The news for urinals

Follow-ups to yesterday’s posting on urinals, starting with a photo of a rainbow men’s restroom that illustrated the piece on “Homophobia in the Bathroom” I quoted from in that posting:


Such a place would make a number of straight men profoundy anxious; the rainbow says that this is a gay space, or at least a gay-friendly space, and these guys would be hesitant indeed to expose their bodies to a queer gaze. They are likely to believe that gay men are inherently predatory, hence dangerous to them. They might even believe that gay men are contaminated — sick and dirty — and capable of spreading the disease of homosexuality to them. So they sometimes propose that gay men should be forced to use their own, segregated, restrooms (even if they don’t go further and maintain that gay men should be put in internment camps, or go all the way with the injunction in Leviticus that they should be put to death). In any case, they don’t want gay men in the restrooms they use (or in the locker rooms and gang showers they use).

There’s a partial parallel here to the situation of black men. Back when there were whites-only water fountains (so that white people’s bodies would not be contaminated by contact with the bodies of blacks), there were also whites-only restrooms, where white people could be protected from dirty (and potentially dangerous) blacks and their gaze. Still today, some white guys are uneasy about sharing urinals with black men.

Avoiding the gaze of your (perceived) inferiors at your body still resonates in some situations. Some companies have executive washrooms, so that higher-ups will not expose their bodies to the gaze of the masses. Schools have separate bathrooms for teachers. Until recently, some colleges and universities had similar arrangements for faculty, and maybe they still do. (This was the way things worked for some buildings at Ohio State when I taught there. Some quarters, the men’s room closest to a room I was teaching in was a faculty men’s room, and more than once I was challenged by other faculty about my right to use these facilities. Well, I was young and didn’t dress in professor drag, but even so I was astonished by these guys’ vehemence in defending the privileges of their position.)

Now, I can turn to more light-hearted bulletins about urinals.

Wall urinals at the Madonna. First, a famous urinal, at the Madonna Inn, on Route 101 in San Luis Obispo CA (close to Arroyo Grande, where my father and stepmother lived for some years). I posted a light-hearted piece about the Madonna back on 8/23/12, where I quoted the Wikipedia note that

some tourists stop just to peek at the famous rock waterfall urinal located in the men’s restroom, a feature designed by Hollywood set designer Harvey Allen Warren.

but failed to provide a photo. Now its time has come:


Stepping up to bat breaks a beam and triggers water to cascade down the rocks; the sight and sound of running water encourages urine to flow and also flushes it away. When you step back out of the beam, the waterfall stops. Functional and entertaining.

It turns out that the Madonna has at least one other public men’s room with a wall urinal. This one’s in copper, and it has a waterwheel:


A passion for urinals. There are any number of sites on the net that are preoccupied with urinals, but the top of the line has to be this one:

Showcasing the World’s largest collection of urinal photographs ever assembled, Urinal Dot Net is the best place to piss away your time on the Internet.

As of 12/30, it had photographs of and information about 4,262 sites around the world. (There are interactive maps.) Possibly more about urinals than you ever wanted to know.

Four quirky urinals. From an enormous collection, four of interest. One, a musical number:


Though porcelain is the standard material for urinals, metal ones (especially stainless steel ones) are fairly common.

Two, playing card urinals. In a bank of four, one for each suit:


Just white porcelain mounted solo urinals, but hung low, and with the outflow pipe going into the floor rather than down through the wall (this is a common variant) — and in four s0mewhat different designs. Nothing says that all the urinals in a bank have to have exactly the same design.

Three, sink urinals. The idea of combining a urinal with a sink for washing up, so that the outflow from the sink can flush the urinal, has occurred to a number of people over the years. Here’s a bank of mounted solo sink urinals in an assortment of colors (nothing says that all the urinals in a bank have to be the same color):


Peeing in public. Not in a restroom, inside a building, but out on the street or in some other open place, with the back of the user visible to passers-by while the front of his body is not, open street urinals are common in many parts of the world, though still rare in North America. They provide an alternative to pissing against walls, which is unsanitary, aesthetically unpleasant, and destructive of property, and they can provide an alternative to enclosed toilets or pissoirs (of various designs), whose privacy can be a cover for sexual activity or drug dealing.

Open street urinals are almost always solo fixtures, standing alone or (very commonly) arranged in banks, either in a line or in a circular cluster, and almost always with partitions or walls separating the individual urinals. Other than that, almost anything is possible. They can be permanent (with plumbing built in) or temporary (in which case they must be emptied every so often, like portable toilets). Some temporary urinals are retractible, so that they are available during night-time drinking hours but disappear during the day. Occasionally, street urinals have roofs, to give the users some protection from the weather. Street urinals can be mounted or standing, with an extraordinary variety in the details of their design.

