Louis Theroux spills on illegal sex work industry doco

Amy Stevenson

He's never been afraid to put himself in unusual or difficult situations to talk to people, but Louis Theroux admits his latest documentary, Trafficking Sex, saw him interact with "chaotic" personalities.

The documentary looks at illegal sex work in Houston, Texas, and speaking to Be ahead of the release of his latest series which is set to air onBBC Knowledge from November 21, the British journalist recalled his time with a sex worker called Nicky and seeing the "fear" she had towards her pimp first-hand while filming.

"I can’t recall or not whether or not she pretending to him she was with a client when we were with her. I know that she… was quite a chaotic personality," Louis told Be when asked whether or not cover stories where used in order to film and spend time with some of the women.

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Louis Theroux talks about his new doco which explores sex work in Houston. Source: Supplied

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The journalist spoke to a number of current and previous sex workers for the show. Source: Supplied

"I did warm to Nicky but at the same time I was aware that she was very up and down and I think, had a habit from what I could tell of slightly wandering off or going AWOL, even when she was not with a BBC crew. So I don’t think it was A Typical for her not to be available to the pimp so I don’t know if it necessarily required a cover story."

Louis went on, saying that seeing the terror and fear Nicky displayed at certain times during the documentary was "harrowing" viewers will see in the upcoming series which also includes documentaries, Murder In Milwaukee, Heroin Town,Talking to Anorexia andSavile.

"It was a very odd situation though and those scenes in which she is freaking out, first because she hasn’t made enough money, then because she’s not answering the phone, then because she loses her money, were among the most harrowing of any of the material in this new series," he added.

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The journalist admitted that during filming he came into contact with "chaotic" personalities. Source: Supplied

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A number of women spoke about their lives in Houston. Source: Supplied

"That sense that she was absolutely petrified almost in fear of her life because of losing her money, and going from composed and present to being almost deranged with fear and grief."

And while some women working in the illegal sex industry in the American city opt to have a pimp, others do not, and Louis added it's complicated when trying to work out whether or not they're safer for it.

“I think it’s complicated, you’re talking about these conditions these women are in are apocalyptic almost in their awfulness. The world’s that they’re in, especially those on 'The Track' or 'The Stroll', where woman illegally work as prostitutes they are lawless frontiers," he said.

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Louis also said there is "harrowing" footage of some of the women. Source: Supplied

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The British journalist opened up about his new series. Source:

"So you’re in a situation that is desperate and dangerous so in that situation you need protection but the pimps, from what I can tell, pretty awful and it’s hard to know how exactly it goes down.

"We get as close as we can but everything that I saw suggested that it was just a horrible and desperate existence and one can only assume that without the pimps in that world, even more horrible and desperate. But what a choice to have to make."

A new season of Louis Theroux begins 21 November at 8.30pm on BBC Knowledge with five diverse film, starting with an exploration of three American cities facing devastating challenges: sex trafficking, murder and opiate dependence.

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