The people of Burrud Productions are regular visitors to the world of the supernatural and unusual. Since 1992, the Huntington Beach (California) production company has produced Beyond Bizarre, a one-hour magazine series that investigates paranormal and strange phenomena for Discovery. Now, the same company, in association with L.A.-based Team Entertainment, is venturing into Weird Worlds – a series of 5 x 60-minute specials for TLC.
‘Whereas Beyond Bizarre is dark, gothic and campy, this show is hip and slick,’ says writer/producer Thomas Quinn. Each episode is budgeted around us$300,000, and will begin to air early next year. ‘It’s a smarter series since it highlights people’s bizarre acts and the reasons behind those acts.’
First up is an examination of strange cults and secret societies. Present day blood-drinking vampires – who possess fangs – and stories that examine death and evil. ‘Aside from examining the beliefs of such organizations as the Templar Knights, the Illuminati and the Masons, we explore skinheads and the KKK, and interview two Satanic cults, who offer opposing views of Satanism,’ says John Burrud, CEO of Burrud Productions. ‘We’ll [even] see their rituals on camera.’
Another episode examines the human mind’s ability to control physical events. Besides exploring Thailand’s Phuket Vegetarian Festival, where believers often enter a trance and walk over hot coals, the outing also examines the KGB’s efforts to harness the power of psychokenisis during the Cold War. Also included is a visit to the Stanford Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, where scientific proof of mental telepathy allegedly exists.
‘We’re also exploring Feng Shui, a very popular Chinese art in California,’ says Quinn. ‘Basically, someone uses a special compass, decorated with Chinese characters, to read a building’s spiritual energy. Then, people learn how to rearrange their mirrors and furniture so the owners achieve maximum efficiency, health and happiness in their homes or offices. Real estate agents now realize people will not buy a house before it’s ‘Feng Shui-ed,’ so they have to hire Feng Shui people to ensure the property is sold. We’ll talk to people about the manner in which Feng Shui has affected the real estate market.’
Meanwhile, unusual sensuality is the topic of an episode which examines a universe of erotic pleasures, unusual sexual liaisons and adult activities worldwide. The episode includes an interview with Camile Paglia, an art historian who talks about sensual messages associated with art, clothes and advertising. Additionally, viewers will visit the Pleasure Chest (a Los Angeles-based adult toy store filled with sexual games and fashions) and Trashy Lingerie (a specialist store famous for its sexy nightwear).
‘We have plenty of fun stuff,’ says Quinn. ‘We’ll drop in on a party thrown by Dr. Susan Block, a Los Angeles-based sex therapist who sits in a bordello bed and appears on the Internet and public access television in L.A. Every Saturday night she broadcasts a live television show from her home.’
The Weird Worlds gang also visit a lifestyle convention in Reno, Nevada, an event attended by couples who often trade sexual partners and partake in other sexual activities. ‘Three thousand people attended this event,’ says Quinn. ‘We interviewed a number of couples and asked them what this lifestyle has done for their sex lives and marriage and relationships. We also visited a modern art show, which was filled with a lot of modern artistic eroticism. How much we’ll actually get on the air is the big question, but we’ll push the boundaries as much as possible.’ Simon Bacal