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‘Shakedown’ Is the Lesbian Strip Club Doc Good Enough That It’ll Be on Both Pornhub and Criterion

"Shakedown" is a nonfiction narrative about queer stripper nights in early 2000s Los Angeles from conceptual artist Leilah Weinraub.


Grasshopper Films

First stop Pornhub, next stop Criterion Channel. The Canadian pornography website will release Leilah Weinraub’s art film “Shakedown,” a narrative non-fiction film about a string of pop-up lesbian strip clubs in Los Angeles in the early 2000s. The film has been looking for a home for many years, and has only screened a handful of times, including the 2017 Whitney Biennial, the 68th Berlin International Film Festival, Tate Modern, and MoMA PS1. “Shakedown” was created from over 400 hours of footage that Weinraub has collected over the past 15 years, incorporating live tapes from the strip club, backstage videos, archival material, flyers, and interviews.

Per the official synopsis: “Capturing the early-aughts underground Los Angeles Black lesbian owned and operated strip club from which the film gets its name, ‘Shakedown’ chronicles the personal and professional relationships of the club’s female performers, the Shakedown Angels. Weinraub maps out an all cash economy run by Black Women rarely seen on screen. She follows the party’s dancers and organizers, among them: Ronnie-Ron, Shakedown Productions’ creator and emcee; Mahogany, the legendary mother of the scene; Egypt, Shakedown’s star dancer; and Jazmine, the Queen of Shakedown. Weinraub herself emerges as a participant, rejecting the pose of “neutral onlooker” in favor of the intimate gaze of a collaborator and confidante.”

A conceptual artist and filmmaker, Weinraub is best known as the former CEO and creative director of New York-based streetwear label Hood by Air. The brand was famous for gender neutral designs, and collaborations with musicians such as A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, and Rihanna. Weinraub first collaborated with Pornhub on Hood by Air’s SS17 runway collection.

“’Shakedown’ explores themes of race, class, currency, and identity through the lens of Weinraub’s boundary-breaking vision,” said Pornhub VP Corey Price in a press release. “Here at Pornhub, we’re invested in celebrating artists and visionaries like Leilah and in sharing diverse narratives of human pleasure and sexuality. We are so excited to share her work with a wider public audience for the very first time.”

The film is available to screen for free throughout the month of March on Pornhub, which will also host Q&A style live chats with Weinraub. Distributor Grasshopper will then move “Shakedown” to the Criterion Channel, followed by a summer release on the iTunes store.

Checkout some stills from the film below.

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