January 18, 1998 in Nation/World

They Skip To The Loo In Unabashed Philly Trendy Club Has Fun With See-Through Bathrooms

David Kinney Associated Press
 

Remember when public restroom blunders involved leaving a zipper undone or trailing a long strip of toilet paper on the bottom of one shoe?

A new restaurant and bar for the cocktail-and-cigar set in Philadelphia’s trendiest neighborhood has upped the ante:

Forget to lock the clear, glass bathroom doors, and tables 11 and 12 will have front-row seats to a bawdy dinner show.

The high-tech doors to Paradigm’s three restrooms fog up, but only when - if - the doors are locked.

“If somebody hadn’t warned me, I would have dropped me trousers in front of the whole restaurant,” said Steff Hutchings, a 25-year-old from London, remembering a drunken night this week. “I’m still paranoid. It’s opaque, but I’m still looking out. Is the joke on me?”

The $13,500 doors are giant liquid crystal displays with a 120-volt current. Positive and negative charges fly through the screen when the power is on and freeze into an opaque haze when the power is off.

The power switch? The lock.

Hutchings’ barmate, John Minty, a 24-year-old Londoner, considered the champagne, beer and scotch they had already consumed. He figured, “It’s only a matter of time before we forget.”

People do forget. And when they do, patrons dining on poached salmon salad and peppercorn-and pistachio-crusted chicken breast aren’t upset with the management. They applaud, grateful - for once - that they got the table near the toilets.

Who’d have guessed this would be such a hit among the sophisticates?

“When people are whacked,” owner David Ciurlino said, “forget it.”

The stories he can tell: One woman - she’d had a few - hiked up her tight dress.

People picking their teeth, primping their hair and popping their pimples all count as riotous mealtime entertainment at the nightspot in Philadelphia’s Olde City section.

“It seems crazy, but people enjoy it. I can’t figure it out,” said Ciurlino, 29, a native Philadelphian.

Linda Smith followed a friend to the bathroom just to make sure that she was not exposing herself even with the door locked.

“It’s nice,” said her friend, Linda Diana. “I wouldn’t want it in my house.”


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