Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Call of the Weird

My husband and I stumbled on Louis Theroux's (son of author Paul Theroux) Bravo documentary series "Weird Weekends" a decade ago and loved it. The premise of the show was that Theroux spent time getting to know people who live on the fringe of normalcy in some form or another - Survivalists, White Supremacists, porn-industry actors, Ike Turner, a pimp, members of the Heaven's Gate cult, etc. The show was addictive but short lived.

In The Call of the Weird Theroux goes back to revisit some of his documentary subjects to see what's going on with their lives. He finds some interesting things. The porn actor he profiled has left the industry and moved away from Los Angles, but isn't really happy with his life. The surviving members of Heaven's Gate still speak fondly of their leader and their days in the cult. The pimp is still a pimp even though he's married with a child. The Survivalists' camp in Idaho has mostly broken apart. Apparently the non event of Y2K put a dent in their apocalyptic theories.

For anyone who saw any of Theroux's shows, I highly recommend the book. Heck, I recommend it even if you didn't see the shows. He gives enough of a background on each subject that having seen the show isn't a necessity. This is Theroux's first book, and I hope it's not his last. His father has an impressive list of books to his credit, and I hope Louis follows in his footsteps.

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