With fragrances, James has got a brand new bag

JAMES BROWN, a man known for the sweaty performances that earned him the title “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” has entered a new and rather unlikely endorsement field — fragrances.

Zino, a new fragrance by Davidoff, will launch with a series of private concerts featuring the Godfather of Soul. The fragrance will use Brown’s “It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” as its theme.

The advertising firm spotlighting the Zino/Brown tie says the fragrance “is an exploration of man’s own inner essence — his soul.”

The Brown music will be used for the TV commercial that will launch Zino in 600 department and specialty store outlets in the U.S. Additionally, Zino will make a big stink with 51 million scented inserts in national and regional magazines, said to be the largest such insert campaign in advertising history.

The Lancaster Group, which will distribute Zino and also handles the Cool Water, Joop! and JilSander fragrance brands, will present Brown for private concerts in New York and Chicago this fall, as well as one in Los Angeles. Tickets will be available as gifts to customers who purchase Zino by Davidoff at department stores in those cities.

A LAST-DITCH effort to keep open the doors of New York’s venerable but failing Village Gate nightclub turns on a reorganization plan that would shift ownership of the cultural institution to a non-profit foundation.

The Village Gate Foundation Committee, made up of attorneys, accountants, entertainment executives and others, presented a preliminary business proposal in bankruptcy court early last week. The court gave preliminary approval to the outline, and gave the committee until Sept. 3 to come up with a final plan.

“We’re going all over trying to get help,” Gate owner Art D’Lugoff said. “We have to take it one step at a time. I just hope it works.”

D’Lugoff’s Greenwich Village venue has been known worldwide for the past 35 years as a haven of entertainment diversity. It’s a place where jazz greats Miles Davis and Sarah Vaughn and celebrated comedians Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor honed their skills. It’s also where political voices have been heard and where D’Lugoff frequently lent the stage to people trying to raise money.

But the cause of the day is D’Lugoff’s own, since sagging business and some poor business decisions have left him more than $ 500,000 in debt and landed the Gate in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Chemical Bank, which holds the lease, is seeking to sell the site.

Jeffrey Sachs, a corporate consultant and former aide to New York Gov. Hugh Carey, has been the driving force behind the effort to save the Gate. He has organized the team and brought the city on board. The plan includes setting up a tax-exempt, non-profit foundation that would own the Gate, not dissimilar to the operations that now run the Apollo Theater and Carnegie Hall.

New York Mayor David Dinkins has pledged his administration’s support, with Deputy Mayor Barry Sullivan agreeing to act as intermediary between the club and the bank. A host of entertainment execs have offered time and money.

“It’s time the music industry wakes up and keeps these places going,” said Daniel Glass, prexy and CEO of EMI Records. “Our company is definitely behind it. We’re willing to donate money and have our artists participate.”

Added Sissy Cargill Biggers, director of specials, latenight and variety programs for NBC: “The Gate is important to keep New York in the mix. If it goes away, you’ll never be able to get it back.”

L.A. SEEN: Raji’s in Hollywood isn’t usually an industry gathering place, but the underground club was packed to the rafters, with a line around the block, for an appearance by Dallas-based band Reverend Horton Heat. Having just released its second album for Sub-Pop, “The Full Custom Gospel Sounds of Reverend Horton Heat” (produced by the Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Hanes), the band just completed a U.S. tour opening for ex-Pixie Frank Black.

Though classified as a rootsy rockabilly outfit, the Rev. and Co. play wild, tight rock ‘n’ roll, and Heat’s guitar work can get downright psychedelic at times.

Enjoying the show despite the massive crowd and unbearable lack of air-conditioning were scouts from Slash, Mercury and EMI, plus a plethora of indie labels, as well as Frank Black, the Dwarves (who toured Europe earlier this year with Reverend Horton Heat), James Intveld (who did the rockabilly vocals for Johnny Depp in John Waters’ “Cry Baby”) and Evan Dando of the Lemonheads.

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