Sheffield, AFI Docs, San Francisco, Seattle, Montclair, IFF Boston
An insider look at the African American exotic dancing scene of Newark NJ.
Graham’s boisterous subcultural portrait introduces viewers to the Dojo, a Newark NJ venue that serves as a karate school during the day but transforms into a male strip club once a week, catering primarily to African American women. Several male strippers are introduced and profiled briefly, plus Blaze, a lesbian dancer who strips for both lesbian specific and mixed crowds, but the film pays significant attention to Raw Dawg and Tygar, twin brothers who started the scene through their New Jersey Nasty Boyz troupe, using dance and creativity to stay out of legal trouble and help their family. The film’s other primary focus, as signaled by its title, is on the Dojo’s female fanbase. Women like Poundcake and C-Pudding speak to the joy they get in attending events, supporting their favorite dancers, and finding a space to call their own. Although the project suffers from a surplus of participants – too many to properly flesh out – and a fairly scattered approach that privileges spectacle over developing a clear narrative, it remains an entertaining look at an unexpected world.