The Dalai Lama raised eyebrows when he followed in the footsteps of Paris Hilton, Hilary Duff, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwen Stefani, Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez, Joan Collins, Jessica Simpson, Elizabeth Taylor and Milla Jovovich to create his very own fragrance. His Holiness is currently on a twenty-city, eleven-country, three-continent promotional tour to talk about Harmony. He sat in a lotus position on a handcrafted, olive green yoga mat, and spoke to Time magazine’s Joel Stein.
Q: Why did you decide to create a fragrance?
A: At my monastery in Tibet, we have no running water, so monks and nuns go months without bathing. One spritz of Harmony, the stench is gone. Well, maybe two spritzes.
Q: Please describe the scent.
A: I like to say it’s a whiff of the Aegean, a breeze of the Alps. Basically it’s a blend of violet, white rose, vanilla, red curry, black currant, liver sausage, musk, tusk, and turmeric. It’s spiritual yet seductive.
Q: It’s for both men and women, is that correct?
A: It is for men, women, and camels.
Q: How long did it take to come up with the name Harmony?
A: Four and a half centuries.
Q: Was there a second choice?
A: White Robes.
Q: How many white robes do you own, your Holiness?
A: Two thousand and one.
Q: Who makes them for you?
A: Most are made by a nimble-fingered nun in the monastery. She works wonders with fabric and the afflicted. The remainders are shipped to me from Lane Bryant.
Q: Your Holiness, what’s your advice for those who strive to be at peace with themselves?
A: Meditate daily. Eat raw food from the earth. Never park in a space labeled ‘compact’ if you drive a Buick or bigger.
Q: Do you eat only raw food?
A: Yes, but once a week I treat myself to roast beef on rye at a new deli in New Delhi.
Q: Do you have any pet peeves?
A: Just one.
Q: And that is?
A: Being mistaken for Ben Kingsley.
Q: I understand you always fly economy class. Why is that?
A: I like being among real people. The young and the old, the kind and the irritating. Besides, money’s tight in Tibet.
Q: Do you support gay marriage?
A: Oh yes. I believe it is a true gift when any two people love each other. With the possible exception of Jon and Kate Gosselin.
Q: As the Dalai Lama, what’s one thing you’re unable to do that most men can do easily?
A: Play Billy Flynn in Chicago.
Q: If you weren’t the Dalai Lama, what would you be?
A: Probably a personal shopper. I need to be of service to my fellow man.
Q: I understand you’re of service to Liza Minnelli. Is it true that you’re her AA sponsor?
A: I am, and it’s a full-time job.
Q: Isn’t Richard Gere a good friend?
A: He was, until he started dropping my name at trendy restaurants.
Q: If you could change one thing in the world – besides doing away with war and poverty – what would it be?
A: I would stamp out obesity in the lesbian community.
Q: Back to your new fragrance. I’ve heard you plan to donate fifty percent of Harmony’s profits to charitable causes.
Q: Oh. Forty percent. Can you tell us which charities?
A: International Campaign for Tibet, United Nations Children’s Fund, and Coalition to Help the Reincarnated to Remember.
Q: Other than promoting Harmony, what do you intend to do while in New York City?
A: Well, I’m promoting Harmony but I’m also promoting harmony.
Q: Of course you are. But what’s on your calendar for tonight and tomorrow?
A: Would you believe I haven’t seen Wicked? So it’s Wicked at eight, and then Paula Poundstone’s midnight show at Caroline’s. Tomorrow I do brunch with Hilary Duff. After that, I meet with the Zagat people.
Q: For what purpose?
A: Tim and Nina are composing a new directory called 100 Clean Toilets in Tibet. So far they’ve found two. When I’m done with them, I grab a cab to LaGuardia and fly Jet Blue to Fort Lauderdale.
Q: You’ll be traveling coach?
A: Unless they think I’m Ben Kingsley and bump me up to business.