What Can We Learn About Famous People From Their Toilets?

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Detailed descriptions of restaurant orders have long provided reliable color in celebrity profiles. But we've recently noticed another good strategy for finding insights during brief encounters with famous people: reporting on what’s up with their bathrooms. This week’s New York Times Magazine profile of Judy Blume takes readers inside the author’s bathroom for a big reveal: Blume’s “greatest luxury: an electronic bidet toilet seat.” ("When I was 15, I never would have gotten off that toilet," she tells Susan Dominus.)

And this is not the magazine’s first foray into from-the-bathroom reportage. Earlier this month, a piece on Kris Jenner included a mention of the momager’s black marble bathroom, which, it so happens, is outfitted with black toilet paper to match. (To reporter disappointment, this juicy detail was not a scoop: Kim complains about the inexplicably colored TP in an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.)

The New Yorker is also hot on the bathroom beat. In his story on Marc Andreessen in last week's magazine, writer Tad Friend drops by the venture capitalist’s California home, ostensibly to “watch television” — but also to report on the state of Andreessen’s cutting-edge lavatory. “The toilet in the powder room is so visionary, and the surrounding dimmer lights so flattering, that I had to study it for some time to figure out how it flushed,” he extolls — which, when you think about it, is not an entirely inappropriate metaphor for understanding celebrities themselves. Who knew that the way to their souls was through their toilets?