John Frum Epic Aftershave & Cologne - The New Musk Standard
Scent Profile: Sicilian Cedrat, Black Pepper, Sea Salt, Ambergris, Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood, Kava Kava, White Musk & Animalic Musk.
Behold, John Frum!
John Frum is from the brighter end of the musk spectrum and truly a game changer in that regard, I promise you! It is perfect for folks who don't normally feel drawn to musks. John Frum is musk like you never experienced it before! So let's dig into it, shall we? [Note: The Saga begins at the bottom of this page!]
"Wow, the most AMAZING scent from PAA ever in my opinion. Douglas Smythe this is a Grand Slam!" ~ Russ Miller, Customer
About the Note Selection
Some of the scent notes I chose I think are rather unique, or at the very least, not as common, so I thought I would break them down a little in an effort to get you into the vibe I was going for.
Sicilian Cedrat: A citrus fruit that is chiefly grown in Sicily. It is one of the original citrus fruits from which all other citrus types developed through natural hybrid speciation or artificial hybridization. The scent is truly magical, zesty, incredibly fresh and light, similar to lemons and limes with lots of sweetness but softer and more well rounded without the floor cleaner note so often found in citrus.
It wasn't only the scent that stuck out to me, but also it's origin. It really seemed thematic when it came to the John Frum story, and worked perfectly as a top note.
Kava Kava: or Piper methysticum (Latin "pepper" and Latinized Greek "intoxicating") is a crop of the Pacific Islands. The name kava(-kava) is from Tongan and Marquesan, meaning "bitter". Kava is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii and Vanuatu, and Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia for its sedating effects.
I am proud to say, this may very well be the first time it has been used in a perfuming application! The scent of Kava Kava is very similar to Vetiver, green, dirty and earthy. Below I go into more detail on this truly special scent note, which may have had more to do with the structure of this accord than me!
Ambergris: (from wikipedia) Latin: ambra grisea, Old French: ambre gris), ambergrease, or grey amber, is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of sperm whales. Freshly produced ambergris has a marine, fecal odor. However, with age, it acquires a sweet, dry, amber, woody, mossy fragrance. In dry-down, there is a cinnamic note, which moves into a smooth ambery musk note.
Ambergris has been very highly valued by perfumers as a fixative that allows the scent to last much longer, although it has been mostly replaced by synthetic ambroxan. Dogs are known to be attracted to the smell of ambergris and are therefore sometimes used by ambergris searchers.
I should mention, Ambergris is one of my favorites and I have used it many times in the past, but not sure how much folks know about it, I thought I'd give a little background.
Being that pure ambergris is understandably expensive, I chose to use Ambergris tincture and Ambergris Essence which is a beautiful reconstitution of Ambergris known as 'Ambergris T Oliffac' by IFF.
White Musk: or Synthetic musks have a clean, smooth and sweet scent lacking the fecal notes of animal musks. Synthetic musks in a narrower sense are chemicals modeled after the main odorants in animal musk: muscone in deer musk, civetone in civet, and ambroxide in ambergris. Muscone and civetone are macrocyclic ketones, ambroxide is a cyclic ether.
Animalic Musk: To get as close as I could to actual deer musk I chose to use Animalid, which shares a lot of the same characteristics as standard white musk but maintains that fecal note. Now I know what you're thinking, but trust me, that note is used in many a popular, historic, and famous fragrance. It functions as a supportive actor and you would never know it was there, but you would if it wasn't. It is that primal element that adds an unmistakable depth to classic musk.
The Familiar Notes
As for the other notes that make up John Frum, I think most of our customers are familiar with them; Black Pepper, Sea Salt, and Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood. The sea salt was added not only for the relation to the theme of the fragrance but also because it worked so well with the Sicilian Cedrat. In combination they added a real zing and freshness. I think the black pepper can be included in that sentiment with the classic spiciness it delivers, which was a throwback to classic splashes. Sandalwood I just can't stay away from, but its use wasn't in vain for it truly grounded the entire blend.
