JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton's Harlem in Havana A documentary film by Leslie Cunningham
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JIG SHOW combines interviews with a colorful cast led by Leslie's grandmother Shirley Bates, the former lead exotic dancer on the show in the 1940s, and her son John Cunningham (Leslie’s father), a San Diego musician who was raised on the show and drove stakes with the tent-hands. Their exclusive on-camera interviews add layers to this epic story. However, JIG SHOW is not just about family, but triumphs, connections and weaving across cultural divides. Above all else, Leslie is on a mission to preserve her family's legacy, before the memories die with a generation.
Academics and historians bring their critical perspectives to the conversation, including burlesque artist Bebe Bardeaux (Bardot), host of the New York School of Burlesque book club, who leads the way with a titillating performance and a lively conversation with Leslie about the Bates Sisters and the Cuban Dancing Dolls who innovated Black Burlesque and Cuban dance on Claxton's stage show. Carnival historian Doc Rivera and Laura Sedlmayr offer a detailed look at the American traveling carnival, specifically Royal American Shows where Leon Claxton's so-called "jig show" was featured on the world's largest carnival midway for nearly 40 years.