Cum Rags and Gauloises
The Deleted Scenes Gift Guide
For anyone living on the edge that is shopping on Xmas Eve.
All I want for Xmas is a Margiela cum rag, the Gosha x Adidas shoes I never bought [stupidly chose to buy myself books that winter], a leopard print shirt for skating in the summer [went French for Wasted Paris] and anything in these ERL shades.
Plus, the Teorema poster where Terence Stamp’s gaze is like sex incarnate, since I don’t see myself outgrowing wanting to decorate the walls of my bedroom [kudos if you know a decent collage artist that can really reflect your mood, which in my case is this apparently]. For books, I’d recommend Tea Hacic-Vlahovic’s Life of the Party and Elizabeth Victoria Aldrich’s Ruthless Little Things (and anything from the back catalogue of Didion and Babitz, RIP).
You also can’t go wrong with the classics: Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male, CK and Lacoste underwear (I prefer these trunks), white cotton socks [now obsessed with Dickies], or these three stripe shorts [yes, they’re for swimming, but fuck it they’re perfect for running/lounging/hanging out with the lads].
Below some of the people whose taste I respect offer their reccs
Philippa Snow believes the Melissa Anderson book about Inland Empire would make “a perfect gift both for anyone who is already obsessed with Inland Empire and for anyone who surely ought to be obsessed with Inland Empire.” That’s “anyone else with sense” if it wasn’t clear. She recommends the artist CCA Stone who does “incredible paintings” of movie crime scenes. As a collector of vintage motorcycle t-shirts “in various sizes and various levels of poor taste” she permanently has these on her personal wish list [originally she shared two links illustrating the sort of t-shirts she’s obsessed with, both of which have since been taken down from the reseller’s website, shout out to me for taking forever to post this!]. She also recommends Oliver Zarandi's Soft Fruit in the Sun. [Snow’s own book about pain, out from Repeater Books, is on my list for 2022.]
Interviewer of the avant garde Daniel Clemens recommends bidding on something from Julien's Auctions. “I can’t imagine more personalised, diligent gift-giving. Alissa Bennet has an Instagram devoted to highlights from Julien's, and I would die for something like Montgomery Clift's handwritten love letter to William LeMassena (which was a part of fellow faggy Golden Ager Farley Granger's collection). I'm mad that my boyfriend didn't win me this Chevron gas station receipt signed by River Phoenix.“ Though not for him, he pointed out that there are over 700 pairs of Amy Winehouse’s bloodied ballet slippers.
A certified film lover, he suggests browsing arthouse and repertory movie theaters web stores, “like NYC-based Screen Slate, where you'll find this incredible Gwenyth Paltrow in Sliding Doors t-shirt and pair of Rainer Warner Fassbinder shorts (and condoms); the somewhat annoying A24/Intramural Shop store, which has already completely sold out, but did include this hot Basketball Diaries jersey and Reality Bites beach towel; the Metrograph Book Store, curated in part by Nick Pinkerton, is also opening soon. Le Cinéma Club's book club picks from last year are still worth a look as well.”
Dirt’s Daisy Alioto says anOrdain is “the best watch brand you've never heard of.” Straight out of Glasgow, the team behind it “has a proprietary process for enamel dials that sparkle,” she adds, “in a masc way.”
Geoffrey Mak [whose essay collection Mean Boys I’ll be smashing the pre-order button for as soon as Bloomsbury has it listed on the website] wants leather gloves. I forgot to chase him for clarification [always a chaotic whore].
Zsofia Paulikovics thinks luxury novelty tights are the way to go. “I think they make a great gift because spending that much money on something you’ll almost certainly rip is silly and luxurious. I like Fabian Kis-Juhász, Lauren Perrin, Ashley Williams and Maison Soksi (what a stupid name lol, I love it). This Wolford one is gorgeous, but I’m simply too Slav to ever pay that much for tights.”
[Another Slav in my life echoed P’s sentiment by responding with this: “Everyone’s so obsessed with gifts during Christmas, it’s not what it’s about…Also I thought your newsletter was about books, no? I’d buy you the largest bottle of Stoli or Russian Standard or just ask what you want and buy that.”]
