HXH Episode 59: Shakedown Breakdown ft. Director Leilah Weinraub

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

Okay y’all so lets talk!

So a little over a month ago on the HoodxHolistic podcast, Ash & Cort interviewed Leilah Weinraub, the writer and director of “Shakedown”, PornHub’s first adult featured film. In the podcast, they urged us to watch the film and discussed many of the dynamics of the film. However, although the pod gave us insight on the “Shakedown”, I honestly wanted to go more in depth and discuss the impact that it had on me.

So, let me start by saying this, this film gave me ALL. MY. LIFE. Like ALL of it . It was so interesting to see my history as a queer black woman on screen. I mean, granted there is representation of black lesbian culture on many platforms, but none of which indulge in the earlier times of being a black queer woman. Most representations of lesbians are monetized and commercialized into things that speak from the perspectives of white queer women, which can be inauthentic to a lot of black queer women and how we maneuver within our sexuality. For example, “The L Word.” A show that really opened a lot of doors to representation of queer life on screen, spoke directly to the lives of white lesbian women and their own journeys. Although some of the stories and struggles were universal to lesbian women, it provided more of a safe space for lesbian white women opposed to lesbian black women. In the film, “Shakedown,” Weinraub allows us to find a safe space and connection within our own community as black queer women.

One thing I loved about this film was how much authenticity was wrapped inside it. Nothing within the film was sugarcoated. From the stories to the people telling them, everything was labeled with truth. Now you may say, “But Taè, doesn’t this film take place in the club majority of the time?” Yes, yes it does. However, the club doesn’t take away the prior knowledge of me understanding that these women were authentically living as themselves during a time period, that one, was not that long ago, but two, during an era where it was almost forbidden.

As an androgynous woman, I have recently come into a space where I am comfortable with my masculinity and femininity and allowing them to intertwine. However, in my beginning stages of my journey, I often would be embarrassed for wanting to embrace the masculinity that flowed throughout me. I would go between masculine and feminine styles because I was afraid of living in my truth as a queer woman and letting my style reflect that. However I got to a point in my life, where I understood the value of living in my truth and not letting the labels given by my community and of my family affect me. But even with that, this all is during a period where I would say being queer is a commonality. However, during the era of the film, it wasn’t. Those women who were masculine presenting and openly lesbians, really had to ride the rollercoaster of pushback and ridicule. They had to understand that living in their truth will cause a lot of people in their life to feel uncomfortable.

This is why the Shakedown at Club Horizon was so important. It truly allowed women, shit people, to come there and live in their most authentic selves. It allowed no room for judgement, and made those who were ostracized by their families and friends to truly find a sense of belonging. The shakedown became a weekly family event for black queer women that no other place in that city offered. I am so grateful to Leilah Weinraub for taking the initiative to to share some history on the black queer club scene, and life as a lesbian in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Thank you for the creating a safe space for us within your film, and reinforcing the power and strength we were built with and use daily as queer back women. Thank you for validating our stories.

If y’all haven’t seen it yet, please make sure to check it out right here. The film is about 90 minutes long and is filled with many gems on black queer life. Hands down, a must watch.

10/10 would recommend.


Taylor Jay

30 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All