So Who is this John Frum and why should I praise him?
Well for one, this is probably one of the most epic modern musks available right now! Musks seem almost an afterthought to the rest of the world, but as I have mentioned many a time over the last few months, I see a BIG COMEBACK in effect!
I approached John Frum with serious intention, with a desire to capture that classic manly musk of yesteryear, the stuff they just don't make any more or seem to give a damn about. John Frum is more in line with what your grandpappy wore...an Instant Classic...however, more worldly and refined.
But back to the question at hand, who is this John Frum?
Well, it's not such an easy question to answer. You see, John Frum for lack of a better descriptor, is a god, at least to the well-meaning natives of the tiny island of Tanna located in the South Pacific. Sure, he looks like a WW2 era fighter pilot, but man does he have the power to make it rain precious cargo over the island!
The John Frum religion was born out of a cargo cult in the 1940s. During that time Japan and the USA were really going at it in the South Pacific, each had forces occupying different islands that would serve as pit stop type bases, where fighters could refresh & refuel then take off again and head back into battle.
The island of Tanna hosted both Japanese forces, and then eventually the USA. It is suspected that after the Japanese left the island a few American soldiers, most likely flyboys, were sent out to do recon and see if the coast was clear on Tanna, not only that, but if it would serve the missions purpose.
All the while the poor, curious, wide eyed islanders watched as these two advanced world super powers occupied their land. They observed the strange rituals, men in uniform marching with boom sticks, saluting each other, the construction of air traffic towers, the strange signal dance done with flags and flares towards the heavens...all this and more, which when done correctly would clearly lead to the gods raining cargo down from the heavens!
It is highly probable that during these early recon missions, one of the pilots introduced himself to the natives.
"Hey fellas, I'm John, John from...New York, New Jersey, wherever..."
But all they heard in their shock and amazement was "I am John Frum."
Clearly, this strangely dressed man was a god. He may have even promised them that the USA was here now, and we were going to take care of them with lots of cargo. For a time, the natives did indeed receive many gifts from the soldiers, which reinforced their belief.
After the war ended the soldiers left the island, and this is when the cargo cult of John Frum was really born. The natives soon began building fake runways, air traffic towers and even fake straw aircraft. They carved wooden rifles and marched in formation. They lit signal fires and raised the American Flags on poles. All for precious cargo. After all, if these rituals they observed worked for the soldiers, surely it would work for them. One day soon John Frum would return to them with cargo in hand!
Now mind you, this is not an isolated event. Cargo Cults like this have popped up all over the world, and oddly enough share the same belief system. A few even still exist! This includes the John Frum and Tom Navy cults.
This is just another part of our curious war time history that I think a lot of folks missed out on. I find just as interesting as other, more famous events and phenomenon, if not more so! So, with all this in mind I made it my personal mission to put together a very special, classic scent that would somehow capture all this wackiness and wonder of a cargo cult. I got so into this project I nearly drugged myself into a coma...for real.
Well, maybe not a coma, but it wasn't looking good...I better explain.
In the South Pacific Island culture, a popular, and potent plant is consumed, Kava Kava. It's primarily a sedative, but when prepared ritually it is taken communally and passed around in a circle of men. When done right, the effects are numbing and euphoric at the same time. Those of you who follow what I do know that I will often base a scent on the flora of a location, in an attempt to try to bring that area of tribute to life. In the case of John Frum, I was curious about the scent of Kava Kava and hoped that through distillation I could get some essential oil from the roots, or at the very least a hydrosol, to add to the aftershave.
After several attempts at distillation I failed to procure any essential oil, but the Kava Kava hydrosol did floweth, and man, if this is stuff is not related to vetiver at some level, I'd be shocked! Turns out Kava Kava has a very strong, green, and dirty scent! Seriously, this is some really nice stuff, and as I mentioned, very comparable to the scent of vetiver. [Vetiver fans will love the subtle undertones of Kava Kava that can be found in the accord.]
