Jerry Vile is an artist, a huckster and a mother fucker… back before I met and became friendly and eventually participated in his world famous, international art happening, The Dirty Show®, I knew Jerry as a regional legend. I used to love and look forward to his old publication “The Orbit”, hitting the streets… I relate to Jerry, we do similar things, when I was living in Chicago, I too produced a sex themed art shows (The Court of Porn) similar to The Dirty Show… Jerry and I make art, we publish, we throw events… I’ve always liked to think of the expressions and communications I produce as trouble for some, fun for others… I see Jerry and his work much the same, trouble for some, fun for others.
Jerry lives and works in Detroit… and Jerry’s The Dirty Show® is so amazing it draws in visitors from around the globe… that’s a big accomplishment when you consider the reputation of the motor city in decline.
After a brief visit to Detroit, where I was privileged to stay across the street from one of the coolest art houses one could hope to ever see… this house and the ones around it were so beautiful, remade and repurposed into something I’ve only seen in my dreams… after that visit I find myself waking from visions of living in Detroit, in an artist utopia and after I wake up, I find myself daydreaming about that same artist utopia…
Jerry Vile should run for mayor of Detroit. All of the really interesting and memorable politicians come from and have an art background. I’ve always thought politics were a perfect outlet for the artist… sculpting an entire community, maybe even an entire city like Detroit.
Shane: Your “vessel of hope” installation/statement has really taken off. Any chance this will lead to a limited edition, signed and numbered crisco can available for purchase at the next dirty show or maybe a run for office… I can hear it now, VOTE VILE – HE’LL EASE THE PAIN… a can of crisco in every home? Really man, why not run for the mayor’s office?
Jerry: No. I’m already getting kind of tired of it… who am I kidding I love the attention. Really fucking great artists go their entire lives without getting notice. I am glad it hit a nerve. It will be pretty sad if I have to milk it to make a buck. Like Chubby Checker putting out ‘Let’s Twist Some More’ and then ‘Hey, I’m Still Twisting’. I would like to do it right, but if I had made it out of steel, scrappers would have swiped it the second it hit the sidewalk. Detroit is ravaged by these alien locusts who pull the copper out of every foreclosed home and business (or those of people at work). It started with junkies, for a few rocks worth of crack they destroy any chance of someone being able to move in without spending more than it is worth. Now there are professional crews. The Republicans won’t do anything to upset the recycling lobby so it just keeps getting bigger.
Shane: Ever been fisted Jerry? Me, I’m all for a nice prostate massage, pain and pleasure seem to go together when the crisco comes out… is there any pleasure in Detroit’s pain?
Jerry: I’ve creeped out my doctor by moaning “faster” but I have not had the pleasure of a fist shoved up my asshole. I don’t think I ever will. I don’t look good in diapers.
Shane: Is Detroit like living in a third world country? Are you concerned, let’s say if you need emergency medical attention or a police officer?
Jerry: If you get shot, you want to be shot in Detroit. The best hospitals for it. Waiting for an ambulance is another story, you would probably bleed out.
But no, we are not like a third world country. They don’t abandon houses in third world countries. This is something different, I went to Biloxi after Hurricane Ivan and people were weeping at the devastation – I looked around thinking, “This is a fuck of a lot nicer looking than Detroit”.
Shane: Depending on who I speak to I’m told Detroit’s problems are due to liberals or conservatives are to blame… if you were to sum it up, who or what’s to blame for the apparent downfall of Detroit?
Jerry: Us. America. Our laziness, cheapness, selfishness and apathy which when combined with our hubris is the formula for a Detroit economy. We want too much shit we don’t need and we want it cheap. So manufacturers move to cheaper countries. They are just looking out for them. Detroit is the canary (do I have to say coal mine?). This is the future of America. We won WW2 with manufacturing, we thought the bigger the business the better for America. So where are our fat little diabetic medicated future soldiers going to get their guns- China? They’re the ones who are going to want to collect from the deadbeat nation.
