#206: Anna Khachiyan
Anna Khachiyan on Her Favorite Perfumes, Nick Mullen’s Blog, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and more.
Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked Anna Khachiyan to share a taste of her taste on Perfectly Imperfect.
Anna Khachiyan is a New York City-based cultural critic, iconoclastic shitposter, writer, and podcaster. Anna and co-host Dasha Nekrasova are the Russian-American ladies behind the wildly popular and controversial podcast, Red Scare. Love em or hate em, few podcasts have had as much influence on culture and guests as wide ranging as John Waters, Tulsi Gabbard, Cat Marnell, Steve Bannon, Hari Nef, Adam Curtis, and Brontez Purnell. I always love tuning in and hearing the ladies’ takes on everything from Nathan Fielder's "The Rehearsal” to the Salman Rushdie assassination attempt. Anna also joked that she’s “working on her novel,” but declined to say more because she’s “superstitious.” Lucky for us, she’s here to tell us what she’s been into.
Without further ado
As you get older, nothing makes you feel more confident than dousing yourself in perfume to mask the stench of mortality. Granted I’m new to this and not an expert on fragrances, let alone “notes” and whatnot. But since newsletters are all about advising you on how to creatively spend your money, I’ll do my part and point you in the right direction. My go-to rotation at the moment is Serge Lutens Fille de Berlin, Olympic Orchids Ballets Rouges, and TRNP Bulgakov (Limited Edition *not* OG), which the manufacturer describes as smelling like “faded opulence.” Sometimes I like to wild out and layer them all on at once. Not everyone is blessed with healthy levels of narcissism. Perfume is a good way to stack the cards in your favor.
💅 Perfume Samples
I know this sounds redundant but slow your roll. If you’re like me and do a lot of traveling, you’ll want to keep a handful of sample sprays on you at all times. A quick, easy and low-cost way to feel refreshed after a long flight or between “meetings.”
Now that I’m pushing forty I’ve noticed a lot of my friends and associates suddenly getting sober. More power to them but it’s just not for me. When I do a searching moral inventory of what sparks joy in my life, I always come back to having a drink (or three) after a long day or a job well done. You won’t regret skipping dessert but not ordering a glass of wine at dinner is too much to ask.
I don’t know who needs to hear this but I’m obsessed. I can quote entire passages by heart and have a whole spiel prepared on how it’s “genre-defying,” an “instant classic,” the “latest entry in the canon,” and so on. But in the interest of time, the real reason it speaks to me is that it’s funny, simple as. OK, after today I think I’ve finally earned the right to throw in the towel and stop doing free publicity for this vile and racist book.
🖼 👰♀️❤️🔥 Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Céline Sciamma’s queer feminist period drama about two wammin passing the Bechdel test in the Age of Patriarchy gets a thumbs up from me. I watched this movie on the plane and it’s common knowledge that flying makes you emotional/horny, which might explain why it left such a lasting impression.
This film has everything you could possibly want: lesbians, nudity, costumes, art history references, vision — all while maintaining an uncharacteristic degree of restraint and not going too hard on the political statements. The casual absence of men for the most part is a nice touch.
I’d even go so far as to say that it’s up there in my hall of fame, along with Harold Pinter and Joseph Losey’s The Go-Between, Peter Greenaway’s The Draughtsman’s Contract and Alain Corneau’s All the Mornings of the World. The only thing that would’ve made it better in my opinion is if they delivered on all the threats of self-immolation in the end, but endings are something that filmmakers historically seem to struggle with, so next.
I love airports because they bring two of my favorite things together under one roof: people watching and “liminal spaces.” The lounge access is also a plus, though they really do be letting anyone in these days.
💸 Paying for Convenience/Comfort
Easier said than done, especially if you suffer from learned helplessness and poverty mentality due to years of living like a dog. As with most habits that are worth investing in, this one’s a matter of going against your gut, at least initially. That’s fine because your gut is probably leaky and has a messed up microbiome. Only problem is once you break the seal, there’s no going back.
🤷🏻♂️ Nick Mullen’s Blog
I can’t be 100% sure if it’s actually Nick Mullen behind this Wordpress, but I’ll choose to believe for our mutual sake. Nick is a great guy and a great writer, though reading his blog you’d think he’s the Jewish one for how neurotic he is about his health. Many people have speculated that I’m secretly in love with Nick/want to have sex with him, but the truth is I’m simply impressed by his code of ethics, which as I said on the sub, is rare in our little online ghetto and comes through in everything he does. Also having a Wordpress instead of a Substack is r-worded yet kind of a baller move. Classic Nick!
📩 Magazine Subscriptions
Nothing feels as good as unsubscribing, but you’re gonna want to hold on to a physical subscription or two, if for no other reason then ambiance. Personally, I recommend American Affairs and The New Criterion, a couple of quality periodicals with good aesthetics that some may call “fascist,” but I call respectable. Reading magazines will help you improve your attention span and cut through the wasteland of takes. God knows we could all use some of that.
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