Katie Puckrik Smells Avery Gilbert

Recently, I was delighted to lure sensory psychologist Avery Gilbert into my padded cell to mine some of the pop-sci nuggets explored in his funk-filled book, What the Nose Knows.

Avery and I covered a lot of ground in our discussion, but we didn’t manage to get around to some of other highlights from his book:

Former Playboy Bunny Izabella St. James gags whenever she smells baby oil because she developed a learned odor aversion to it during her stint at the Playboy Mansion. Apparently, Hef’s idea of foreplay (and “during-play”, I assume) is to grease up like a pig on a spit in Johnson & Johnson’s finest.

Studies prove that mothers really do believe that their own babies’ poop smells less bad than other tykes’ doodie.

The all-too-visceral chronology of bodily decay: fresh, bloat, active decay, advanced decay, dry decay, and remains. Apparently dry decay, which begins about a week postmortem, smells like “wet fur and old leather”. (Insert Etat Libre d’Orange joke here.)

Smells. They’re not all “unicorn underbelly fluff”, you know.

"What the Nose Knows" is available from Amazon


  1. Great interview. Sounds like a good book for the Christmas list.

  2. In the book Stiff by Mary Roach, she researched what is done to corpses when people "donate their body to science." One of the sections is about what forensics scientists do with them. They study rates of decay (in a plastic bag, under ground, in the water, on top of the ground, in the shade, in the open sunlight, covered in leaves, etc). Needless to say, that chapter has a LOT to say about the smell of decay. It was pretty gross/awesome/funny/horrifying.

  3. teresa485, you just reminded me that I really want to read "Stiff". Why is gross stuff so rip-snortin' entertaining?

  4. Krista, Avery's book would make a great gift! It provides lots of ammo for meaningless-yet-amusing party chatter.

  5. Katie, congrats on the interview, it was informative, funny, unpretentious. More! More! More! I know this is all part of your plan for world domination. Today, Avery Gilbert, tomorrow Michele Obama, or the Pope! Hmm, I wonder what fume the Holy See wears....

  6. Scott, is my course for world domination so nakedly apparent? Yes, tomorrow Michele Obama AND the Pope, with an appearance from Britney Spears to counsel them on how to market their own celebrity scents!

    As for the Pope's fume: Creed like to say that the pontiff wears Angelique Encens (one of my faves), but what they really mean is that they've sent him a jumbo, Pope-sized bottle of the stuff. No word on whether he's bathing in the stuff or hawking it on Basenotes.

  7. Katie:
    I can't believe you knew what scent the Pope allegedly wears. I am not worthy!(prostrating myself. Which is different than prostating myself, which is way more fun). I feel very happy today with this knowledge, and the fact that I was able to work 'prostate' into the same paragraph as 'Pope'. I am easily entertained.
    I wonder: does Angelique Encens come on a rope?

  8. Har-har, Scott!

    Apparently, Oliver Polge butched-up Angelique Encens' original formula, all special-like for Pope Benedict XVI. I'm kinda curious to know how that would smell. Pope B is hardly going to be sending me a decant any time soon. Sigh...unless I start going back to church...

  9. "unicorn underbelly fluff!?!" LOL Great interview, Katie. Avery's book sounds really interesting!

  10. Doncha think unicorn underbelly fluff would smell great, queen cupcake? It would be gently animalic and magical at the same time.