Under neon lights, the exotic dancers at the Los Angeles lesbian strip club Shakedown are uninhibited temptresses, and attendees their devoted worshippers. More than 15 years of footage brings underground liberated sexuality to the surface, representing queer culture and the tight-knit communities formed under its umbrella.
An homage to a city universally recognized for chasing fantasies, Leilah Weinraub's debut Shakedown explores the underground realm of black lesbian exotic dancers in Los Angeles. Shedding light on mainstream taboo, dancers are portrayed as hypnotic seductresses, and liberated female sexuality as fluid, intense, and most notably, natural. Weinraub frequented club Shakedown for over 15 years, accumulating over 300 hours of video footage and countless images of its inhabitants. Among the lot, four women are the focal point of the film: founder Ronnie Ron, empowered and versatile Egypt, conventional performance reject Mahogany, and Jazmyn, known "Queen" of Shakedown. Decades of condensed footage reveal a community entirely its own, and the pure intentions of a filmmaker not attempting to fit into a clear-cut genre or exploit for shock value. Rather, Weinraub shares a story to expand a repressed definition of sexuality and to promote the acceptance of the many layers of identity. Among its effort to centralize queer culture from the outskirts of mainstream society, the film also features a powerful message of money as both a harsh reality and an arbitrary illusion.
Leilah Weinraub studied graduate film at Bard College and was mentored by director Tony Kaye (American History X). She is an artist, filmmaker, and the CEO of the Hood By Air fashion label. Shakedown premiered at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival, and a shorter version of it was shown at the Whitney Museum in New York.
Sponsored by The Stranger
- Director: Leilah Weinraub
- Principal Cast: Egypt, Jazmyne, Junior, Mahogany, Ronnie-Ron
- Premiere Status: Seattle
- Country: USA
- Year: 2018
- Running Time: 82 minutes
- Producer: Riel Roch Decter, Sebastian Pardo, Leilah Weinraub
- Screenplay: Leilah Weinraub
- Cinematographers: Leilah Weinraub
- Editors: Matt Hollis
- Music: Tim Dewit
- Website: Official Film Website
- Filmography: Debut Feature Film
- Language: English
- Format: DCP