Is the "secret" room at Houston's ZaZa a voyeuristic sex-dungeon for rich weirdos?

A redditor called joelikesmusic reported that a friend of his had been checked into a weird, narrow dungeon-like theme room at the Hotel Zaza in Houston (it's got lots of theme suites -- I once stayed in their awesome space-themed one with my family, on the way to my honeymoon). When he complained, the front desk apparently told him that it was a mistake -- no one was supposed to use that room.

The ZaZa's management told the press that it was a "prison" themed room, and that there was no mystery, but intrepid redditors have been examining the pictures (especially the portrait of Jay Comeaux, a banking exec from the disgraced Stanford Banking Executive, and have been spinning out theories about secret societies and rituals in the comments.

However, one commenter called lejefferson makes a plausible case that the room is a sex-dungeon with a one-way voyeur's mirror, used by rich weirdos:

What person that you know keeps a creepy picture of a guy over their television. This is obviously a secret room either personal or for a small group of people for sexual liasons/ S&M prostitution or worse. The mirror and small space of the room also indicates there is a good chance that the mirror is two way and that people could pay to come watch the sexual/S&M events occuring. The photo of a Stanford Banking Executive, (Jay Comeaux), on the wall further indicates that this is a high society sex room. The fact that the clerk said, "This room isn't supposed to be rented out" indicates that there was a big mistake and they didn't want anyone to find out about the room. The bricks on the wall line up exactly with the placement of the mirror suggesting that they do not continue behind it but that this is a two way mirror.

ZaZa insiders question - what's up with room 322? (self.houston) (via Super Punch)


  1. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only person who can’t reach orgasm without being watched by a photo of Jay Comeaux.

    I thought I was alone. . . .

    1. its because the photo was probably taken with a panorama stitching function on a camera where you turn the camera and it stitches many shots together, by the time the camera got around to the mirror the tv screen had changed

        1. i gotta say my head is feeling pretty big over this, i feel like a real detective over here for solving that one

    2. Didn’t we have a thread a couple of years ago about cameras, reflection and the speed of light?  Something to do with a picture of a child in a kitchen.

        1. That raises a bigger mystery. How are there nested comments in a thread from before we switched to nested comments?

          1. My guess: Because it always recorded what comment you were replying to, and switching to nested comments just changed how they displayed. So all the old ones would just be displayed the same way as new ones?

            Do I get a prize?

          2. Oh, I forgot that we had that completely useless function in the old system for a while. Never mind.

  2. Oh c’mon Cory. Why does a room designed to allow voyeurism and exhibitionism have to be for “weirdos”? If it’s not your cup of tea, then don’t go there, no reason to hate on people that are into it.

      1. I don’t see what’s so weird.

        Besides a giant, glowing wall plaque that reads, “Walgreens”?  That would freak me the fuck out.

        “Who’s a naughty pharmacist?”

        1. I thought that must be a television and that the pic is low rent panoramic since Walgreens isn’t in the image reflected on the mirror.

          Good placement too, no one-way mirrors are 100% opaque and dungeons (I guess) may be wanted darkish, so a TV right across from the one-way helps out.

    1.  What makes you think Cory’s use of the word “weirdo” was an epithet?  I personally think of it as a term of affection.  Like nerd, geek and dork.

    2. yeah – apparently space themed rooms are ‘awesome family fun’, whereas this is for ‘rich weirdos’. how dull.

      1. I’m all for people doing each other in the ways they want, but as others have mentioned, the portrait of the rich old disgraced white guy puts it right on over into weirdo terrain. 

        Not that there’s anything wrong with that. – Some Awesome Seinfeld Writer

        BTW there really is nothing wrong about saying what is is, weirdo is principally defined as eccentrically unconventional. 

        The negative connotation (dangerous psychopath) is secondary, and wholly represented in the portrait. So Cory was right in any case.

    1. Well this is what Mirror World ( ) has to say about it:

      Introduction to 2 Way Mirror ?

      2 way mirrors are often only seen as an invaluable surveillance tool helping to save business thousands each year from theft and shopping lifting. But 2 way mirrors have many uses other than just surveillance, they are much more useful that that, as an observation tool, aiding science, medicine and the like.

      Couldn’t have put it better myself.

      / Snort

      1. His point is that something that’s transparent on one side and reflective on the other side is properly called a one-way mirror. But he’s wrong in calling it a pane of glass. A two-way mirror would be reflective on both sides. A pane of glass is a no-way mirror.

