Whizz Show

Booze flows freely on New Orleans' anything-goes Bourbon Street, where the only lewd behavior the cops seem to get fussy about is peeing in public. Relief is on the way, though, both for drinkers who can't hold it in and for residents who are tired of seeing their streets and alleys used as a urinal.
by | September 2004

Booze flows freely on New Orleans' anything-goes Bourbon Street, where the only lewd behavior the cops seem to get fussy about is peeing in public. Relief is on the way, though, both for drinkers who can't hold it in and for residents who are tired of seeing their streets and alleys used as a urinal.

Thanks to a new law, anyone selling alcohol in New Orleans must also provide customers with a place to go when they gotta go. In the past, many bars--some of which are really nothing more than take-away beer stands--haven't had a restroom at all. Those that do often are stingy about letting customers use it. During the most recent Mardi Gras, civic activist Leo Watermeier counted 45 watering holes on Bourbon Street that offered no bathroom facilities for customers.

This struck Watermeier as unfair. Every year, New Orleans arrests hundreds of mostly college-age men for taking a tinkle. "The city provides this wide open party," Watermeier says, "and then takes a zero-tolerance policy toward" public urination. At his urging, Councilwoman Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson passed a bill in May requiring all bars, to-go stands and grocery stores selling alcohol to also provide customers with a pot to pee in--or risk losing their liquor license.

In response, some bars have finally opened up their restrooms to patrons. Others are offering tokens, redeemable for one lavatory break at a neighboring establishment. But Watermeier isn't satisfied. Patrons still typically have to ask to use the loo, and some places are charging a fee for the privilege. "The ordinance needs fine tuning," Watermeier says.