JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton's Harlem in Havana 
A documentary film by Leslie Cunningham (2023/ Runtime 1h43m)

Step right up for a thrilling ride through American entertainment history with “JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana”! Join director Leslie Cunningham as she unveils the untold stories of the legendary Harlem in Havana Revue, a groundbreaking traveling girl show that defied the odds and left an indelible mark on Black and Latin entertainment during the era of Jim Crow.

This three-part film takes you on a magical journey into the complexities of American entertainment, race history, and family. Meet the colorful cast, including Leslie’s grandmother Shirley Bates, the former lead exotic dancer, and her father John Cunningham, a San Diego musician raised on the show. Through exclusive on-camera interviews, they add layers to this epic story of triumphs, connections, and cultural bridges.

Academics and historians provide critical perspectives, from burlesque artist Bebe Bardeaux to carnival historians Doc Rivera and Laura Sedlmayr. Musical performances by artists like John Myers from the Five Pennies and a sizzling burlesque act by Aquarius Moon add flair to the narrative.

Take a ride on train car #66 with Claxton’s troupe, facing racial discrimination and social challenges. Witness the rise and fall of Harlem in Havana against the backdrop of political and social changes in the U.S. and Cuba. The film concludes with Claxton’s final iteration of the show, The Harlem Revue, and explores his business dealings and philanthropy work in Tampa.

Featuring never-before-digitized show photographs, historical clips, and captivating cityscape b-roll of Tampa, “JIG SHOW” is a timely and educational experience. Latin beats, Hip Hop tunes, and classic melodies accompany the breathtaking visuals, honoring the brave entertainers who challenged racial polarization. The film celebrates the legacy of Harlem in Havana, urging descendants of African and Latino-Americans to embrace their past and liberate their own stories from historical amnesia.
Don’t miss this celebration of a multifaceted past—a path for reflection and liberation that resonates with wonder today!