Satan’s Beehive

For anyone interested, Chandler Burr wrote a hilarious/fascinating article about civet in the style supplement to last Sunday’s New York Times, which contains an anecdote about civet cream that’s so disgusting I’m not even going to quote it here. He also reviewed three fragrances with civet: YSL Kouros (two stars for smelling like “a French trucker’s Jockey shorts”); Malle Musc Ravageur (three stars, “animalic yet crystalline… the body odor of a beautiful stranger”); and TDC’s Rose Poivree, which receives the rare and coveted five stars for smelling “mesmerizing … akin to breathing in the warm, slightly fetid breath of some immense, fur-covered animal.” I don’t always agree with Burr, but I think that’s a magnificent description of a fragrance I adore.

On to today’s topic:

Not long ago I posted my adventures in the land of honey, having discovered that Miel de Bois is actually wearable.

I got together a few more honey scents:

Ginestet Botrytis (notes: honey, candied fruits, quince, pain d´epice, white flowers). All I remember was something wine-y when I tried it a year or so ago, so I thought I´d retry it. I´m glad I did so at home, because it was the first honest-to-God run-to-the-sink scrubber I´ve had in some time. It starts off promising – a really amped-up honey with that furzy beeswax note – and then goes deeply, desperately wrong on me in some way I´m unwilling to revisit without therapy. Or possibly an exorcist. A combination of wine, mold and … ack, nooooooo. I felt repulsed by this the way some people feel repulsed by CB Musk. I had high hopes; my apologies to all of you who worship this scent.

Demeter Honey – My hopes for this were pretty low; I figured it would smell synthetic and/or too sweet, like honey-flavored jelly beans or something. I was delighted to find a pure honey-like note with just that perfect touch of pollen and beeswax to keep it from being dull. And it lasted for five hours on me, which I loved. Not cloying, not fakey, just rich golden honey with a tiny little dusting of pollen funkiness to keep things interesting. Perfect.

Santa Maria Novella Acqua di Cuba – honey and boyjuice. No, I am not insane; a couple other commenters got the same thing. I have no idea what the problem is, but our relationship is not going to work out.

Speziali Fiorentini Te Nero Body Mist – I´m sticking this in here because it´s a possible alternative for those of you who keep trying to love honey but hate that weird, waxy/furry part. The body mist starts off black tea and honey (very nice); then a suede note chimes in (still very nice); then the tea and the suede drop out and I´m pretty much left with honey – for several hours. And the stuff´s dirt cheap – maybe $20?

I’m off on a preschool field trip to the apple orchard this morning with Hecate and Buckethead; I’ll see you this afternoon.

Illustration from Slovenly Betsy, by Heinrich Hoffman, Illustrated by Walter Hayn,

  • Rob says:

    Didn’t realize that Kouros had a good dose of civet in the mix, but the analogy to a trucker’s unwashed armpit pretty much says it all. It’s no wonder why many who’ve smelled Kouros give reference to the loo–armpit, poop, toilet cakes, ee-yikes!

    Kouros is all raw sex, all pheromone! The only thing I’ve smelled that made Kouros smell like a light jog to the corner store is the smell of Bandit EdP!

  • Flora says:

    So now I know the secret of Rose Poivree – I wondered why some people hate it – I adore it! I enjoy indolics in general, as long as they are not too overpowering, I just don’t inflict them on others if possible. I guess I must be a real civet fan, since I also love Kouros and and always have snce it first came out. That story is totally hilarious!

    I like honey scents too, and Miel de Bois is just great to my nose. I was just in a store today that had a lot of the Demeters – too bad I did not try the Honey, it would be interesting to see how it works on me. (I did try Wet Garden though, and loved it – and it’s not exactly “pretty.”)

    • March says:

      Flora, you are a woman after my own heart. I need to re-smell Kouros now that I’ve read that review.

      What store did you smell the Demeters in? I almost never see them in a retail location.

