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Tom Payne

Tom Payne

Posted: February 23, 2011 01:14 PM

Dear Lady Gaga,

I wonder if it's at all possible that you've been reading my stuff?

When I last wrote about you, it was to put your meat outfit into a cultural context. In case you didn't see it, I was paying homage to your ability to express so powerfully (pungently?) the way in which fame is a kind of sacrifice; after all, the Aztecs (we're told) would use the skins of their victims to clad other devotees of, say, the goddess of maize.

I did mean it seriously, but as theses go, it was adventurous.

But now you're doing (or allowing it to be believed that you're doing) this sensational thing with the blood in your perfume. It makes me think, cripes, I was right.

Did you read Patrick Suskind's book Perfume, too? In case some didn't, or missed the film, it ends with a master parfumier being ripped apart by a crowd in a Bacchant frenzy.

Now, I use that image in my own book about Fame, in which I ponder the whole celebrity perfume industry. I'm intrigued by the idea of celebrity smells, and by the delightful notion that stars are involved in their production. (How much time would Donald Trump have had to work on Donald Trump: The Fragrance, do you suppose?)

At one point I muse about the impact a fragrance has when it diffuses into the world; some essence of the celebrity permeates the air we all breathe. What happens then is that some aspect, or emination, of that celebrity makes an individual dividual. You really can divide some part of you among your celebrants. Somewhere out there, there must still be a few sniffs-worth of Mystique de Michael Jackson.

In a way, it's a metaphor to explain how we consume the famous.

In another way, though, it isn't, because, hey, Gaga, you took it literally! That really could be your precious blood. (How precious, the market can determine.) Out it pumps, from you to bottle, and from vaporiser to ether.

So what are you going to do next? I've a feeling I ought to know already, but can't say. Something simultaneously gross and intimate, we can be sure.