“A Torrent of curiosity and fantasy — makes space for itself.”
— Cassie De Costa, The New Yorker
DATE: 8 Mar 2019
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: New Farm Cinemas
Director Leilah Weinraub
Run Time 72min
Awards & Screenings
MoMA PS1, Berlinale Panorama 2018, QDoc Film Festival 2018
Source The Film Collaborative
SHAKEDOWN is the story of Los Angeles’ black lesbian strip club scene and its genesis. Owned and operated by women, underground and illegal in nature, the club Shakedown is the darker, faster, younger iteration of this dance culture. The film is a window into this world. Shakedown emerged from a post-RIOTS, post-OJ, post-integration but still very racially divided Los Angeles. In this divided city
Shakedown is an independent, all black and all female cash economy.
We’re outside the club, on a non-descript Los Angeles street at night. The bass of the music inside slowly spills out as the guard checks I.D.s and credentials. Inside, the girls are getting ready, cracking jokes. The scene in the club is very intimate and sensual. The camera tightly pans across to Ronnie Ron doing what she does best; making the audience feel at ease. She’s warming them up and us, the viewers. "Can yall show some love? Ya still tippin? If you are...lemme know!” We jump to a scene of Egypt in the centre of the dance floor. She’s fine, she’s frightening, she is in charge. Patrons shower her in dollars. They love her.
By Erica Magenta (aka magenta_menace)
What happens when you de-centre the male gaze and give black, queer women a space to perform their sexuality for each other, and make money in the process? A whole lotta hot, explicit, fun! And one of the safest and most respectful workplaces that I’ve ever seen.
The Shakedown is a wonderful celebration of black lesbian culture that gives us a rare glimpse into the women-run strip club scene of downtown L.A. Featuring interviews with the club’s personable MC Ronnie-Ron, its “mother” Miss Mahogany, and legendary performers Egypt and Jazmine, the film takes you right to the club floor with amazing footage and a banging soundtrack. As the audience, we witness these women commanding the dance floor with their impressive moves, elaborate outfits and powerful sexuality. The eyebrows are thin, the g-strings high-cut, the dances explicit and the crowd couldn’t be happier.
The Shakedown shows us how hot and joyous performing for each other can be; and that it can be profitable too. It also reminds us the value of having a space where queers can witness and celebrate each other when the outside world is so hostile. This is even more hard-won for queers of colour. If you love performance, bodies and community then this is the film for you. Believe me, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to take a look inside this special world.
Erica blames years of stripping for her devotion to all things femme and trashy. She wants to know if we can please bring back socks and sneakers as the preferred stripper footwear? Thanks.