Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends

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Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends
Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends.png
Title card from Season 3
Format Documentary
Starring Louis Theroux
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 3
No. of episodes 17
Production
Executive producer(s) David Mortimer
Running time 50 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel BBC Two
Picture format 4:3 (later 16:9)
Original run 15 January 1998 – 30 October 2000

Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends is a television documentary series, in which Louis Theroux gives viewers the chance to get brief glimpses into the worlds of individuals and groups that they would not normally come into contact with or experience up close. In most cases this means interviewing people with extreme beliefs of some kind, or just generally belonging to subcultures not known to exist by most or just frowned upon. It was first shown in the United Kingdom on BBC2. In 2001, Theroux was awarded the Richard Dimbleby Award for the Best Presenter BAFTA for his work on the series.

Louis Theroux's view on Weird Weekends:

Episodes[edit]

Series One (1998)[edit]

# Title Broadcast Synopsis
1.1 "Born Again Christians" 15 January In Dallas, Louis meets TV evangelists Marcus and Joni Lamb, and joins a group of hardline Christians called "The Family" as they visit the Deep Ellum entertainment district.
1.2 "UFOs" 22 January This episode follows several people who believe in UFOs. One of these is a man called Thor Templar, the self-titled "Lord Commander of the Earth Protectorate". He claims to have killed more than twenty aliens.
1.3 "Porn" 29 January This episode offers a look at very different sides of the porn industry, as Louis interviews both male and female porn stars. He reveals the problems a lot of porn actors face, be it not getting a job in straight porn and therefore having to do gay porn, or not getting an erection when it is needed.
1.4 "Survivalists" 5 February In Idaho, Louis meets military enthusiasts and right-wing patriots (such as Bo Gritz) who are preparing for a global catastrophe, including trips to survivalists' store Safetrek and a mountain refuge for conspiracy theorists called Almost Heaven. Louis also visits the Aryan Nation Church and helps to build a straw-bale home. The episode focuses on the survivalism movement and communities formed around it. That several self-proclaimed survivalists were also hippies and environmentalists is a recurring theme.
1.5 "Weird Christmas" 23 December Louis invites someone from each of the four episodes of series 1 to his home for Christmas.

Series Two (1999)[edit]

# Title Broadcast Synopsis
2.1 "Infomercials" 12 May Louis attempts to become a presenter on Florida's Home Shopping Network TV channel and meets Anthony Sullivan and Billy Mays. He also meets people who invent, sell and make a fortune from products such as the Win Gym.[1]
2.2 "Swingers" 26 May Louis meets a couple from Southern California who host swinging parties. He visits one of these to find out what drives couples to want to swap partners. This programme also offers a brief look into other kinds of swinging through an organisation that has a database of members that are rated on a scale of 1 to 10. Under this system, people rated highly are invited to exclusive parties intended to keep out unattractive, socially awkward, or otherwise undesirable people.
2.3 "Black Nationalism" 2 June American black nationalist groups have been branded anti-Semitic, homophobic, misogynist and racist by the mainstream press. Louis Theroux goes to Harlem in New York to meet its proponents, and meets the Reverend Al Sharpton, the main point of contact in the black nationalist movement. Theroux also meets Khalid Abdul Muhammad, dubbed by the media 'the most dangerous man in America' and visits the Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge, who believe that blacks are the true Israelites and that all English monarchs until early modern times were black. Theroux also joins Al Sharpton on a march on Wall Street to protest at the shooting by New York police of Amadou Diallo, who was shot at 41 times and killed.
2.4 "Demolition Derby" 9 June Louis has to overcome his nerves to enter a demolition derby in car-mad Michigan.
2.5 "Off-Off Broadway" 15 June Louis meets the hordes of out-of-work actors in New York as they try to land a part – and even goes on an audition himself, for a job on a Norwegian cruise ship, in front of Craig Revel Horwood
2.6 "Wrestling" 6 July Louis takes a look at different types of wrestling from the high profile World Championship Wrestling (WCW) to people organizing events in their spare time. He meets several WCW wrestlers, including Rowdy Roddy Piper, Goldberg, Randy Savage, Berlyn, Raven, and Pez Whatley. He also visits the WCW Power Plant, a training facility where some of the WCW wrestlers started out. The training he receives there from DeWayne Bruce shows him that some wrestlers will not break kayfabe (the illusion of fiction being fact) and will take exception when their profession's authenticity is questioned.

Series Three (2000)[edit]

# Title Broadcast Synopsis
3.1 "Self-Fulfilment" 25 September Louis meets a Las Vegas hypnotist who claims he can make dreams come true and meets Ross Jeffries who teaches chat-up techniques.
3.2 "Indian Gurus" 2 October Louis travels to India to witness Westerners seeking enlightenment. In Goa he meets 57-year old American astrologer (and former psychology professor) "Deepak" who studies meditation. He moves on to meet Mike, who is a follower of Swami Ganapathi Sachchidananda, and Amma who claims spiritual powers through hugging people. He then re-joins Amma on a pilgrimage with 400 believers on their three-month tour of India.
3.3 "South Africa" 9 October Louis meets Afrikaner separatists who dream of building cultural enclaves in post-apartheid South Africa, including leader Eugène Terre'Blanche.
3.4 "Body Building" 16 October Louis looks at the world of body building in the USA, including the female body building fetish scene and producers of wrestling videos.
3.5 "Thai Brides" 23 October Louis visits a Bangkok marriage agency where Western men meet Thai brides.
3.6 "Gangsta Rap" 30 October Louis travels to America's South to have a look at the gangsta rap scene known as the "Dirty South". He starts his own Gangsta rap, having a CD cover designed for him as well as getting the rappers Reece and Bigelow to write a song for him to perform on a rap radio show. Other parts include him interviewing pimp turned rapper Mello T, as well as rap superstar Master P.

Book[edit]

In 2005 Louis released a book called The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures where he revisits people he previously interviewed for the Weird Weekends documentaries.[2] He attempts to track down ten of his subjects, up to seven years after the shows, claiming a desire to see what "changes in their subcultures might say about the changes in the world at large", or at least "curious of what became of some of the odd folk [he] got to know".

He tracks down Thor Templar (alien resistance commander), JJ Michaels (porn star), Ike Turner (musician and ex-husband of Tina, from an uncompleted episode), Mike Cain (survivalist), Haley (prostitute), Jerry Gruidl (Aryan Nations), Mello T (pimp turned rapper), Oscody (Survivor of Heaven's Gate), Marshall Sylver (Hypnotist), and Lamb & Lynx (the singing White Nationalist twins – aged 11).[3]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Hanks, Robert (13 May 1999). "Television Review". Independent (London). Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  2. ^ William Grimes (7 February 2007). "Back on the Road, Tracking the Red, White and Odd". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ "The Call of the Weird by Louis Theroux". Pop Matters. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 

External links[edit]