Skyfall and Spectre director Sam Mendes is moving from gadget-based espionage to spying of a far more intimate sort, having acquired the rights to “The Voyeur’s Motel,” a recently published New Yorker article that will soon be adapted into a non-fiction novel. Written by journalist Gay Talese, the article tells the bizarre story of avowed voyeur Gerald Foos, who purchased a Colorado motel in the 1960s and then outfitted it with a ceiling full of fake ventilation screens so that he could spy on the thousands of residents who passed through its rooms. Styling himself as a researcher into humanity, Foos took detailed notes on all the arguments, tender moments, and, of course, sexual acts that passed under his unseen eyes:
“He also made note of guests whose behavior he found weird or upsetting: the guy who secretly urinated in his date’s bourbon; the obese fellow who checked in with a much younger man and then dressed him up in a furry costume with horns, saying, ‘You are heavenly; I have never seen a more beautiful sheep-boy.’”
“One was a middle-aged woman who checked into the motel with a well-dressed younger man. The woman mixed a drink, then removed her clothes. As the two entwined on the bed, the woman moaning frantically, the man abruptly stopped. ‘I’m having difficulty making my car payment,’ he told her. She reached for her purse and handed him a hundred-dollar bill. He then returned his attention to her prone body. After satisfying her, he rebuffed her offer to reciprocate, then relented. ‘I need an extra fifty dollars to finish paying my bills,’ he said. She gave him the money, and several minutes later he left.
When the woman drove off, Foos followed her in his car and saw her enter an apartment in a retirement complex. He watched through her kitchen window. ‘She was in tears,’ he wrote. Foos walked around the complex and asked a neighbor about the woman. He learned that her husband had been killed in Vietnam and her son was away at college. In his conclusion, he wrote, ‘The tremendous sexual desire that some women of middle age express during these encounters is a definite tragedy.’ He added that he had seen the same gigolo in his motel with men.”
Mendes’ interest in the article—an amazing look at a man attempting to convince himself that his need to watch is more than just an expression of base, sexual urges—suggests the director might be moving back into the “suburban desperation” mode of movies like American Beauty or Revolution Road. The director—who’s not currently attached to any more James Bond films—will develop the project with his old partners at Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks.