07 March 2008

What's Weird and Old about Visiting the Bathroom at the Belasco

Many of the Broadway theatres are musty, fusty affairs, with all sorts of arcane, antique details in every corner, particularly as you make your way to the often antiquated bathrooms. Nothing, however, beats the Belasco Theatre for quaint queerness.

The men's bathroom is down a flight from the orchestra seats. You reach the stairs through a dark wooden door with a round window in it and "Gentleman" written in gold script at the top. Inside in an arch of similar dark wood and gold script, just in case you didn't believe the designation on the door.

You walk downstairs past some murky murals and an ancient fire alarm installed by the National District Telegraph Co. It's open to inspect. Bunch of aging wires inside. Let's hope this isn't still the Belasco fire-protection plan.

Downstairs, in front of the bathroom entrance (labeled "Lavatory") is an odd, flat chandelier, completely out of proportion for the small room. To the left is a working phone booth and a small, wooden grandfather clock of mysterious origin. Supposedly, there's a legend attached to it, but I've never been able to find out what it is. There is also an ice-maker. What? Are we in a motel?

Inside the bathroom is a huge porcelain sink with double basins—surely the original item from when the theatre was built. There may be a more eccentric public bathroom in Manhattan, but I doubt it. Makes me wonder what the ladies room is like.

No comments: