Watching the Dirty Show go from being an intimate Valentine's Day happening to an internationally acclaimed Detroit art exhibit has not only been gratifying ... it's been fun!
Admit it, reader. You didn't expect to hear THAT monosyllabic word, did you? You were braced for another monograph with such terms as "playful mimesis" and "post-Freudian deconstruct" and "erotic paradigm" being thrown at you like fastballs at a Mensa cricket match. You assumed we would align this festive event with the current presidential race or the collapse of the euro or the Year of the Protester or how the Mayans might be ruining our Christmas shopping come December.
Nope, sorry. Been there, wrote that. What we've expressed in the past still has validity. The Dirty Show IS very much a cultural event worthy of respect and serious discourse, but it's still (as always) a Motor City bash with the most welcome guests hailing from our very own zip codes. So let's skip the abstruse and just embrace the non-metaphorical happiness of certain hormonal realities, shall we?
In keeping, however, with time-honored rules about reportage, here's a familiar recap for any and all newcomers. A dozen years ago, Jerry Vile took precious time away from his editorial duties at Orbit magazine to grab a cocktail napkin and write down a prospectus for an erotic art show. With energetic assistance from Jeremy Harvey, Glenn Barr, Niagara and others, Vile turned an ambitious DIY office party into a showcase for the city's creative community. That's what it was then, that's what it is today – and we think that's cause for celebration.
The celebrants at this annual celebration, of course, are the reason for this article. And as usual, that poses a modest problem. With over 200 registered artists and performers, singling out 25 or even 50 names strikes us being discourteous. If you're a loyal fan and if you have the three previous shows already under your belt (yeah, the pun was intentional), then the odds are very good that your favorites will be returning. Incidentally, it's a credit to the many talented Detroiters involved that no one is clamoring (too loudly) for special attention this year.
We will, nevertheless, mention these for 2012. Drag King Rebellion and Honey Bunny Burlesque were more than happy to sign on. Andre Araujo from Brazil is lending considerable color to the proceedings and will be doing live portraits. The brilliant Marne Lucas (who graciously agreed to do an interview with us) will be screening The Operation. Roxi DLite will be onstage and so will Satori Circus.
Something that is noticeably new and noteworthy this year is the extra estrogen. Vile insists that he never intended the Dirty Show to be "an artistic sausage-fest," but he concedes that the majority of participants over the years have been male – almost 3 to 1, in fact. This year, however, the ratio has gotten just a little closer to 50/50.
"I think this is the direct and happy result of a number of factors," Vile explained, "and especially due to the fact that female artists in Detroit have networked and organized collectively in recent years. We want to see the show balanced visually and thematically. A strictly male perspective is self-defeating to the whole purpose of the show."
Incidentally, if the cold or uncertain weather keeps you away, shame on you. Come hell or high water, Trishia Fedon is showing up from San Diego – and the lady is bringing some friends.
"I have been going to the Dirty Show now for eight consecutive years and love it more each and very time. So much to see! It started as a girls' night out with three friends and each year we would tell more people about it. The entourage just kept growing. It went from a party of three to 12, then to 18, then 26. This year we have 46! We're taking a party bus and making a full night out of it. Some are from the downriver area where I originally grew up and others are coming from Chicago and Texas. There is so much great art to look at and buy. We also get a big kick out of the burlesque performances. I have been to similar exhibits elsewhere, but nothing is like the Detroit Dirty Show!"
And who are we to argue with a girl from Flat Rock? See you at the warehouse! | RDW
Dirty Show 13 • 2/10-2/18 • Bert's Warehouse Theater • 2739 Russell St., Detroit (Eastern Market) • 21+ for dates 2/10-2/11 and 2/18; 18+ for dates 2/12, 2/14 and 2/17 • No cameras or video cameras • dirtyshow.org (tickets also available at Noir Leather in Royal Oak and River's Edge Gallery in Wyandotte; advance tickets available at brownpapertickets.com)
RDW INTERVIEW: Marne Lucas
Can you summarize your work?
I am a photographer and multi-disciplinary artist living/working in New York City and Portland, Oregon. My work explores nature, pop-culture, and sexuality while pushing personal, political and visual boundaries in photography, video, and sculpture. A nice reductive label for me might be: artist/activist/humanist/bi/poly/eco/model aka Gina Velour. I heart heavy metal music, surfing and collecting vintage lingerie.
Is this your first time with Detroit's salute to Eros?
No, 2009 was the first time. I showed one of my "Velour Girl" pin-ups and attended the festival from start to finish. And I fell in love with Detroit – the kindness of the people, the architecture, and the city's potential. I love the fact that there's soul music playing at the adjacent club during The Dirty Show and that people come from all over the country to attend.
You will be at the event this year then?
Yes, I'm the featured guest for the opening weekend! My date for the festival is the very sexy NYC photographer Natasha Gornik. We're collaborating on a photo project that will include Detroit.
Describe [your film] The Operation.
In a cold tile operating room, a surgeon clad in a protective Tyvek suit, goggles, and tight rubber gloves demonstrates her skill before a group of observers. They scrutinize the eerie coupling between the surgeon and the patient, whose bodies merge like molten lava. Explicit radioactive sex draws the viewer into an erotic experience that probes beneath the boundary of skin. The result is a "glowing" and sexy portrayal of invasive surveillance technology as it views the body in the service of fine art. The Operation sets the stage for a provocative expression of explicit intimacy as "art" with a new way of observing palpable arousal - by seeing real-time changes in the heating and cooling of the flesh. I like to think of my film as a creative three-way. The Visible Woman-meets-Luis Bunuel-meets-THX 1138. | RDW