It's America's competition for best public toilet and decision time is fast approaching even as it is clear that one will emerge flush with success and nine will go down the drain.
Fans have until September 19 to cast online votes for the perfect privy in America's Best Restroom contest.
AdvertisementTen finalists from hundreds of nominees are vying nationwide on http://www.bestrestroom.com/us/vote.asp, organized by workplace supplies company Cintas.
Their charms are various.
A Las Vegas casino urinal incorporates a piece of the Berlin Wall. The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in Arizona has lighting that fades in and out in different colours to create a soothing atmosphere.
Another contender for throne of thrones is the Don's Johns portable toilet, initially supplied for President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration -- though whether it had served as Restroom One is unknown.
Not to be confused with the stinking versions found at big outdoor events, the Don's John can pull the chain on most other lavatories, boasting television, granite counters, wood panel doors and hardwood flooring.
For the winner, there's the "coveted America's Best Restroom plaque," according to Cintas, a press conference to be held in the winning facility, and entry to an online restrooms Hall of Fame.
Sara Jo Rubin, of Rubin Communications, a publicist for Cintas, said toilets of all sorts stand a chance in this annual battle.
"The style could be elaborate. It could be chandeliers. Some have had pool tables ... Sometimes it's quirkiness," Rubin said.
"The way you run your facilities is a reflection of how you run your business," she added.
Two of the finalists are in New York, and between them represent the extremes of the American restroom landscape.
At the Habana Outpost restaurant in Brooklyn, the mood is jungle, with a glass roof, hanging plants and rainwater flushing. The use of rainwater, which is collected in gutters and cisterns, is estimated to save thousands of gallons of city water a week.
Darcy Le Fleming, the manager, said the inspiration was New York's perpetual problem with storm water overflows, which pour raw sewage into the harbor. Habana Outpost's laid-back, eco-friendly toilet takes a small step toward putting that right.
Le Fleming said she hadn't known her restroom was nominated until a call came from Cintas. "That was very exciting," she said.
"If we win, I guess we'll have to have a big bathroom party or toilet-shaped cookies."
At the opposite end of the cubicle spectrum is the entry from Ninja, a Japanese restaurant in Manhattan modeled on an underground, feudal castle.
Here, the needy diner will wind past faux cave walls and mini Ninja dwellings before entering a bamboo-lined restroom.
There, he or she will find the mighty Toto, a Japanese toilet so sophisticated that one has to do nothing -- or almost nothing -- other than take a seat.
Alongside a seemingly regular commode is a panel with rows of buttons and a digital screen that allows the sitter to operate a seat warmer, an up-from-under water jet -- oscillating or pulsating -- a deodorizer and even a blow drier.
"The seat is basically heated, not heated up so it's going to burn, but it's warm," said Lillian Buchel, 19, who works at Ninja. "It has cleaning utensils that clean your behind. It also dries you."
Customers tend to burst back into the 15th century Ninja castle laughing.
"They always act surprised, but they definitely like it," Buchel said.
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