May 30, 2011

Louis Theroux Weird Weekends

BBC Knowledge is re-running a 1998 series by Louis Theroux in which he goes Gonzo-style into 'weird' subcultures. It makes a worthwhile change from the standard fly on the wall stuff. He's filming openly, to the point of even participating in the main activity reported on. There is no subterfuge or undercover try-to-catch-them-out but he leaves it, thankfully, up to the viewer to ponder the lifestyles of the strange and unknown
The episode that caught my attention was about the Los Angeles porn industry, then (1998) in the midst of an HIV scare (several performers had been recently diagnosed and caused shock waves through the industry with many reconsidering their careers) but not yet fully affected by the online free-for-all (performing and downloading) which has made the current business model basically untenable. But what we learn from the film is that it's an excellent short term money spinner for performers despite the risks to your physical and mental health. The glaring difference with the real world - speaking in terms of male and female pay rates in doing the same job - is that men earn far less than women and actually have a much harder (to excuse a pun) job than their female co-stars: keeping wood and delivering the money shot after a long day filming on a set with many staff around and when many of your co-performers may not be of your sexual taste is admirable. The attrition rate mentioned by the producers and casting agents, who, of course, make the most money out of your talent, is not surprising.
A few vignettes stuck in my mind: the English girl who preferred to work in American porn instead of Europe because "she doesn't get bruised or injured here"; the male former Airforce performer who looked genuinely puzzled when asked what he was going to do if porn didn't work out in the future (there is never a plan B in America, it seems); the sheer stress on all the males to perform - and you got to feel sorry for those gay-for-pay straight dudes who have their minds and genitals messed with.


todd carr said...

talk bout a hard day at the office.

sorry, couldn't help it. :(

Elly said...

I was talking to a friend about this series. I also remember the one where Louis spent time in a brothel and one of the sex workers got very attached to him.

Feminism really is so grim in its insistence that only women are exploited via porn, both as 'objects' and participants.