Take a journey across America to experience some of that nation’s most fascinating subcultures firsthand when the 10-part series Only in America premieres Thursday, March 2 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT on Discovery Civilization Channel. Join host and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times Charlie LeDuff as he submerses himself in America’s secret societies and sheds light on the passionate pursuits of these little-known social groups.
Watch as LeDuff goes inside some of America’s “closed” societies and becomes more than just an observer, transforming himself into an actual participant in the activities, passions and customs of American counterculture. From Oakland’s fight clubs to a gay rodeo in Oklahoma City and modelling in New York, LeDuff meets the people few ever have the chance to. Submersed in their world, LeDuff learns what they’re all about and removes the social stigmas surrounding them.
Only in America: “Fight Club”
Thurs., March 2 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
LeDuff swings into Oakland, California’s fight club scene and spends time with members of the East Bay Rats, a gritty fraternity of motorcycle-riding, tattooed men who hold secret fight night gatherings. LeDuff learns the ropes from the rough and tough men involved in every aspect of the fight club subculture, from the man who initiated no-holds-barred fighting to the residents of the California neighbourhoods in which this pastime thrives. As he trains to fight as one of them, LeDuff discovers what fight clubs are really all about. Does he have what it takes to be one of them both inside and out of the fight ring?
Only in America: “New York Models”
Thurs., March 9 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
LeDuff travels to New York City to see if he can find his way into the most elite and cut-throat of subcultures – the world of male models, fashion and beauty. With only one week to become the new “it boy” of fashion, he meets some of the leading voices, faces and image-makers of the business. With the aid of fashion experts, LeDuff undergoes a makeover, including body waxing, runway training, photo shoot lessons and casting calls. Does this gruff reporter have what it takes to go from gritty to glamorous?
Only in America: “Gay Rodeo”
Thurs., March 16 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
The Gay Rodeo circuit is an amateur rodeo for gays and lesbians across North America that has many of the usual events of conventional rodeo, but with some of its very own special twists. After getting some much-needed training at gay rodeo school in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, LeDuff travels to Oklahoma City where he puts his new skills to the test. Watch as he wrestles steers, dresses in drag and even risks his life as a bull rider. As he gets to know these cowboys LeDuff discovers what it’s like to be gay in the buckle of the Bible belt. Is the growing popularity of the gay rodeo an attempt to dispel stereotypes or is it a place for gays and lesbians to feel accepted?
Only in America: “Minor League Football”
Thurs., March 23 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
For players in the minor football league, making it to the NFL is a dream almost out of reach. LeDuff becomes a member of the Amarillo Dusters, a minor league club filled with players struggling to be noticed by professional scouts. Witness LeDuff’s relationship with these players grow when spends time with them in the locker room and eventually on the playing field. Leaving careers and families behind, these men play for Cdn $230 a week, risking their health playing a physical game in the confines of a hockey arena. As LeDuff realizes his own dream of playing football, will he learn the real meaning of determination?
Only in America: “Battle Re-enactors”
Thurs., March 30 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
LeDuff joins historical re-enactors in southern Montana to recreate the legendary battle of Custer’s Last Stand, where General George Custer and 261 of his men died fighting the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians on June 25, 1876. Each summer, people come from near and far to bring this story back to life, from the battlefield scenes to prayer ceremonies and 19th century ballroom dancing. LeDuff attends cavalry school to learn from descendants of the native warriors and seasoned re-enactors how to portray the role of a Crow Indian Scout. Will he be believable in his new role when the battle is replayed on the fields of Montana?
Only in America: “Country Preachers”
Thurs., April 6 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
LeDuff tours the hills of Appalachia in search of old time religion. As he journeys through the remote towns of Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia he meets a range of preachers and tent revivalists along the way. Raised a Catholic, he spends time with these people and begins to discover that not all evangelists are trying to change the country – some are just trying to lead their lives with God in the best way they know how. As he learns more about these people, can LeDuff overcome his own misgivings of faith – in God and himself?
Only in America: “Circus Life”
Thurs., April 13 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
Realizing a childhood dream of working under the Big Top, LeDuff runs away to join the circus. Watch as he learns the art of trapeze and clowning from a close family of hard-working circus professionals who run a gruelling and dangerous one-ring show. As he takes a closer look at one of America’s oldest entertainment inventions, LeDuff’s boyish illusions of circus life quickly change when he finds the work more difficult and challenging than he ever imagined. It’s more than just clowning around when he bonds with the dedicated performers who place themselves in dangerous situations, all for the entertainment of others.
Only in America: “Burning Man”
Thurs., April 20 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
Every summer Black Rock City is built and taken down in one week for a unique counterculture event known as the Burning Man Festival. This week-long celebration brings together nearly 40,000 people in a celebration of the human spirit. Here, artists, techno-club partiers, mad scientists and social revolutionaries from all over America make Black Rock – temporarily – the fourth largest “city” in Nevada. As LeDuff attempts to immerse himself in this group, he is quickly aware that this subculture does not look upon journalists and mainstream media favourably. Trying to live as one of them, LeDuff breathes fire, attends a shamanistic wedding, dances quasi-naked, gets his toenails painted and his hair cut into a mowhawk – but will this be enough to let the inhabitants of Black Rock see him as more than just a journalist?
Only in America: “The Real 8 Mile”
Thurs., April 27 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
Detroit’s 8 Mile Road is the symbolic dividing line between white and black inhabitants in the city’s northern limit. Made famous by the film 8 Mile based on Eminem’s rap to riches story, this city has become a nesting ground for youth trying to follow the famous rapper’s rise to fame. The city that was once a shining light of musical talent – from Motown to Rock – is now a shadow of its former self. When LeDuff travels back to his hometown of Detroit, he meets the kids who feel that with few job opportunities, the only option they have left is music. As the city’s youth deal with the struggles of living in one of America’s poorest cities many try to sing their way out – but is anyone really listening?
Only in America: “Horse Racing”
Thurs., May 4 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
LeDuff is off to the races when he heads to south Florida to uncover the high-stakes world of thoroughbred horse racing. From jockeys to breeders and dreamers to schemers, watch as LeDuff learns firsthand what’s at stake for those whose lives revolve around the track.