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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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4AD
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Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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Konichiwa
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February 13, 2008
Aphrodisiacs, named in honour of the Greek goddess of sensuality, the mighty Aphrodite, have been around for at least as long as man has been recording his methodology for sexual exploits. Science, however, has generally refuted any claims that supposed mood-making substances have a verifiable effect on libido, instead citing the various subconscious ramifications of everything from oysters (shape and texture) to bong rips (duh) on the mind. But for every physician-penned report on rhinoceros horn and tiger penis aphrodisiacs doing little more than further decimating an endangered species there are a litany of pharmaceutical and natural concoctions added to the list of lust-inducing legends, and one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the mojo market is the herbal supplement.

But can "aphrodisiac herbs" really do any more to bring the fire down below for otherwise frigid lovers? While the LAS staff is populated by naturally hot-blooded, good-to-go romancers, we decided to throw caution to the wind and find out if the new, "all-natural" Focolate--an herbal mix in the form of a syrup promising a "wonderful, wild world of delectable chocolate fun" and pitched as "good times in a bottle"--actually works.

Strategically brought onto the market just in time for the Hallmark holiday of cheap roses and even cheaper intentions, Focolate is touted as a "gender-specific dietary supplement, which contains a proprietary, patent pending blend of herbs and amino acids in a delicious chocolate syrup base. It is meant to promote healthy sexual function in males and females.*" That asterisk, of course, is the supplement industry's standard for fine-print disclaimers, in Focolate's case a whispered note that "These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and are not meant to cure, diagnose or treat any disease," along with the usual warnings for pregnant or expecting women, anyone with any type of disease or other physical/emotional/psychological disorders, and, for some reason, those under the age of 21. With everyone from the corner flower market to Victoria's Secret geared up for one of the biggest commercial boom days of the year, LAS recruited two adventurous staff writers to put this strange, syrupy, chocolatey product to the test.
-----

.MALE TEST.
LAS Staff Writer: Bob Ladewig
Secondary Subject: "Stacey"
Verdict: "It's like drinking two cans of Jolt Cola before bed and trying to do it."
---

To begin with, I should state that my girlfriend and I have had a great sexual relationship for the past three years. What I've read of this product leads me to believe taking it will rejuvenate a slowed libido. This is an account of what it does with a healthy libido.

First, we decided we needed a control--seeing as how we were doing an experiment of sorts, a baseline comparison seemed essential. Sunday morning we awoke next to each other and engaged in our not-so-unusual bedroom activities. 39 minutes later we were both relaxed and ready to start the day with a skip in our respective steps. Baseline established.

We spent the early portion of the day together, having brunch with my father, before my lady had to excuse herself in the afternoon to go to work. Later that evening I picked her up and we went back home for the experiment. After watching two minutes of the Grammys, we broke out our bottles of Focolate (Really? Focolate? That's the name you want to use?) and mixed the contents it into cups of hot chocolate. What followed led not so much to a PowerPoint presentation of charts and graphs as to a list of grievances.

Complaint Number 1:
The little bottles tell you the ingredients. The PR pack told us the story behind the creation of the product, and while a bit of background is useful in such a test, nowhere in any of the information provided was any reference to a much more useful timeline of active ingredients. You would think that--if they did all the extracting, mortar and pestle herb grinding, and data analysis in developing the product they're throwing at you--they could tell you when you're supposed to expect results and how long they're to last, at least as some sort of guide, but no. The directions just tell you to add the whole bottle to whatever it is you want to cover with Focolate (ice cream, martinis, bare bottoms), and then that's it. Lab coats still draped over our bodies, we looked up some of the active ingredients as our water was boiling to see what we were getting in to.

Complaint Number 2:
While the stuff is technically a chocolate syrup, Hershey's it aint. It tastes awful. The combination of herbs and dark brown mediciney syrup do not create an ideal environment for doin' it. Not yet feeling any sizzle, we Googled away.

Maca root: (found in both the male and female bottles of focolate) The maca plant is employed into a Peruvian maca extract to increase strength, energy, stamina, libido and sexual function.--Discoveryhealth.com

Damiana: (female bottle only) Mild purgative, diuretic [sexy!], tonic, acting directly on the reproductive organs, stimulant--botanical.com

Angelica: (female bottle only) The most familiar use of Angelica is in its candied form. The stems are sugared and colored and used extensively in decorating cakes and desserts. It is Angelica that was the original green candy in fruit cakes.--sallys-place.com

Yohimbe: (male bottle only) Yohimbe is also a short term MAO (monoamine oxidase) inhibitor and should be used with caution, especially if you have high blood pressure. Being an MAO inhibitor, yohimbe should not be taken with any food or drink containing tyramines (cheese, chocolate, beer, aged meats, nuts, etc.) and particularly not with the amino acids tyrosine or phenylalanine.--kcweb.com

Complaint Number 3:
Looking a little further down the ingredient list you will find 2.5% of L-Phenylalanine in the same bottle as the Yohimbe, and thus began my troubles.

Around ten minutes after finishing our hot focolate (with marshmallows!), my lady told me she began to feel some effects. She felt a calming wave coming over her, something like a mild high. With that, we retired to the bedroom. As soon as the door closed I began to feel slight shakes. It was like I had downed four cups of coffee before going to bed.