Open street urinals are common in India and some other parts of Asia, and seem to have caught on in the Netherlands and Italy and some other European countries.

Maybe the most ingenious open street urinal is the Uritonnoir, illustrated in use here:


From a Guardian story of 4/26/13 (by Olive Wainwright), “L’Uritonnoir: the straw bale urinal that makes compost from ‘liquid gold’: French design studio Faltazi has developed a plug-in funnel to upcycle urine and bring an eco message to summer festivals”:

“Are you used to going for a number one in the back of your garden?” asks French design studio Faltazi. “Do not waste this valuable golden fluid by sprinkling on inappropriate surfaces!”

Their solution to the problem of peeing al fresco is l’Uritonnoir, a hybrid of a urinal (“urinoir” in French) and a funnel (“entonnoir”) that plugs into a straw bale to make your very own urine upcycling factory.

As the bale is filled with your “liquid gold”, the nitrogen in the urine reacts with the carbon in the straw to begin the process of decomposition – forming a rich mound of composted humus within 6-12 months.

L’Uritonnoir was originally dreamt up with summer festivals in mind, where straw bales are often in frequent supply, but portaloos are not. The device comes as a flat polypropylene sheet, which is folded into shape and slotted together, then threaded on a looping band around the bale, its funnel wedged deep into the centre of the straw to channel the fluid to the composting core. A deluxe version is also available in stainless steel – presumably for the VIP bale urinal area.

The urinal’s receptacle is deep enough that the user’s penis can be concealed from the sides, and partitions or walls are unnecessary. Still, using the Uritonnoir is peeing very much in public.

(As for making compost, I haven’t used straw, but Jacques and I didn’t waste our liquid gold: we combined it with shredded plant material to create some excellent compost.)

Joking with urinals: ads. I’ve come across two ad campaigns that joke outrageously with urinal lore. One, from the Canadian ad agency Enterprise Creative Selling, for Tattoo Music, was released in 2004: “Geniuses at music. Idiots at everything else.”


Aim that thing, dude!

The other, from the New Delhi agency McCann Worldgroup, for the antibiotic hand sanitzer (or sanitiser) Sanitol (made by the Whiteley Corp.), was released in 2010: “Touch him. And you touch everything he’s touched.”


Left [on phone]: Gotta ring off now; I’m getting a brilliant hand job from this bloke in the Gents.

Right [to himself]: Great cock, but where has it been?

4 Responses to “The news for urinals”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Arne Adolfsen on the motss area of Facebook:

    Arne Adolfsen At UCLA’s Ackerman Union — the Student Union building — in the mid 1970s, in the men’s toilet on what was, depending on where you approached it from, the second or third floor, there was a urinal the likes of which I had never seen before and never since. It was a circular trough set right in the middle of the room so there was absolutely no way of being discreet. If you wanted to piss there, you had to whip it out and piss in full 360-degree view of everyone else who was pissing there.

    I have seen these things. They apparently used to be common in American ballparks and still are common at festvals in the UK. And they’re still being made. Here’s an example:

    The thing in the middle is a hand dryer.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      A friend follows this up:

      I’ve seen industrial sinks like that. In fact, the first time I saw one, I thought it was the urinal. Then I noticed there were normal urinals in the room.

      Here’s one with 8 “stations”, each motion-activated:

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Daniel MacKay on the motss area of Facebook:

    In Costa Rica, the tile guys make an effort to make every urinal unique. So, somewhere, I have a photo album of hundreds of photos of urinals.

    Very often you piss into a trough of ice which is interesting.

    The ice is to cut the smell. An old trick. The late lamented Empire Grill and Tap, which was essentially out my back door, used ice this way; the men’s room was small, and chemical deodorants, urinal cakes, and so on would have smelled the place up worse than the piss, but the ice was effective.

    Often you piss alongside other guys which is even moreso.

    I think so too, even though I’m kind of pee-shy, but a lot of guys are creeped out. And remember that it’s hard to piss through a hard-on.

    My favourite is a stainless one that is washed by the drain from the sink – so when you wash your hands, the trough gets rinsed out.

    (This came as a comment on my first urinals posting; now a variant of the sink urinal is illustrated in this posting.)

  3. arnold zwicky Says:

    Two more from Daniel MacKay on Facebook:

    The Cuckoo’s Nest in Amsterdam has these walk-in style ones

    Floor urinals for you and a good buddy. You’re close enough that you can probably bump hips companionably with him.

    If you’re not a Star Wars fan, the joke here is that Storm Troopers have notoriously bad aim:‬

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