Henry Diltz


April 27 2015

I have been taking photos of toilets since I got my first camera in ’66. Toilets are kind of like fire hydrants (which I also like to photograph). These are things we see every day, but we don’t see them as works of art. There was a photographer in the ’40s named Paul Strand. He took some photos of Mexican toilets. There is something about the porcelain and the shape. They have this beautiful feminine shape, curvy. I like to find the art in them. Art in the everyday.

Header: I was at some party at a friend’s house. This was probably sometime in the ’80s. I walked into the bathroom and I saw this lipstick kiss floating in the toilet. And it looked so symbolic to me, like the “big kiss off” or “goodbye forever”.

Mickey Urinal Feb 1970

That’s Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees. They were filming some Kool-Aid commercial at an amusement park in San Diego. He was dressed up as a lady fortune teller. During the break I followed him into the men’s room and took this picture. He wasn’t too happy, but I didn’t care.

CBGB's Toilet

I like to take pictures of toilets and graffiti. Here was a chance to take a picture of both. I don’t remember the year. I don’t know if it’s the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s. I just remember it was dark and crowded and loud.


This was taken sometime in the ’60s on the road, somewhere in the Midwest. The lids would pop up into a sanitizing unit. It gets its color from the actual sanitizing bulb. It was the only time I’ve ever seen one of these.

Doors Whisky Toilet Slide

Whiskey-a-go-go, in 1966. The light man was a friend of mine. He asked me to show slides. There were two slide projectors on either side. I was showing random photos and The Doors were playing and a toilet popped up. These were some of my first pictures – from 1966. I think the photo was taken on the road with my old group the MFQ (Modern Folk Quartet). It was taken in a junkyard somewhere.


This was on the road with the Lovin’ Spoonful, in the summer of ’67, somewhere in the Midwest. The lead guitarist, Zal Yanovsky, he was an overexuberant guy. He knocked on my hotel room door and he came prancing in, squirting lighter fluid on the mirror of my dresser and then threw a match on it. He lit the mirror on fire and it flamed up and then went out right away. He then went into the bathroom and threw a bunch of lighter fluid in the toilet, he lit it and then I flushed it and that made the flames shoot up a couple feet in the air and I quickly grabbed my camera and I got a picture of it.