"Cleo May spiritual supplies -- known as "the Working Girl's Secret" are products you can use to attract affection and money from men of wealth, increase tips from male retail customers, loosen your stingy husband's purse strings, or dress the rooms in which you entertain male clients."
-- The Lucky Mojo Curio Co. catalogue
Cleo May is a scent long used to get men to give a woman (or a queeny gay man) money. It is alluring, flirtatious, and promises NOTHING. It makes men open their wallets for you, period.
Spiritual supplies don't exactly give people an aura, in the sense that that term is generally used, but they do seem to have an effect on anyone who smells or touches them.
In the case of Cleo May, the effect is to render the wearer enticing, friendly, charming, and loving to a degree and in a particular way that causes the men in contact with the woman who wears it to want to shower her with gifts or money or both.
To understand the usages and benefits ascribed to Cleo May, you have to look at its history, which is highly unusual, and very much a product of its times.
Cleo May was a unique formula that was offered by Morton Neumann of the King Novelty / Famous Products / Valmor Beauty Supply family of spiritual goods and cosmetics. Neumann was a chemist who took out patents on ways to manufacture incense, and he experimented with different forms of incense. He may have been the first person to market and sell what we now call "liquid incense" or "smokeless incense"-- at least i can find no earlier examples of this type of product than his Vaporincense brand.
Vaporincense did not last long on the market -- probably because its elaborate packaging (a labelled bottle, a separate dropper, an instruction brochure, a die-cut inner box to hold everything, and an outer box in a starkly Art Deco silver and black design like a fancy French perfume) was expensive to produce and in the end made the product look more like something from Edmund Scientific than from a spiritual supply shop. In any case, he did not keep it around for too long, and went immediately to Cleo May, a different liquid incense, packaged with the dropper in a tiny rectangular bottle that held about a dram of the liquid concentrate, with the instructions on the label. This was a hit.
Cleo May came out during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when many people lived in cheap rooming houses, in tenements, in the the cities. All of these apartments had electric light bulbs -- a novelty to people who had just moved to urban areas from the countryside. The instructions were to put a drop of the highly concentrated incense oil on the light bulb, turn it on, and let the heat of the bulb diffuse the scent. This was a totally new way to use incense -- no smoke, just heat. The secret to it is that the ingredients in the blend must not be resinous and they must vaporize quickly from the heat of the bulb. Cleo May was a very pleasing "spicy-feminine" fragrance, unlike the earlier Vaporincense, which was more neutral and "Oriental" in aroma.
Then fate took a twist. Women who had their own homes did not need to scent their rooms from a light bulb, but ladies who rented rooms did -- and those who rented hotel rooms by the hour for sexual assignations, or who worked in brothels and wanted to freshen up their rooms between tricks, really liked the Cleo May scent. Morton Neumann never marketed it as a product for prostitutes, but word sure got around, and by my teen years, it was well reputed for that use.
Back in the 1960s, in Oakland, California, i was in a conjure shop asking questions about how to use the various oils. Cleo May was different -- the minute bottle size alone stood out from all the other oils and perfumes -- and when i asked about it, some funny side-talk broke out among the customers. One woman said she loved it -- and then a couple of others explained, amidst a lot of laughter, how to use it on a light bulb, "in your room," to "get tips from men." An older lady said that she used it on her husband to get him to be more generous with his money, which let to some jokes about, "Well, how did you meet your husband, honey?" You know what i mean, we were just clowning.
Anyway, i kept asking, and i was told that a waitress could use Cleo May too, for tips from men, but you had to add it to your body lotion because it was "too strong" to put directly on the skin. In other words, because folks wanted to be able to wear it to get tips in a non-sexual context, they would cut it with a carrier oil or lotion and wear it as a perfumed oil. They were hacking it to wear as a skin oil, because they had found out that it worked!
