Aziah ‘Zola’ Wells’s viral story of her crazily dangerous 2015 trip to Florida in search of pole-dancing money is brought to the screen with seductive comedy
In 2015, a part-time dancer from Detroit called Aziah “Zola” Wells went viral with a cheeky Twitter thread purporting to tell the pulp-factual tale of her recent, crazily dangerous road trip to Florida with someone called Jessica, whom she’d only just met. This woman had persuaded Zola there was big money in pole-dancing for rich clients in Tampa, but Zola had to share the car with Jessica’s creepy boyfriend and even creepier pimp, and soon it was clear that Zola was going to have to do much more than dance. She was in way over her head.
Or was she? Followers of Zola’s posts loved them at least partly for how outrageously unreliable they were: Zola was clearly embellishing, or pre-emptively giving her side of the story before Jessica did the same. Now this has been turned into a very entertaining lowlife crime comedy from director and co-writer Janicza Bravo, a film that preserves the fishy flavour of the online original – if perhaps only semi-intentionally – and has interesting things to say about the exhaustingly performative and self-promotional world of social media.