After our story about the two-way mirror in the Cigars and Stripes women’s room was published Sunday evening, the Berwyn police department decided to pay the fine establishment a visit. The chief of police said afterwards that while he can see why women might find the mirror concerning — it is directly opposite the toilet — no one’s privacy has been compromised.
From the Chicago Tribune:
A comedian who posted a video of a two-way mirror in the women’s bathroom of a Berwyn club prompted a police investigation Monday, but authorities say it appears no one’s privacy rights were violated.
The video quickly generated a storm of attention online and sparked the interest of Berwyn police detectives, who showed up Monday to ask questions.
Club employees told police that regulars are aware of the mirror, Chief James Ritz said. During the Halloween season, the club will place a skull or mask behind the mirror and rig it so it can be seen, he said.
He also said the club reported that the door is always kept unlocked, so that anyone using the bathroom can open the door and inspect the closet. But the chief said he could understand why the mirror could be a cause of concern.
“Oh my God, absolutely,” Ritz said.
And that’s about it: the police chief acknowledged that the mirror is there, and that it could be highly disconcerting for bathroom-using patrons, and then he left.
The rest of the Tribune article echoes what we already know: the comic who uncovered the mirror and shared it on YouTube, Tamale Rocks, was outraged upon its discovery; the bar owner, Ronnie Lottz, says batshit crazy things and seems moderately obsessed with chicken wings; and that Cigars and Stripes’ patrons are fiercely loyal to the establishment and have been aware of the mirror for years. They, too, see nothing much wrong with it. Cigars and Stripes posted Jezebel’s article to their Facebook page, garnering many supportive responses from their regulars. They’ve since removed the story and replaced it with a Huffington Post one; their customers remain big fans. Writes one loyal patron:
I’ll still be going there I could care less even if it was in the men’s bathroom fuck it. you wanna see my Weiner [sic] go ahead but that’s not why its there in the first place.
I called both the Berwyn police department (where I was transferred to the voicemail box of Commander Joe Santangelo) and Chicago Tribune reporter associated with the story for comment, but so far, neither have returned my calls or messages.
I also spoke with my own attorney, who said that privacy laws are organized on a state-by-state, and in some cases, municipality-by-municipality basis. The Illinois Liquor Control Commission referred me to their media relations manager, Terry Horstman, who did not wish to comment.
Like most states, Illinois does have laws against voyeurism, including a prohibition on unauthorized video recordings of anyone in “a restroom, tanning bed, tanning salon, locker room, changing room, or hotel bedroom.” There are also “peeping tom” laws; according to the Illinois penal code, it’s considered disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, to “ enter another person’s property to look into a dwelling for a lewd or otherwise unlawful purpose.” So standing in that closet to watch women use the toilet, or making a video of the same, would be highly illegal. But merely having the mirror, while disgusting and unsettling, may be perfectly legal.
Lottz, for his part, is clearly proud of his bathroom design. And until someone with authority does more than tsk-tsk, he’ll continue to brag about it. At least now the women entering his establishment know to check that closet for creeps and/or video cameras before they sit down.
This story also serves as a reminder that, beyond the Internet and social media, money talks. If you know of a place—whether it’s a bar, comedy club, retailer, or grocery store — that doesn’t value women, then don’t spend your money there. Because if there’s one place people feel pain, even if they seem outwardly numb to the human condition, it’s in their wallets.
Image via Google Maps.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.