Back in 1997 Louis Theroux made a documentary, as part of his Bafta-winningly odd Weird Weekends series, about a subject that was then relatively unfamiliar this side of the Atlantic – the vast pornography industry that existed alongside mainstream movie-making in Southern California. It was a typically quirky Theroux production focused largely (and highly entertainingly) on the male “performers” and contrasting the stereotypical macho fantasy of easy sex with the crude mechanics of the job – and the physical and psychological dangers it posed to those involved.
Fifteen years on, Theroux returned to the San Fernando Valley for another crack of the whip in Louis Theroux: Twilight of the Porn Stars (BBC Two). What was apparent from the outset was that time and technological progress have not been kind to the porn producers. The internet – which did so much to bring pornography to within a mouse click of the mass market – had, according to those he interviewed at least, devastated their business by flooding the web with free erotic material. Gone are the days of easy money and rampant, drug-fuelled excess. Yet, they soldier on, the economic blight having had little obvious effect on the number of people willing to engage in extreme sex acts on camera in return for cold hard cash, however diminished the earnings. Continue reading