Phantasmagorical Spectacular Opening of the Exotic Art Show at Alwun House

I didn't mind that my girlfriend went to look at Annie Sprinkle's cervix, but I honestly wasn't all that interested. There were so many other things going on at the Alwun House Friday night during the "Phantasmagorical Spectacular" opening of their annual Exotic Art Show that seeing a famous porn star and sex educator's reproductive organs with a speculum and flash light was only mildly exciting.

Sprinkle was "goddess of ceremonies" for this year's bacchanal at Alwun House, a non-profit arts organization in central Phoenix that hosts an Exotic Art Show every year full of erotic paintings and statues, two outdoor bars, a buffet of hors d'ouevres, and two stages with everything from burlesque and drag queen performances to live jazz music swooning with sexy saxophones. Best of all, it draws several hundred people, many of whom dress up in sexy, revealing outfits or detailed, imaginative costumes. 

While my girlfriend, Bootstrap, ran off to the east side of the backyard to view Sprinkle's "Public Cervix Annoucement" on the main stage, I hovered around the camp fire on the west side of the building, watching some dude dressed in nothing but a (too small!) lacy white g-string and santa hat. Everybody cheered for his outfit, and several women demanded to see his balls and take cheeky pictures. Only at Alwun House's Exotic Art Show could that guy be the hit of the party.


There was so much traffic through the backyard at Alwun House that navigating became a series of scooting, shuffling, turning sideways, and constantly bumping people and muttering "excuse me" (or in some cases, "asshole"). Luckily, I kept finding cool people to stop and chat with throughout the night. Alwun House has been around for 39 years, and its events usually draw a variety of local scenesters, artists, and creatives.

In addition to the scheduled performers, which included Life Suspended, Bedouin Tribe belly dancers, Barbra Seville, and Provocatease burlesque, we saw people hanging out, like celebrated playwright and activist Tania Katan, her partner (and renowned artist) Angela Ellsworth, circuit bender/renaissance man Corey Busboom (dressed in full wolf costume), and renowned sex educator and rope bondage artist Midori (who performed the following night at Fetish Revolution 11 in Scottsdale).

We also saw artist Baron Dixon, who has several paintings in the Alwun House gallery, and former Cone Gallery owner Kathy Cone, who made three sexy sci-fi collages for the show. The art exhibit features more than 50 artists, stretches through several rooms on the main floor and the basement, and includes everything from ceramic penis sculptures and vagina jewelry to abstract paintings of sperm and erotic photography.

​There was live art at the reception, too. Mark Greenawalt was doing his erotic and fantasical body painting, and a guy named Joe the Balloon Pimp was walking around, twisting inflated latex into balloon dicks and naked chicks on motorcycles.

Overall, the vibe was like the coolest house party ever. Years ago, when I first met the owners of Alwun House, Kim Moody and Dana Johnson, they likened the scene at an Exotic Art Show opening to Hieronymus Bosch's painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights," which depicts an elaborate orgy where even the fruit bursts with erotic suggestions. The "Phantasmagorical Opening" was sort of like that this year, but with Annie Sprinkle's cervix and Santa's lacy balls on the side.

The Exotic Art Show exhibit continues through March 11 at Alwun House, 1204 E. Roosevelt Street. Viewing hours are noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. Admission costs $5. Call 602-253-7887 or visit www.alwunhouse.org for more information.


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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea