…literally, as Emma Brockes relates:
Many years ago, I went to Venice to interview Meryl Streep about her role in The Devil Wear’s (sic) Prada. The film festival was on and the city overrun with attendees wearing wristbands, permitting them varying levels of access to venues. One of these was a toilet in the suite reserved for the interview, which, Ms Streep was assured as she entered the room, was off-limits to anyone who was not Meryl Streep. Feudal systems come and go, but the exclusive bathroom clause goes on forever.
Well, as outrageous demands by divas go, your own personal toilet for the duration isn’t really up there in the ‘Bring me a white horse with a horn glued to its head, 3 tonnes of Bird’s Instant Whip and a case of champagne!’ demands of today’s pampered celebrities, but hey…
And so to Manhattan, where a proposal to open a series of members-only public toilets this year has been largely well received. Tired of begging for the bathroom key at Starbucks? Or picking the busiest restaurant, where you hope you can slink to the back without being noticed? Then you’ll welcome a company called Posh Stow and Go, which promises the city’s “first luxury restroom facility”.
And if they can make it pay, good luck to ‘em! Why would anyone else care, any more than they ought to care about exclusive clubs or members-only access parties?
Surely the idea that earning more buys you things people who earn less can have is just basic reality, and the very thing that makes us tick?
It’s not Wayne Parks’s fault, but his enterprise comes at a time when the city has never felt more stratified, nor more vulnerable to the resale of basic services as luxuries.
The New York Observer recently canvassed a bunch of real estate developers about a requirement, by law, to reserve a proportion of their multi-billion dollar developments for use as affordable housing. Most howled with fury and, refusing to be named, espoused a position characterized thus: “We don’t ask Hermes to produce a line of cheap polyester ties, or Thomas Keller to offer a dollar menu at Per Se … Why shouldn’t those who can’t afford the going rates in Manhattan just live somewhere else?“
Emma’s solution to the ‘dilemma’ of poor people not being able to afford the same things as rich people being..?