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Innocent Flesh: A Play by Kenyetta Lethridge

June 29, 2012

Life is a funny thing. You make one simple decision and it causes a domino effect. Well, technically, I guess it is more akin to Edward Lorenz’ butterfly effect. One day when I didn’t want to do anything but lay on my sofa, I had a call to come into help my friend Adriane at her restaurant, Billie’s Black. The first customers of the day were two young ladies who asked me immediately who wrote the menu, saying how witty it was. Well, I wrote the menu, so I told them and we immediately bonded because 1. they clearly had excellent taste and 2. as it turns out, they too were writers. Conversation moved along and I found out that they were from LA and had just ended a 3-month run off-Broadway with their play, Innocent Flesh, a story of four young girls, prostitution and human trafficking. Fast-forward to this week: the ladies, Kenyetta Lethridge (writer/director) and producer Diana Zollicoffer, are back in LA and trying to get Innocent Flesh on a stage in the City of Angels.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here’s where we can make that butterfly effect work in our favor. I need to help these young ladies generate money for their play. They have started an IndieGoGo campaign to help generate the funds to get the project back off the ground in a new city. Lethridge, an NAACP Award winner, wrote the piece to expose “the stark realities of the sexual exploitation, forced teen prostitution and trafficking of young children all across America.”

Below, is a quick 2-minute video from Kenyetta, Diana and Michael Mann, the other producer. Following that is the press release from the IndiGoGo page. I encourage you each to read, and dig into your pockets even if it’s just a dollar. Hell, skip out on the McDonald’s drive-thru and help these ladies educate the world.

Press Release:
After a sold out debut in Los Angeles with overwhelming reactions, Innocent Flesh took the New York off-Broadway community by storm.The team alongside Kenyetta Lethridge, producers Diana C. Zollicoffer and Michael Mann, received rave reviews and people are asking for more. Theater organizations and charity groups alike have already inquired how Innocent Flesh can be brought into their communities.
And that is the goal of our campaign: Innocent Flesh is a unique vehicle for a socially challenging, yet vitally important message. This play takes the audience on a journey with the four main characters – young, vulnerable girls who have been seduced into a life as sex slaves they should not know. Brilliantly written and directed, Lethridge delivers a captivating theatrical experience for her audience that is as memorable as it is authentic.
This is why we need your help. We are aware of the magnitude of this undertaking. But with Innocent Flesh we are now able to provide communities with the tools of educating and informing OUR YOUTH about the issue of human trafficking and teenage prostitution.
The notoriety we have received from our previous runs in both Los Angeles and New York City manifested the importance of the issue of child-sex-trafficking.

What We Need & What You Get

We will continue our efforts to help prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In the next 45 days we are trying to raise $36,000.00.
These funds will allow us to do several things:
  1. Remount the show in Los Angeles
  2. Pre-production work to take the show on the road and mount nationwide
  3. Create a multi media aspect of the play
  4. Salaries – Artistic, Technical, Marketing & Promotion, Production Management
  5. Publicity – Designer, Poster, Postcards, Ads, Photographer, Social Media, etc.
  6. Craft Service for Cast and Crew
  7. Transportation
  8. Miscelleanous – Office Management, Supplies, etc.

Every Dollar donated to this campaign will be dedicated to establish a long-term educational program for outreach to communities where there is interest and need. We will continue to work together closely with people involved in all aspects of the fight against teenage prostitution to build a strong network of people who care.

We truly appreciate every contribution and will make sure it reaches at risk teens in many ways. Please take a look at our amazing perks.

The Impact      

Why now?

The number of children who are trafficked domestically is still growing, making the commercial exploitation of children more relevant than ever. In fact, the FBI and the United Nation estimates that there are 100,000 to 295,000 children in danger of being sex slaves. And, child-sexual exploitation is a $3Billon industry according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Why theater?

Innocent Flesh makes use of the intimacy of the theater performance and takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster ride. It is a challenging piece not only for cast members, but also for viewers. A memorable piece that inspires to think the unthinkable, to see what we do not want to see.

Innocent flesh is real and does justice to those who have experienced life as an underage prostitute. We took up the challenge to present the play to actual survivors, residents of a shelter that helps victims of domestic trafficking and prostitution start new lives. Initially met with skepticism if the play would deal honestly with the issues of sexual exploitation of children, the response was reassuring – they were amazed and touched by the accurate and caring portrayal of the lives of the four main characters.

Moreover Innocent Flesh helps teens and their parents understand the ruses used to seduce children into human trafficking. Witness how the words “I love you” coming out of a pimps’ mouth turn into convincing weapon when children have not experienced true love at home and feel left alone.

As far as law enforcement is concerned we have built relationships with the LAPD (Human Trafficking Division), LAPD Newton Division (P.A.L’s) and Detective Andre Dawson member of the FBI’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task.

Moreover we have been working with Dr. Penny Grant (Montifiore and Butler Child Advocacy Center), the Brooklyn Bridge Academy, Larry Lee (The New York Asian Woman Center), and The Mary Magdalene Project.

But we want to expand this team, involving key players from communities across the nation. Join us, become an ambassador of awareness.

Preventing sexual exploitation of children

Awareness is the first step to make a change. We need to teach our youth about “stranger danger” and educate them. A pimp who lures a child with false promises follows his own strategy that has proven to be successful.  We need to educate parents and the community of the existence of these predators within the “safe haven” of America.

The team around Innocent Flesh has established the “Patron Angel” program to give teens at risk the opportunity to come see the play at no cost for them. And we would like for teens everywhere to be able to see the play.

We have reached a lot of minds and hearts so far:

http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-03-20/news/31217103_1_prostitution-underage-girls-characters 

http://westhollywood.patch.com/blog_posts/innocent-flesh-raw-to-the-bone

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nadine-b-hack/innocent-flesh_b_1438554.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/xaque-gruber/innocent-flesh-play_b_1378240.html 

http://www.lasplash.com/publish/Los_Angeles_Entertainment_109/theatre-review-innocent-flesh.php

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chava-tombosky/innocent-flesh-not-so-inn_b_1304644.html 

http://broadwayworld.com/article/Photo-Flash-The-Duke-Ellington-Center-for-the-Arts-Presents-New-Musical-YES-20120308

http://westhollywood.patch.com/blog_posts/video-innocent-flesh-debuts-at-west-hollywoods-zephyr-theater 

http://www.latheatrereview.com/2012/01/27/innocent-flesh-at-the-zephyr-theater/

Other Ways You Can Help
(This wonderful Times Square Ad was DONATED to us by the Mary Magdalene Project because they believed in what we were doing.)

  • Ask folks to get the word out and make some noise about this campaign.
  • SHARE THE LINK TO THIS CAMPAIGN WITH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE by email, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, add it to the signature of your email, etc.
  • TALK about us with  your friends, family and colleagues.
  • Click on our YOUTUBE and leave a comment.
  • Like us on Facebook
  • Make your own YOUTUBE video about our campaign and we’ll share it on our Social Media Outlets

And that’s all there is to it.

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