Mark Allen Johnson has been chased, blindfolded and threatened with his life in his qust to pursue stories about the violent subcultures of America. In Discovery Channel’s American Underworld, Johnson enters some of the most extreme, violent and hard-to-access subcultures in the country – from drug manufacturers, to theft rings to the sex trade – telling stories of a dangerous underground world that could be right next door.
Using unorthodox methods, Johnson uses a mix of brains and bravado to gain access to highly secretive worlds. Securing the trust of his subjects alone can be a deadly business, often requiring months of negotiations. Pointing a video camera at them truly puts his life at risk. Entering these worlds – sometimes blindfolded and separated from his crew – Johnson brings back some of the most raw and compelling footage on television.
In Episode 1: Drugs, which premiered on Monday, September 19, 2011, Johnson entered the world of homemade drug manufacturing, a big business that takes place in kitchens across America. Johnson showed how drugs are made, distributed and used, from a crack cocaine business in Los Angeles to a highly toxic – and rarely seen – “shake ‘n’ bake” meth production process in rural Tennessee. After extensive negotiations, Johnson also gained the trust of a major homemade steroid producer and supplier who cooks up performance-enhancing drugs from raw ingredients sent from secret foreign suppliers. He tests them on himself before distributing them to people in gyms and homes across America.
Episode 2: Theft, which premiered on Monday, September 26, accessed the underground world of specialized car thieves, who shop of cars constantly. Every 40 seconds, a car is stolen in America. Johnson gains unprecedented access to a car theft ring and follows a thief who identifies a truck he needs, parked right in front of the owner’s house in a typical suburban neighborhood. The thief disarmed the alarm system, drove it back to a secret “chop shop” where a gang was ready to strip and rebuild it (complete with new VIN number) , then resold it for a $7,000 profit – all in less than 24 hours. Johnson also spent 48 hours with a veteran identity thief who, with his accomplice, a waitress, skimmed a customers’ credit card information onto a hard drive to be used later to make easy money.
Episode 3: Sex Trade, premieres on Monday, October 3, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Johnson explores the sex trade, a multi-billion dollar business that spans the world of pimp controlled streetwalkers to highly sophisticated escorts charging thousands of dollars an hour. Johnson explores the sex trade in Chicago – the birthplace of the American street pimp – and the capital of the nation here a pimp named Good Game sends his number one prostitute out to work the streets 24/7. Johnson also gains access to girls working the sex trade with unparalleled intimacy. One sex trade worker has ditched the traditional pimp in favor of the Internet, and makes a six-figure income from high-class liaisons in five star hotels. Mark meets a Texas man who has three girls living with him, working as strippers to support a lavish suburban lifestyle.
AMERICAN UNDERWORLD is produced for Discovery Channel by The Incubator, where Lisa Andreae is executive producer. For Discovery Channel, Cameo Wallace is executive producer.
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