Connect with us


Review: Kokomo City Lifts The Veil On Black Transgender Sex Workers



“Kokomo City” is a captivating and thought-provoking documentary that illuminates trans lives within a world of adverse circumstance and invariable optimism.

In the wildly entertaining and refreshingly unfiltered documentary filmmaker D. Smith passes the mic to four Black transgender sex workers in Atlanta and New York City — Daniella Carter, Koko Da Doll, Liyah Mitchell, and Dominique Silver — who unapologetically break down the walls of their profession. Holding nothing back, the film vibrates with energy, sex, challenge, and hard-earned wisdom.

One of the strengths of “Kokomo City” is its storytelling and cinematography. Its black and white imagery gives it a cinematic texture focused on personalities and aimed for a fly-on-the-wall feeling. Smith uses wall-to-wall underscoring in some scenes, a la Spike Lee, lending gritty documentary material a touch of Old Hollywood grandiosity.

But the structure and editing have a punk rock midnight-movie energy. The cheeky-blasé subtext is: If you don’t like what we’re doing, go watch a different movie.

For D. Smith this is as much a passion project as it is a rebirth. A Black, trans, Grammy-nominated producer who worked with Lil Wayne, Keri Hilson, and Katy Perry. Smith was ostracized by the music industry after coming out in 2014 and appeared on season five of “Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta,” a gig that she now regrets. She was also homeless for a while. This movie is a reclamation, a reinvention, and a return.

It’s bursting with energy, it’s all over the place, and there are times when it sorta trips over its ambition. But it’s hard to pinpoint, in some faux-objective sense, what does or doesn’t “work” because it isn’t trying to satisfy any criteria but its own. The whole thing is uncoupled from mainstream/”normie” life and bourgeois concepts of propriety, much like the New York- and Atlanta-based people it depicts.

Executive produced by Lena Waithe, the film won the Sundance Film Festival’s NEXT Innovator Award and NEXT Audience Award, as well as the Berlinale’s Audience Award in the Panorama Documentary section.

Kokomo City is in theaters Jul 28th.

Popular on Hip Hollywood

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *