Twerking: The New Form of Birth Control for Strippers?

As much as it pains me to share this information the day after Juneteeth; a few days ago, a segment of the social networking realm were in a tizzy after co-beacons of the internet media’s dark underbelly MediaTakeOut—(World Star Hip-Hop shares the distinction)­—reported that a popular Houston-based stripper and self-proclaimed “twerk killa” who goes by the name Jhonni Blaze, had a miscarriage onstage while in the midst of a fervent twerking session.

First, a bit of background info: For those of you, who’re just becoming acquainted with the art of ‘busting it wide open’, and think you know what ‘twerking’ is, I implore you to erase the most recent visual that’s embedded in your head. Twerking (which may or may not be a portmanteau of two words) is a suggestive dance move where the hips and butt are moved in a succession of quick up and down movements that are subject to improvisation, depending on how skilled a person is. To black people those of us in-the-know, twerking—or some global variation of it—has been around for some time, and despite the mainstream media and public ruining it catching on, it’s definitely not a new ‘thing’ that’s just exploded. The dance is very similar to one in Côte d’Ivoire called Mapouka and not unlike what Brazil’s ‘Mulher Melancia’ (Andressa Soares) has been doing during her appearances.  For a quick tutorial on twerking, knock yourself out.

Anyway, MTO (and a slew of other online media outlets) reported that Jhonni Blaze started bleeding profusely while twerking on-stage, quickly retreated, and started convulsing. Blaze was rushed to the hospital, where she was reportedly given a blood transfusion. In the meantime, bloggers and online personalities took the opportunity to drag the exotic performer; most notably, controversial Atlanta radio host, resident misogynoirist and eager critic of black female pathology, Thomas Jerome Harris Tommy Sotomayor. Sotomayor immediately hopped on his radio show, admittedly before verifying the story (since he couldn’t get in touch with Blaze), and railed against the performer… holding her up as an example of “everything today’s black woman has become”. This is Sotomayor’s shtick though: there’s a segment of black men (and some women) that hang on to his every word, to use as an opportunity to express their loathing for black women (as evidenced in the comments area of his online platforms), so his rant was business as usual for his audience.

Needless to say, Jhonni Blaze took to her Twitter account to discount reports of her miscarriage, and claimed it to be an outright lie… a false dime someone dropped to MTO, to undermined her. She also said her unfortunate health scare was due some other medical issue. Blaze proceeded to get into a war of words on Twitter with Sotomayor, who followed up with another video where he called himself paying her ether because to him and his fans, apparently what’s good for some passable women of color simply doesn’t pass muster for others; but I won’t  spend any additional time on Sotomayor’s personal views. They are just that… his personal views.

The mere idea that a woman would suffer a miscarriage in a very public and humiliating way isn’t the only troubling part of this story, but that certain (mostly black run) online platforms that are purportedly on the pulse of what’s happening in current events and popular culture, took the story and ran with it before getting it verified, for hits… because what’s more tantalizing than a headline about a ‘ratchet’ black stripper, having a miscarriage onstage while twerking? And to my knowledge, none have provided any updated or amended information acknowledging Jhonni Blaze’s refutation of the story, other than an online magazine called Drama Scene, which wrote…

While other media outlets jumped on the bandwagon to erroneously report information to taint a Houston entertainer, Drama scene magazine held off and waited for the true story to be told. Rumors swirled that Jhonni Blaze had a miscarriage on stage Wednesday night while dancing, but when articles appeared. They all cited “sources” and said “No information was confirmed.”

That is irresponsible and sensationalized journalism, all at the expense of tearing a woman’s reputation down because she is a stripper. We respect all people, regardless of their chosen profession and we report the drama.

But alas, any opportunity to further slash at black female pathology, exert moral superiority over someone perceived as ‘lesser than’, and to continue upholding tropes about black women—because, you know, the entire lot of us is a monolith, blah blah, so forth and so on—trumps responsibly relaying a story about someone’s life. After-all, black women who strip aren’t people and any one of us, especially if we deviate from what’s expected of us (regardless of what we do for a living), is ripe for ridicule.