Actually, this wasn't my first time dabbling with Kava Kava. Back in the day I use to take capsules of it after a heavy work out and before bed or make a Kava Kava tea. You may remember seeing it yourself in health food stores. It really was excellent stuff if you needed to mellow out and insomnia was not an option. Granted, neither the capsules, or tea bags were as potent as when made in the Island tradition.
I was also given a Kava Kava *ceremonial bowl by an ex-girlfriend about 15 years ago after she returned from Fiji, where she observed the consumption of this magical stuff in real time. Again, I had only taken capsules and tea back in the day and never really experienced the Real Deal Kava Kava. Now after all this John Frum research you could say I was more than curious- I was Ready Ready. *You'll see the bowl in a few John Frum Photos!
So, I dug around online and found a couple variations on the traditional recipe. Now with fresh Kava Kava Root in hand and my ceremonial bowl and masher I was ready. After about 45 minutes of preparation the milky white, vetiver smelling juice was all set to consume.
I sat in a comfortable chair in the living room and drank all of it. After only what seemed a few minutes I melted into the armchair, both my mouth and tongue went completely numb; tingly. I felt like I was smiling but I doubt those tiny muscles were really working. I just laughed, everything was great, I wanted to dance, sing, possibly write a poem but could not move! It's said, it is impossible to hate or get angry when drinking Kava Kava, and man are they right.
In my mind’s eye I started to put together the different notes I then somehow knew would work well in the scent blend, with much effort I managed to jot down the scent blend almost as if the Kava Kava root was dictating it to me. In recollection, it sounds kind of far out or silly, but at the time this was a very serious matter...well, kinda serious, there was that perma-smile on my face, real or imagined.
I eventually fell asleep only to be shaken awake by Fran many hours later! It turns out the recipe I made was for 5-8 grown men, for a real kava kava ceremony! The reason why I am sharing this story with you is just to give you a little peek into what goes into my scent exploration and some of the really dumb stuff I do in an effort to deliver something really unique or authentic, something much more than a simple aftershave or soap, but a full-fledged experience...even if it kills me in the process.
Also in the splash you will find 4 very potent, effective plant extracts: Aloe Vera, Bayberry, Coffeeberry and Seaweed. As far as I know, I was the first artisan to utilize plant extracts in an effort to boost the beneficial attributes of an aftershave, and John Frum is no different, I went all out! The scent of Bayberry also lends itself to the base of the fragrance quite nicely!
Bayberry is considered an astringent herb, with a thick and soothing scent note. Coffeeberry: The polyphenolic antioxidant contained within the extract soaks up damaging free radicals and may help to reduce the appearance of fine lines. Polyphenols from Coffeeberry can help reduce puffiness on skin. As for Seaweed Extract, the same mix of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and antioxidants that can benefit your body when you eat it, can also help your skin when applied topically! I probably don't need to go into how wonderful Aloe Vera is, truly a wonder plant it be.
So, after all that, I believe John Frum to be one of the finest, most unique modern musk scents out there. Unique in composition, bright, spicy and refreshing, classic in scent and epic when it comes to dry down and projection!
All Praise John Frum!
100 Ml Glass Flask w/ Orifice
Ingredients: Alcohol, Kava Kava Hydrosol, Essential Oils, Fragrance Oils, Vegetable Glycerin, Aloe Vera, Hedione, Bayberry Extract, Coffeeberry Extract, Seaweed Extract
John Frum Saga - Part One
Deep within the interior of the island was a spark of unnatural activity. The rhythmic, ritual drumming of a hollowed out tree or idiophonic drum, reverberated through the mouth of the cave behind a crackling, angry bonfire. Historically this drum was used for communication announcing births, deaths and sometimes calls to war, but tonight, it was a call to partake in something truly dark and taboo.
The painted cannibals went to work on their latest catch, a very sunburnt, British sailor who stopped begging for his life hours ago as the Kava Kava kicked in.
Dreamily, He watched himself being swabbed with some sort of sopping husk brush coated with what looked like wet red clay, but was more than likely some type of messed up headhunting BBQ Rub he thought...it wasn't looking good for him at all, but man did he smell delicious! He slowly lowered his head back down on the bamboo mat and the stupid grin returned.
