For decades, a Colorado motel owner used an elaborate spying system to watch his guests' sexual activities, keeping specific journals on what he'd observed — and famed journalist Gay Talese writes in this week's edition of The New Yorker t
hat he knew about the man's activities for years.
The man, Gerald Foos, bought the Manor House Motel in Aurora, Colorado in the 1960s, and told Talese in 1980 that he'd set it up to spy on guests because of his interest in sexuality.
Shortly after Foos and his wife bought the motel, which he picked because it had a pitched roof that allowed him to walk upright in the attic, he cut large holes in the ceilings over the beds in several guest rooms and had special ventilation grates installed, as well as padded carpeting in the motel's attic, so he wouldn't be heard.
"I asked Foos if he ever felt guilty about spying on his guests," Talese writes. "While he admitted to constant fear of being found out, he was unwilling to concede that his activities in the attic brought harm to anyone. He said that he was indulging his curiosity within the boundaries of his own property, and, because his guests were unaware of his voyeurism, they were not affected by it."
Foos, after learning about Talese's book "Thy Neighbor’s Wife," which explored sexuality in the United States, wrote to the famed journalist in 1980 and confessed what he'd done. Talese, while interviewing Foos, signed an agreement not to say anything until the motel owner gave permission, which did not happen until 2013, when Foos believed any statute of limitations would have expired.
Eventually, Foos patched the holes before he sold the Manor House and another motel in 1995, after he developed arthritis in his knees that made it too painful to go into the attic. The motel was torn down in 2014. Talese said Foos waited until 2013 to give permission to tell his story, as he believed by then any statute of limitations would have expired.
Talese plans to publish a book later this year about Foos, with a large part of his work coming from the former motel owner's notes, "The Voyeur's Journal." Foos has received a fee from the book's publisher for the use of his manuscript, said Talese.
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