Intersections: Feeling flush over a taboo topic

I am sitting on a gray, velvet, diamond-tufted couch in a top-floor apartment that overlooks Los Angeles. The view is breathtaking. There are hookah pipes strewn around on tables outside and a Mariah Carey song is the background music of the day.

But I’m not here to talk about organizing parties or how “Always Be My Baby” is Carey’s best song ever (you can argue this point with me later.)

I’m here to talk about something a little less appropriate when it comes to polite conversation, something taboo, something there’s no good word for when you’re trying to explain what it is you’re actually talking about.

I’m here to talk about going to the bathroom, or perhaps, bathroom posture, I should say. Burbank resident Bud Lavassani, creator of the “Step and Go” is telling me how I’ve been doing it all wrong.

There’s a better way to eliminate, he says. That’s why he’s created the “Step and Go,” a plastic attachment that fits snugly around the base of your toilet, elevating your feet and leading to more, ahem, “comfortable elimination.”

This position, the modern-day reincarnation of squatting — which is what humans have done for millennia — helps in alleviating your bowels completely.

This, says Lavassani, is “a natural option and a healthy option to get rid of their existing problems such as hemorrhoids and constipation and other lower-digestive-tract issues.”

I’d be skeptical, but at the risk of providing you with too much information, I’ve been trying out Lavassani’s product for the past few weeks

The difference is noticeable.

In fact, doctors and medical experts advocate it. Squatting, they say, is the best posture for defecation, a practice that went away with the invention of the flushing toilet in the 16th century. It can help alleviate a slew of issues such as inflammatory bowel disease and appendicitis.

While the concept seems quite foreign and even a bit uncouth to Western audiences, the practice is still very common and widespread in places like Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Lavassani, along with his brother Fred and business partner Michael Halioua, are on a mission to revolutionize how Americans are going to the bathroom with the “Step and Go.”

Their story is at heart a classic East meets West immigrant’s tale. Lavassani and his family emigrated from Iran to escape the aftermath of the 1978 Iranian revolution. When he came to the United States, , Lavassani was 10 years old and couldn’t speak English.

Now, after a successful career in the casino industry, he’s focused his efforts on creating something that will make a difference in people’s lives, at least where the toilet is concerned.

The “Step and Go” team is using their hybrid upbringing to help change perceptions about a taboo topic.

In fact, Lavassani got the idea while having a talk with his uncle back home in Tehran about his digestive problems.

His uncle told him, “I think it has something to do with the toilet you’re using.”

That’s when Lavassani had his Eureka moment. Of course, the fact that he was at the dog park having a phone conversation with his uncle while watching his dog squat helped move the idea along, too.

“You know I’m listening to my uncle talk about how squatting is natural and I see my dog at the dog park squatting, so I thought ‘hey there might be some weird truth to this thing.’”

“The Step and Go,” whose wooden prototype was built thanks to Burbank-based EBN Construction & Plumbing, isn’t the first squatting product on the market and perhaps it won’t be the last, but Lavassani and his partners are dedicated to making what they’ve come up with an affordable solution that can be disseminated more widely than ever before.

The plastic attachment retails for under $20 on their website.

He’s hoping that if more people just give it a try, it might change the way they go about their business in the bathroom.

It’s a subject we don’t want to talk about, but with a clogged colon responsible for so many health problems, maybe we should start. As Lavassani says, “Not only is it important to know what you put in your mouth, but how it comes out.”


LIANA AGHAJANIAN is a Los Angeles-based journalist whose work has appeared in L.A. Weekly, Paste magazine, New America Media, Eurasianet and The Atlantic. She may be reached at

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