mon 24/09/2018

Louis Theroux: Twilight of the Porn Stars, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews

Louis Theroux: Twilight of the Porn Stars, BBC Two

Louis Theroux: Twilight of the Porn Stars, BBC Two

Desperadoes keep on volunteering for an industry in steep decline

Louis Theroux: time out investigating the adult industry with his younger self

Has Louis Theroux got a bit of a porn addiction? This is the second time he has visited the fleshpots of suburban California to find out what (and indeed who) is going down. Actually, as the first film was 15 years ago when Theroux was an all-but-pimply spindleshanks with outsize Blair-era specs, he is probably in the clear. But you do have to wonder whether Theroux is running out of American weirdos to spend the weekend with. There was a distinct sense of an older, wiser but less twinkly filmmaker coming round the block again.

The premise of Twilight of the Porn Stars was that an industry in its priapic pomp in 1997 is now suffering from erectile dysfunction. One porn producer had dispiriting advice for wannabe longdongs who dream of making the beast with two (and sometimes three, four or... basically pick a number) backs for a living: “You better make this your side gig.”

A dreamy Cheshire cat grin spread across a face which had recently played host to other stuff

Theroux met a couple of undaunted striplings in their early twenties. A young mother called Stephania was so innocent she hadn’t yet got round to implanting bowling balls in her chest. Why exactly was she doing this? “A friend thought it might help me get through my studies.” With friends like that, who needs enemas? She’s studying directing and producing at the LA film school, by the way. Compare and contrast with Tasha, a silicon-augmented bottle blonde majoring in women’s studies and psychology. Theroux blinked at that. “Adult," she explained, "is the only industry in America where women get paid more than men.”

A hatchet-faced British woman who does a desk job in a San Fernando Valley adult film company explained that she never tried to talk girls out of having sex on film because, and one quotes, “I’m here to promote the porn industry.” She maybe shouldn’t show them her contribution to this film then. “It’s not something I would want for my child,” she suggested, “because it fucks with their heads and I don’t want to be the mother of a whore.” That'll be your English charm at work.

Meanwhile, a young woman called Cagney, whose father has been in prison all her life, prepared for her next gig in which half a dozen men would ejaculate on her face. Her boyfriend had the odd qualm about this, and they had a stand-up row right there with Theroux as referee. “I know that’s the type of scene that might possibly win me an award!” Cagney screamed socratically. It'll also get her two grand. Theroux came back to find out how the shoot (sorry) had gone. “It was perfect actually,” said Cagney, and a dreamy Cheshire cat grin spread across a face which had recently played host to other stuff. You don't give the relationship long.

Part of Theroux’s reason for this return journey was to find out how the stud monkeys he interviewed last time round had been getting along. One, whose wife also works horizontally, now sensibly keeps his dignity by abstaining from double penetration and gang bangs. A porn producer who even in the land of the First Amendment has managed to do time for obscenity is now essentially insane. Tommy Gunn (pictured above right with Theroux), now in his 40s, has performed popshots, as they call a filmed ejaculation, “upward of 11 hundred, 12 hundred times at this point”. “Without sounding creepy,” Theroux volunteered, “you seem to be doing an excellent job.” Tommy just can't do the other stuff: he yearns for a family but hasn’t had a relationship for four years and worries increasingly that women only have sex with him when they are paid to.

And then there was John Doe, who since featuring in the last film has hanged himself. Theroux visited his widow. She cried as she described finding his body. On the bright side, she still keeps mementoes of his work, principally Doctor Butts 3: The Anal Asylum. “It’s sentimental," she explained as her kid played in the next room. "If you’re able to capture something that hot and it’s your first encounter with your baby’s daddy you’re not going to get rid of it.”

No wonder Theroux came back for more. Sometimes a man's gotta shoot fish in a barrel.

Follow @JasperRees on Twitter

One stud, whose wife also works horizontally, now sensibly keeps his dignity by abstaining from double penetration and gang bangs

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