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Just a few short years ago, not many people had heard of twerking. Entire lifetimes unfolded in the sands of time and societies existed in innocent ignorance, unaware of the power of the booty.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, twerking materialized as a sudden blip on culture’s radar.
The blip was faint at first, a mysterious little trend with a small voice, but as time went on, that voice got louder. And louder. And louder, until it roared. And it sounded like “clap clap clap clap clap.”
As far as we know, the butt zeitgeist that is twerking evolved out of the underground trap shows in sweaty east L.A. warehouses, but director Spaghetto has gone a step or ten deeper in analyzing where it came from and why it’s taken over our lives. Through candid, exclusive interviews with artists like E-40, Too Short, Chippy Nonstop, Kreyshawn, Remy Fox, Diplo, Big Freedia, George Clinton, Brittney Scott, Sissy Nobby, DJ Jubilee and Spaghetto herself, her new documentary #TWERKUMENTARY provides an inside perspective into the phenomenon of twerk.
As if this wasn’t already one-of-a-kind enough #TWERKUMENTARY features exclusive animations from Spaghetto herself, which really just make watching a documentary about twerking even more fun than watching a documentary about twerking. Along with the actual film, the animations answer all your most pressing questions about booty dancing in a way that leaves you with the an exhaustive and vaguely sweaty resolution to a much-wondered about subject.
In Khia’s words, “‘The kids is twerkin’, the grandma’s is twerkin’, everybody’s twerkin!'”
#TWERKUMENTARY premieres Friday June 10 at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. The first 200 people to buy tickets get the poster, and after the screening the party continues at The Wiltern with Ham On Everything.
But, since that’s like 39,019 days away, we decided to catch up with the one and only Spaghetto herself to discuss her new film, what it was like making a film about butt dancing, and what the true best method of twerking is.
Watch the trailer below, and scroll down for the interview.
What in the world made you want to do a film about twerking?
A lot of different reasons! At the beginning I think I just wanted my fellow Europeans – and a lot of Americans who found out about twerk via Miley Cyrus – to understand where twerking comes from. Also, my background is documentary filmmaking and after directing music videos for a few years, I was missing working on a project that had more meaning. So I thought that it was a good idea to take a break from music videos and do a documentary that was still linked to music but could also tell a story and explore ideas that had to do with feminism, trends and social media, pop culture, freedom of expression etc. Twerk is a subject that could be used to talk about all of that. Finally, during the making of the film, I think my goal has become showing guys the reasons women like to twerk and girls how guys perceive it. I realized during the filming of the film that there’s a huge miscommunication on the dancefloor between the sexes.
Can you talk a little more about the difference in how girls and guys perceive it?
How much research was actually available on twerking to go off of?
There were some articles online but not a lot of information. The real research was interviewing more than 50 people from OG rappers to sociologists, anthropologists, choreographers etc.
How were you able to interview the incredibly diverse range of artists you did for the film? What was your film-making process like?
It took two years. I had a long list of people I wanted to interview and it took a while to get in touch with all of them. Many of them were super nice and happy to be part of the project and a lot of them declined or never answered. I think that a lot of people are not comfortable with the subject, it embarrasses them. But the ones who agreed to talk to me were really open about having a real conversation about twerk and all the related topics. They understood that I wasn’t gonna do a silly piece about the latest hot trend. I had to explain my ideas and the film really well to everyone but at the end they trusted me and with some of them we stayed in touch and became friends.
What what the artist response like to you doing a twerking documentary? What kind of response have you gotten overall?
There are some funny stories … like I tried to schedule an interview with someone at the Oxford Dictionary for months and they kept pretending that they weren’t getting my emails, lol. The ones in their office that didn’t blame on the spam filter or Mercury Retrograde, claimed to be out of the office or too busy with a deadline, or gave me someone else’s email and that person never replied. Months later, I was in London shooting interviews and decided to get on a train and just go to Oxford. So here I am, Michael Moore style, outside of the Oxford University Press calling the people who hid behind Mercury Retrograde and 6,000 miles for six months and telling them “I’m here outside, I just need two minutes and I’m not going away.” Finally someone comes out saying that everyone in the office is busy with a deadline – of course! Duh! – but if I go to their NEW YORK office someone there might give me an interview! Lol seriously … I’m from Italy, I flew from LA to London, took a train to Oxford and she tells me to go to NYC! I wasn’t trying to get one of their editors to twerk for me on camera, I just wanted to ask them how the word twerk ended up in the dictionary. I don’t know, I guess when it comes to talk about twerking some people are too embarrassed to admit that they are embarrassed with the subject, or something. For the record, the NYC office never gave me the interview!
Wow … I had no idea it was that hard for people to speak about. What are some things you learned about twerking that surprised you?
That George Clinton was the first musician to say the word Twerk in a song in 1978! E-40 told me that and sang the song to me so I met with George Clinton and interviewed him. He was super nice.
Where did twerking originate?
What do you think is the cultural impact of twerking today?
Twerking is literally everywhere. I don’t think there is another dance that has spread so fast. It made it okay to have a big ass or to dance in a provocative way in places where just a couple of years ago it was a problem. It has made a lot of girls around the world more confident and in touch with their bodies. It has impacted a lot of people on a personal level and helped starting conversations about feminism and the different ways you can be a woman. It has definitely changed a lot of points of views and made a lot of behaviors way more acceptable.
Twerking seems to unite people. Can it save the world?
Unfortunately a dance won’t save the world so please vote Bernie.
How does music influence twerking and vice-versa? It seems like every rap song is about twerking these days.
Well twerk definitely brings attention to videos and views are very important for artists. So everyone wants to have twerking girls in their videos to get more views and a “twerkable sound” to get more audience at their shows. But as far the use of words in songs in general, I think it starts from the internet. People start using certain words and hashtags as a joke or slang and then out of the sudden there are 10,000 memes about it and people start talking like that in real life and you start hearing these words in every song and even song’s titles.
Can you twerk? What’s your method?
I can twerk, I’m not a pro but I can do it. You just have to have loose hips. And arch your back. If your hips and lower back are very stiff I don’t think you can get the right movement.
What’s the best song to twerk to?
I feel that music doesn’t even matter anymore, I’ve seen girls twerking at punk show while headbanging and dudes moshing!
Where have you experienced the best/ most exhilarating twerking?
I was really surprised when I found some incredible twerking in Denmark!
Do twerking rituals differ around the country?
You see more difference around the world. Like in Europe they have a style that is more influenced by Jamaican dance hall, in Japan they twerk in a very unaggressive way, they have their own Kawaii version of it.
If I have no ass, and I can’t twerk, what can I do to make up for it?
You just have to learn the movement! Look at the Russian girls, they have super small asses but they have a lot of hip control, the secret is in the hips. Anyone can twerk.
Part of what makes the documentary so cool is the hand-drawn illustrations and animations you use. Can you tell us a little about those? Who did them, and what was behind your choice to use them?
Awww thank you, I’m happy you like them. I make the animations, I started a few years ago. I went to art school and used to draw and paint and when I started making videos I stopped doing all of that. So I found in those type of hand-drawn illustrations a good way to keep my artistic side alive. I basically incorporated one passion/skill into the other. It makes my videos more personal and recognizable, which is always a good thing. In the documentary it was also a very specific choice … I had to draw a lot of stuff that I didn’t have the money to license! So instead of showing a certain music video you got an animation ;) A few awesome friends also helped me adding some drawings and animations.
Is this a film I should bring my Dad to see?
If my dad loved it I’m sure your dad will like it too!
Find out more at Twerkumentary.com!