LG Fashion was the first to launch scented menswear in mid-January, when the company began selling lavender suits at its retail and department stores throughout the country. "The men's suit industry was hit hard by the economic crisis, so we had to come up with a clever marketing plan. And that's why we began producing the scented suits," LG spokesperson Suh Young-ju said. The lavender suits were a hit. All 1,000 suits, which came in five styles in LG's winter collection, were sold out by early February. "People like the idea because it adds another useful function without having to pay extra," said Suh. Buoyed by its early success, LG Fashion quickly shipped 100 lavender suits to showcase at its retail shop in Los Angeles. Kolon International followed suit by selling peppermint formal and casual menswear with the catch phrase, "controlling myself with the fragrance". Its new "scent-wear," launched in late February, takes up about 10 percent of Kolon's menswear production and is outselling its regular suit lines. "We put out about 3,500 scented suits at the end of last month and we've already sold over 1,000 pieces, a more than satisfactory result considering the fact that we are still in an economic slump," said Kolon spokesman Park Suk-jin At about the same time, Essess Heartist, a fashion house of Samsung Corp, stocked its stores with about 8,000 pine-scented suits and jackets. In a matter of weeks, the company had sold over 3,000 suits without any television or print advertisements.
The suits are not only keeping the makers happy, but the buyers too. "My lavender (scented) suit helps me keep the peace at home," said office worker Lee Gyung-wook. "Without it, my parents would be all over me because of the stench of soju (Korean liquor) and spicy sidedishes after nights out with my colleagues and friends," Lee said. "It's a huge relief since I no longer have to pour cheap cologne all over me. All I have to do now is just shake and shimmy in front of my house, and then go in with a frown on my face, saying, 'Man, I hate nightshifts'," he added. Moon Chol-ho, 28, who was buying a scented suit at Essess Fashion, said: "After a hard day's work, we don't smell good with sweat. It's nice to wear the scented suit. It doesn't give off an unpleasant smell to others."
All three fashion houses say they had more in mind than money when they began producing the scented suits this year. The companies said the suits appeal to people because lavender, peppermint, and pine have therapeutic effects such as relieving stress and clearing the mind. "We wanted to lift the spirits of stress-worn office workers who are suffering physically and mentally due to the economic downturn," said Suh from LG. "Aromatherapy has become big here in Korea, so many of our customers ask if the suit they picked comes in the scented model," said Essess Heartist spokesman Shim Mun-bo. But one local aromatherapist expressed doubt over its effectiveness as the scents are dulled by capsulisation. "Lavender relaxes the body and mind while pine-scent is good for clearing the lungs and blood. Peppermint could have some perfume effect, but it is not commonly used in aromatherapy," said an aromatherapist at Korea Aroma Co.
For years, Playboy has served as a shortcut to the top for budding stars. Marilyn Monroe, Kim Bassinger and Sharon Stone all kicked off their careers on its pages. But editions of Playboy in the United States, Germany and other countries tend to lure unknown actresses trying to break out of the B-movie rut or mature stars hoping to boost flagging careers. In Brazil, Playboy nabs the biggest stars at the peak of their popularity. "The American Playboy also looks for the hot stars but Brazilian culture makes this a lot easier for us," said Ricardo Setti, editor of Brazil's Playboy. "The U.S. culture of political correctness and militant feminism is very strong and a top star who can get $20 million for a film is not going to pose nude for a fraction of that if it will hurt her public image and upset sponsors," he said.
Far from tarnishing images, Playboy is prestigious in Brazil, a country famous for its steamy soap operas, sultry Carnival and revealing thong bikinis. A photo layout in Playboy is a rite of passage for Brazilian stars, a sign they have made it in a fiercely competitive entertainment industry. And competition is heating up as the millennium approaches. Playboy is toying with the idea of offering the cover of the January 2000 edition to the star whose cover edition sold the most copies throughout Playboy's 24-year history in Brazil.