Kava Kava was a hell of a drug.
Though in a fog, it was very clear, he really needed to escape.
* * *
Sunny Side of the Island
The elder natives of the island immediately recognized the sound. It was rumored one would hear it before they passed onto the other side.
Wide eyed and now very alert, the old folks looked around at the others of the village who had stopped whatever they were doing and it was clear, young and old, both could hear that magical sputter approaching. A collective sigh of relief escaped their ancient lips.
Now all heads were raised and smiling towards the heavens for precious manna was abound, John Frum was returning!
* * *
"It make no sense man, we gain no altitude and engine strain! 3 adults and poodle should be ok...I no understand, but it no look good." said the pilot squinting in the morning sun and tapping various gauges.
"Poodle? Sigh...I said, Malamute not Maltese!!" screamed Douglas over the struggling, timeworn engine of the Cesna C-172.
"What's a Malamute?" asked the pilot turning around and giving Doug a quizzical look.
As if on cue, Huxley had just awoken and swung his big fury head over the back seat giving the nonplussed pilot a big yawn, and one heck of a scare.
"Polar Bear!" he exclaimed and then proceeded to scream like a little girl, throwing his hands off the controls and waving them in the air wildly, like some cotton candy wielding carnival goer high on rollercoaster fumes and sugar. Fran, seated next to the pilot in the front passenger seat and cool as a cucumber, tried to calm the excited little fella down .
She gently grabbed at his hands which were now scratching at the ceiling above them both and place them back on the steering wheel giving them each a little pat. Blushing, he quickly regained composure.
"This why we no gain altitude, too much weight, we gonna die." he now calmly stated accepting his fate.
Huxley was sure the pilot was calling him fat and gave him the stink eye.
"Can't we land, look there's an island below with a runway!" Doug yelled pointing over the pilots shoulder.
"Island no safe, cannibals." He then began praying the worn and well-used looking rosary that dangled around his neck in Pidgin English.
Douglas reappeared from behind the rear bench seat holding 3 parachutes, one in each hand and one in his mouth.
"I tay my chanzes wid da cannibas!" he mumbled before removing the parachute from his mouth and started attaching the harness to Huxley, who found this action rather tickling.
* * *
The natives began to cheer and jump around joyfully when they witnessed the sudden cargo trailing from the plane, multicolored parachutes inflated like balloons in the rushing, tropical winds. It was still too bright to really make out the detail of the payload, but Chief John Wan thought he might be seeing people! John has returned...and brought others? He thought to himself.
Today was shaping up to be quite a day, one minute he was dining on Taro and Shark outside his hut with all his wives, next minute it's the rapture! He kept his squinting eyes on the silhouettes as they drifted down towards terra firma.
That, is where he would find precious cargo!
He broke focus for a second and tilted his head, was someone humming?
* * *
" A Cannibal Island!?!?!" Fran screamed over the wind at Douglas, who was spinning uncontrollably in his poorly unpacked, wound up chute.
" No, no, no there has not been cannibalism in these islands for years!" He gave a big toothy grin which he meant to be reassuring and comforting but it came off looking the exact opposite, unsure and worrisome as he spun in a slow circle.
Huxley fully embraced this latest predicament and began to hum Into The Wild Blue Yonder in only a way that a Malamute can. Well, certain Malamutes. Truth is, not all of them are howlers, some in fact hum. He fell into the latter category.
Though their original destination was the small coral island of Aniwa they could most-likely hire a boat or plane to take them the rest of the way and make it there by night fall. While beautiful, these small, outlying Polynesian Islands could be mysterious and a bit backwards, but that's exactly what drew Douglas to these accidental expeditions!
The ground was now coming in fast and Douglas lost site of the runway he had kept his eye on since first jumping from the plane.
That, is where they would find their ticket off the island!