      • Flora says:

        March – Believe it or not, I found the Demeters – in BIG bottles – at a Fragrance Outlet store at a local factory outlet mall! Usually all they have is mainstream crap, but they had some Annick Goutals too! If there is one of these near you, check it out! (It used to be a Perfumania store – we still have those here too but they are pretty awful.) They also sold manufacturer’s samples of quite a few things, which used to be unheard of in those kind of stores – you had to buy unsniffed.

  • Joan says:

    Loooved Chandler Burr’s article..I preordered his new book “The Perfect Scent” from Should be receiving my sample of Musc R tomorrow…didn’t know about the civet!!!:-?

    • March says:

      Well, I didn’t know all *that* about the civet, although I knew that a hint of some really obnoxious smells makes my perfume world go ’round. Civet, musk, and/or indoles (the poopy smell) are in a number of things I really, really like :”>

  • minette says:

    i will always remember my first direct exposure to “civet cream” – at the vet’s – when my vet squeezed out the impacted cream to clear my siamese cat’s glands. an amazing, complex smell. striking, but not exactly ugly.

    thanks for the thumbs-up on the demeter – i was wondering about that one!

  • Robin says:

    Oh, I so miss the preschool apple orchard trips! Does yours have a sorting machine? That was the biggest hit at our local orchard, which we visited 2X for preschool and again for kindergarten.

    Will have to get my hands on some Demeter Honey!

    • March says:

      You bet we had the sorting machine!!! My favorite part. I am such a geek. There I was, asking questions…. they also have an apple escalator taking the apples from the bath to the cider press. My second favorite part.

  • tmp00 says:

    gee! I am so sorry that Botrytis went so horribly wrong for you!:(

    • March says:

      Not as sorry as I am, my friend! I’m almost afraid to try the other ones now, I was SURE this would be my new BFF!!!!

      Hey, how are you? Anywhere near the fires?

  • Lee says:

    … I’ve spent all day thinking about the baby farm and the poop collecting machine…:-“

    • March says:

      No! No no no! I mean … okay, chamberpots, I’m thinking. But still. That is freaking disgusting and wrong. And the rest of the list was kind of odd, too.

  • sweetlife says:

    Well, darn, I’m sorry the Botrytis didn’t work out for you. I’m sure the sample will find a happier home, eventually. Curious what you thought of the Escada Collection, now.

    It’s very interesting to me the way honey/tobacco/urine/boyhoney all seem to be aspects of the same scent. I mean, sometimes a honey note works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but when it doesn’t it seems to go wrong in much the same way. (Seems like leather should be in there, somewhere, too.) I wonder what the chemistry is? Have to write to one of the perfumers about this.

    • sweetlife says:

      P.S. LOVE that illustration. Wherever did you find it?

    • March says:

      I’m gonna dab the Botrytis and the SMN on Louise and see what happens. Maybe she’ll love them? Maybe they’ll disappear in 5 seconds? I really appreciate the samps, though. The Escada Collection I’m saving for another post (thanks!) And yeah, I can see a link between honey/tobacco/urine/boyhoney. There must be some overlapping chemical smells.

      I was googling various combos of illustrations of “bee” “honey” “hive” and they were all completely boring, and then THAT popped up!!! How perfect is that! I want that on a tee shirt, or a poster or something.

  • Divalano says:

    Suffering from terrible brain-fog today. Thurs are my crash day after 3 12 hr shifts. Will try to post coherently.

    Tried Botrytis recently. Got nice winey bit for a half minute & then it was just sweet. No character, no fun, no funky, just honey & candied stuff. It was too too for me, gave it to a friend who loved it. She got a lot of wine & then a lovely mellow honey.

    SMN AdC smelled of funk in the bottle to me & I refused to spray. I cannot right now bring to mind the smell of boyhoney to think if that’s the funk I smell, nor do I want to. And now that you’ve burned that into my brain I think I’ll never ever spray it on me! lol I will however try the Demeter & the Te Nero next time I come across either. Sounds nice.

    OK. Back to being incoherently mumbley. Must dress, go for flu shot. 8-|

    • March says:

      Waaaah!!!!:(( Where’s my lovely, mellow honey!!! It might even turn back into that, but the pain up front was too severe.

