Once upon a time, when a crew member needed to use a restroom while working on set, he or she would need to make the trek back to basecamp to visit the Honeywagon. Which is neither a wagon nor filled with honey. It is a tractor-trailer full of pee and poop and actors whose names you would not recognize. If you could not make it back to basecamp you were forced to use the on set restroom. Which, if you were lucky and filming at a residence, might be the powder room on the first floor. If you were filming anywhere else it was the bathroom at the gas station down the street with the door that did not lock.
Then, about 10 years ago, along came the Deluxe VIP Restroom.
Crew members rejoiced because the doors locked.
Honeywagon operators rejoiced because they could keep the background actors off their Honeywagons.
Background Actors rejoiced because Honeywagon bathrooms are decorated in wood paneling and NASCAR photos and smell of mothballs and pee.
Everyone was happy.
But the joy is quickly fading. A new generation of grips, electricians, PAs and background extras — who do not know of the dark ages of gas station bathrooms — are among us. They do not know how to use the Deluxe VIP Bathroom. They abuse them. Mis-use them. Frankly they treat them like…toilets.
I wish to change that. So here are my rules and suggestions for using the Deluxe VIP Restroom.
1. Lock the door. In effort to save energy and batteries, the original VIPs would not operate until the door was locked. This means the light will not come on. The water will not run. The fan will not save us all from your gastrointestinal battle with catering. You will call on the radio in a disgusted tone that the toilet is broken. Someone will point to the sign on the door that says “Lock door before using.” You will think it is a security measure. It is not. [Andy Gump does not care about your security or vanity.] Current restrooms run on batteries that get a boost from the sun and can operate with the door unlocked. A boon for exhibitionists. But there are still plenty out there that do not.
2. Fill the toilet with water before you go. Number one or two. But especially number two. Please let it float. Nothing will flush without water. It’s kind of how toilets work.
3. Give a mercy flush. Your bowels can hold more than the bowl.
4. Flush after your done. Can’t overstate the importance of this one. A random sampling of VIP toilets would suggest most crew members either live in homes with non-flushing outhouses or employ people to flush for them.
5. You don’t need 72 paper towels to dry your hands — 2 or 3 should suffice. And please put these in the trash can built into the vanity. Not on the floor. Or in the toilet. Or….who am I kidding? No one washes their hands.
6. Drink less coffee.
7. On a hot day look for a bathroom that is in the shade. If you plan on being in there longer than 90 seconds (i.e. #2) you will thank me later. And we will not have your butt sweat all over the seat.
8. Forget the ass gaskets. They are too large for the seats and require far too many flushes to dispose of. And stick to butt sweat. (See #7)
9. Do not treat the VIP as if it were your own bathroom. Do not treat the VIP as if it were a bathroom at Buckingham Palace. Treat the VIP as if it were the bathroom in the home of a Nazi Skinhead who will beat you with a baseball bat if you mess up his bathroom.
What door to use?
There is an art to approaching and choosing the right door. If it’s early in the morning — before call — it’s a dealer’s choice. After lunch on a show with a dinner party scene…it can be like Normandy. So listen up to these IMPORTANT POINTERS: Never choose door #1 or door #4. They get killed due to their proximity to the stairs. You always want to go with either #2 or #3. But how to decide? First check out the stairs. The door closest to the stairs that face forward will be the dirtiest. The door that is closest to the stairs that face aft will be cleaner. Why? Because film crews are lazy and do not wish to take the extra 2 and a half steps to the rear facing stairs. But what if both sets face front? Using the aforementioned laziness theory, the stairs that are furthest from the set will be the least used. If it’s a two room VIP you are in deep doo-doo. Literally.
There you have it. The VIP Deluxe Restroom which ironically are never used by VIPs.
Except for the friend of mine who once opened a restroom door only to see a famous comedic actor in a seated position. But that is a story for another time and her own blog.
Next week: Apple Boxes don’t hold apples.