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For two nights only, West Sheridan will shift from revitalized to red-light district, as the Individual Artists of Oklahoma hosts the 20th annual “Biting the Apple” erotic art exhibition.

This year’s theme, “Gallery de Grindhouse,” is an ode to the string of theaters on New York City’s 42nd Street where burlesque theater and peep shows thrived, and exploitation cinema was born. The theme begged for an amping up of performance artists, dance troupes, live music, drag acts, film and poetry.

Poetry chair Rob Sturma said, despite assumptions to the contrary, it is what’s left unseen and unheard that will drive attendees wild.

“With just about any medium of art — whether visual, music or poetry — the stuff I find the sexiest tends to be the stuff that doesn’t show you everything, doesn’t give you the full reveal,” Sturma said. “It is more of a tease, which really fits in with the burlesque theme of this year’s show. It just gives you a glimpse, if you will, of ankle or shoulder.”

With art, I find the sexiest doesn’t show you everything.

—Rob Sturma

Board vice president Marilyn Artus anticipates art from both dedicated erotic artists to talents who normally produce more mainstream work, but wanted a chance to experiment.

“There is a great amount of depth.

You can come and find pieces that you like because it is such a rich group of media, techniques and approaches,” Artus said. “But it is always a challenge to get the news out about the show for people who do erotic art. Because they can’t normally show in Oklahoma, they aren’t a part of the regular gallery group, so they might be making them and keeping them or showing outside the state.” A performance tent will be tacked onto the back of IAO to allow patrons more room to soak in the sights and sounds. Sturma said that it’ll be tricky for poets to compete with the sensory overload, but people will be surprised at how a verbal tease can turn heads, even at “Biting the Apple.”

“I don’t dress in a provocative manner,” he said. “But I’ll get them with my words.”

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