      I’m trying to think, there’s something else really radically wonderful on other people that smells so lame on me, I just kill all the good bits.

      And VINDICATION even more on the funk in the SMN bottle, if you didn’t even want to spray it on! I keep reading Judith et al. and thinking I am insane.

  • Camille says:

    Thanks for the article–I think. 🙂

    I found it fascinating that blackcurrant smells like cat pee; that explains a lot in terms of my reaction to some scents, I suspect.

    I had no luck with Botrytis, and honey in general seems iffy on me. Perhaps I need to try the Demeter. And I definitely need to retry the Rose Poivree.

    • March says:

      Oh, you are so welcome! Hope you didn’t read it over breakfast (I tried to warn you). I think the civet cream followed by the cigarette will stick in my mind for awhile.

      I was really surprised how much I liked the Demeter. And BTW your package is on its way.:x

  • violetnoir says:

    Rose Poivree, huh? I’ve been so in love with TDC’s Osmanthus (I love osmanthus!), Sel de Vetiver and Divine Bergamote, that I completely forgot about it. Is it that spectacular?

    Musc Ravageur only three stars??? 😮 What’s wrong with that man, lol???


    • March says:

      Um … Rose Poivree stinks. In a truly fantastic way. I personally am having trouble seeing you falling in love, but who knows? It’s strong, peppery and a little gamey, but to me roses have that smell anyway.

      Musc Rav deserved four stars. I don’t recall that he’s ever given anything five stars before, I wonder.

  • Teri says:

    I’m disappointed for you that Botrytis was such a disaster for you. I’d be miserable if it stopped working for me because I truly adore it. It’s my ‘go to’ scent for colder weather. But I do understand the mad rush to the sink, as I recently had the same experience with Perfumerie Generale’s ‘Bois de Copaiba’. It quite literally nauseated me. Different strokes for different folks, and you know what? That’s ok by me. It means the perfume industry has to provide a wider smorgasbord of scents to cater to our widely varying chemistries. And variety is ALWAYS a good thing! :d

    • March says:

      Oooooh, I HATE it when the PGs are the scrubbers, because they’re so dang hard to get rid of!! You’re practically sawing your own arm off to make the smell of Assomassai go away…:o their stuff is potent, and when it’s good it’s great. But when it’s bad…8-x

  • Lee says:

    I *try* to love Rose Poivree – it intrigues me, I enjoy the peppery quality but I’m useless with rose, and with musks more and more…


    • March says:

      Well, I don’t like rose much at all. You know that. The ones that seem to appeal to me are the really off-the-wall ones like Poivree, the SL Rose de Nuit, Ta’if…

  • Patty says:

    wow, why did I not know this about you. You adore Rose Poivree? One of the most major buttcrack scents on the face of the earth?

    • March says:

      Well … yeah. I’m gross, and I’m proud. Skank power!\:d/

      Seriously, I avoided it like the plague for so long. Wouldn’t even pick up the bottle (and I’m not a huge TDC fan to start with).

      And the day I smelled it, sort of as a joke, it was like Judith’s husband — I thought, wow. This is BEAUTIFUL.:x

  • arhianrad says:

    HEHE! Quite amused by the Burr article…and inspired by the honey post. Now I’m sitting here trying to decide SOTD between Rose Poivree and L’Occitane’s Honey…:)

    • March says:

      Hmmmmm, what do you think would happen if you layered them?:-?/:) My guess is the Poivree would eat it before it hit your skin.

  • rosarita says:

    I read “Satan’s Beehive” on the RSS list and thought “wha..?” Then I saw the illustration you used and laughed out loud. The Burr article made me laugh as well! Thanks for happying up my morning coffee. Hope your trip to the apple orchard was crisp and blue skyed and colorful.:)

    • March says:

      Well, it was actually cold and rainy, but we needed it desperately, we have (I think) just had the dryest fall on record, the farmers really took a beating. I’m just happy for something closer to our normal temperatures, as nice as 85 degrees sounds … it’s ridiculous here in late October! BTW I was googling for images and saw that one and thought, PERFECT!