    2. “A one-way mirror, also known as a two-way mirror, one-way glass, or two-way glass is a mirror that is partially reflective and partially transparent” -WP

      Seems like a common usage.

        1.  No. Willow Palin said it, but to be more accurate she said, ” Like a one-way mirror? Also known as like a two-way mirror? One-way glass? Or two-way glass? It’s like a mirror that’s like partially reflective ? And partially, but like totally transparent?

    3. “Two way” or “one way” seems irrelevant. Outside of Hollywood, don’t these types of mirrors need the observed side to be brightly lit? This room doesn’t seem too bright.

  3. Also, the concrete floor looks like rug glue was on it at one time, which leads me to believe the carpet got soiled during a session and was ripped out.

  4. The most plausible explanation I’ve seen: This is, or was, a manager’s room. According to the hotel, the owner, Benji Homsey, stayed in this room for an extended period; this is probably his decor. (One of the paintings on the wall is signed “Benny H.”) It’s small and has exposed brick because ZaZa renovated a historic building when they opened, and there were places where the original architecture forced them to fit rooms into odd places.

    What this doesn’t explain: 1) the photo of Jay Comeaux; 2) the recessed mirror; or 3) why they’re claiming it’s a “prison-themed” guest room now. My guesses: 3) that’s a half-assed way of repurposing this weird room; 2) there was a window (and thus a gap in the brick) in the original building; 1) Benji and Comeaux were in the same secret society, for which “322” was a number of mystic significance.

    (As a sex dungeon, it’s terrible. Not enough room to swing a flogger, no hard attachment points.)

    1. Yes, ugly paintings do not a dungeon make.

      Some iffy decor, (chains ?) but there is nothing to my eyes that suggests a dungeon (ie convertible furniture) and you are completely correct about the space logistics of using anything but a small flogger or paddle.

      Is that brick wall really brick or faux brick ? The decor seems to suggest an early 2000’s big city artists loft, with hints of industrial chic — except done by someone who wasn’t an artist, and didn’t actually know anyone into that scene at all, ie so-so interior design. The mirror may actually be a MIRROR, you know, to make a small awkward space feel bigger.

      1.  It looks fake at first peek, though I think that might be due to the cameraphone’s artifacting as well as its white balancing making the bricks look pink. Zoomed in it looks a bit more legit, but it could be a plastic facade. Though, there is no visible repetition.

        Disappointingly enough, I think the mirror position may be due to the brick wall being from an older building, and that opening was a window. Given standard brick dimensions, that window would be almost exactly 5 feet high, and if that bed is a standard queen, that would make it also close to 5 feet wide. Probably not hard to find a 5’x5′ mirror.

    2. (As a sex dungeon, it’s terrible. Not enough room to swing a flogger, no hard attachment points.)

      If you have to resort to physical restraints, you’re not working that dominance hard enough.

  5. Meh- this has been pretty much debunked on Reddit as being anything too shady. It’s merely a small room in the Hotel that they themed out, like a few other rooms in the hotel. It’s “not supposed to be rented out” to a random businessman, but I’m sure a bunch of rock stars and crap rent it out all the time. Vegas has a lot of special rooms like this. Go to Reddit for the whole story, it ends up being a lot tamer than everyone wants it to be.

  6. So.. this is a private room, lots of places have them, like mentioned the ex-managers room, etc.  But the sex thing is plausible, I mean, the chains holding the bed, the mirror looks pretty much like the observation mirrors at the psych clinic, the power strip mounted at bed height for your plug-in toys… it adds up to weirdness – there is a way to check if it is an observation mirror, but you have to be there to try it, a photo won’t do.  Either way I find the most disturbing thing about the room to be the photo of Mr. Comeaux.

  7. What makes them (supposed) creepy weirdos is that they’re rich.  When normal people get kinky – even at great expense – it’s all good.

  8. Anyone else wishing they had put more effort into finding the access for the other side of the partially reflective glass?  Is it a secret door in that room, or from the hall?  Or does it have access by the neighboring “normal” room?

  9. Why are we supposed to care?

    Some folks like combining roleplaying games with sex. There would be a market for facilities which facilitate that, especially in a hotel which explicitly does have theme rooms. This is hardly news and barely interesting unless you are interested in renting such a space.Better for folks to use a space designed for the purpose than to have them misuse spaces _NOT_ designed for it and provoke events like the notorious Disclave Flood (which, please note, had nothing to do with Disclave except for occurring in the same hotel while the con was in progress).

