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Robert Nelson is fretting that the dinky bathroom at his mom’s modest ranch, where he’s been staying since he moved back to Troy five months ago, won’t suit our photography needs. He knocks around some visual concepts – like lounging topless with toilet water dripping down his face – and wonders what he should wear (if anything?). He says he’ll shave before. And then he ponders whether this shoot will cost him more than it’s worth.
“I’m gonna have to buy props for my photo shoot?” he asks. “(I’ll have to be) like, ‘Well the guy for the photo shoot was coming but he told me to buy some lenses, and one of those things that look like an umbrella when you flash the lights – and a throne. And he wanted a diamond-studded tiara. I had to take a loan out for the gay paper’s photo shoot.'”
Not the case. Nelson’s jazzed-up pooper seat, which was being repaired at the time of the shoot, is one of 25 to be displayed as part of Stagecrafters’ “Decorating the Throne,” a charity auction held 7 p.m. March 20 at Leon & Lulu in Clawson. The fundraiser is inspired by the Royal Oak-based community theater’s upcoming March 28-April 13 production of “Urinetown: The Musical.”
“We should always help local theater,” he says, “because without local theater, where would the people who go see local theater be? And so that’s a wonderful thing. And you should also buy it (the toilet seat) because it’s fucking awesome. I don’t know if you can say ‘effing awesome’?”
You can. But looking like a queen on her crap throne isn’t necessary. Nor is a porcelain bowl graveyard.
“Is there somewhere where old toilet seats go to die?” Nelson quips, still pondering the place for the shoot, which, alas, ends up unfolding in mom’s miniscule lavatory.
We chatted with the 25-year-old, who runs Aveda at Somerset Collection South, via phone – but being at his mother’s digs could’ve proved to be more scandalous. He was allegedly in his undies, wrapped in his car-themed blanket, canoodling with his 12-year-old golden retriever-lab hybrid on his bed.
“Put that he was lounging in some cute undergarments while – I wasn’t smoking a cigarette – but I was doing something sexually charged with my face,” he says, then acts mildly concerned. “I don’t know how this article is gonna turn out; it’s gonna sound like I’m a prostitute, isn’t it?”
Not only did he urge us – in person, he might’ve got down on both knees – to mention his flattering skivvies (which, by the way, we can only take his word for), but listed, over and over, the adjectives we need to use to give readers a sense of The Good-Looking, Clever, Witty, Single, Old-Fashioned, Avant-Garde-Good Robert Nelson.
“Here’s what you need to say about me: ‘He’s reminiscent of a young, but far more attractive, Charles Nelson Reilly,'” he adds.
Between self-compliments, jokes and talk of his finally-dissipating flu, Nelson bounced back to the original reason for this interview: His crapper creation, the “WCES” (Water Closet Entertainment System).
“From a very young age, I’ve used a toilet,” he says. “I’ve always felt so close to it that when I had a chance to pay homage to that magnificent creature, the toilet seat, I jumped at it.”
The design has an industrial, technologically-advanced feel – which makes Nelson doubt Martha Stewart would grant kudos. “Picture ‘Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome’ toilet seat – you know, with Tina Turner in it? – and she’d (Stewart) have more of like an old-world-charm toilet seat. So, I think – no. Well, she would be proud. I don’t know! I don’t know her inner workings – this is hard! You don’t screw around at all! I thought this was gonna be a light, softball interview.”
Decorating the Throne
7 p.m. March 20
Leon & Lulu, Clawson