Leilah Weinraub ’03 may be known primarily by the fashion crowd as former creative director and CEO of Hood by Air, but she also is a filmmaker. Fifteen years in the making, her documentary Shakedown focuses on the Shakedown Angels, an all-Black collective of femme and stud performers who owned and operated a roving series of underground lesbian stripper events in LA. The film is available for view during March 2020 on Pornhub, the first non-pornographic film to be released on the site.
Sandra Song talks to Weinraub about discovering Shakedown-hosted events and her process for creating the film. Although she first photographed Shakedown parties, she found the images were not satisfying. In the interview, she states, “I was like, ‘There’s something about the place that’s really alive. It’s about the talking sounds, the way people are talking to each other, their interactions, the lighting, and everything. So I just started taping there instead. It just was so beautiful, and for many years I just taped.” The film evolved from this footage.
Weinraub is also working on more films now as a participant in the Sundance Institute’s prestigious Art of Nonfiction lab.
You can read more about Shakedown and Weinraub’s intersectional documentary filmmaking on Paper Magazine’s website.