The new documentary from Louis Theroux that’s hitting Aussie cinemas at the end of the month revolves around polyamourous dynamics within the sex-positive community in Portland, and a part of one particularly involved scene had to be left on the cutting room floor after Louis realised it “gave the wrong impression.”

PEDESTRIAN.TV got on the phone with Louis Theroux recently to chat about the upcoming film, Altered States: Love Without Limits, and in particular the scenes where he participates in a sensual eating evening held by members of SexPositive Portland.

I think there were two shots that I changed. One of them was because it looked like I was maybe being licked or kissed – and I wasn’t. There was a woman who was just blowing on my chest, I think. But her face was quite close, and it gave a wrong impression. So we took that bit out.

Admittedly quite out of his comfort zone, Louis told me that it took him a while to relax in the sensual eating setting what he found to be “pretty embarrassing” for himself at first and that it got a bit more intense than he was initially ready for.

They were all sort of swaying and moaning, and many of the women were topless–it was more full-on than I expected. 

People were taking it further than I was really quite ready to. But that being said, I also found it–in an odd way–surprisingly emotional. Once I sort of gave myself permission to try and experience it, and also once I put my eye mask on, I found that kind of did away with some of the embarrassment.

Louis told me that in the experience, he preferred to be a ‘taker’ over a ‘giver’ because there was only so much he felt he could do with feeding someone snacks.

It was worse being the guy feeding. So they were all standing around feeding each other, and then one-third of the people are blindfolded and being fed. But being a feeder I thought was pretty awkward, ‘cos I was like “what do I do now? Should I give them some more chocolate and squirt some whipped cream in their mouth?” and then you’re running out of ideas.

Once I was sort of blindfolded myself, I was able to surrender to it a bit more, and I kind of enjoyed it at that point.

In the film, Louis explicitly mentions that he gained permission from his wife – TV director Nancy Strang – before diving headfirst into the experience that has him harking back to his more immersive interviewing techniques, reminiscent of Weird Weekends.

[My wife] was fine. We’ve been in a relationship for quite a few years now–I think it’s about 16 years. So she knows my foibles and she’s a very secure, switched on, cool person. She wasn’t in any way worried about it. I think if she had any issues, it was around what will her mum think and what will my mum think.

Their mums must have been fine with it, considering Louis told me that he’s still invited to Christmas, as far as he knows.

My mum sent me a text saying – she didn’t make explicit reference to the sensual eating – she just sort of said, “oh I enjoyed the program.” Nancy’s mum, I had a chat with her about it, and I dunno, I think she was okay with it. But if she wasn’t, she was kind enough not to mention it. She’s still talking to me, and I don’t think any Christmas invitation has been rescinded.

Altered States: Love Without Limits is premiering on November 30 in a bunch of theatres across Aus, including Hoyts, Dendy, and Palace cinemas, and a few independent theatres. Check out the full list here for more info.

Image: Getty Images / Santiago Felipe