Red Hot Valentines

Roses and chocolates are fine. Hallmark is dandy. But if you want to spice things up -- literally -- for your Valentine, then head to San Francisco.

Luckily, this San Francisco is located in the heart of Phoenix.

Yerberia means "herb store," and Yerberia San Francisco offers a wide variety of alternative medicines, alongside religious items like rosaries, cards and crucifixes.

If you know where to look, you can find a few items to heat up the moment.

Miel de Amor, or honey of love, comes in a small bottle and packs a wallop, according to Guadalupe Galavis, a rather serious lady who runs the Yerberia San Francisco near 24th Street and Thomas. The "love honey" is used to attract others, and also as a sex oil.

Galavis is an herb pharmacist of sorts, educated in Mexico. She routinely gives advice to customers on genuine health problems.

But love problems need fixing, too, and Miel de Amor does the trick, she says. Simply rub the five-dollar odorless oil on the neck and shoulders. Women can mix it with perfumes.

The talk of love gets Galavis to open up a bit. The instructions, read aloud, call for a "sensual massage" before the act, she says. Galavis claims the woman becomes "más rica, más calientita."

Galavis also suggests a red candle. At first glance, the candle she offers looks like the traditional religious variety you can buy at Yerberia San Francisco and many grocery stores, but this one is different. It's got white block letters on one side that read, "VEN A MI" and depicts a man and woman obviously attracted to each other, with English on the other side: "COME TO ME."

The candle is an attraction agent like the oil, Galavis says, but with a twist. Names should be taped to the bottom of the candle in the shape of an X before lighting.

And you gotta have faith. Without it, she says, nothing works. The scent from the candle works with the body's energy, designed to attract lovers.

Be sure to light your candle on Tuesdays and Fridays, Galavis says mysteriously, with no explanation.

For $2.99, it's worth a try, isn't it?

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Dan Cortez