November 8, 2013

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Hosts Screening of Brantly and John Watts’s “AKA Blondie”

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s Mass Media Program will host a screening of the award-winning documentary “AKA Blondie” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, in the Hugh C. Bailey Science Center, Room 1011. Admission is free of charge and open to the public.

“AKA Blondie” was written by Brantly Jackson Watts, a VSU alumna, and directed by Jon Watts. The husband and wife duo will attend the screening.

“An intimate view of the most famous exotic dancer in the Southeastern United States, ‘AKA Blondie’ provides a fresh, provocative look at the complex, morally ambiguous world of the 55-year-old Atlanta icon,” according to a film synopsis. “Anita Rae Strange, also known as Blondie, recounts her childhood with an absent father, her brief stint as a prostitute, the loss of loved ones to AIDS, and the infamous Clermont Lounge.

“Anita has been dancing at the Clermont Lounge for more than 30 years. Her fame is due to her ‘tough as nails’ persona, her candid poetry, and her bawdy performance. The only definitive work on the subject, ‘AKA Blondie’ reveals Anita as not only a seasoned performer in one of the country’s most eclectic establishments but also as a poet, artist, and advocate for gay rights. In particular, the film will unravel the dichotomy between the buxom stage performer and the private, guarded woman off-stage, as well as her battle to overcome aging in the sex industry. Anita’s narrative echoes the story of exotic dancers across the nation whose voices are unable to be heard. Her story enables us to better relate to these women and understand the trials and adversity that occur in their lives due to the nature of their work.”

Brantly and Jon Watts will share their experience as Georgia-based filmmakers and discuss their involvement with the Homespun web series about other unique Atlanta area personalities. They will also answer questions from audience members about “AKA Blondie,” which has gained a cult following, received critical acclaim, and gone on to play at festivals around the world.

“Our objective in making this film,” according to their artist statement, “is to enable viewers to relate to the subject, despite extreme differences in lifestyle. The effect of the intended style and tone of the film will allow the audience to feel engrossed in the subject’s world. Like the dual-natured subject, the film will have conflicting tones. At times the footage will be haunting and dismal, followed by scenes that are comical and surreal. Supplemental interviews were conducted in austere settings close to, or at the Clermont Lounge. B-roll footage highlights seedy areas of Atlanta close to the Clermont and Blondie’s home.”

The filmmakers and screening will be recorded for future broadcast on VOD Indie, a television program produced by VSU students in the MDIA 4962: Video Workshop course taught by Jason E. Brown, an assistant professor in the Mass Media Program, Department of Communication Arts.

VOD Indie features independent filmmakers, trailers from their films, as well as information about the growing outlets for video on demand services. It airs at 11 p.m. every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday on Mediacom Channel 20.

NOTE: This film is not rated, but it does contain adult language and situations, nudity, and discussion of drug use.

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