If you’re catching up on Big Freedia, the salient facts are these: She’s the ascendant ambassador of New Orleans’ “Sissy” bounce scene, a libidinous rap amalgam fronted by transgendered MCs that play hard to the ladies, and is a certain lightning rod both for those susceptible to being enraged at things their closed-minds find culturally provocative and also for those susceptible to losing their shit dancing to charismatic suggestions of putting hands, or other body parts everywhere. She has two albums, An Ha, Oh Yeah (1999) and Queen Diva (2003), and is in the midst of a profile-rising stretch of her career that’s brought her show to cities away from her home. NYC was the beneficiary of one such trip, the last weekend of summer here marked by at least three Big Freedia performances, of which I caught two — at JellyNYC’s final blowout at the Waterfront, but also and more remarkably at Coco 66, a late night set in a sweaty room best described by this song’s title. Freedia’s something of a gender-bent pied piper; the crowds I’ve seen in her presence are powerless against her provocations, a heavy but true statement that makes what she does sound like a hell of a lot less fun than it is. Thankfully we have this video, filmed just two nights ago as an adjunct of Portland’s MFNW Festival by intothewoods.tv at Sassy’s Strip Club, as exhibit A(zzzzz): here’s Big Freedia bringing a dose of literalism to “Azz Everywhere.” It’s shot cinema verité style, these strippers are not in on it, they are not aware of what’s to come, they initially wanted no part. But then Big Freedia happened, and when she happens, this is what happens (also, what happens is NSFW, people):

A statement provided with the clip, that goes deeper into the night’s backstory:

This video marks a unique turn for people’s perception Freedia, who performs at and decorates a popular strip club called Little Darlin’s back in New Orleans, while also hosting family reunions, block parties and birthdays as well. Fans of Freedia are familiar with her role as an impromptu dance instructor, and many women and queer people credit her with creating “safe spaces” that allow for all kinds of sexual expression while encouraging respect from spectators and participants alike. This video takes that idea a step further, as Freedia encourages the dancers at Sassy’s to shake not for the customers specifically, but rather for their own pleasure and expression. The result is evident in the cheering and support of the crowd. In these three songs money rains on the stage (a necessary part of the work these girls do) despite the fact that the girls themselves rarely acknowledge the crowd. No longer performing “for” the men and women who are visiting the club, the energy of the room transcends the practical nature of “stripping as a profession” and illustrates that what works the best when trading sexuality for sustenance is a genuine expression of sexual joy. Happy people having fun and being a little dirty is simply more pleasurable (and in a workplace situation, more profitable) than performances that are designed to impersonate intimacy, but rarely are.

You can watch two more cuts from this performance, including “Gin In My System” and “Rock Around The Clock” at IntoTheWoods.You can hear a lot more of her, here:

Big Freedia Hitz Vol. 1 by Big Freedia

Big Freedia was the subject of a sprawling seven-page NYT Magazine feature, which you will have to have your NYT password handy to read. I am re-signing up just for it. And here’s where you can catch her, which would be a smart thing to do.

09/18 – Mobile, AL @ Music Box
09/25 – Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon
09/30 – Miami, FL @ Vagabond
10/02 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Iron City Brewery (VIA2010)
10/03 – Montreal, QC @ Espace Reunion (Pop Montreal)
10/09 – Hattiesburg, MS @ Thirsty Hippo
10/11 – Oxford, MS @ The Lyric Oxford w/ Matt & Kim
10/12 – New Orleans, LA @ House Of Blues w/ Matt & Kim
10/13 – Tallahassee, FL @ Club Downunder w/ Matt & Kim
10/15 – Milwaukee, WI @ Stonefly
10/16 – Chicago, IL @ Decibelle Festival @ Subterranean
10/22 – Brooklyn, NY @ Southpaw
10/23 – New York, NY @ Santos
11/06 – Austin, TX @ Fun Fun Fun Fest

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Comments (4)
  1. What really bothers me is those strippers DO NOT know how to properly bounce their booties. It is SAD.

  2. After FYF Fest, I stumbled into La Cita and was not ready for the experience that is Big Freedia.

  3. Ya Heard Me Bounce Music Awards will celebrate and give tribute to Bounce Music artists who have kept and keeping the bounce culture alive. Join us in crowing the new king and queen of Bounce 2012. The 1st award show we awarded Jubilee as the King Of Bounce. We also ask for you help in making this happen. Help Us Hold The 2nd Bounce Music Award Show Oct 12, 2012. Donate any amount you can afford. Let’s not never let our culture die out….thanks

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gmrobert/ya-heard-me-bounce-music-awards-2012

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