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Shakedown: The as-yet Unfinished Documentary about LA’s Black Lesbian Stripclub Scene
01.26.2011
01:15 am
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Via the website kickstarter.com, director Leilah Weinraub is looking to raise $25,000 to finish the final cut of her film Shakedown, before the deadline of Monday 7th of February. Focusing on three main performers, the film is a look inside a black, lesbian strip club in L.A. called, appropriately, Shakedown, and also looks at the history of queer strip clubs in Los Angeles. From the Shakedown2011.com website:

SHAKEDOWN emphasizes the symbiotic nature of how things work in a system. Shakedown’s system functions like a family, put into motion for all the reasons that people need a family, support (financial and emotional), a place of self-growth and a place of self-expression. Through the lens of family, a desire for stability and love, the film meditates on dense topics like three generations of teenage pregnancy, lesbian motherhood, chosen family, and money as a symbol of that love.

Director Weinraub says:

I videotaped the shows at Shakedown every Thursday and Friday night for six years. The first two years I recorded the performances and created video installations at the club. The closed-circuit media making was parallel to the by-women for-women performances that were happening on stage, channeling back an instant history to the creators of the moment. On stage at Shakedown there is a narrative being performed, about sex and sexuality and pop music and the emotional interior of the performers. There is the narrative on the stage, then there is the narrative that is told by the stories of the protagonists in the film, then there is the story that is put together when I edit the film. They all work together.

I’m donating to this film, and so should you - it looks great, and has interest for viewers not just black or queer-identified. You can donate at the Kickstarter website , and there’s an interesting range of gifts for donors too. If you liked Paris Is Burning, check it out:

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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01.26.2011
01:15 am
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Paris Is Burning: Vogue Realness
01.23.2011
10:30 am
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Released twenty years ago this year, Paris Is Burning is one of the all-time great music documentaries. It’s not really about music though, it’s about the mid 80’s gay/drag “vogue” subculture that sprung up in New York City, and the adverse social conditions overcome by the contestants (mostly black and Hispanic transvestites and transsexuals). The music is in the background, but plays as important a role as the clothes, the make-up, the settings or the interviews. 
 

 
This time, this place, and unfortunately most of these people don’t exist anymore. This upload won’t for long either, as it keeps getting yanked - so seriously, if you haven’t watched this film before, watch it now while you can. The director Jennie Livingston has never made another film that garnered as much praise and sadly, for most of the queens involved, this was as famous as they were ever gonna get. Despite being some of the most funny, articulate and charming people ever seen on film. They never had a penny to their names, which is probably why they threw the best parties in the world.

Voguing wasn’t just some hyped up fad that was hot for a New York minute (well, maybe if you are Madonna), - it has a rich, complex history and is just as big a subculture now as it was then, bigger maybe, with the dancing developed to new super-athletic extremes and the balls bolder events. Vogue dancing and vogue balls are an overlooked part of both gay and black history and culture, but more and more they getting the attention and recognition they deserve. Due in so small part to this remarkable film. 
 

 

EDIT
 
As I thought, this film wouldn’t last long on Vimeo. However, someone has thankfully uploaded it to YouTube too:
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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01.23.2011
10:30 am
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