Detroit gets ‘Dirty’ at Russell Industrial Center

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

You know you want to.

Detroit’s annual homage to Eros, the Dirty Show, opens Friday in the Russell Industrial Center with more than 300 pieces of salacious art and a nightly, naughty stage show that promises to be outrageous and fun.

In a dirty sort of way, of course. It closes Feb. 20.

This year, with 45,000 square feet in one of the Russell’s hulking Albert Kahn warehouses and more than 250 artists, is light years away from the show’s 1999 start. Then, just 30 artists displayed their saucy works in the cramped Orbit magazine offices in Royal Oak.

As always, there’s a featured artist — this year it’s the British-born Colin Christian, whose 3-D fiberglass and silicon erotic statues have a slight sci-fi or anime tinge to them.

Christian was the designer behind the “marshmallow phalluses” Miley Cyrus sported on some of her recent tour appearances. “I went to the concert and my jaw dropped,” says artist, impresario and Dirty Show founder Jerry Vile.

Vile notes that Christian also did the 10-foot-tall “Hello Kitty” for last year’s Hello Kitty Supercute Friendship Festival. “And he made that cat sexy,” he adds.

Unlike most art openings, the Dirty Show also boasts live stage entertainment, this year with porn star Chris Harder and the three over-muscled Stage Door Johnnies, Chicago’s home-grown answer to Chippendales.

Plus, there’s a full bar, all of which makes for a lively social experience. “You mingle, you watch a show,” Vile says, “you mingle, you watch a show.”

The stage performance, Vile says, is mostly burlesque.

“It’s really all about what they’re not going show,” he says. “When you think their costume can’t possibly get any skimpier, they tear it off and there’s still something covering them up.”

He laughs. “Every girl goes nuts for Chris and the Johnnies.”

Sharing the stage with the beefcake will be a range of local and visiting drag queens, including Jeez Louise, Darlinda, Po’ Chop and the statuesque, six-foot-tall DeAngela Showshannon, whom Vile describes as an ideal contestant for a kinky version of “America’s Got Talent.”

While most of the artwork is heterosexual in nature, Vile says this year, “There’ll be enough gay-themed art to make some people cringe.”

“If you’re homophobic and you’ve never been to the Dirty Show,” he adds, “you probably want to stay home.”

‘The Dirty Show’

7 p.m.-2 a.m. Fri.-Sun., and Feb. 19-20

Russell Industrial Center, Exhibition Hall, 1600 Clay, Detroit

Sun. only: 18 and older

All other nights: 21 and older

Photo I.D. required

$30 per person — advance purchase only

Cash-only tickets also available at Noir Leather, River’s Edge Gallery, Found Sound Records & The Road Show