When Morton Neumann died in 1985 and King Novelty / Famous Products / Valmor Beauty Supply ceased operations, no one bought the formula or used the trademark for Cleo May, and it lapsed after seven years. I then re-made it and adopted the label and trademark for my own Lucky Mojo company. I decided to offer it as a skin-safe oil, not a concentrate, and to package it in a regular 1/2 oz. oil bottle. There is a bit of irony in this, as i now make a powder incense to go with the oil -- so Cleo May Incense has reverted back to the older form of incense, and is not a "smokeless liquid incense" at this time.
Until i began remaking the old-formula Cleo May Oil in 1998, it had not been manufactured in the USA in more than a decade. It was not for sale anywhere, on the web or at any shop, as only one maker had ever made and sold it, and that manufacturer was defunct.
I wrote it up, and crafted a seriously back-engineered copy of the original scent from my decades-old perfumer's notes. The art deco graphics of the old label, which i still use and have trademarked as my own, indicate the era during which it was developed and became popular, and also hint at the type of fragrance it is.
When i put Cleo May back on the market in the 1990s, i did happen to mention that it was traditionally used by prostitutes -- and that almost broke the internet. People lined up to buy it; praised it to the skies; tried to rip off my formula, trade name, and label -- or they rejected it outright and ran from it in a state of horrified moral outrage and panic.
The truth is, Cleo May can be used in a strictly SEXUAL context (money without love) by prostitutes. This is its most famous use. An old-time trick to attract men to a whorehouse is to burn small scrapings from the shoe sole of one of your clients, mixed with sugar, in the back yard on a Friday afternoon or early evening. While you do it, call men customers to you, and, it is said, they will arrive that night and on the weekend. Do it outdoors because the shoe sole scrapings and sugar will stink and they must be burned on a wood fire or on charcoal to get them going. Do this every Friday. In this old-time context, you still have to dress your room, and Cleo May Oil was dripped onto a light bulb as a "smokeless incense" or room fragrance. In fact, Cleo May was originally only sold as a modern "incense perfume" without any accompanying bath crystals, loose powder incense, or sachet powder.
Cleo May can be used in a NON-SEXUAL context (money without sex and without love) by waitresses. This means that although sex workers use Cleo May to get money from their johns, waitresses also use it to get tips from their customers -- and i mean legitimate waitresses, not whores posing as waitresses. Tarot card readers love and use this scent too, to get tips from clients. I use it that way myself now and then. Cleo May has also gotten me a lot of tips as a palm reader -- i put a little on my wrists before i read their palms! Other people who serve the public -- taxi drivers, baristas, bartenders, delivery drivers -- might also give it a try in this regard. Remember, though, Cleo May has a distinctly "feminine-spicy" scent, so if that is not the way you roll, it will probably not be your first choice in a fragrance.
Cleo May can be used in a SEXUAL LOVE context by wives with stingy husbands. Wives use it to get their men to loosen the purse strings, open the wallet, and play fair with cash in hand. And there is nothing wrong with that. I was first encouraged to try Cleo May by an older married woman, in fact.
If you prefer to burn candles, i would suggest pink candles for Cleo May, as that is the colour of the oil and the label. Red would work, too. We have not made Cleo May candles because the traditional way to use this "modern" scent is to drip it on a light bulb. Some people, of course, do use the oil to dress their own candles or to wear as a perfume.
Why does Cleo May, with its lovey-dovey scent, have the reputation of working so strongly on men's money? Well, i have a couple of theories...
Some men think of money as a token of their love, so for those men, the woman wearing Cleo May may seem worthy of their love, and of their money as an expression of their love.
Other men keep money and love highly separated, so to them, the effect of Cleo May could be simply to render them more generous to the woman wearing it, perhaps to help her, perhaps to be a show-off, perhaps to impress friends.
Can Cleo May be used by queer folks? That is a question i am often asked. In my opinion, for a male prostitute using Cleo May, i think it depends on how feminine / female he presents. If he is a male escort of the manly type, then Cleo May would not be up his alley. If he is a male escort of a queenish disposition, then both Cleo May and Jezebel Oil might be just right, especially when combined with some of the other gay-oriented oils, like Q and Lavender Love. Let scent guide him as well -- the nose knows!
So, in sum, if you have an inherent fear or dislike of money, then don't use Cleo May.
Good luck to you.
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