A documentary that explores Shakedown, an underground black lesbian strip club in Los Angeles. Director Leilah WEINRAUB started filming when she went to Shakedown with her friend and was allured by the unique, energetic, voluptuous dancers’ performance. The film cross cuts footage of the 90’s strip club performances, flyers and posters, and interviews against the backdrop of music and bold colors. WEINRAUB’s insider view bypasses an anthropological approach, which would have explained the start and evolution of the club and detailed life stories of the dancers. Rather, she focuses on capturing the alluring style, voyeurism and fantasy of lesbian culture, the bodily movement, and utopic moments. Based on and recreated from cliché images of China, Egypt, Jamaica, and Hollywood, the exotic style and powerful dance can’t be seen elsewhere, and the femme lesbian dancers redefine femininity every time. The performances by creative artisan individuals within their own established system stand on their own. The dancers become the subjects of sexual desire for the audience, but they are also freelancers who experiment and create. The moment the black lesbians acknowledge that they are the creators of this unique culture is very important. However, we learn that they did not last long as gentrification caused the club to shut down in 2004 due to the censorship and legal enforcement on nude dancers. Thanks to this film, they will always be remembered them as legends. [CHO HyeYoung]
Leilah WEINRAUBLeilah WEINRAUB
Leilah WEINRAUB is an artist and director living in New York. She is the CEO of Hood By Air, the New York-based fashion collective known for luxury ready-to-wear. WEINRAUB helped radicalize fashion by championing what she calls “modern people”: the rising class of consumers who subvert traditional markers of race, class, and gender and revel in freedom, lawlessness, and spectacle. As a filmmaker, WEINRAUB has helped document such unacknowledged tastemakers, particularly those belonging to queer, autonomous communities of color whose creative output is often plundered by mass culture.