The Dirty Show
Where: Bert’s Warehouse Theater, Eastern Market, Detroit
When: Sept. 22-24
There’s a painting Mike Williams of Royal Oak will display at The Dirty Show that he can’t quite put into words.
“It’s very penetrating,” Williams said. “In fact, it’s … double penetrating.”
Since The Dirty Show began six years ago, Williams, 33, has displayed his homoerotic sculptors and paintings. This year he’ll be one of 200 local, national and international artists at The Dirty Show from Sept. 22-24 in Eastern Market in Detroit.
“I used to be the token gay artist,” he said. “There’s plenty of gay artists in the show now.”
One of his paintings captures a life-size orgy and one of his sculptors portrays a man soaked in semen, which the buyer used as a coffee table.
“That one was so filthy looking,” he said. “I think everyone’s kind of dirty. The Dirty Show is really great ’cause it taps into something people don’t do in everyday life. I think it really brings out things in people that weren’t there before.”
It’s like taking a trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts – except the erotic subject matter lends itself to a more stimulating experience, said Jerry Vile, the show’s founder. Because of its graphic nature, some have pegged the show as pornography instead of art.
“Mostly people who have never been to one, I guess they suffer limited vocabularies, so thankfully they don’t come,” Vile said. “What makes a soup can or Brillo box art? Porn can be art – but can art be porn? Almost every great artist has had work called obscene at one time or another. It is very subjective, so you have to look at the people who are screaming about it – intolerant asses!”
And who does Vile blame for this sex taboo?
“Perhaps you haven’t heard but there is a guy named George Bush who can put you in a secret prison and he doesn’t even need to have evidence. (Some people) may feel sex is sleazy, messy, perverted and dirty, which it can be if you are doing it right.”
Despite the hoopla, The Dirty Show still draws thousands of freethinkers – from barely legal to 90-somethings – who aren’t resistant to sexually liberating art.
“The average Dirty patrons aren’t afraid of talking about sex … ,” Vile said. “(That’s) probably the reason the show has gotten so huge.”