jason Gagliardi

I regularly get to endure the utterly joyless experience that is flying on Air Asia, from the “be here early or we'll leave without you” check-in and stale, overpriced sandwiches for sale to the schizophrenic policy on whether beer can be obtained in-flight.

These indignities were amplified on a recent trip when I glanced up at the garish advertising splashed all the way down the overhead lockers to see repeated entreaties stretched out to vanishing point suggesting I would be an imbecile not to immediately douse myself in the new signature scent of Mario Maurer, the recently ubiquitous, Thai-German, actor-model-whatever du jour.

Now I am not against advertising, although I can advise against its practice having spent some time in its iniquitous clutches. Nor am I against men's perfumes or the branding thereof by assorted fashionistas and celebrities, or the idea of celebrity endorsements (although I believe they should be used sparingly and not gratuitously and above all authentically – otherwise you are left with Tiger Woods shilling Buicks).

Hell, I'm not even against Mario Maurer, as long as he keeps his sickeningly pretty face and his abs of steel in movies for lovesick teenagers and in the pages of teen and gay magazines and not hovering above me in Warholesque repetition, pouting, importuning his captive audience of hapless travelers cooped up in their tin can with wings for hours. And then there's the risible “hero shot” “of Maurer astride his thundering motorcycle, looking about as tough as wet tissue, a “Wild Hog” in waiting.
Mario Maurer for Him.

I mean, give me a break. The dude is a boy. How can you expect to credibly endorse aftershave when you look like you don't even shave yet?

Surely any man or woman worthy of a scent created and sold in their name should be rather more accomplished and have lived a bit more of life than what super Mario has managed to cram into his 25 years on the planet. His rise to Thai showbiz success is the typical experience of winners of the gene pool lottery: Scouted in a shopping centre at 16, joins a modeling agency, pouts and preens from the pages of all sorts of glossy magazines, joins the high society bitches and shrieking ladyboys in a Thai soap opera or two, then gets cast in 2007 sleeper hit The Love of Siam, where he plays gay, kisses a guy and breaks a million teen hearts.

It's hardly the epic Oscar-strewn trek through a life less ordinary of some titan of stage and screen, or an acting CV I'd care to douse myself in. George Clooney for Men I might buy into. It would smell of suaveness and impossible cool, freshly pressed tuxedos and martinis and with a faint top note of silver fox musk. I'd consider a spritz of, say, Carabao, a fragrance the Thai “Songs for Life” folk singer could endorse, something earthy, with hints of buffalo dung, red bull and stale beer. I'd proudly splash on Fatt … the Chow Yun Fat signature scent, if it existed.

You only have to look at Carabao's face to know the guy has lived a life worth smelling of. Chow is a kind of Asian Clooney, effortlessly cool, sublime in a suit and known to ride around Hong Kong on the subway with the regular folk. Mario, on the other hand, coasted to a comfortable, cosseted existence thus far on the basis of pretty boy looks and a tenuous assertion of acting talent – something that would require testing on a bigger stages and for some years to come to justify signature scent status.

Mario remains undaunted.“It's very exciting! I'm glad to be the first guy chosen by Bel Perfumes to create a signature scent,” he gushes in the AirAsia inflight magazine ThreeSixty. “The team really created a quality product that reflects my personality. I enjoy doing things that go beyond acting and would be proud to have people wear my scent.”

Bel Perfumes is a Thai operation which gets some French experts to whip up scents for Thai celebrities, mostly females. These are done with some semblance of a sense of humor: Chompoo Araya's Material Doll, for instance, is, “a sparkling-dolly cocktail of blackcurrant juice mixed with red orange and wild raspberry accords” and no doubt smells of naked ambition, new banknotes, Cristal and toy boys.

Drama Queen by Ploy Chermarn, meantime, reeks of shrieking soapie harpy and big-haired hi-so bitch, with “Citrus and Neroli warmed with the feminine intense bouquet of Orange blossom, Egyptian Jasmine and Wild Gardenia in the heart. The sophisticated allure of White Musk, Crystal Amber, Woods and Patchouly immerses you in the luxurious and mysterious embrace of success.”

Mario Maurer For Him Eau de Toilette “is a woody and oriental fragrance that gives you the confidence to be yourself and be attractive. The energizing and refreshing notes will drive your seductive power. Top Notes: Mandarin Leaves, Lavendin, White Grapefruit. Middle Notes: Sweet Basil, Rosemary, Tonka Beans. Base Notes: Cedarwood, Gaiac Wood, Leather.”

Sorry Mario. Until you get some more runs on the scoreboard of life, it just smells like teen spirit, bullshit and snake oil to me.

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