A toilet, a camera, a baby stroller and a dream

AUSTIN, TX The teenager was standing outside an under-renovation apartment complex when he noticed 80 brand-new toilets sitting nearby.

That would make a funny picture, he thought. Even funnier? A toilet in front of the Capitol. Funnier than that? Someone on that toilet in front of the Capitol.

Gregg held on to that image. And seven years later -- armed with a camera, a commode and a firm belief that others share his sense of humor -- the Round Rock photographer has turned that vision into Random Sittings, a 2010 calendar starring people on potties all over Austin. They're on the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, near the Capitol, at Plaza Saltillo Station. Even Stevie Ray Vaughan's statue next to Lady Bird Lake gets some action.

Yes, most of the models dropped their drawers for the shoot. But if you're looking for an X-rated eyeful, keep walking. This calendar is decidedly PG.

"It's not sexual," said Gregg, who works in tech support for Apple. "It's not supposed to be gross or disgusting or political ... I wanted it to be comedy, something people would look at and laugh."

Random Sittings came with a few roadblocks. Gregg didn't have a camera. Or a toilet. Or willing models.

But earlier this year, Gregg borrowed a camera from a friend. He snatched up a toilet from Craigslist. Then he tackled the tough task of finding models.

"I had a toilet, and I couldn't get anyone to sit on it," he said. "No one would do it. Everyone thought it was disgusting."

Eventually, he persuaded a friend to pose. Others soon joined the party. Gregg hauled the 60-pound toilet to his shoots in a baby stroller and stored it in his trunk between sessions. But prying it out of the car wasn't easy. Gregg dropped it at one shoot and the toilet lid broke. He couldn't afford to replace it, so he simply turned it in each shot so the damage wasn't visible.

"I thought it was a great project," said Niki Pham, a part-time model and program specialist at the Texas Department of State Health Services. "I think the idea is cool and funny and different. ... When you're in Austin, you're bound to see weird things, and this is just another one of those things."

Now Gregg is hoping people will shell out $15 for the item he describes as "a great white elephant gift." (The calendars are available at Monkey See Monkey Do and www.randomsittings.com.) So far, he says, he's sold about 100 of them.

Making a ton of money would be great, but Gregg says he's not worried about getting rich. He just wants to earn enough to keep doing what he loves. He has visions of photographing toilets in Tokyo, the Grand Canyon and Times Square. Maybe he'll even try to lure a celebrity.

"Conan O'Brien sitting on my toilet," he said, laughing. "That would be hilarious."

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