  • Anne says:

    Adore TDC’s Rose Poivree also. Hate it though when you love a fragrance note, you don’t know why or what it is about that stage of the fragrance but it is “wrist sutured to nose”, can’t put the love into words adoration. Then someone, anyone, puts a description to that nebulous something and then…. poof! Brings it all down to cat pee or mold or grandpa’s armpit. Changes everything and time to remove the sutures. You can never go back. 🙁

    On to happier thoughts. Too lazy to re-check your other previous post/comments on honey. Was L’Occitane Honey gentle water mentioned? Wonderful and simple, simple simple. Sometimes uncomplicated and pure is the answer. :)>-

    • Anne says:

      Great timing. Back to Rose Poivree. This visual on Moving and Shaking Scent of the Day will help me move on.

    • March says:

      Well, I just think of it as “… in a good way.” Like, Messe di Minuit is moldy in a GOOD way.:) Works every time for me! And yes, the Honey Gentle Water was on my last list, it’s a great scent. I let the twins wear it, and I spray it on myself too. Someone thought it might be getting the axe, you may want to check with your local store and stock up if you need to.

  • Elle says:

    That Burr article had me laughing out loud Sunday morning. Wore Rose Poivree that day and was reminded once again how absolutely perfect it is. I think I need to retry Kouros. Speaking of honey and animalic scents, have you tried Shocking? I am constantly searching for good bottles of it on ebay. *Love* the stuff. I’m afraid I wrote a seriously glowing review of Botrytis on MUA a couple of years ago. Am thinking of going back and changing it since I can’t stand the stuff now – am not sure what happened to my skin chemistry, but something has definitely changed. Put it on recently and almost gagged. Cloying to the extreme. AdC, however, works on my skin. I do get some boyhoney (deferring to Lee), but I also get a very nice dose of tobacco – the same honey-cured cigar type that Judith mentioned and I love tobacco almost as much as I love animalic notes in scents. Demeter Honey gets a bad rap from a lot of people, but I really enjoy it – especially for layering w/ darker scents. Must try the Speziali Fiorentini.

    • March says:

      I REALLY need to try Shocking (I haven’t) if you and Judith are loving it. I still can’t quite put my finger on what I hated so much about Botrytis. It wasn’t “cloying.” It was like a whole new bad smell I don’t have a good word for./:)

  • Judith says:

    I don’t usually care for Burr, but this was a great article! Thanks so much!!! I have smelled pure civet, and it IS frightening, although I seem to love it in perfumes. I still want to know about those children, though. . . .

    The only one of the above scents I am familiar with is the SMN (see comments above). I am curious as to whether our differences are the result of chemistry or associations. Some day, when I finally meet you, we will find out.

    GO SOX (not to rub it in or anything, P):)

    • Patty says:

      What a disaster last night. I’m glad I was on an airplane NOT watching the game.

      • Judith says:

        Actually, I have to admit, I felt sorry for the poor pitchers–particularly that reliever who kept walking people. And it’s more fun when things are close.

    • Judith says:

      I was talking about the honey scents–but I want to add myself to the list of those who ADORE Rose Poivree. DH is on that list too; when I asked him “what does this smell like?” (thinking of all the unmentionable associations), he said, “I* don’t know, but it’s something very pretty.”:) I must show him the Burr article–he’ll love it. And I need to try Kouros too. I do think he could have been nicer (in stars) to MR. Also–like Elle–I (predicatably) really like Shocking (although I have only had a little bit of it).

      • March says:

        I think MR rated four stars, and am now dying to smell Kouros, since he’s made it sound so revolting.8-} My recollection was that it smelled *sweet*, so either I’m insane or remembering a different fragrance entirely. I have never tried Shocking, and clearly I need to remedy that.:”>

    • March says:

      The thing about the children! I mean, he wasn’t joking, right? He was serious? That was disgusting. I was laughing out loud in disgust, and then refused to admit what I was laughing at.

      I would love for this crew to get together in a room and smell the SMN. It smelled the same to/on Lee and me, and some other people… but is it our noses? If you smelled it on me, would you think it smelled just like it does on you? That’s the part of personal reaction I’m fascinated by.

