Sweet Sixteen

HAPPY SWEET SIXTEEN, BPAL! YER OLD ENOUGH TO DRIVE!

I keep starting to write this, stopping, and starting again. It’s the most wonderful and most joyous thing that I compose every year, but it’s also the hardest. How is it possible to adequately convey how important people are to me? How BPAL is my life, and all the myriad people that are part of BPAL are as important to me as blood? How do I explain what the support, love, and friendship of my family, my friends, my co-conspirators at the Lab, and our customers means to me? How it supports me and sustains me? How these relationships – these amazing, varied, vibrant and brilliant people – renew my hope every single day?

Every year when I write this up, I am afraid that I will be unable to express my true, soul-deep, and heartfelt gratitude to you all.

Black Phoenix isn’t just a company to me. Because of this experiment in weirdo perfume of mine, I have made lifelong friends, people who are as close to me as my own kin. You have shared all of my joys and terrors these past sixteen years. My BPAL family has been with me through so many pivotal, life-changing moments. You were with me at my wedding. You were there when I gave birth to my daughter, and you are there with me as I watch her grow up. Together, we have shared so much delight and pain and grief and bliss, and with every bit of my heart, I am so very, very grateful.

Thank you for everything. Thank you for being with me these sixteen years.

Here’s to decades more.

I wrote this in 2016, and it’s just as true today –

“This is a hard anniversary update to write. Every anniversary, I sum up the year and try to give thanks to everyone who enriches our lives. The latter is easy – my life is filled with the kindest, wisest, most compassionate people – but the former is stunningly difficult. 2016 has been cruel. 2016 has seen so much grief and loss, and the year has presented to us a series of breathtakingly devastating events, leaving so many in a mire of fear, uncertainty, and sorrow.

“Since 2002, the community that has grown from Black Phoenix has become my family. Our beloved coworkers, our clients, the small companies that we work with, our forum moderators, the wonderful artists, writers, and creators that we are privileged to create for, our media outlets, our retailers, our extended Lunacy event family, our traveling medicine show convention family, the bloggers and journalists who think of us, and the wonderful, generous, kind people at the charitable organizations that we work with.

This is our family. You – if you are reading this – are part of our family, and I am grateful for you.

“I know that it is cold comfort, but I want to tell you that we stand with you and you are not alone. We stand with the LGBTQ community, we stand with the disabled community, we stand with our brothers and sisters in every single minority religious, racial, and ethnic group. We stand with the trans community, we stand with immigrants and refugees, we stand with those who would protect our water and our land.

We stand with you against hate. We stand with you against intolerance. We stand with you, and we will do everything within our power to fight with you and for you in this dark, uncertain time. In gratitude and with love…”

Thank you. Thank you so much, everyone, for standing with us, supporting us, and sharing your lives with us these past sixteen years. Black Phoenix would not exist without your kindness, your love, your support, and your friendship, and my life would be hollow without you in it.

Thank you, Brian, for being my ride-or-die. We have been through so much together. Thank you for everything you do and everything you are. Thank you for always making me laugh, always being there for me, and never, ever letting me down. I love you.

Thank you, Ted, for being my heart’s joy, my true love, my soulmate, my muse, and my strength. You are as vital to me as breath and light, and as much a part of me as the blood that flows through my veins. Thank you for being my Prince Charming, thank you for always being there for me, thank you for your patience, your sober counsel, your laughter, your filthy mind, your sense of humor. Thank you for being you, thank you for being mine.

Lilith, you are my muse and my angel, my little werewolf, my baby bat. You are the light in my heart, you are my joy, and every single day I love you more and more.

Thank you, Jacquelynn, for all of your dedication to the Lab, for your hard work, your dedication, your creativity, your intelligence and wit, and your huge, huge heart. You are such an important, vital part of BPAL, and I love you.

Tom, thank you for all that you do. Thank you for all of your help promoting BPAL, thank you for being my Other Voice, thank you for always being there for me, for being a true friend, for listening to my incessant kvetching, and for your huge heart and vast, boundless creativity. Thank you for lending us your talent, thank you for being my friend. I love you.

Thank you, Chrissy, for your passion and drive, your creativity and enthusiasm. I am grateful for you and for all you do, and I love you!

Thank you, Piolet, for your hard work and your strength of character. Thank you for your wisdom and your humor, your optimism, your patience, your commitment, and your friendship. I love you!

Thank you, Stephanie, for your incredible work ethic, your drive, and your patience. You are a treasure, and I love you!

Thank you, Alex, for your positivity, buoyancy, and thoughtfulness, and for always treating everyone around you with such kindness. You are a wonderful person, and I love you!

