The dead are starting to smell

Kevin Cowherd

October 05, 1990|By Kevin Cowherd

WHAT DO YOU do with a pop icon who's been dead (although you'd never know it) since 1977, and who basically spent his final days swallowing fistfuls of pills and waiting for the Hostess delivery truck to show up?

Right. Name a men's cologne after him. No surprise there, I guess. So come January, look for a new fragrance named after Elvis Presley to hit the market, further proof (as if we need it) that Western civilization is declining with all the subtlety of a safe dropping 15 stories.

The Elvis scent itself is being described as "a fresh, contemporary, masculine blend of woods, herbs and amber," according to the flacks for Elvis Fragrances Inc.

This, of course, tells us absolutely nothing about the cologne itself, except that some advertising genius had the good sense not to describe his product as "a stale, old and sexually ambiguous blend of pepperoni, Nair and 10W40 motor oil."

Poor Elvis. They just won't leave him alone. If it isn't some nut running to the supermarket tabloids with news that the King is working at a Dairy Queen in Peoria, it's some other nut claiming to be Elvis' long-lost love child and writing a book about it -- which a thousand other weepy nuts with Elvis velvet paintings on their walls then go out and buy.

Now it's a men's cologne. Sweet Jesus, what have they done to the boy?

Perhaps even more disturbing than the continued desecration of the King's memory is that this might signal a new marketing twist for men's colognes: naming them after famous dead people.

Bold as it is, you wonder just how far they'll take this concept. Can we, for instance, look forward to a fragrance named after, oh, I don't know, Babe Ruth?

Given the new marketing ground broken by Elvis Fragrances, the Babe would certainly qualify on the all-important "deadness" scale, as he has been dead for . . . I'm looking it up right now, let's see . . . 42 years.

In addition to being very much deceased, the Babe qualifies as a genuine American folk hero and a sports figure of mythic proportions, although one who (and this wasn't his fault, it was the times he lived in) did not have velvet paintings of his likeness sold on the boardwalks of dreary seaside resort towns.

Therefore, (I'm running with this idea as far as I can) there is every reason to suspect that a new fragrance known as "The Bambino" is just around the corner, if the good folks at Ralph Lauren or Givenchy would only wake up and smell the coffee.

At the news conference to kick off the new cologne, it could be described as "a fresh, contemporary, masculine blend of hot dogs, liverwurst and flat beer."

See, the Babe loved to eat and . . . oh, there I go again. You already know that.

(This is neither here nor there, but I'm an Aqua Velva man myself. I need to feel that sting in the morning, you know?

(Oh, I know, I know . . . there are men who say that splashing on Aqua Velva is somewhat akin to splashing on Sunoco 190. But these, ahem, men are mistaken. To take it a step further, they are crybabies and should be paid no heed.)

But, I digress. Dead people. We were talking about dead people. And new fragrances for men. Yes.

In keeping with that theme, here is another fellow who is deader than a doornail, yet was nonetheless a towering figure in U.S. history (almost as big as Elvis) who could certainly inspire a new scent: Abraham Lincoln.

You ask me, this is the total package here: 16th president of the U.S., author of the Emancipation Proclamation, possibly the most influential man of his time. And dead, I can't stress that enough.

Now, I know what you're thinking: Lincoln, Lincoln . . . hmmm, don't recall any velvet paintings of the man the last time me and the missus visited Asbury Park.

True. Sad to say, on the all-important "velvet painting" gauge of fame, the man comes up squarely on "empty."

However, in all fairness, it must be pointed out that Lincoln's likeness graces millions of pennies, and therefore can be found in almost every pocket, purse and piggy-bank in the country.

Don't tell me that kind of clout isn't worth a spot on the counter next to the Polo or Old Spice.

The fragrance could be called "Honest Abe" and in the glossy promotional brochures, it would be described as "a fresh, contemporary, masculine blend of freshly split logs, boot leather and fireplace ashes."

I'm just thinking out loud here, but it sounds like a winner.

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