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The Voyeur's Motel
Author:Gay Talese

The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese





ONE

I KNOW a married man with two children who bought a twenty-one-room motel near Denver many years ago in order to become its resident voyeur.

With his wife nearby to assist, he cut rectangular-shaped holes in the ceilings of a dozen rooms, each hole measuring six by fourteen inches. Then he covered the openings with louvered aluminum screens that simulated ventilation grilles, but were, in fact, observation vents that allowed him, while he knelt or stood on the thickly carpeted floor of the attic, under the motel’s pitched roof, to see his guests in the rooms below. He continued to watch them for decades, while keeping an almost daily written record of what he saw and heard—and never once, during all those years, was he caught.

I first became aware of this individual after receiving a handwritten, special delivery letter, without a signature, dated January 7, 1980, sent to my home in New York. It began:

Dear Mr. Talese:

Since learning of your long awaited study of coast-to-coast sex in America, which will be included in your soon to be published book, “Thy Neighbor’s Wife,” I feel I have important information that I could contribute to its contents or to contents of a future book.

Let me be more specific. I am the owner of a small motel, 21 units, in the Denver Metropolitan area. I have owned this motel for the past 15 years, and because of its middle-class nature, it has had the opportunity to attract people from all walks of life and obtain as its guests, a generous cross-section of the American populace. The reason for purchasing this motel, was to satisfy my voyeuristic tendencies and compelling interest in all phases of how people conduct their lives, both socially and sexually, and to answer the age old question, “of how people conduct themselves sexually in the privacy of their own bedroom.”

In order to accomplish this end, I purchased this motel and managed it personally, and developed a foolproof method to be able to observe and hear the interactions of different people’s lives, without their ever knowing that someone was watching. I did this purely out of my unlimited curiosity about people and not as just a deranged voyeur. This was done for the past 15 years, and I have logged an accurate record of the majority of the individuals that I watched, and compiled interesting statistics on each, i.e., what was done; what was said; their individual characteristics; age & body type; part of the country from where they came; and their sexual behavior. These individuals were from every walk of life. The businessman who takes his secretary to a motel during the noon hour, which is generally classified as “hot sheet” trade in the motel business. Married couples traveling from state to state, either on business or vacation. Couples who aren’t married, but live together. Wives who cheat on their husbands and visa versa. Lesbianism, of which I made a personal study because of the proximity of a U.S. Army Hospital to the motel and the nurses & military women who worked in the establishment. Homosexuality, of which I had little interest, but still watched to determine motivation and procedure. The Seventies, later part, brought another sexual deviation forward, namely “Group Sex,” which I took great interest in watching.

Most people classify the foregoing as sexual deviations, but since they are practiced so commonly by the larger proportion of people, they should be reclassified as sexual interests. If sexual researchers & people in general could have the ability to see into other people’s private lives and see this practiced & performed, and to ascertain exactly how large a percentage of normal people indulge in these so-called deviations, their minds would change immediately.

I have seen most human emotions in all its humor and tragedy carried to completion. 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.

My main objective in wanting to provide you with this confidential information, is the belief that it could be valuable to people in general and sex researchers in particular.

Additionally, I have been wanting to tell this story, but I am not talented enough and I have fears of being discovered. It is hoped that this source of information could be helpful in adding an additional perspective to your other resources in the development of your book or future books. Perhaps if you have no use for this information, you could put me in touch with someone who could use it. If you are interested in obtaining more information or would like to inspect my motel and operations, please write to my box # below, or notify me how I can contact you. Presently I cannot reveal my identity because of my business interests, but will be revealed when you can assure me that this information would be held in complete confidence.

I hope to receive a reply from you. Thank you.