Cerina and Sabina, thank you for all of the hard work you put into helping us get through both calm work weeks and batshit crazy seasons. We couldn’t do this without you. I love you guys!

Thank you, Galen, for the incredible videos that you have been crafting for BPAL, and for all that you help us with at events! You are exceptionally talented, incredibly sweet, and I love you!

Thank you, Sara, Jared, and Viv, for all the love and enthusiasm you put into every Lunacy. Without you, our events would be pale shadows. I love you both very, very much.

Kaitlin, you cannot imagine how grateful I am for your help and for your friendship. Thank you for the gift of your incredible heart, your beautiful Libra charms, and your deep compassion. I love you.

Thank you to Tom, Galen, Lisa, Courtney, Eva, Ali, Donna, Andra, Jared, Anne, Chris, Jason, Eric, and Stitch for making #carnylife possible. You were all amazing, and we are deeply grateful for your help. Thank you so much for being there for us, and for giving so much of yourselves to the events!

Thank you, Donna and Jeff, for being our bottle babysitters! You are lifesavers, and we love you so, so much!

Thank you, Em for your wise counsel, for always having my back, for always being there for me, and for always listening. I would be lost without your advice and your friendship. I love you!

Ali, you are and always will be my living Manual of Style! Thank you for unbabbling my babble, re-sensing my nonsense, and letting me bounce ideas off of you incessantly, and thank you for resuscitating the forum! You are an inspiration always, and I love you.

Thank you, Andra, you are a true friend, a truly amazing human being, and I love you so much!

Thank you to Sue and Del at Dark Delicacies for being such true and wonderful friends, and thank you for being the greatest grandparents a little demoness could ask for! We love you!

Thank you, Courtney and Lisa, for being our extended Lunacy family! Thank you for all the energy and love you put into every event! We are all truly grateful!

Thank you, Cat, for being such an amazing friend. Thank you for being my co-conspirator and confidante, thank you for your kindness. I love you!

Jess and Samantha, I love you both. You are such an inspiration, and the truest of friends.

Thank you to Neil Gaiman, Guillermo Del Toro, Legendary Pictures, Jim Jarmusch, Peter Beagle, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios, Jess Schnabel, Disasterina, Erika Klash, Victoria Elizabeth Black, Fabio Listrani & Lo Scarabeo Tarot, Seanan McGuire, EFFY, Ministry of Trouble, Terry Pratchett, Terry Moore, Mike and Christine Mignola, George Perez, Peter David, Mark Waid, Thomas Negovan, Matt Wagner, Laika Studios, Jim Henson Productions, Brian Pulido, Joseph Michael Linsner, Gris Grimly, George RR Martin, Clive Barker, Mark Miller, David Mack, Gail Potocki, and Erin Morgenstern for giving Black Phoenix the opportunity to interpret your work.

Thank you to the noble souls at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Your hard work changes lives.

Thank you, Charles, for being an inspiration and a true friend.

Infinite love and profound thanks to the artists, musicians, and DJ’s that have lent us their talent: Julie Dillon, Drew Rausch, Aristotle Pramagioulis, Alicia Dabney, Emma Rios, Madame Talbot, Quique Alcatena, Jennifer Rodgers, Manda Lander, Emily Wernet, Eric Thurnbeck, Lily Gabrielle Hoyda, Galen Adair, Keri Newton, Robert Kraiza, Tanya Bjork, Andrew Fogel, Brian Kessinger, Abigail Larson, Aidan Casserly, Sarah Coleman, Tenebrous Kate, Alicia Dabney, Mildren Louis, Brian Foote, Sarah Elizabeth Graves, Bill Crisafi, Holly Honeypot, Joshua Martin, Brian Foote, Sarah Elizabeth Graves, and DJ Accident Report.

Infinite love and profound thanks to our collaborators, the event promoters that give us a home on our carny travels, and all the amazing people who host our fragrances in their shops and boutiques: Blood Milk, Haute Macabre, Loved to Death, the CBLDF, Two Minutes to Late Night, Renegade Game Studios, Ariel Italic, Lady Bearica Andrews, DJ Accident Report, Chicago Review Press, Dead For Filth, Gothic Renaissance, Ritualcravt, Think Geek, Century Guild, the Mütter Museum, Heretic Salon, Whole Foods, Pretty Indulgent, World of Wonder, Midsummer Scream, the Pleasure Chest, Oddities Flea Market, and Dark Delicacies.

Love and thanks to the bloggers, journalists, magazines, and other media outlets that taken the time to write about Black Phoenix. Honestly, I cannot thank you enough. Without you, I’d just be screaming into the void.

