After Tuesday’s piece on celebrity consumption, it only seems reasonable to handle the other end of fame… celebrity creation.
Liberace was an internationally loved pianist who specialized in flash and appearances. He owned dozens of rhinestone-laden outfits, had a pool shaped like a piano, and bedecked himself in perfume. His ostentatious nature led to insinuations of homosexuality which followed him throughout his life, despite a high-profile lawsuit against the UK Daily Mirror which found no evidence to back the allegations.
(Liberace insisted he was not gay for his entire life. Following his passing, his old friend and occasional date, Betty White, revealed that he was, in fact, gay and she’d willingly acted as his “beard”. If true, he lied under oath and received significant compensation from the tabloid as a result, but few would begrudge a person attempting to defend his public reputation.)
Unbeknownst to most, Liberace was not simply a showman. He was also an inventor. He didn’t invent much, but he did secure a patent on one unusual device: the retractable toilet.
Liberace’s design swiveled a working toilet and moved it into a section of the wall, hidden by a sliding panel, when not in use. It required specialty plumbing, an unusually wide wall and an electrical motor to work, and he made them available along with furniture of which he’d tired at a Hollywood store called “Liberace Interiors and Objets Art .”
“There’s just no reason why you should walk into a bathroom and see a toilet,” Liberace told a Rolling Stone reporter who asked about the design. “It’s unglamorous.”
Unfortunately for the piano player who famously “laughed all the way to the bank”, few agreed with him on that point. There are no records of any of the retractable toilets selling.
Question of the night: Because it was NOT going to be asked the other evening… what’s your favorite food which includes sausage?