George Costanza, arguably the most neurotic character on the classic sitcom Seinfeld, had something akin to encyclopedic knowledge of Manhattan's public restroom scene – or, as he would have described it, its most "magnificent facilities."
But would you believe us if we said Orlando has its own washroom academic?
Enter Lisa Hardt, whose Instagram project, @theshittybeautiful, has inspired a series of local toilet tours.
For the last year, Hardt has chronicled the City Beautiful's loos, from the disturbingly wrecked to the quaint and elegant. It's less a crappy hobby than it is a way of recording some of Orlando's best and booziest nooks – and, to be clear, she's less the hysterical Costanza type than she is enagaging and quick to laugh.
- Photo by Jen Cray
Her semi-regular outings now take place every month or two, but the idea behind presenting free toilet tours was born accidentally, springing out of a photo folder on her phone.
"It was a thing that kept happening when I was in bathrooms: I wanted to take photos of things, so I just started a weird folder on my phone that I always joked I would do something with," Hardt says. "And after making this joke for, like, six months, my friends encouraged me to actually make it into a thing."
But it's not exactly the type of toilet tour that you might expect – she doesn't drag fans from place to place just to poke their heads inside random restrooms – which, frankly, doesn't sound all that appealing considering the hazards that come with the territory. Really, it's more about finding an excuse to get to the restrooms once you're there – and by that we mean she and her @theshittybeautiful fans are pretty much just out to drink and be merry.
- Photo by Jen Cray
After all, is there no greater common denominator between us than nature's call?
"Orlando's great about having locally owned businesses and I think any time you can support that in your community, you're making your community a better place," Hardt says. "A lot of times when we do these tours, you might have been to one or two of the places, but there's a lot of places you haven't been to and you might find your new favorite bar, or you might just make some new friends – which is also good."
She continues: "I've definitely found some gems that I didn't know existed from doing research for the toilet tours, and I'd love to pass that on to other people."
So what makes for the best sort of public restroom? Let's take it from Hardt.
In the opinion of this bathroom bon vivant, there are two vital qualities when it comes to ranking the most lavish lavatories: cleanliness and appearance.
Sorted into two categories – the shitty and the beautiful – here are Hardt's 10 current favorite bathrooms in Orlando. (She means "shitty" in a good way, of course, because you can't appreciate the shitty without the beautiful, at least not in the City Beautiful.)