A Dirty Shame (2004)

NC-17  |   |  Comedy  |  24 September 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.1/10 from 10,382 users   Metascore: 56/100
Reviews: 100 user | 82 critic | 34 from Metacritic.com

An uptight, middle-aged, repressed woman turns into a sex addict after getting hit on the head, and she then falls into an underground subculture of sex addicts in suburban Baltimore.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nick Noble ...
Weird Paperboy (as Nicholas E.I. Noble)
Lucy Newman-Williams ...
Neuter Yuppie Woman
Scott Morgan ...
Neuter Yuppie Man
David Moretti ...
Papa Bear (as Dave Moretti)
Jeffrey Auerbach ...


Middle-aged, sexually repressed Sylvia Stickles is the subject of this John Water's film, set in North Baltimore. She refuses to have sex with her husband, Vaughn Stickles, and keeps her overly-endowed daughter, Caprice, locked in her room, while she serves home detention for moral depravity charges. Sylvia, together with her mother Big Ethel, lead a group calling themselves "neuters" that promotes decency on Harford Road. When Sylvia is accidentally hit on the head by a lawnmower hanging out of a passing pick-up truck, however, her sexual behavior is changed completely from prude to prostitute. She meets the sex addicted sexual healer Ray Ray Perkins, becoming his twelfth apostle of sex in a journey of pleasure and orgasm. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Threatening the very limits of common decency.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated NC-17 for pervasive sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 September 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Adictos al sexo  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$29,384 (USA) (17 September 2004)


$1,339,668 (USA) (5 November 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (R-rated)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The book David Hasselhoff reads near the end of the film, "Suicide In The Entertainment Industry" is a real book given to John Waters as a gift. See more »


Before running out of gas, the car is turned off and in park but is still driving. See more »


Vaughn Stickles: Help us! The sex addicts are taking over. Call the National Guard!
Neuter Yuppie Woman: To hell with this!
Neuter Yuppie Man: We're moving back to D.C. where we belong!
See more »


Featured in All the Dirt on 'A Dirty Shame' (2005) See more »


Captain Chipmunk
Performed by The Chipmunks
Written by Ross Bagdasarian and Janice Karman
Courtesy of Bagdasarian Productions LLC
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

All in good humour...or not
29 June 2006 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

I can't say I've seen many of John Waters' films, but I've seen enough to get an idea of what he's about; and A Dirty Shame would appear to be a typical John Waters film. All of the jokes in the film come from sexual perversions, and it's not hard to see why a number of people don't like it - as if you thought Serial Mom was a difficult film to get along with, wait until you see this one! To be honest, I'm not completely sure of whether I liked it or not; on the one hand, I respect the director for daring to go further than many directors would dare...but on the other hand, it's amazingly silly and the central ideas behind the plot don't hold much weight. There are some really good one-liners in the film, however, and the surreal nature of the way the plot plays out is a delight. The story follows a prudish housewife named Silvia who hates sex, and the fact that her daughter is a sex symbol named 'Ursula Udders'. However, after hitting her head one day; she comes into contact with a man named Ray Ray, a 'sexual healer', and it's not long before she discovers that she is, in fact, a sex-addict.

I'm sure that the main reason why John Waters has so many fans is because of his willingness to take risks. This film is full of risks; some of which work. The cast list isn't typical, with popular American comedienne Tracey Ullman taking the lead role and performing well in the more lurid scenes. Selma Blair stars alongside an enormous pair of fake breasts, while there are support roles for the likes of Chris Isaak and Suzanna Shepherd. The biggest risk where the cast is concerned is undoubtedly Jackass' Johnny Knoxville, who is a lot better than you would think. Waters has seen fit to have a lot of scenes play out to music, and this works well some of the time. The way that certain words (such as 'Whore') pan out across the screen is good, but personally I didn't like the use of CGI. The film gets off to a really good start, and I laughed more in the first half hour than in any film I've seen recently; but it takes a bit of a downturn in the middle, and never fully recovers. The film is good because you never really know where Waters is going with it, and the full on orgy of the last twenty minutes is bound to divide audiences. Overall, this film is in extreme bad taste; but it's also a great laugh. However, if you haven't liked whatever Waters' films you've seen so far - I wouldn't recommend seeing this one.

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