Until recently, model Adriane Galisteu, girlfriend of the late Brazilian Formula One racing legend Ayrton Senna, appeared to have the prize in the bag with her August 1995 edition that sold 1 million copies. But Suzana Alves, a 20-year-old ballerina turned soft S&M queen has just broken the record, selling 1.2 million copies of the March 1999 edition. Alves plays the seductive "Tiazinha," or "Auntie," on a popular TV variety show. Each week night she parades in thong underwear, a teddy, high heels and a Zorro mask in front of two male volunteers who have been strapped to reclining chairs wearing nothing but silk boxers. If the cheering teenage audience fails to answer current event questions correctly, Auntie doles out the punishment: playful swats with a riding crop or painful removal of leg and chest hair with wide strips of tape. "My character was ideal for an appearance in Playboy," Alves told Reuters in an interview. "If I had not done it my fans would have gone crazy." The young star said it was not just money that finally got her to shed her trademark outfit, which left little of Brazil's leading sex symbol to be revealed. "Everybody here wants to be in Playboy. After the fifth time they asked me to do it I thought I would lose my chance, that this would be the last offer," she said.
Still, money matters a lot. Playboy is published in Brazil by the powerful Grupo Abril, Latin America's largest publisher. With the backing of such a strong publishing house, it can offer top stars nearly $500,000 including modeling fees and a share of newsstand sales. Prior to devaluation in January the figure was closer to $800,000. Few other Playboy editions outside the United States can come up with such an enticement. The newsstand price of the magazine is also high at $4 in a country where the minimum wage is just $75 a month. Some low-income Brazilians, anxious to get a peak at Tiazinha's March issue, paid 50 cents to enterprising countrymen who rented out their copies for three-minute glimpses of the star.
Gary Cole, photography director at Playboy's headquarters in Chicago, said it is becoming increasingly important to get a recognizable face on the cover to boost sales. He admitted Brazil had the edge in this department. "In Brazil, there is a more relaxed attitude toward nudity. Things are a little more uptight in the United States but we have had our fair share of breakthroughs," Cole said, noting the magazine recently featured super model Cindy Crawford, some 10 years after her first appearance in Playboy. But Cole said Playboy did not always need a TV celebrity or glamorous model. In fact, one of the most sought-after models in recent times has been former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, who has declined all offers so far. "She really has two choices now. She can try to slip away and hide and hope the public forgets her or she can do something like Playboy," Cole said. "We think people would be very interested in seeing Monica. We think she is a very beautiful girl -- but we would have to work on the weight."
Not surprisingly, Brazil has had better luck at getting politics into its pages. The closest it ever got to a Monica Lewinsky was a 1992 pictorial of Wanya Guerreiro, who was having affairs at the same time with the brother and the chief of staff of former President Fernando Collor. Guerreiro topped the cover of the June 1992 edition under the title "National Scandal." In 1997, Playboy created an uproar among the ranks of Brazil's stodgy left when it persuaded a prominent member of a landless workers movement to pose nude. Prior to the photo shoot, former President Jose Sarney, a centrist, wrote a moving newspaper column defending the woman's right to appear in Playboy without seeking the approval of movement leaders. "We have had our little Monica Lewinskys," Brazil Playboy's Setti boasted.
One frequently told story is about the maid who named her daughter "Madeinusa" after fetching a pile of laundry to put in the washing machine. Asked by her employer how she chose the name, she is supposed to have replied: "I was just getting your clothes to wash and I read the label on your T-shirt and the word 'Made in USA.' I thought it was so nice." Apart from the memorable Madeinusa, words for names are found in places such as Pennsylvania or Tanzania and even brands of soap or film such as Lux or Kodak.
What Brazilian could resist the inspiration of soccer, the national passion? Brazil's lineup at the 1970 World Cup, considered by many to be the greatest team ever, produced a display of artistry that has become the stuff of legend. Such was the rejoicing in Brazil when the national team dazzled and danced its way to a 4-1 win over Italy in the final in Mexico City that six Brazilian icons -- Tostao, Pele, Rivelino, Carlos Alberto, Gerson and Jairzinho -- found their nicknames amalgamated into a single name, Tospericagerja. Soccer is taken so seriously that when goalkeeper Taffarel's two dramatic penalty saves put Brazil into the World Cup finals last July, for ecstatic parents there was only one way for the player to be properly honored. A baby born in Brasilia at the moment Taffarel made his first save was named Bruna Taffarel de Carvalho and another born in Belo Horizonte at the moment of the second match-winning save was named Igor Taffarel Marques.
"People are very inventive, they take the first two letters of the father's name and then half the mother's," said one pediatrician with a private practice in Rio's fashionable district of Leblon who preferred not to be identified. "I don't see it in my practice here but it happens at the public hospital where I also work. It tends to be poorer people who don't look ahead (to the baby's future), they see a name they like ... or take one from the books you buy at newsstands," the physician said. A popular practice is combining words to make an entirely original name, particularly if famous people are involved. Avagina, for example, pays homage to actresses Ava Gardner and Gina Lolobrigida.
