Whether you read this book or not, I implore you, ensure your next motel room is not outfitted with a secret observation deck like the one featured here! When a man named Gerald Foos purchased the Manor House Motel outside Denver in the late 1970s, he thought himself a pioneering sex researcher when he installed viewing screens in some of the rooms to spy on his guests. Foos went undetected for years before reaching out to journalist Gay Talese to share his story and excerpts from his voyeur’s journal. It’s very compelling stuff (although there is controversy whether it’s all true), but I must admit, this one left me with a strange feeling reading it at night alone. I couldn’t shake that feeling and stop staring into the air vents, thinking I could just barely see a face.— Jeremy
On January 7, 1980, in the run-up to the publication of his landmark best seller Thy Neighbor's Wife, Gay Talese received an anonymous letter from a man in Colorado. "Since learning of your long-awaited study of coast-to-coast sex in America," the letter began, "I feel I have important information that I could contribute to its contents or to contents of a future book." The man went on to tell Talese an astonishing secret: that he had bought a motel to satisfy his voyeuristic desires. He had built an attic "observation platform," fitted with vents, through which he could peer down on his unwitting guests.
Unsure what to make of this confession, Talese traveled to Colorado where he met the man - Gerald Foos - verified his story in person, and read some of his extensive journals, a secret record of America's changing social and sexual mores. But because Foos insisted on remaining anonymous, Talese filed his reporting away, assuming the story would remain untold. Now, after 35 years, he's ready to go public, and Talese can finally tell his story.
The Voyeur's Motel is an extraordinary work of narrative journalism and one of the most talked about books of the year.