    Having said that: I’ve had hotel rooms which were equally awkwardly-shaped, because the architect didn’t plan well or because they were originally supposed to be servants’ quarters. Heck, I’ve stayed in function rooms with Murphy beds when the hotel ran out of “proper” guest rooms. If it’s clean and well-enough lit and secure and otherwise meets my basic needs as someplace to sleep and work and relax, and if they understand that they’re inconveniencing me and make an effort to make up for it… It’s a hotel room. I’m just staying a night or two, not buying or moving into the darned thing.

    1.  … Heck, I’ve sometimes been put up in the room normally used as crash space by the night manager, which was arranged/decorated to his tastes rather than as a normal hotel room. That may be all the explanation you need.

      1. I’m also slightly puzzled that the original poster assumed that “prostitution or worse” was involved… both because there’s absolutely nothing indicating paid and/or illegal and/or non-consensual activity (as far as I can tell from what’s been described), and because they seem to be under the delusion that prostitution never occurs in the hotel rooms they normally sleep in. (A good hotel does try to prevent prostitution on its property, more to protect themselves than for any other reason, but unless it’s an ongoing operation or otherwise obvious it’s hard to distinguish from any other double-occupancy room.)

        And there’s the question of why the original poster thinks only the rich are weirdos… I’ve known folks who were far from rich who insisted on boring me with stories about their bondage games. (I really didn’t need a description of the sound made by an electric guitar being used to paddle someone. Not my kink.)

        If you really feel a need to publicly squick about such things, you can find better examples… but this is telling us more about your hangups than about anyone else’s.

          1. Massively unlikely since, these days, nonconsentual voyeurism would more likely be via camera. _Consentual_ voyeurism might be by one-way mirror because the participants want to know they’re exposed, but that puts it back into “if not your kink, don’t play” territory.

            And that’s presuming it is a one-way mirror, rather than an unconvincing application of brickface or some equally mundane explanation. (“I can tell by the pixels?”) Again, this tells us much more about the fantasies of the folks commenting than about the room.

            Pile up the assumptions and you have equally bad support for any assumption you like; “if false then” is inherently undefined. And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  10. Cory, you’re doing a signing in Houston tomorrow night, right? If you don’t have a place to stay yet, I think some further investigation is in order…

  11. That painting reminds me of John Currin.

    But that frame is horrible, and the skulls look like they came from a Target halloween sale. I’m not knocking the halloween sales, mind you…

    1. Yes but only chump change suspicious. That needed another zero to be worthy suspicious. A thousand bucks is a thousand bucks, but if you’ve got a decent sized entity by the short hairs then a thousand bucks is rightfully at least ten thousand bucks IMO

  12. I have this horrible vision of G.W. Bush sitting behind the mirror with his Alfred E. Neuman grin on his face, his shoulders rising and falling as he snickers, an autographed glossy of Angela Merckel on his lap, and Karl Rove lurking in the shadows behind him. I mean, it is in Houston after all.

  13. Strange room.

    I like Cory and have enjoyed most of his novels and posts.  Part of the enjoyment stems from his ‘supermarket checkout line’ approach to headline writing, which is clearly in evidence here.

  14. When I was a kid that was The Warwick and it was frequented by rich weirdos. 
    My how times have changed I think wistfully to myself. 

    There was/is a tunnel connecting it to the more recent Warwick Towers next door, for some reason me and the rats I ran with thought it was great fun to use it to cross the street. We used to sneak into their pools too. Also did an Ivory Snow / red Ritt Dye number on that fountain on Main right outside. Oh, I’m so old, I did enjoy being a delinquent.

    1. Putting soap into Mecom Fountain is a traditional prank for Houston youths.

      Fans of Rushmore might be interested to know that the scene when Max unleashes bees on Mr. Blume was filmed in The Warwick. It was also Bob Hope’s favorite hotel back in the 50’s and 60’s. He thought The Shamrock was too gauche.

  15. Am I the only one who thought, “Yay rich weirdos!,” as in the thing you yell at the Rocky Horror Picture Show when Brad describes the castle as “Probably some kind of hunting lodge for rich weirdos”?

  16. I do not have one handy to check, but wouldn’t you be able to look behind a two way mirror with a bright light? ie stuck the mobile phone on it, turn the flashlight app on and pierce the darkness behind?

  17. “for sexual liasons/ S&M prostitution or worse”
    What the hell is that supposed to mean?  I get the weirdness of banker photo whatnot, but there are many things worse than “sexual liasons/S&M and prostitution”. This tone is way too judgy for me to find it amusing.

    Or, as we say in the scene: “Don’t squick my squee.”

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