Claim: A couple who return to the hotel where they honeymooned are shocked to discover their wedding night activities were videotaped and made available to other guests.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1993]
Origins: What could be a more painfully embarrassing and shocking violation of your privacy than discovering someone had been watching you (without your consent or knowledge) while you were engaged in the deeply personal and intimate act of making love with your partner? How about finding out that someone had secretly made a video tape of the
Tales of peepholes set up to allow the furtive observance of people's private activities in bathrooms and hotel rooms — and lawsuits resulting from them — have been circulating for years, many of them based on real incidents. In one of the most prominent examples, an Iowa couple who celebrated their engagement night with a private evening in a penthouse suite at the Canterbury Inn in Coralville, Iowa, in 1988 sued the hotel after discovering a peephole behind a two-way
The Canterbury Inn case involved no cameras, but with the advent of home video equipment has grown progressively cheaper, smaller, and better in quality, the creation of a legend (real or not) like the example quoted above was inevitable. That version's setting of the Poconos ("the honeymoon capital of the world") is an obvious one, for the
What makes this legend particularly interesting from a folkloric standpoint is its age — tales of secretly-filmed sexual encounters antedate the development of the home video market by several decades. In these older versions, however, the victims are not sweethearts or married couples innocently engaged in private lovemaking (as in the example above), but characters such as adulterers or bawdy house patrons who are being punished for having transgressed the sexual mores of their times. The following version, for example, comes from a 1927 humor collection:
"There is no charge," said the lady of the house.
Astonished, but not disposed to argue the matter, her guest left. All next day he hugged his secret to himself. He could barely wait till dinner time before he again presented himself before the bawds. Again he went through his performance, but this time, when he made a bluff at paying the piper he was informed the charges were seven hundred francs.
"What! " he shrieked. "Wasn't I here last evening, and didn't I go through every kind of screw, and you didn't charge me a sou?"
"Ah," said the madam, "but last night was for the movies."
Sightings: The plot of the infamous (and originally unaired) episode of the Fox TV series Married with Children ("I'll See You in Court") involves Al and Peg making a trip to the seedy Hop-on Inn for a romantic interlude and discovering the porn video in their room is actually a tape the motel secretly made of their neighbors, Steve and Marcy.
Last updated: 15 March 2014
Alderman, Ellen and Caroline Kennedy. The Right to Privacy. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995. ISBN 0-679-41986-1 (p. 249-272). Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Choking Doberman. New York: W. W. Norton, 1984. ISBN 0-393-30321-7 (pp. 139). Brunvand, Jan Harold. Too Good to Be True. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999. ISBN 0-393-04734-2 (pp. 128-130). Dash, Judi. "Passion in the Poconos." The [Bergen County] Record. 16 February 1986 (p. T1). Peiss, Kathy. Cheap Amusements. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986. ISBN 0-87722-389-0 (p. 156). Anecdota Americana. Boston: Humphrey Adams, 1927 (pp. 91-92). The Big Book of Urban Legends. New York: Paradox Press, 1994. ISBN 1-56389-165-4 (p. 118).