While adults bearing unorthodox names have the right to apply for a change, many seem to be happy with their lot. Rock Hudson Lopes da Silva, 25, who works at a Brasilia drugstore, was named after the suave actor who died in 1985. He said he liked his name and had never wanted to change it. "It was very common at that time to give these types of names. My father read the name in a newspaper, liked it and gave it to me. And my mother had nothing against it," he said. Numbers are popular as names, whatever the language. "I think the strangest name belonged to a very rich sugar cane planter from Pernambuco (state) named Um Dois Tres de Oliveira Quatro (1-2-3 of Oliveira 4)," said Hungarian-born Thomas Hartmann, who has lived in Brazil for nearly 50 years and has long been fascinated by its strange names. "But there is one family with children who are named from Un (1) to Catorze (14) in French." The family, whose surname is Rosado, comes from the northern state of Rio Grande do Norte and now boasts a "Vingt Un Rosado" ("21 Rosado").
Although many of Brazil's weirdest names are found among poorer sections of society, people in positions with a degree of authority can also boast some fairly exotic monickers. The governor of Piaui state goes by the names of Mao Santa, or "Holy Hand," while a congressman who won the most votes in last year's state elections in Mato Grosso do Sul is a constitutional law professor called Ben-Hur Ferreira. Hartmann said he believed the frequency of unusual names was a result of inadequate education, common in a nation where many leave school early and work to support their families. "A lot of people are only half-educated and they can reach some pretty high positions. Many of these people get to be deputies and senators," he said. Interest in Brazil's wealth of bizarre names gathered momentum after its new constitution in 1946, when the government began to publish detailed lists of electors. The sheer diversity and extravagance of some names sparked huge media interest, various academic studies and now a number of Web sites on the Internet devoted to the subject.
In Brazil's Congress, there have been at least three attempts to restrict the practice of giving names that could be considered humiliating to the bearer. The law now in force dates from 1973 and allows officials the right to refuse to register a name they think might expose the child to ridicule. The parents may appeal but the child can legally do nothing until he or she has reached 22. Many Brazilians with unusual names view them as normal and pass them down to their children without a second thought. But Rock Hudson said he had no intention of seeing his name bequeathed to any children. "I haven't got any children but if I did I would give them a normal name, like Mateus ... or maybe Jonathan in English."
The three apparently slipped through a locked, barbed-wire-topped fence plastered with "Danger" signs and were trying to capture wild parrots that roost among electric transformers in the enclosure, sheriff's investigators said. Martin's wife Pamela described the parrot hunting as "a little hobby." "They like to go looking for those little baby Quaker parrots. I'm not saying where they went was right, but this was an accident," she told the St. Petersburg Times. The parrots, green with gray bellies, are known as monk or Quaker parrots and find the electric substations an alluring nesting site because they are warm and usually free from predators. Sheriff's deputies said O'Connell and the elder Martin could be charged with trespassing when they recover. The elder Martin could also face child endangerment charges.
The lovemobile, which he says is unique in Europe but popular in the United States, has gone down so well in Vienna since its inception in October that another Cadillac has been ordered. "Our girls are top-notch and we cater to every taste. Blonde, black, or redheads. Tall, short, big-bosomed or ones who specialise in certain acts," Albert said. Clients can choose from 40 women aged 19 to 40 pictured on the agency's website. There is also a handful of men on offer. The cab is also booked for bachelor parties, coming of age bashes as well as for wedding presents. The limousine's bar is stocked with beer, wine, sparkling wine and spirits and in case of particularly thirsty customers, the boot serves as a reserve cellar. "Anything and everything goes," Albert said in reference to car conduct rules. "But we don't provide under age escorts and we insist that people use rubbers (condoms). If they want sex without, we tell them to go to a bordello."
The taxi service is mindful of clients' desire for privacy. The chauffeur remains in the driver's seat throughout the trip and has no contact whatsoever with the client. Only the escort meets her passenger. "I get to meet so many interesting people from all walks of life," cooed a 20-year-old raven-haired call-girl called Nina in a thick Hungarian accent. "Some want it this way, others like it that way. It's a great job because there's so much variety." The eight-metre (26 feet) long limousine's windows are blacked out on all four sides, including the partition separating the driver from his passengers. Even with the lights on inside and the television running, people outside can barely see in. The mobile love-nest is also fully soundproof and the doors lock automatically once the car starts moving to avoid unsolicited interruption from the street. Contact with the chauffeur, whose main requirement is to offer a smooth drive and clean up afterwards, can be made only by hammering hard on the partition.
