Acupuncture Blog

A Terrific Movie Recommendation

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conceived and written by MAS acu-punk Elizabeth Ropp, LAc

First I want to say that it’s good to be back to work at MAS. I hope everyone can tell that we are smiling at you under our masks. We appreciate how understanding everyone has been with our new social distancing systems.

Since we are living in the world of physical distancing, I am sharing a movie recommendation. Jewel’s Catch One is a biographical documentary about a legendary nightclub owner. Why am I telling you about this on the MAS blog? It’s l because later in life, she becomes an acupuncturist and founder of a non-profit clinic. What!?!?! Yes. My mind was blown. I didn’t see that coming.

I enjoy movies about nightclubs. Which is odd because I am a morning person. My husband can tell you that I easily nod off before ten o’clock at night. And yes, I like to my kitchen. Since MAS reopened this month, you can find me dancing at the clinic after hours when I give the clinic a thorough cleaning and disinfecting after my shift. I also like a good story about someone with sheer determination and perseverance. I found that in Jewel’s Catch One.

Jewel Thais-Williams opened the Los Angeles nightclub and kept it going for four decades, The Catch One. Identifying a need for an inclusive safe space, especially for the Black LQBTQ community. She bought a bar in 1973 for $1000. In 1975, when she purchased the old ballroom connected to her bar for $17,000. The Catch One was open to everyone, especially marginalized people who were often unwelcomed in other clubs and bars. Eventually, everyone partied at The Catch One, including celebrities like Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Madonna, and Sharon Stone.

In the 1970’s, Jewel’s inclusive dance club was targeted by the police. She faced discrimination on many levels as a Black Gay Woman. In 1985, an intentional arson destroyed The Catch. It took Jewel two years to re-open, facing pressure from local government agencies to sell the property.

The AIDS epidemic was particularly devastating. Jewel lost many club patrons to AIDS, many of whom were like family. She did everything she could to take care of her community. Jewel cited the need for services for the Black community in Los Angeles, affected by HIV and AIDS. She stepped up to fill the void in many ways including founding the Minority AIDS project (We have a chapter in Manchester that serves the Merrimack Valley). Jewel’s partner, Rue, founded Rue’s House to provide housing for Black women and Children with HIV/AIDS.

In the late 1990’s, Jewel found herself feeling complacent and needed a new project. Her therapist, Dr. Donald Kilhefner, suggested that she go to acupuncture school.

Due to COVID, all of my travel plans are indefinitely on hold. But, I am making my list of places I want to go and people that I want to meet in a post-pandemic world. I added LA to my list, just so I can make an appointment at The Village Health Foundation, like the club goers from around the world who planned their LA vacations just so they could dance at Catch One. Apparently, tourists even showed up at Jewel’s club straight from the airport with their suitcases in tow.

I watched Jewel’s Catch One twice this weekend and I listened to Jewel tell her story on a new podcast. I wish I could sit down with Jewel, Tariqa, Chung Hee, and Sun from The Village Health Foundation and ask questions. I want to know more about Jewel’s life as an acupuncturist at a non-profit clinic.

Below are the questions that I would ask in my fantasy interview:

Hi, Jewel, it’s such an honor to meet you and to be here in LA, at The Village Health Foundation. Where should I put my suitcase?

First of all, how are you and how is your community holding up during the pandemic?

When you first opened the Catch in the early 1970’s, there were laws that prohibited same sex dancing to make it harder for gay communities to create safe spaces to feel free. Do you think that there are acupuncture laws or regulations that make it harder for marginalized people to get acupuncture treatment or enter the profession?

3) What was your first experience with getting acupuncture?

4) How did you like acupuncture school? If you could add or change anything about your acupuncture program, what would it be?

6) Rep. Maxine Waters praised you for starting a clinic that makes healthcare affordable. She even mentions that it has been said you could be in Beverly Hills charging a lot of money for acupuncture. Why do you think it’s rare for acupuncturists to make treatments affordable and what do you think needs to change in order for affordable acupuncture to become more common?

8) The Village Health Foundation makes a point of practicing cultural competency. What advice can you give to white acupuncturists to become more culturally competent and able to connect with and serve patients with all different backgrounds.

9) How often do you get acupuncture? What else do you do to stay healthy? Basically, how can I be as energetic as you?

10) How often do you go out dancing?

11) What are some of your favorite songs that you think would be good for me to listen to while I am cleaning the clinic at the end of a shift?

Thank you so much for your time. It’s truly been an honor to speak with you. This clinic is beautiful and my acupuncture treatment was wonderful. I even brought you some maple candy, all the way from New Hampshire.

If I manage to connect with the Jewell and the staff of The Village Health Foundation, I will write more here at the MAS blog.

In the meantime, please check out Jewel’s Catch One on Netflix and listen to her interview on The QueerCore podcast.

See you at the clinic. I am smiling under my mask.



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