For more than a decade, the Dirty Show has been considered one of the largest and most important erotic art exhibitions on the planet. Each year, the exhibit features hundreds of quality erotic works, in virtually every imaginable media, from all over the world. It has become an immersive experience, with world-class performance artists on the stage and in the audience. The 21st installment of The Dirty Show will take place over two weekends this year: on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7 and 8, as well as Friday and Saturday, Feb. 14 and 15, at the Russell Exhibition Center inside the Russell Industrial Center just north of downtown. Tickets for the popular show start at $40 per night with combined night packages at discounted rates and are selling fast.
And because of the innovative performances and popularity, each year it attracts a diverse and cutting-edge audience of free-spirited Detroiters, whose yearly attendance has continued to grow into the thousands.
“It was really hard to get truly dirty art for the first show,” said show founder Jerry Vile in a Detroit News article. “Maybe there’d be a breast or two peeking out here or there, but most galleries didn’t let that kind of work in shows. The late Pablo Davis was almost in tears because he finally got to exhibit this one piece he’d painted in the 1970s, which today we could probably print in a newspaper.”
Not just an art show, though that’s of course a big part of it, The Dirty Show is an immersive art experience. In addition to the traditional show, there will be what is being billed as a “tantalizing” burlesque show guaranteed to delight any burlesque or strip tease devotee. There will also be a Cinerotic Film Festival showcasing scintillating erotic art film projects, go-go dancers, a spanking booth and more.
The 2020 Dirty Show special guest artist will be Niagara. A painter, performer and personality, Niagara has been one of the strongest voices from Detroit art since she began creating girl power themes with her pop-influenced paintings. As the front person of Destroy All Monsters, both an avant-garde band and art collective, she helped define the music and visual styles that would overthrow the status quo internationally. Featured artists include Darron Copeland, Francois Dubeau, Pauly M. Everett, Claudia Hek, Mallory Jarrell, Candy Wild and Marty Winters.
There’s also food and drink available, including beer from local distilleries and arguably some of the best people watching around as attendees can contribute to the show with their own “dirty” outfits. The Dirty Show encourages those who attend to let their freak flags fly.
“We get visits from the cops and fire marshals every year,” Vile said. “But we know what we can do and what we’re not allowed to do. We’ve also had the liquor control commission show up with the state police. They think it’s some sort of orgy or something. Then they look around and say, ‘Oh, this is mostly normal people looking at art.'”
But that’s not all it is.
“No. We have a lot of really kinky, pervy patrons, too,” Vile said.