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Monday, 14 March 2011

When life gives you shit, turn it into perfume

(for Vice)


This guy made some perfume out of his own shit. We spoke to him.

VICE: Hey man. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Jammie: My name’s Jammie. I was born in a hospital. Since then, I’ve started selling bottles of perfume made out of my own shit at £40 a pop.
How many have you sold so far?
I’ve sold 25 of the 85 bottles that I produced.

That’s pretty good going. Were you exposed to a lot of shit or have any unpleasant shit-related experiences when you were younger?
No more than any other little boy.
Does shit turn you on?
No, but I have seen that video on the internet.
That shit’s so 2007.
I know, sorry. That gag stunk.

If someone asked you to make your own scat video I bet you’d have some pretty strong ideas to bring to the table.
I don’t know exactly what I’d do. But it would be called Forrest Dump: Number 2.
Enough of this shit. So, to your perfume – how’d the idea come about?
I was reading a book by the French writer Dominique Laporte called The History Of Shit, which analyses the theoretical and social implications of faeces, and its role as a building material for cosmetics. It suggested that pleasant smells were used to cover bad smells, so it could be suggested that a bad smell could be used to cover pleasant smells.

Isn’t that an incredibly obvious thing to base an art stunt like this around?
Well I did some research and spoke to perfumers and scientists involved with smell at molecular levels. I learnt that there are molecules that are common to both good and bad smells – for example, the smell of faeces and many white flowers, such as orange blossoms and juniper, are from the molecule Skatol. They’re just there in varying concentrations.

Yeah. Some of the companies that produce luxury perfumes also produce natural flavourings in common foods, and they often use the same synthetic chemical ingredients for both. They’re only emulations, but in a lot of foods you eat on a day-to-day basis are things like civet, a mimic of the anal secretions of the civet cat, and ambergis, which plays fakey at being a sperm whale’s gallstone. Then there are your more standard emulations of musk deer secretions and various tree secretions.


Did you have to spend a lot of time at home waiting to collect your shit, or did you shit into a plastic carrier bag that you carried around with you?
No, I didn’t need to get that much. It was pretty quick actually. It took me about a week to extract the “essential oils” from the “various raw materials”. The setting up and the mixing took the longest, so I didn’t have to carry around Tupperware or plastic bags.
How did you deal with the smell?Nose pegs and open windows. My flatmates decided they’d rather be in another country.
No shit. I could ask you about the distillation process, but that’d be really boring right?
Yeah. Basically I use a bunch of containers and pipes and end up with jars of eau de shit.

How did you decide it was worth £40?
That’s the average price for a perfume of that size.
So what about the name? ‘Surplus’. Where’s that from?
I didn’t want to be like all the other schmucks and translate something from English into French just to sound glamourous. Surplus is the same in both languages, which negates the romantic connotations of the French language.

Have you ever worn your perfume?
Only at private views.

Man that’s some crazy shit!

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