Former Spy magazine contributor Theroux (son of writer Paul Theroux) offers ten surprisingly mild examples of American eccentricity.
With some trepidation, the author embarked on a “Reunion Tour” to revisit many of the oddballs he’d encountered several years back while filming the BBC documentary Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends. He hoped that his subjects didn’t think too poorly of him after the mocking way they’d been presented. He found some subjects had changed. Thor Templar, Lord Protector of the Earth Protectorate, the man who once claimed to have decapitated space aliens, had refocused his energies on debunking the Bush administration. Erstwhile porn star JJ Michaels was living in suburban Missouri with a Ukrainian mail-order bride. Former prostitute Hayley, now calling herself Tammy, had a boyfriend and was volunteering at an animal sanctuary, though she danced at a strip club to make money. Some folks were still the same, including radical Aryan Nations member Jerry Gruidl and hardcore, stone-cold “gangsta” rapper Mello T. And 12-year-old white-supremacist twin sisters Lamb and Lynx Gaede were still extolling the virtues of the Nazi-sympathetic lifestyle with their folk band, Prussian Blue, while mom April (source of the “pixie-faced” twins’ racism) cooed over new baby Dresden. Theroux’s account of his hard-won, unsolicited visit with the Gaede family is morbidly appealing and thought-provoking. Less remarkable are his descriptions of follow-ups with grizzled music-biz veteran Ike Turner, still artfully dodging “Tina” questions; with the founder of a now-disbanded “patriot” community called “Almost Heaven”; and with the few remaining survivors of the Heaven’s Gate cult (best known for a mass suicide in 1997).
A mixed bag of peculiar encounters with bizarre citizens, alternately fascinating and sad.