Inspired by a LGBTQ+ Legend
With a number of key LGBTQ+ pride 2022 events scheduled to take place in the UK and across Europe before the summer is over, we thought it fitting to drag out (excuse the pun) our favourite party girl with a unique tale: the fabulous Jungle Jezebel. This singular extrait de parfum is inspired by a performer who had a notable impact on LGBTQ+ culture.
Jungle Jezebel takes its name from a 1980s hi-energy dance floor hit. And, of course, the fragrance is a loving homage to the legendary Divine, the flamboyant drag alter ego of American performer Glenn Milstead. Divine first burst onto the scene starring in John Waters’ underground films and, in Glenn’s outrageous persona of Divine, Waters found the perfect anti-heroine for his films that shocked and outraged bourgeois America.
Miguel Matos’ creation for our Jungle Jezebel extrait de parfum is not only the perfect composition evoking Divine, but this song more particularly. Like Divine, it is entirely unsuited to the faint of heart. It is challenging and stands out in a crowd. It’s like no other perfume out there. As with Divine as a performer, it’s almost impossible to remain indifferent to this fragrance: everyone has an opinion.
Jungle Jezebel's dense, swirling, subtropical notes—orange, banana, grape, peach, bubble gum, rose, tuberose, ylang-ylang—enter in a cloud, like Divine making her grand entrance on stage doused in perfume, the ability to stay upright in heels after a few too many cocktails in her dressing room something of a miracle. But, the sweet, fruity aspect soon balances out with creamy, woody, animalic notes (yes, “skanky” according to some)—amber, sandalwood, civet, vetiver, vanilla, tonka bean. How could we not name it Jungle Jezebel? How could we not think of Divine?
Conservative attitudes towards gender, sexuality and human rights were battled out on the dancefloor at 123bpm
The vibrant “art school” scene around Waters’ homegrown Baltimore underground films that starred Divine and other cult performers such as Edie Masey and Mink Stole, was rapidly embraced by evolving gay scenes, first in the USA and later around the world. John Waters actually spent more than a decade—essentially the 1970s—making his low-budget films and seeing their following grow across the USA through word of mouth and via the alternative film circuit before key breakthroughs that would gain them international recognition.
Emerging internationally as they did in the time of punk culture, the way evolving LGBTQ+ culture of the day embraced the Waters/Divine phenomenon was never going to be a quiet "gay liberation" movement. Waters’ movies and his superstar Divine became iconic of a gay cultural movement more aligned with raucous, irreverent celebration and a love of exhibitionistic outrageousness than earnest political discourse. Conservative attitudes towards gender, sexuality and human rights were battled out on the dancefloor at 123bpm or at film festivals where whoops and cheers exploded every time Divine walked into the frame. This was a time that LGBTQ+ rights were highlighted through provocation not persuasion.
Divine Breaks Out
We have a great respect for what John Waters and Divine achieved; together and individually. For example, while their fortunes were initially tightly entwined, Glenn Milstead in the guise of Divine went on to have an independent recording career, largely through the encouragement of his English friend (and later his agent) Bernard Jay. And, indeed, the UK gay scene was an important stage on which Divine built her initial career as a hi-NRG performer, touring to numerous venues around the country.
Bernard Jay was a pretty insightful man, encouraging Glenn to audition for roles outside of his Divine persona. And, although he was not cast by Ridley Scott in the role for which he auditioned in ‘Blade Runner’, Scott’s enthusiasm for Glenn Milstead’s performance encouraged both agent and performer to keep trying. Following the mainstream success of Waters’ ‘Hairspray’ (1988), this appeared ever more likely and Glenn Milstead had a handful of small cameo roles in mainstream Hollywood movies. He was also cast to play a regular character on the hit comedy series ‘Married with Children’, but sadly died the day before his first scheduled studio taping.
We send our best wishes out to all those celebrating LGBTQ+ pride this month, fully certain that our Jungle Jezebel will be there celebrating with you.
Jungle Jezebel is a fragrance of which we are immensely proud. First and foremost for a perfume house, it is an incredibly good perfume, something that cuts a unique figure all of its own. But, it’s far more than that. When we released Jungle Jezebel, we were fully aware that not everyone might appreciate it, neither the fragrance nor its inspiration. We stuck to our guns and it became the house’s first fragrance to also be released as a special artist’s edition, a project very close to Sarah Baker’s heart as an artist.
What we could not possibly have predicted is just how resonant it would be with so many people out there; how it touched their lives in a way that was genuinely moving and life-affirming. We send our best wishes out to all those celebrating LGBTQ+ pride this month, fully certain that our outrageous Jungle Jezebel will be there celebrating with you.
To learn more about Jungle Jezebel Artist Edition and the way it had an impact on our supporters' lives, please see here.