Heartfelt gratitude to all of the organizations we sponsor. You are a light in the darkness, and it is our honor to support you in your work:

The American Civil Liberties Union
The NAACP
The National Center for Transgender Equality
The Southern Poverty Law Center
Planned Parenthood
Burbank Temporary Aid Center
The National Park Foundation
The National Parks Conservation Association
Trevor Project
EMILY’s List
Orangutan Foundation UK
RAINN
RAICES
The Women’s Sports Foundation
Drag Queen Story Hour
Drive-By Do-Gooders
The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank
Global Giving’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
Sonoma Valley Fire & Rescue
Lake Country Fire & Rescue
Humane Society of Ventura County
Hispanic Federation’s Hurricane Maria Relief Fund
UNHCR

And last but certainly not least, I’d like to thank my ancestors, the genius loci of Los Angeles, all friendly spirits that help me out here and there, all the gods, angels, and archangels (both celestial and infernal), St. Expedite, our house ghost, the Lab poltergeist, and anyone else that might be looking out for me.

AND WITHOUT FURTHER ADO –

++ 16th Anniversary: Rejected Company Names and Mascots

After sixteen years of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, it’s easy to take certain parts of our journey for granted — including our own name and mascot. However, considering the breadth of our classical influences, the capriciousness of our entrepreneurial spirit, and our overall dubious sense of humor, it could have so easily gone another way.

Let’s climb into our alchemy-powered time machine for a view of what might’ve been, if we’d succumbed to more questionable influences.

  • Bagpipe Dog Alchemy Lab

    Loyal. Faithful. Perpetually rehearsing “Scotland the Brave.” This is a mascot with real staying power. Bagpipe Dog will outlive us all.

    Gin and pine needle with lime and white juniper.

    Add to cart
  • Bellicose Clam Alchemy Lab

    If America’s political outlook doesn’t improve soon, this one is still a solid rebranding option.

    Yuzu, pink grapefruit, King mandarin, white musk, and lemon peel.

    Add to cart
  • Constipated Elephant Alchemy Lab

    Because nothing says “scrappy indie perfumer with authority-figure issues” like a pachyderm who’s too P.O.’ed to poop.

    Ambergris accord, Mysore sandalwood, ambrette seed, cypress, nagarmotha, and grey agarwood.

    Add to cart
  • Eyeball Seaboar Alchemy Lab

    Scratched at the last minute on the advice of our legal counsel, who was afraid people might misunderstand and pour the perfume directly into their eyes. “For External Purposes Only Seaboar” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

    White sandalwood, sweet patchouli, sea salt, Italian bergamot, and honey.

    Add to cart
  • Fishtail Beaver Alchemy Lab

    All activism scents all the time, except we’re too self-conscious to release them. They sit on a shelf and our friends love trying them on whenever they visit. We think they’re just being nice.

    Himalayan cedar and patchouli with vanilla husk and mint.

    Add to cart
  • Injured Dickchest Alchemy Lab

    Forget everything you know about “brand awareness” and consider a timeline in which Injured Dickchest becomes a viral internet sensation, complete with animated TV spinoff and celebrities’ kids repping our merch. If you enjoy being able to afford our products, be grateful that IDAL never made it past the brainstorming stage.

    Champaca blossom, bourbon vanilla, pink pepper, and green tea.

    Add to cart
  • Mopey Boar Alchemy Lab

    Tagline: “Extraordinary scents for extraordinarily forlorn people.”

    Truffles and clove bud with smoky incense, cardamom pod, and ginger.

    Add to cart
  • Saddypants Lion Alchemy Lab

    We simply didn’t have enough cumulative Leo energy to pull this one off.

    Golden amber and sweet almond with tonka bean, peach juice, and honey musk.

    Add to cart
  • Smug Yale Alchemy Lab

    Ivy League? Pshhh, the only book learnin’ you really need is the kind that comes bedecked with mythical beasts — preferably those armed with tusks, swiveling horns, and a totally unearned sense of importance.

    Vanilla bean and wild grasses.

    Add to cart
  • Sour Pard Alchemy Lab

    In case you’re wondering whether we’d actually have the balls to forge ahead with such an openly testy mascot, the answer is: not yet… but you stand warned.

    Ginjinha and dried red fruits, bitter almond, carnation, tonka bean, and red musk.

    Add to cart
  • Stoned Griffin Alchemy Lab

    If we’d known sixteen years ago which direction the legislative wind would end up blowing, things might have gone very differently for BPAL. Stoned Griffin is like a distant cousin of Black Phoenix who never quit his college band, and tells you the same three stories at every Lunacy event (but they’re really good ones).

    Kush, fiery red patchouli, myrrh, and sweet black musk.

    Add to cart