Results:
While my girl was slowly dozing, we began to engage in the act we were journalistically obligated to complete--she getting more tired as time passed and me getting more distracted by my shaky, caffeinated feelings. After 18 minutes of the act I could not sit still enough to enjoy it and my girl was perfectly happy to rest her weary head and doze off into a pleasant slumber.

With neither one of us compelled whatsoever by the product into completing the act, we deemed the test a failure. For me, I'm fairly certain it's the combination of Yohimbe and Phenylalanine that kept me out of the end zone, not to mention awake and alert afterwards for a full rotation of the clock.

The herbs may have supposed libido-heightening effects, but as far as increasing sexual prowess, they managed to do the opposite to two sexually compatible (and active) folks in their early thirties. Maybe a combination of the two ingredients, or smaller amounts of Yohimbe and Damiana, would allow the participants to actually participate. I force-slept for all of an hour in total the night after, and Monday I was exhausted (and not in the good way).

I think focolate is a good idea for a Dungeons and Dragons-type couple who really want to believe in magic elixirs that will enhance their bonin' performance, but before any objective lovers sign on to sing its praises the lab rats behind Focolate need to figure out the right concoction before making such claims. Having one party pass out and the other on high alert, not even able to sleep, does not really serve the purpose of good ol' fashion ugly bumpin'.

Focolate, which comes in gender-specific mixes as well as 2-oz. and 8-oz. sizes, can be purchased online, or maybe from the supplement shop your neighbor is running from his poolside deck.


.FEMALE TEST.
LAS Staff Writer: Susan Howson
Secondary Subject: "Cam"
Verdict: "No dice. I think I was more turned on by the fact that it was an excuse to eat ice cream."
---

The way I see it, Focolate, the new chocolate syrup infused with aphrodisiac herbs and christened with the best name ever, is kind of wasted as a Valentine's Day product. If it really works, that is. How sad is it, really, to think that Focolate might fill a holiday need of both men and women around the world desperate to muster up enough sexual energy to do their Hallmark duty on February 14th? Isn't the wine and the romantic dinner and the fact that you spent a lot of money on new underwear enough? Sometimes, no. A product like Focolate seems like it would be particularly useful if, say, you've just moved into a new apartment and you've been unpacking for what seems like weeks. Nothing is less sexy than moving. It takes all your energy, turns you into a sweaty mess, and for some reason razors are always in the very last box you unpack.

I'm a shrewd consumer. I decided to test Focolate in a way that would banish all doubt as to the little syrup's ability to do what it says it can do. I decided--for such is how deeply I care about product integrity--to move into a new apartment, spend a week building up my roommate/fiancÚ's hatred towards me with lots of griping, put myself in the worst mood imaginable, and then pour Focolate over everything and see if we'd want to get busy.

It was Thursday night. Lost was on, so having a break in order to watch TV was treat enough, but combine the prospect of a revelation about the island's smoke monster with some ice cream and I'm surprised I even bothered with the Focolate at all. But bother, we did. We took a deep breath, snapped at each other about laundry or something, and poured our respective bottles over our respective bowls (Focolate comes in two varieties--one for the ladies and one for the dudes). Focolate and ice cream were both forgotten for the next half hour as the realization dawned that J.J. Abrams is a man abusing his power to captivate the entire country for one hour each week just to give us nothing in return.

A few minutes later, I undermined any power Focolate might have had over our relationship by inadvertently blurting out, "I bet Sawyer is effing FANTASTIC in bed." The remark was of course met with dead silence from my partner in Focolation. I don't know whether or not the syrup had something to do with his lack of response. After all, it's something I certainly think often enough, I just don't come out and say it. Sure, I'll say "Oh man, Sawyer is so attractive," or "There's Sawyer again! With his shirt off! Hooray!" or even "I wonder who's hotter? Sawyer, Sayid, or Desmond?"--but even I of the defective privacy filter know not to taunt poor Cam by actually proclaiming with such certainty that anybody other than he would be able to work any magic upon me.1 But the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 inhabit an island that, let's be honest, has more than its share of attractive people. Maybe it was just the fact that I WAS so tired from moving and unpacking and the endless "which blender do we keep?" arguments, that I let my curiosity about another guy break through for one second. I only got that few seconds of stony silence as a result anyway. Nobody yelled, nobody cried, but nobody ripped my shirt off either, that's for sure.

I thought about Focolate again later on, as I lay around reading. I was listening to Cam drill some holes in the wall so that he could get this shelf at just the right height for me to hang my pans from it (but not so high that I can't reach it). I also looked around and realized he'd found all the stuff I need for my bedside table, and he'd arranged/plugged in/installed power strips for me. I saw that the humidifier we'd gotten because I'd whined about how dry it was in our new place had been recently filled and turned on sometime in advance of my turning in for the night. "Focolate shmocolate," I thought. "I don't need some herbal-infused love juice to jump start THESE engines." But that was about as far as things went, because unfortunately, Focolate doesn't actually work. I think I fell asleep about thirty seconds later, and I'm pretty sure Cam didn't even notice.
-----

1. Mom, I only wrote this because they pressured me and because it was free chocolate syrup. I just made up all this "magic" stuff, I promise. I don't have these thoughts, I don't look at Sawyer that way, and Cam sleeps under the kitchen table.

SEE ALSO: www.focolate.com

--
Susan Howson and Bob Ladewig
Two writers who cover films and music, respectively, for LAS. You can view the staff profiles of and see other articles by Susan Howson and Bob Ladewig individually.

See other articles by Susan Howson and Bob Ladewig.

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