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The Dirty Show, Detroit’s annual erotic art show, has one more weekend left before visitors must wait until next February for the risque festivities. The show kicked off its 17th year this past weekend with special guest artist Colin Christian’s 3-D fiberglass work as a focal point. His cartoonish female figures can be found along a back wall nearby to the performance stage.
Thought The Dirty Show has been observed as both tamer and more heteronormative in recent years, this year’s edition featured a fair share of LGBTQ+ work.
Michael Breyette of Worcester, Massachusetts had a set of gay-focused paintings: “A view from the top” and “Crave.” Both were still available for purchase by Sunday’s show for $600 each. Ross Johnston’s mixed media work, “You Watching Him,” was also available for $450. The work depicts a man coyly looking up during sex, with a presumably male partner penetrating him; the perspective of the work leaves the viewer in the role of the penetrating lover.
Samantha Thorp of Brakenridge, Pennsylvania had an MSM-centered acrylic on canvas work, “Put a Ring on It,” for $175. Also still for sale at $175 was Minneapolis’ own Marc Debauch’s “Blood Dawn.” The print featured a vampiric male-on-male coupling, complete with sex in a coffin. Keeping with the vampire theme, Dennis Osborne of Rodeo, California depicted a lesbian pairing — complete with fangs and blood — in “Once Bitten, Twice Smitten.” The mixed media work is available for purchase for $350.
Plenty of local artists turned out more LGBT-focused art. BTL columnist Charles Alexander had two works on display, still available for purchase at $175 each: “Erotique One” and “Erotique Two.”
Another local gay standout was Jack O. Summers’ medieval penis icon, dubbed “The Gay Icon” and still for sale at $125; Summers spoke with Between the Lights before opening weekend about his mixing of the profane and the religious.
Another local presenting standout LGBT art was Ypsilanti’s Trevor David Castor. “Sweet Release” and “Ready” are graphite and watercolors on paper, both still available for $450. “Ready” depicted a man looking alluringly out of the picture while orally toying a buttplug.
Though many of the more woman centered works at the show are arguably for a heteronormative male gaze, many works tastefully dipped into the dynamics of queer women without being exploitative. Hazel Park’s Revered Todd had a photo work, “The Kiss #1 and #2,” delicately framing images of two women kissing with “both sets of lips.” SameSource out of Los Angeles had a black and white photo, “Better than Two in the Bush,” depicting three women in stockings from behind, with one in the center making her affection known for the women on either side; this is still available for $500.
Queer and genderfluid work was still present and found beyond the galleries, though a framed work included “He Who Sneaks In At Night And Steals Your Women,” a soft pastel/mixed work by Detroit’s Jennifer Erny depicting two genderqueer individuals surrounding a seemingly Satanic figure in the middle. The work is available for $950.
Two performers in particular, Willy Q and Ms Mr Jr, brought a gender-bending twist to the otherwise woman or woman-presenting stage. The bearded but artfully made up Ms Mr Jr came out early in the night, bedecked in an ornate outfit that was undressed in a burlesque show that included the use of castanets. Willy Q’s genderqueer performance utilized makeup, a full body stocking and a corset, with a burlesque undressing done with the use of voguing.
Local drag queen DeAngela Showshannon also performed among other drag acts.
Chris Harder, a gay porn “stud,” put on arguably one of the most uproarious strip performances of the night with his homage to pornography’s “the pizza boy” trope.
The last weekend of the Dirty Show will be held from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, Feb. 19 and Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Russell Exhibition Center. The center is located at 1600 Clay St., Detroit. Tickets are $30 in advance; a cash bar will be on premises. Parking is $10 minimum. There is a food stand in the Center. Entrance is for those 21 and over with valid photo ID. For tickets or to find out more, visit www.dirtyshow.org.