For its last event before Summer, the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève’s Cinema Dynamo is delighted to host the Swiss premiere of Leilah Weinraub’s acclaimed film, Shakedown.
Shakedown was a series of parties founded by and for African American women in Los Angeles that featured go-go dancing and strip shows for the city’s lesbian underground scene. Inspired by transwoman Mahogany who, as the mother of the scene, presided over queer strip shows and balls for non-heterosexual audiences in the 1980s, butch Ronnie Ron created, produced and presented the new shows. In them, the largely female clientele from the ‘hood’ slipped dollar notes into lap dancers’ panties while celebrating lesbian sexuality to pulsating hip-hop beats.
Showing the protagonists backstage and in interviews, this intimate chronicle reveals that “Shakedown” was more than just a strip club; as one of the few spaces for lesbian subculture, the club brought together and galvanized a community of freaks and queers of colour, and for that it suffered police reprisals. The film’s director is herself a member of this community; using exclusive archive material, posters and flyers, her film takes a personal look at female desire that is rarely presented on the big screen.
Leilah Weinraub (b. 1979, Los Angeles) is an artist and director living in New York. A short version of her film Shakedown was recently included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. She is the CEO of HOOD BY AIR, the New York-based fashion collective known for luxury ready-to-wear. Weinraub helped to 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 but whose stories are rarely told on their own terms.