The captive British Sailor woke up groggy and squinting, feeling hungover, gagged and hog tied. This was mostly due to the fact that he was hungover, on his knees, gagged and tied to a stake stuck deep in the sandy earth...and he was still naked, well kinda, they were nice enough to leave his shirt on. His predicament had not gotten any better, but he felt slightly less humiliated.
And at least he was alive.
He was in a hut no bigger than the interior of a VW Bug. Only a few feet across from him, his ragged clothes were piled in a heap, and his .38 was on top of that pile like a glistening Maraschino Cherry of hope and boom, he could still see rounds in the cylinder. Being that both his hands and feet were lashed tightly to the post all he could do was stare...and drool.
Kava Kava is a hell of a drug.
* * *
Douglas adjusted the makeshift, palm frond visor on his head that he had just finished constructing, wishing he had packed a pocket mirror. While he did look more ridiculous than usual, it was almost noon now on the island and the tropical sun was blinding as it reflected off the alabaster sands. Fran just stood there with what may have been a smirk on her face as Huxley circled the parameter of the clearing that they stood in. He was on "Kitty Patrol", at least this is what his pet humans called it. Truth is, he was a sucker for a good tuber, and they were now in yam country.
"Approximately how much further till we get to the airstrip?" Fran asked as she made some adjustments to Doug's fronds, tucking a few strays behind his ears.
"I'd say about 10 more blocks." After his last trip to NYC he had picked up the habit of speaking in blocks. Miles, Kilometers, clicks, and clacks were all out the window. Blocks were all the rave for him now. It didn't really bother him too much that no one else knew what he was talking about, it made him feel more sophisticated and edgy. Being from New York originally, Fran barely noticed. She did some quick math in her head, it was like 20 Manhattan Starbucks away she calculated.
10 minutes later they walked out onto the runway that they had seen from the plane.
"This doesn't feel right." Fran whispered, at no one in particular.
Doug slowly nodded in agreement though unsure if she was talking to him or not. It was almost too quiet now, and there was that heavy feeling of being watched that he knew only too well. When you're a hat guy, you get used to that feeling.
It was now high noon and he couldn't help but whistle the theme from the Good, The Bad, and The Ugly as they moseyed on down the line toward the aircraft at the other end of it. Fran joined in. Huxley, now gorged on yams, waddled as he lagged behind his humans. He would really prefer a siesta about now, and work out the whole stranded thing later, but being a good sport, joined in the whistling.
As they approached within yards of the craft their faces slowly contorted into a mix of horror and confusion.
* * *
The islanders observed the new arrivals from a safe distance just at the edge of the jungle, giggling and speaking in whispers. Chief John Wan shooshed them, for he needed to think. He was not sure what he was seeing; a man in a funny plant hat, a woman whistling with intent and purpose, and a great white fur pig shuffling behind. What did this mean? The strangers were fast approaching the latest tribute, which the natives had fervidly built only days before. The last one had been blown away by a tropical storm.
* * *
The sailor had been making little progress on the cords that bound him to the post, and he thought he now heard movement outside the hut. His escape window was closing fast it would seem. He tried rocking back and forth, swinging what little weight he had left on him in an effort to loosen the stake, but it barely budged. Then he felt it...
It was as if someone was grabbing at his ankle and gently squeezing it. Was there someone in here with him? A cannibal checking for the meatiest cut? He tried to turn his head, but his gag was tied too tight behind the post. As he felt the phantom hand moving up his spine and begin to wrap around him like a one-handed hug, his eyes widened and circled wildly as he now realized what it was, a Python!
The snake suddenly began to move with some gusto as if it knew it had blown its cover. The sailor could see no end to the snake as it wrapped around him with the girth of a young palm tree. He desperately chewed at the gag and worked his fingers faster at the restraints in vain. The sound of his muffled screams only seemed to excite the reptile more as it began to constrict.
The added weight of the snake now caused the thick bamboo stake to arch slightly. The sailor had to think fast. He began to rock back and forth as rapidly as he could. Suddenly there was a sharp snap, which at first he mistook to be his neck. He was now folded forward, the python recoiled, slightly stunned by the noise. This was the moment he needed, and from his new angle he pushed his hands through the loose ropes and shook off the gag. The stake fell away in shards, and he lunged towards his gun, but the snake was back on him and moving even faster, working him like a new tube of toothpaste from the feet up.
