In a handwritten note to writer Gay Talese in 1980, Colorado motel owner Gerald Foos described how he had been spying on customers’ sex lives through a network of peepholes in the rooms’ ceilings. Foos said he’d been taking notes, which he offered to share for Talese’s upcoming book, “Thy Neighbor’s Wife,” in exchange for a confidentiality agreement.
True to his word, Foos had taken meticulous notes, filling reams of paper with his observations of cheaters; closeted gay people; swingers; forbidden interracial couples; gigolos; feuding holiday makers; fetishists, and more, across a wide swathe of human sexuality. Foos’s notebooks — which he began to send to Talese — were full of self-serving and increasingly cynical and detached observations in a mock-clinical style that chronicled Foos’s slide into a kind of obsessive misanthropy that left him hating the people he couldn’t look away from….
Foos is a bizarre and fascinating character. He considers his own spying to be harmless, but rails at state surveillance, lauding Snowden as a heroic whistleblower and deploring the NSA’s mass surveillance. He eventually released Talese from his confidentiality agreement, believing that the statute of limitations had run out on his last act of spying (he was forced to quit in 1995, when arthritis made it too difficult for him to ascend to his surveillance attic).
Should a journalist’s confidentiality agreement extend to knowledge of criminal acts?
Motel owner spent 30 years spying on his guests’ sex lives, considered himself a “researcher” [Cory Doctorow – Boing Boing]