Kansas comes in a wooden box designed to look like a whiskey crate. The slide-away top is emblazoned with macho symbols, including a sheriff's badge and a faded image of a James Dean-looking dude. The liquid itself comes in a flasklike bottle that's the color of whiskey. Perfume Pizazz salesman Anthony Gress admits that the consensus at the shop has been that it looks like they shipped the stuff in its own casket.
Gress describes Kansas as a "classy" scent with hints of pomegranate and light citrus. "It's kind of rugged, actually," he says. Asked to compare it with couture cologne, Gress hedged: "Let's just say it's unique."
When he admitted that he hadn't sold even one bottle, the Department of Burnt Ends decided that we had to buy. Kansas needed to hit the street for an impromptu smell test.
To us, the pimp juice smelled more like a mix of grandpa's aftershave and those socks you found in your gym locker only after cleaning it out at the end of junior high. Still, we dutifully doused ourselves and headed over to Tomfooleries in the Northland, where we found a trio of single women, all customer service reps at City Bank. We asked them to take a whiff.
"It just smells sweet. I don't like sweet," said 27-year old Shanta Russell.
The brand's macho image was further assaulted when 34-year-old Trina Brown admitted that she likes to wear men's cologne and would spray Kansas "on my damn self."
But their friend Jackie Chavez, 35, swooned. "I would lay up under this," Chavez cooed softly.
Finally, a bartender named Amy jumped in to give us some honest (and sober) advice. Kansas was way too musky for happy hour, she said. Yeah, we noticed the bar was beginning to smell like a sweaty barn. "It stinks," Amy concluded. "Go home and wash up."
"You expect horrible from us," he says. "The fact that they did it, I think, opens itself up to a lot of horrible radio."