In all the confusion and fury, now entwined, the pair rolled through the cloth doorway of the hut and were now in the noon sun. Though he knew Pythons weren't venomous he still grasped for its neck with his left hand, time was running out and he really needed a clean shot. Plus, he was sure the cannibals, now awake, were watching him, a bridge he'd cross when he had to.
* * *
"Was that a gun shot?" Both Fran and Doug asked in unison as they dropped to the ground.
* * *
"Was that a gun shot?" Thought Chief John Wan as he smiled to himself.
Today really was getting exciting.
After about 5 minutes, Fran, Doug, and Huxley stood up and dusted themselves off after taking cover. They concluded it wasn't a gunshot they had heard and most likely a car backfiring, cause that seemed logical...though in truth, highly unlikely when you consider the reality of their current situation, but hey, whatever gets you through the night, right? So once again, their faces contorted back to horror and confusion. Which was now rapidly turning to anger for Fran.
"What kind of sick joke is this?" Fran demanded as Douglas just looked on wide eyed with a slight twitch. "As if I didn't already hate wicker to know end." She added under her breath. This is true, Fran had a burning hatred for the stuff and when you consider the fate of the historic wicker man, this glowed red with irony.
The site before them was rather odd, a single engine plane, built entirely of dry, pliable plant material. Not a bad replica considering, it even included a propeller. Having built many a model airplane as a child, Doug looked on the craft, though useless to them now, with admiration and thought, "that took a lotta glue." his eyes scanned the ground hungrily for that suspect silver tube of euphoria.
"Maybe this is the pilot’s version of the Mc Playland, a real jungle gym...whoa?" Thought Doug out loud, eyes still scanning the sands.
Huxley thought this was great and thought to himself, "Mc Huxland." As he went in to claim it his, as only a canine can.
Fran looked up again at the faux airplane and then at Douglas and was about to say something, then decided it would serve her better to just sit down in the shade, head in hands and mumble to herself in an unknown language. A small breakdown would be good for her, maybe top it off with a nap. But that was not to be.
Finally turning away from the straw plane, Douglas found himself nose to nose ring with an islander, many islanders, he was surrounded. Chief John Wan stepped forward smiling with his hand extended to Doug and spoke in his best English, "Welcome home John Frum?"
Douglas thought fast and accepted the chief's hand, "From where?" Well, not that fast.
"Frum..." he paused, "...here." Said the chief tapping Doug on the chest.
"Hmmmmmm, I see..." Said Doug slowly as he scrunched up his face and pondered, calmly stepping back. Chief John Wan made a similar face. "Would you excuse me for a moment?" asked Doug as he held up a finger, excusing himself again as he slipped between two smiling locals holding wooden toy rifles making his way over to Fran who was still lying down in the shade at the edge of the runway.
Fran looked up and spoke before Doug had a chance, "I got nothing."
"Yeah, this is a new one for me too. I mean, I think this is a case of mistaken identity? Maybe we should go with it until we understand a little better what the heck is going on around here." Spoke Doug in a hushed tone looking back to the throng every now and then. By this point Huxley was making new friends with the islanders who were amazed at the agility of the fur pig that prancing around inside the circle.
* * *
The British Sailor sat at the edge of the jungle catching his breath pantless. He had no idea what he was seeing on the airstrip. A group of natives, 2 Americans...they had to be yanks, and what appeared to be a giant Alaskan Malamute performing a routine. "What the devil?"
These were not the cannibals that had held him captive but a completely different group, or culture even. Maybe he was hallucinating? His heart was still pounding hard after his ordeal and the mad dash he had made through the interior of the island...though no cannibals gave chase. It was as if they had left. He thought for sure after the gunshot reverberated through the cave they would be on his heels, but nothing. Where did they go and what the hell was going on?
To Be Continued!