Shane: It seems like an artists dream, a fresh palette, a hunk of clay waiting to be sculpted. What’s your creative solution or vision of HOPE for the future of Detroit?
Jerry: There is a huge city that needs fixing and a shit load of unemployed people. We should have something like the Civilian Conservation Corps that puts them to work- fixing up and getting to the stuff before the scrappers. But we have such a dysfunctional government that wouldn’t happen. I don’t know how socialism got to be such a bad word with the public? It’s supposed to be the profit goes to the people instead of the corporation who gave the biggest campaign donations. But on the other hand, I’m as selfish and apathetic as anyone else. I can shoot my mouth off but you don’t see me picking up a shovel.
Shane: Are you at war with the art world, the art business, art in general or is it a war on the general public’s perception??
Jerry: I am so outside of the art world I couldn’t comment. I charge admission to go to the shows I curate and even a small viewing charge for my own shows. My art supports itself and me, not great but I’m not on food stamps- if they even have them anymore. I started an art grant with ”Gimme the fucking money” and I was actually surprised when I didn’t get the $25,000.
Shane: What is the problem and your fix for the art world in general?
Jerry: You are asking the wrong person. I think the art world is changing all by itself, like how punk rock changed the music industry. ‘Juxtapoz’ is the biggest selling art magazine in the world, but are those artists accepted by the mainstream? But, that is the way it works. Artists like Colin Christian and Gregory de la Haba should be in museums. The academics are always wrong and behind the times, look at impressionism, abstract, pop art, this was hated – determined not to be art.
Shane: I know you thru The Dirty Show where I’ve participated many years ago, of course, before there was a quality control/juried process to get in… is The Dirty Show an art event or is it a porn-a-rific, lust-filled, obscene sex romp using art as a good reason and a way to get away with “it”?
Jerry: It’s probably both and a lot more. The Dirty Show® created itself and it is a monster. It started out as the hep crowd, then it was discovered by kinksters and crazies. The audience is so diverse we have taken to calling them “real people”. We haven’t turned it into a dance or band thing, music is kept to a level where patrons can converse. So it is just an art exhibition, albeit really huge with thousands of patrons, many on leashes and some fucked up stuff happening performance wise.
Shane: Art is a good reason to get away with “it”, right?
Jerry: Anything is a good reason to get away with it. I love getting away with anything. I have a really hard time taking art seriously. I truly believe most big artists have to be laughing at what they get away with. Hirst? The dots. That’s funny, And fucking Koons is putting it right in peoples faces, how can he keep a straight face with those prices.
Shane: Is great art always political or does it have to be political to be great art?
Jerry: I find politics really boring. I think most people do. Unless there is a sex scandal it is a bunch of lame ass ugly fuckers spewing bullshit. They will tell a crowd “American’s are the hardest working people in the world” and the crowd goes wild. Have they never had a job? Everyone fucks off at work. Look around you, do you know anyone who works hard?
Shane: What is art?
Jerry: Art is something that really has no purpose. According to some people there is a commandment against it. So when people ask me what is the difference between erotic art and porn I tell them porn has a purpose. This really doesn’t sum it up, but who the fuck am I? I’m a subscriber to the “whatever you can get away with” school.
Shane: Is there a difference between fine art and underground art?
Jerry: The price. Once it is stolen from the underground by an academic approved artist that’s when the difference comes in. I appreciate skill and talent, but without imagination the artist is just a hand. There is a lot of crap considered fine art. There is no law against calling anything fine art. There probably should be.
Shane: Besides the international known and celebrated dirty show that you produce and participate in, creatively, what’s next?
Jerry: Well since my art career has probably peaked two days after this went semi-viral (I’m no dancing cat) I will probably mow my lawn. I’ll probably get a deal with some internet fist fucking site. And in the unlikely chance I get a little fame from this I can look forward to autographing Crisco Cans for fuckers who don’t buy my paintings.
Jerry Vile’s The Dirty Show® - http://www.dirtyshow.org/