Motel Owner Secretly Watched Guests Have Sex for 29 Years
Gay Talese tells story of the 'greatest voyeur in the world'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2016 5:25 PM CDT
Updated Apr 7, 2016 1:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – For 29 years, motel owner Gerald Foos watched hundreds, perhaps thousands, of guests having sex, going to the bathroom, and more at the Manor House Motel in Colorado. Now the story of the "greatest voyeur in the world" is out in the open, thanks to an article published in the New Yorker by journalist Gay Talese. The author says he first learned of Foos when the latter wrote him a letter in 1980. "Sexually, I have witnessed, observed, and studied the best first hand, unrehearsed, non-laboratory sex between couples, and most other conceivable sex deviations during these past 15 years," it read. Foos—who sold the motel in 1995—wanted to be seen as a "sex researcher and social observer," not a mere Peeping Tom and pervert, according to the Denver Post. To that end, Foos kept detailed notes of everything he witnessed through his fake ceiling vents.

For example, in 1973 he catalogued 184 male orgasms and 33 female orgasms, and noted that white heterosexuals tended to have missionary sex and that only 3% of his guests failed to have sex. Talese even joined Foos in his attic "laboratory" on at least one occasion and found the man had an "uncontrollable desire to peer into other people's lives." The statute of limitations has passed on any voyeur-related crimes, reports the Post, but Talese writes that Foos could face trouble over a 1977 murder he says he witnessed but never reported—assuming it actually happened. Foos tells the Post that Talese's article could "create a real situation." "I don't know if I'm ready for anything, to be honest with you," he says. "I'm just a poor soul." Foos maintains that no guests were ever harmed by his voyeurism as they never knew they were being watched. (One study finds that voyeurism isn't all that unusual.)