Paulikovics further suggests a natal chart reading. “I got one last year and it was fantastic, almost entirely inaccurate with regards to my year but it made me feel busy. I won't recommend an astrologer as mine has started to consort with a bad crowd (bad here meaning people I dislike) which has called their credibility into question, but there are lots on the internet.”
I’m dying to know who the people she dislikes are but that’s an off the record convo, so off to her last one, reserved for the lads: “If you’re my boyfriend or anyone’s boyfriend, what you should do is go to this flat sale by the coolest girls in London this weekend, and just let them pick out something pretty and pay whatever price they tell you to. Your girlfriend will love it and you can’t put a price on THAT, can you?” [Keep an eye out for these in the future boys!]
Daniel Penny suggested these loafers. I’ll always have time for the writer who described the Swedish-Chilean artist Anton Alvarez as “a thin man who favors oversized T-shirts,” (for the New Yorker no less!).
Dennis Cooper biographer and Cambridge hottie Diarmuid Hester wants Attaquer le Soleil by independent Parisian perfume house État Libre D’Orange. Or, how he described it: “All I want for Christmas is to smell like a church that’s recently been the site of a sweaty orgy, where someone has desecrated the sanctity of the space even further by shitting on the altar. For this scent, which came out a few years ago, perfumer Quentin Bisch took inspiration from the Marquis de Sade (and as I recall collaborated with one of Sade’s descendants), submitting to the pleasure and the pain of Labdanum. For the debauched libertine in your life.”
Huda Awan, who’s “terrible at buying gifts”, compiled a list of things she wants and things she’s been gifted in the past:
Annual membership for Close Up Film Centre: I think it's maybe the coolest place I've been to in London. It's smart (a library and arthouse cinema under one roof) and sexy (the interior is all black). Members get half off screening tickets and can borrow up to three films and/or books from their truly incredible collection at a time. Plus, there's a cafe that rather resolutely goes "against the grain of current coffee trends" and serves "a traditional European fine blend of coffee.”
Comme Des Garcon Super Fluo wallet: I bought this for an ex-boyfriend as a surprise after he lamented that men's wallets are, by and large, boring and ugly. He ended up leaving it on a bus one afternoon.
Aesop Reverence Hand Balm: It feels and smells absolutely divine and that's all that matters.
Jo Malone Poppy and Barley Cologne: I recently gifted this to my sister for her graduation. My mother gifted it first to me a couple of years ago. It has become my favourite scent, because it manages to be floral but warm and musky at the same time.
Awan added that her espresso machine is the best gift she’s ever received: “I think the best gifts are things that people wouldn't mind having in their lives, but would never think to buy for themselves and an espresso machine is exactly that. I lived in Berlin for a year before I moved to London and spent my first two months there living with a roommate who had an espresso machine and kindly encouraged me to use it. I raved about it so much that my parents gifted me one for my birthday after I moved out and I shipped it to London when I left Berlin. I have at least one cup of coffee every day, and have saved IMMENSE amounts of money by being able to make my morning flat whites at home.”
London babe Gabriel Smith (whose as of yet unpublished manuscript publishers would do well to snatch up) recommends an exorcism in true Gabriel Smith fashion. “Make an evening of it: invite some friends round, have a few drinks, rid yourself of malevolent presences. Everyone's welcome at the exorcism! The power of Christmas compels you.”
Paul Dalla Rosa, who’s working on his debut collection, wants an “obscenely expensive” Amiri robe from SSENSE. He insists he doesn’t like Amiri all that much, but would like to do “everyday things in it. Smoking, drinking, reclining.”
Berlin’s thinspiration Max(imilian) Grob says “there’s maybe three good outfits that men can wear if they want to be broadly sexually appealing: single breasted suits, grey joggers with paint-splattered T-shirt, and fitted tank top with jeans. The latter is a real sweet spot for me because the white tank top is the ultimate thot top and a symbol of unfettered – and occasionally explosive – male sexuality.”
“Film has embedded the white tank as a uniform for its most enshrined homme fatales. See Tony Ward as sex worker Monti in Hustler White (rolled up to above the nips with a gold chain), Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire (toxic masculinity, but make it hot), Leonardo DiCaprio in The Basketball Diaries (e-boy prototype), and most recently Felix Maritaud in Sauvage. There’s something really on-the-nose about a white tank top that lays a man’s vulnerability – such as his desire to be perceived as strong – completely bare.”
