Pornhub to Release First Ever Non-Adult Film, About Black Lesbian Strip Club Culture (EXCLUSIVE)

Ubiquitous American pornography website Pornhub is releasing its first ever non-adult film on Wednesday, the company exclusively announced to Variety.

The move places the digital giant, which estimated 42 billion visits to the site last year, in the company of other streamers seeking to expand audiences and diversify its content portfolios. The movie in question is the documentary “Shakedown,” from filmmaker and conceptual artist Leilah Weinraub. It hails from the upper echelons of the art world, where the project enjoyed a prestige rollout in exhibits at the Whitney Museum and MoMA over the last three years.

“Shakedown” is a stream-of-consciousness, nonfiction narrative about the queer women and men who populated the lesbian strip club scene in Los Angeles in the early aughts. It is culled from neatly 15 years of footage shot by Weinraub over her adult life, and offers a humorous, sensual and informative look at a vibrant subculture.

Repped by distributor Grasshopper, the movie will stream on Pornhub for free for the entire month of March before hitting broadcast on the Criterion Channel, and, finally, the iTunes store by summer.

“There’s a cool opportunity right now to present films in the art space, there’s more openness to diversity and content, and a different sort of storytelling,” Weinraub said, adding she’s specifically hoping to engage Pornhub’s female users. While the company would not comment specifically on the gender composition, their 2019 user data is staggering, and includes figures like: 115 million visits per day, 39 billion unique searches for the year and 1.36 million hours of new content uploaded. That translates, Pornhub noted, to 169 years worth of content to watch.

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Weinraub and Pornhub have collaborated before, when she led the buzzy streetwear brand Hood by Air. Official Pornhub merchandise and clothes emblazoned with search engine terms featured prominently in the line’s 2016 fall collection. Numerous sets of pearls were clutched at that New York Fashion Week show.

“This film is part of a larger general commitment Pornhub has to supporting the arts. We want to be seen as a platform that artists and creators can use,” said Pornhub’s brand director Alex Klein.  “We’ve seen artists in general upload content to the site, that might not have a home at places like YouTube or Vimeo, who don’t permit nudity. For us, premiering a feature length film is a first. We’re very excited about it.”

In their quest to thoughtfully reach women, the site and Weinraub have built a self-contained online home for the project, itself a sort of performative space where Weinraub hopes users can be “alone, together.” A chat window will be open for discourse, and Weinraub will drop in once a week to have conversations with users.

In the world of “Shakedown,” gay women of color in South Los Angeles converge in a world informed and nurtured by ballroom drag and cisgender exotic dancers. The dreamy footage presents their stories, without a conventional arc seen in most modern docs.

“I feel like it complicates the history of subcultures, like Los Angeles. It reorients your placing of things in that history. I feel like that was my goal, not to put a finger on it, but complicate and add to that richness,” Weinraub said.

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