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A Dirty Shame (2004)

NC-17  |   |  Comedy  |  24 September 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.1/10 from 10,376 users   Metascore: 56/100
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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?


Paul Giamatti was originally meant to play Vaughn Stickles, but dropped out to play in Sideways (2004). See more »


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


Sylvia Stickles: Something is the matter with your vagina!
See more »


References Sylvia (1965) See more »


Open Up Your Heart (And Let The Sunshine In)
Performed by The Cowboy Church Sunday School
Written by Stuart Hamblen
Courtesy of Geffen Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

19 September 2004 | by (Providence, Rhode Island) – See all my reviews

For fans of John Waters' films, "A DIRTY SHAME" will be a dream come true.

I saw this at the Provincetown premiere last night where John Waters was there in person giving a Q&A after the film had finished.

Tracy Ullman plays a sexually conservative and uptight suburban housewife who works with her husband (Chris Isaak) at his mother's convenience store. Their daughter (Selma Blair) has huge mummies (and I emphasize "HUGE") who works at a strip joint but has been sentenced to house arrest after being indicted on several accounts of "public indecent exposure".

Her husband's mother, Big Ethel (Suzanne Shepherd) is against all kinds of sexual perversions and is consistently disgusted by the shameless vulgar acts of sex committed by the residents of her community. Those who are against these acts are labeled "neuters", and once and for all, Big Ethel decides to lead an uprising against all of the deviants in her community, with a little help from Marge (Mink Stole) who noticed the "shaved" crotch of a pervert whom she caught masturbating on the public bus!

Soon enough, Ullman is sexually liberated by Ray-Ray (Johnny Knoxville) after her car breaks down and she is struck against the head by a tool in the back of his tow truck. Her concussion causes her to discover her "inner whore" and she begins a new mission to sexually liberate those around her, by using none other than her vagina!

Many of John Waters' fans will recognize many actors he has used in his past films. Patricia Hearst ("SERIAL MOM", "PECKER", "CECIL B DEMENTED" as a recovering "sex addict" in a 12-step program, Jean Schertler ("PECKER") as a disgusted bus commuter and Jean Hill ("DESPERATE LIVING") as an angry wife who fends off Ullman's sexual advances towards her equally horny husband with a rolling pin in hand!

"A DIRTY SHAME" is funnier than "PECKER" and the abysmal "CECIL B DEMENTED" and finally gives Mink Stole a role that offers more than just a "walk on". Unfortunately, John Waters has alienated himself from the mainstream audience (which is a good thing AND a bad thing) yet again. I feel that the only people who will admire and appreciate this film are either exclusive John Waters fans or gay men!

Some interesting points that John Waters raised during the Q&A session was how he fought the MPAA for an "R" rating but lost in a 7-4 vote. He also seemed to be mystified by the "NC-17" rating and tried to defend it by saying that most of the nudity was in the context of "comedy" and not "porn", but I would say after seeing this movie that that is hardly the issue! There is a very STRONG theme of sex, especially where it concerns the more "alternative" side such as "defecating", "felching" and "public ejaculation"! Not that there's anything wrong with it!

Many of the things that are said are very sexually laden, like when Ullman declares, "Now that's what I call sneezing in the cabbage!" or, "My pu**y's on fire!".

He also mentioned that the community he filmed "A DIRTY SHAME" in was very friendly and that they all posed next to the trees with prosthetic vaginas and sphincters with their families for photos!

He said that Jean Hill was very ill during her small cameo in this film and that in her scene, there were three men behind her propping her up and that there was an oxygen tank and mask just off-screen.

Sitting in the screening right next to me was Max Mueller who played baby Noodles in "PINK FLAMINGOS".

This film has everything. From gay bears and horny squirrels, to food fetish and "upper deck" floaters (watch the movie to find out what this means), to a less-than-embarrassing cameo appearance by David Hasselhoff that involves him and an airplane toilet!

Everyone applauded when the film ended. It was John Waters' return to disgusting trash, and we all loved it! Unfortunately, I don't think ANYONE outside of the above-mentioned demographic would want to touch this film with a 10-yard pole, and that is what I meant in reference to where I think that the alienation of the mainstream audience was a bad thing. I think everyone should see this!

91 of 125 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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