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Storme -- The Lady of the Jewel Box

“It ain’t easy…being green” is the favorite expression of Storme DeLarverie, a woman whose life flouted prescriptions of gender and race. During the 1950’s and 60’s she toured the black theater circuit as a mistress of ceremonies and the sole male impersonator of the legendary Jewel Box Revue, America’s first integrated female impersonation show and forerunner of La Cage aux Folles. Parkerson finds Storme in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, now working as a bodyguard at a women’s bar and still singing in her deep silky voice with an “all girl” band. Through archival clips from the past, Storme looks back on the grandeur of the Jewel Box Revue and its celebration of pure entertainment in the face of homophobia and segregation. Storme herself emerges as a remarkable woman, who came up during hard times but always “kept a touch of class.”

Michelle Parkerson . . .

For African American, lesbian, writer, performance artist and independent filmmaker Michelle Parkerson, there is work to be done to document the lives of those who exist outside the margins. With camera close at hand, Parkerson has used her feminist cinematic vision to uncover and expose the history of African American women's lives.

Michelle Parkerson is a writer and independent filmmaker from Washington, DC. She has served on the faculties of the University of Delaware, Howard University, Northwestern University, and Temple University. Her public television specials include But Then, She's Betty Carter, Gotta Make This Journey: Sweet Honey In The Rock, Stormé: The Lady of the Jewel Box, and Urban Odyssey.

In 1992, she received a Rockefeller Foundation Film/Video Fellowship. As a member of the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women (8th Cycle), she wrote and directed Odds and Ends, a black amazon sci-fi video. Ms. Parkerson also directed A Litany For Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde in collaboration with producer/co-director Ada Gay Griffin.

Her acclaimed film "A Litany for Survival: the Life and Work of Audre Lorde," celebrates the life of one of this century's most gifted, courageous and accurate writers: self-described black, lesbian, feminist, warrior, poet, mother, Audre Lorde.  Born in 1934, Lorde battled breast cancer for many years before her death in 1992. Her writings were the voice and the inspiration for a generation of activists fighting for lesbian and gay rights, civil liberties, and equal rights for women. While fiercely committed to the work of liberation, Lorde's writings were also at times playful, spiritual, and erotic. At one point in the film, Lorde tells her viewers: "What I leave behind has a life of its own-I've said this about poetry, I've said it about children I'm saying it about the very artifact of who I have been."

Ada Gay Griffin


Over a period of eight years, Parkerson and Griffin worked together with Lorde to produce A Litany for Survival. The film combines early photographs of Lorde, film clips of the poet's public readings of her prose and poetry, conversations with her children, her partner Gloria Joseph, and tributes to Lorde's work by Adrienne Rich, Sonia Sanchez, Jewelle Gomez, Essex Hemphill and Cheryl Clarke.  The documentary premiered at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival, aired on the PBS series, P.O.V. and has received audience awards at festivals in Los Angeles, Paris, and San Francisco.

In addition to being a filmmaker, Michelle Parkerson is also a performance artist. Divas, her critically acclaimed cabaret show with vocalist/comedienne Brenda Files, played to standing-room crowds at Washington, DC's Dance Place. As part of the DC Writers Residency, she collaborated with MacArthur Fellow Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Roberto Sifuentes in The Dangerous Bordergame. Currently, she is touring with choreographer Kimberli Boyd and multidisciplinary artist Kwelismith in Women of Substance, a Black women's performance collaboration.

Michelle Parkerson's poetry and short fiction are anthologized in In Search of Color Everywhere (edited by E. Ethelbert Miller), Afrekete: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Writing (edited by Catherine McKinley and L. Joyce Delaney), The Poetry of Sex (edited by Tee Corinne) and The Arc of Love (edited by Clare Coss).

Michelle Parkerson lives in Washington, D.C. and has produced documentaries on jazz singer Betty Carter, Sweet Honey in the Rock, as well as Odds and Ends (a black amazon science fiction short film), and Storme': the Lady of the Jewel Box (a documentary about Storme' Delarverie, former M.C. and male impersonator with the legendary Jewel Box Revue.)  In her book on women filmmakers of the African and Asian diaspora, Gwendolyn Audrey Foster wrote of Parkerson's work: "Michelle Parkerson's documentaries embody black female subjectivity at its most basic. Here, black women speak for themselves."

Michelle Parkerson currently heads up her own DC-based production company, Eye of the Storm Productions.


Source:  Out In The Mountains:  http://www.mountainpridemedia.org/mar98/parker.htm
                Women Make Movies: http://www.wmm.com/catalog/_makers/fm289.htm





...But Then, She's Betty Carter

This lively film is an unforgettable portrait of legendary vocalist Betty Carter, one of the greatest living exponents of jazz. Uncompromised by commercialism throughout her long career, she has forged alternative criteria for success — including founding her own recording company and raising her two sons as a single parent. Parkerson's special film captures Carter's musical genius, her paradoxical relationship with the public and her fierce dedication to personal and artistic independence.

Gotta Make This Journey
Sweet Honey in The Rock

This vibrant and engaging video profiles the a capella activist group, Sweet Honey in the Rock. Singing to end the oppression of Black people world wide, Sweet Honey embraces musical styles from spirituals and blues to calypso, and concerns ranging from feminism to ecology, peace and justice. This dynamic video features individual portraits, powerful concert footage and commentary by Angela Davis, Alice Walker and Holly Near.





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