America's Oddest Hobby: Cataloging Toilets

It's a thing. Really

By Derek Andersen,  Newser Staff

Posted May 17, 2014 6:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – There are hobbies like collecting baseball cards and knitting, and then there's toiletfan1, who spends his spare time, with his parents, taking videos of America's toilets and urinals. And plenty of them: some 4,514 to date, posted to YouTube. And while toiletfan1 may have been remarkably prolific over the past 3.5 years, he's not the only one on a toilet-minded quest. Vocativ takes a look at the world of "toilet enthusiasts," who geek out over their shared photos and videos of America's latrines. Among them: the Toilet Explorer and Urinal.net moderator Joe U. Rinator, whose site features images of urinals in 3,721 locations.

Those in the scene would rather you brand them as archaeologists than fetishists. As Bob Cromwell, moderator of website Toilet Guru explains, the latter "just want to get off by looking at this. For the enthusiast, it’s a mental thing not a sexual thing. I'm interested in this as it relates to history, as a part of culture, as a part of technology." (Cromwell has a history of his own: He's taken photos of toilets around the globe since the '90s and writes on his site that he was once described by Yahoo as "the Indiana Jones (and Ansel Adams) of latrines.") And as for the fetish aspect, U. Rinator agrees. "Frankly, I don't really have any interest in looking at pictures of people using urinals. If you are interested in the fetish aspect or urination, there are much better places to go. This is strictly porcelain, as it were." (Click to read about a Texas town that plans to recycle toilet water ... for drinking.)

Toilets at the cross-country skiing and biathlon center in Sochi, Russia.
Toilets at the cross-country skiing and biathlon center in Sochi, Russia.   (AP Photo/Steve Rosenberg, BBC)
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From toiletfan1: This toilet is located in the left stall in the women's room in room 10 on the 2nd floor in the Brick Dwelling at the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA. I love these toilets.   (YouTube)

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