Maxim suggests either of the following four takes on the white tank top to “gift the charming larrikin in your life. You may just revive an abated joie d’vivre in them. Best worn with Levi 501s or leather pants.”
Failing these high-end choices, UNIQLO have got your back with this ribbed cotton tank that fits perfectly.
Sophie “Hedonism is the sole object of human desire” Dempsey didn’t recommend anything [I forgot to ask her to contribute, fuck me in the eye!], but I guess she’d recommend Pat McGrath Full Panic, which she received as a birthday present earlier in the year and which she considers “very glamorous.”
I see a lot of marijuanaware around the East Village of NYC. The eggplant, though, caught my eye, showing like a bulge among the several dozen other “water pipes” on the shelves of an e-cigarette-lotto-sandwich-coffee-soda store. Such an ersatz aubergine is miles away from the corn cobs smoked by tweedy academics of yore, and it doesn’t slot in either with the colorful, Pink-Floyd-at-the-planetarium bowls that have been teenagers’ de facto pipe of choice for a few too many decades. Phenomenally unsubtle in its reflection of our shameless age, this glass vegetable has the relationship with a real eggplant that, say, a Claes Oldenburg statue of a profiterole has with a pastry. Pot-smoking paraphernalia has become legion in the US. Now, it can embrace an utter lack of utility, similar to those comically oversized iPhone cases shaped like cupcakes or bananas.
At 7.5 inches, the bulbous eggplant emoji water pipe isn’t your best choice for a quickie before you step into a backroom bar or avant-jazz concert— whatever your stoner activity of choice may be. Its glass spout is about as tough as a breadstick, so you’ll have to be careful to avoid jostles on the subway and the street. “But,” you think, “How will it look on my mantel? Exquisite! De clase! And when I begin to crumble the old bitter herb into its mushroom (but not!) head, everyone will think I’m practical, too.” Wrong. If you tend to share a smoke with lovers, they’ll think you’re a walking embodiment of one of the more hackneyed clichés one could scrape from online dating. If you smoke with friends, they’ll wonder why you’re posturing about your hearty schlong. Hasn’t this joke gotten old? Does getting high mean we have to act like teenagers in all ways? For all my solo smokers out there, do you really want to mess up that glossy purple exterior? Like a piece of modernist ceramic, this pipe just doesn’t intend to function. And that’s why I had to have it in my life.
So I returned to the bodega ready to shell out the most useless $23 I’ve spent since I saw Dune in theaters, only to find a heart-shaped patch of shelf where the phallic piece of glass used to be. Its neighbor to the left, a perfectly nice beaker bong that had been desecrated with copyright-infringing images of Eric Cartman, was still there. So was its neighbor to the right, a whole carton of poppers, which struck me as probably very weak — you know it when you see it. If you know someone with a paraphernalia collection, this will make a perfect addition — particularly because they’ll probably never have an occasion to get it dirty by actually smoking from it.
Also, I saw three novels I love on top of a garbage can on Avenue C and East 10th Street the other day: A House and Its Head by Ivy Compton-Burnett, Erasure by Percival Everett, and Suite For Barbara Loden by Nathalie Lèger. I’m not all about regifting what the universe has offered me, but any of these books might make a pretty cool present too.
From the terminally offline crew: March (“Do not use my last name cos there’s only one March [REDACTED]”) wants a carton of Gauloises, a cigarette case “like the one you have, glam af” and a pair of black boots, “don’t care what brand as long as they look cool but don’t kill my feet.” Cody wants underwear: “briefs, boxers, everything. I want $1,000 worth of underwear.” And a guy I used to go blackout drinking with who works in finance and asked to remain anonymous said girlfriends should opt for colognes. He recommends Paco Rabanne 1 Million.
Harvey Day wants ‘Bather’ by Doron Langberg. “The actual painting, not just a print.” I guess anyone keen on pulling a Victoria Miro heist, hit him up [or if you got money, slide in his DMs]? He recommends Sex Skateboards, having recently been gifted the new black hoodie and black tee and gifting himself the knitted jumper and shirt [I’d add that you can never go wrong with the brand’s classics].