I'm wandering through a Marina District sex store called Romantasy, here to test-drive a "delicious fragrance" called Fantastique, a new perfume oil made from sex pheromones, the body's natural chemicals secreted to put the opposite sex in a mood conducive to romance. New evidence supposedly proves the existence of a tiny organ within the human nose that appears to be the counterpart to other animals' VNO, or vomeronasal organ, devoted exclusively to sensing pheromones. A University of Pennsylvania Medical School study has discovered that pheromones exuded by a male actually work to calm and steady a woman's reproductive systems. Thank God something does, I suppose.
Romantasy owner Ann Grogan applies the Fantastique to each of my wrists. She says her pheromones smell like baby powder, but, see, mine have more of a citrus odor. A female psychologist in her sixties swears she was wearing it one day when a young man came into her office for a scheduled visit and went nuts. "He nearly jumped inside my clothes!" she exclaims.
Gosh, look at the time ...
It's nights like this that you feel like a true patriot, sacrificing an evening on the town for a higher cause. Strip joints are off-limits since dancers will pay attention to you anyway.
A subtle introduction: The Delancey Street Restaurant, a unique rehab project where the waiters, busboys, chefs and maitre d's all have flirted with the wrong side of the law. Who would better know heightened levels of intimate odor than former tenants of our nation's prisons? Maybe the pheromones will be too strong! I'll get jumped in the restroom and become the victim of some unholy perfume-induced group sodomy, leaving my ugly, citrus-smelling carcass bleeding on the cold tile floor, just like they used to in San Quen--
Uh, thank you ...
Next stop is the yuppie hormone nest known as Gordon Biersch Brewery, but the bartender informs me Saturdays are "more of a family night. Thursday and Friday we get the singles and mistresses." Timing is everything.
Why does cologne even exist? Because all prepubescent boys received cologne bottles shaped like race cars and jet planes, so that after a hot shave, a frisky nine-year-old could splash on some foo-foo juice and cruise the playground, smooth-talking second graders: "Damn baby, you're looking fine. Wanna come over and play some Doom?" It's the Avon conspiracy -- start the kids young, make them paranoid about their own smell so they'll mask it every day for the rest of their lives.
At Johnny Love's, the classic fern bar on Polk and Broadway, a reggae band plays to a capacity crowd of thick-necked ex-jocks and small, thin, opportunistic women with cleavage. A balding Middle Eastern man wearing thick glasses and a down ski jacket wanders around, looking severely lost. Everybody circulates so fast, it's hard to strike up a conversation and let the Fantastique take control. Or maybe it's because every woman here has had her VNO scraped out during a nose job. San Francisco could burn down around them, and they wouldn't smell the smoke.
Down the street is Babylon, a prototypical disco for rich white kids who can't seem to arrive without an ostentatious limo. Everybody looks unhappy, worrying if they're exclusive enough to be on the list. Pheromones can't help their problem.
In desperation, I check out the Tenderloin's Century Theatre lap-dance emporium. Some woman has to give me the eye tonight, even if I have to slip her a 20 and suffer through some shitty song by the Cure. The doorman says 15 minutes until the late-show discount price, so I hit the O'Farrell Sports Bar, a half-block from both the Century and the Mitchell Brothers theater. Fantastique should have no problem here.
Apparently not. I end up drinking whiskey with Ruben from South Africa, who's busy worrying about flying to Canada to avoid the immigration hassle. I show him my little bottle of sheep dip, and he suggests a SoMa club called So What?
The address is Cat's Bar & Grill, for years the site of a classy dyke bar. Maybe the potion will absorb some of that sex-positive chick energy the media is hyping up, and women will crawl all over me like jungle cats, nostrils flared in pheromone fury. And then I'll have a column.
Unfortunately, it's just brooding pseudo-Goths lurking in the shadows, nodding to the beat. One girl dances solo in untucked white shirt and high-heeled work boots. We dance in the strobe-lit darkness, her leg in between mine. Has the Fantastique kicked in at last? Or is it just the raw magnetism of Trent Reznor? Neither. We say goodbye in the rain, and I wake up the next morning stinking like a St. Louis truck driver who just discovered free airline cologne.
Fantastique is like acupuncture -- if you believe it works, and you surround yourself with everybody else who thinks it works, then by God, it's the greatest stuff around. Having to explain it all night kind of kills the surprise. But it is more subtle than a chocolate vagina.
(Fantastique is available in 1/2-ounce ($30) or 1/3-ounce ($22) bottles. To order a Romantasy catalogue, send $5 to 199 Moulton, San Francisco, CA 94123; or call 673-3137 ext. 03.)
Address all correspondence to: Slap Shots, 425 Brannan, San Francisco, CA 94107; Fax: (415) 777-1839; e-mail: SlapshawtsBy Jack Boulware