There is no limit to how many clients or escorts pile into the cab at one time, save space confines, perhaps. If a customer wants to frolic with two or more escorts, he pays an extra $250 each. The car can be ordered for trips anywhere, even abroad. A regular German customer booked the limo for a whole weekend in Munich at a cost of $5,000. Bookings are made via the internet or by telephone. Each call is traced back to the caller within five minutes to check against hoaxes. "We have to screen callers as we get our fair share of perverts and pranksters," said Erotik telephonist Kristina. Albert said the police leave his service alone as the business as well as his escorts is registered with the authorities. No illegal immigrants are employed, he added. Should police decide to carry out a spot check, however, they would probably not find the canoodlers strapped in, as required by law...Or maybe not.
The verdict prompted mixed reactions among Italians -- not a shy population when it comes to public displays of affection. For many Italians who stay at home with their parents until their late 20s and early 30s, romantic spots such as the riviera in Naples or Rome's Gianicolo hill overlooking the city are the perfect backdrops to romantic moments in parked cars. "The verdict is quite correct, but it punishes a typically Italian phenomenon," Italian author Carmen Llera Moravia told the Milan daily Corriere della Sera. But the manager of Italian porn star Cicciolina, Riccardo Schicchi, slammed the verdict. "Making love in cars has its own history and its dignity. Just think of drive-ins," he said.
To this day, Gardner only produces the works on Mondays, which, not surprisingly, are the days he does his wash. "It's usually just during the winter time, because I hang my clothes outside on the line during the summer," he said. The portraits tend to be topical because Gardner gets his inspiration from world events unfolding on the Mondays when he washes his clothes. "They are usually whatever's happening in the news or what I'm reading. I do them on the spot -- there isn't a lot of planning that goes into it," he said. "Like the O.J. Simpson one, that was the day before his verdict was released (October 3, 1995)." Gardner's works will be displayed in the lobby of a Calgary live theater.
Supporters of the measure said it would promote a higher community standard in the county, on Florida's Gulf coast south of Tampa Bay. Adult nightclub owners said it was a thinly veiled attempt to put them out of business. The ordinance allows exceptions for locker rooms, theatrical performances, nursing mothers and other situations in which nudity "is not a guise or pretense utilized to exploit nudity for profit or commercial gain."
A corporation spokeswoman said: "It was a mix-up with our contacts list. We had wanted to contact Tommy Boyd the footballer, but ended up with the radio presenter instead." Confusion had reigned immediately the interview began with Boyd telling listeners that he was unsure the nation would be able to hear him because "the kids are on the computer and I've got Five Live on in the next room." Realisation of the blunder began to set in after Boyd delivered a series of faltering answers to questions about his "disappointment" at the postponement of Scotland's Euro 2000 qualifier against Bosnia this weekend. The "real" Tommy Boyd is a 33-year-old Scotland international who began his career with Motherwell before moving to Chelsea and later Celtic - the team with whom he won a Scottish champions medal last year.
NOVATO, Calif. - The night manager of a Marin County Burger King was arrested for allegedly using the drive-through window to sell an item definitely not on the menu -- cocaine. Lt. Dennis McQueeny of the Sheriff's Department in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, said that Sadik Sufi was arrested after undercover officers observed drive-through drug sales taking place. "He'd put (the cocaine packet) in a cup of ice and hand it out," McQueeny said. "Some people clearly chose to get a hamburger while they were at it."
CALCUTTA - An Indian businessman freed by kidnappers said his prayers had worked miraculously to secure his release. But it also helped that the abductors had got the wrong man. Satya Brata Ganguly, chief executive of battery maker Exide Industries, showed up at home a week after he was kidnapped. He was blindfolded and taken to "the boss", who said: "Mr Ganguly, I am very, very sorry that we have picked up you instead of somebody else. It is our mistake. We apologise for that. I can assure you that we will not take (any money) from you or your family and I will release you." Ganguly said he was offered food and medicine and put on a train home to Calcutta.
Back to the TC home page