  • Louise says:

    Love the Burr article! Yum, I’ll think about that civit cream as I pour my morning cuppa. Thanks, and I owe you one for that…b-(
    I have a recently-found affinity for Musc R, and was wondering about that “odd” note-now I just have to appreciate it, and not visualize kitties butt.

    I got nervous about the ALs with the recent news that she is off perfumery, at least for now, and ordered a samp of Honey from the Perfumed Court. Maria loves it, no? I am eager to try it. I also re-tried the MdB and like it much better now, but it is very, very sweet. Maybe worth a decant. As for the others, only the Demeter seems to stand a chance for me. But your 5 hours of wear will be about 2 on me. Still, at the price…

    I am really enjoying the honey in my two Arabian Oud Shop blends-it is distinctly present, but so nicely blended with oud and rose that the sweetness is cut a bit. Need a bit more, March?

    I can only imagine a hay ride full of damp preschoolers at the orchard this morning in the midst of this welcome, but heavy rain-break out those tarps, and have a blast!

    • March says:

      Just got back, it was cold and muddy but fun! I wore …. Burning Leaves and Gathering Apples (natch).

      Wow, everyone’s all over the place on the AL honey. I’m afraid to smell it now, what if I fall in love and she’s thrown in the towel?

      I’ll probably be hitting you up for another taste of prestige at some pt… wish I could skip the rose, though.

    • Maria says:

      I haven’t tried AL Honey! Don’t blame me if things go badly wrong! 😮 It’s Cafe Noir I’m so crazy about.
      I loooove Musc R.

  • Gail S says:

    Oh gosh, I’m so sorry that Botrytis was so horrible on you! LOL at exorcism. I’m kinda feeling that way about the perfume I’m wearing tonight at work. Damp, moldy bitter green stuff….ick…@-)

    Note to Julia up there, the AL Honey got one spray from me and immediately went up for swap. Just not for me.

    The Speziali Fiorentini sounds promising, will have to look for it!

    • March says:

      Hey, the curiosity is killing me — what are you WEARING!?!?! Moldy, bitter, green — the possibilities are endless…:-?

      I can’t even figure out what went wrong with Botrytis. It wasn’t a definable scent, like “cat pee” or “mold.” It was just .. awful.:-ss

      • Gail S says:

        Carthusia Via Camerelle. I should love it, the notes scream “me”, but the reality on skin screams “Aaaaaack!”

  • Lee says:

    Let’s call it boyhoney from now on please.:-&

  • Maria says:

    Just so not everyone gets her/his hopes up: I don’t get the least bit of boyjuice out of Santa Maria Novella Acqua di Cuba. Niente! Nada! It’s a sweet leather, and I like it. I wonder what Louise gets. It’s good to know about the Demeter. I like beeswax.

    • Louise says:

      You encourage me to try the SMN, since your tastes are impeccable\:d/ But after the Secretions Magnifiques debacle nearly ruined my love life, I am a bit frightened…

      • Judith says:

        It is nothing like SM. Like Maria, I like it–no, I LOVE it, but I get more tobacco (a honey-cured cigar, to be specific) than leather. No boy-juice at all (even with that in mind). You should definitely give it a try!

    • March says:

      Ooooh, I now have this teeny vile, I’ll sprinkle some on her the next time we get together!:-$ I’ll let you know what happens… and your reaction to the SMN is the rule, I’d bet, not the exception.

  • JuliaForsberg says:

    You’re not alone March. I had the EXACT same reaction to Botyris:-&

    I got Ava Luxes Honey in the mail today. Haven’t had the time to try it on skin yet but from a first sniff I can say… that it will probably not work either.

  • Gaia says:

    For some reason, I feel compelled to check that boyjuice. Funky scents tend to love me. I’m scraed to think what it says about my skin. And personality.

    • March says:

      Gaia — I should have stuck a disclaimer up there that most *normal* people get what Judith describes — a honeyed tobacco. As far as funky scents — hey, I’m all about the disgusting civet and musk. Everything can’t be frosted litchi, right?