Jerry Peterson "Jerry Vile" collection: 1986-2015
Summary Information
Title: Jerry Peterson "Jerry Vile" collection
Creator: Vile, Jerry
Inclusive dates: 1986-2015
Extent: 2.6 linear feet (in 8 boxes)
Jerry Peterson, aka Jerry Vile, is a Detroit metro area artist, performer, and publisher known for his provocative style. Peterson created and published several free culture/humor magazines between 1978-1999 including White Noise, Fun: The Magazine for Swinging Intelectuals [sic], and Orbit. The collection is comprised of complete runs of Fun and Orbit and contains a small number of photographs, memorabilia, and other publications including an anthology by Rob St. Mary.
Call number: 2016056
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
Home Page:
Finding aid created by Lilly Carrel, April 2017.

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Donated by Rob St. Mary (donor no. 11540) in July 2016.

Access Restrictions:

This collection is open without restriction.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see:


Donor has transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection contains third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

[item], folder, box, Jerry Peterson "Jerry Vile" collection, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.


The collection is arranged into one Publications series and three subseries: Fun: The Magazine for Swinging Intelectuals [sic] (1986-1990); Orbit (1990-1999); and Special Issue Publications (2008-2015). Materials are organized chronologically within the series and subseries.


Jerry Peterson was born on February 7, 1956 in Royal Oak, Michigan, the second son of Robert and Miriam Peterson. Peterson grew up in the western suburbs of Wayne County and also spent time in Florida, with his mother, after his parents' divorce in 1968. Peterson graduated from Northville High School in 1974 and briefly attended Oakland Community College and Western Michigan University. He was then accepted to the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, in 1977, where he began immersing himself in the Los Angeles punk rock scene.

Peterson moved back to Detroit in 1978 and formed a punk band called the Boners. The same year, with a fellow Northville High School graduate and friend, Paul Zimmerman, the pair started a magazine, White Noise, to document the punk scene in Detroit between 1978 and 1980. It was during this time that Jerry Peterson assumed his pseudonym, Jerry Vile. The Boners became well known for their elaborate stage performances at Detroit's Bookie's Club 870, in which Vile would parody many pop culture figures including the 1950s television show The Honeymooners and the 1960s Flying Nun . During the 1980s Vile formed other punk rock bands including the Big Time County Orchestra, Jerry Vile and the Martini Set, and 52 Devil Babies Born with Tails.

In 1986, Jerry Peterson launched a new publication called Fun: The Magazine for Swinging Intelectuals [sic], upon the persistent recommendations of friend "Sailor Rick" Metcalf. Fun, as it was referred to, was a nascent new form of media known as the free humor magazine. It featured cartoons, parody "news" articles, and eye-catching design and graphics. Fun ceased publication in 1990 and was succeeded by Peterson's longest running publication, Orbit (1990-1999).

Peterson's goal for this new publication was to appeal to a wider audience and move away from the leftist political focus of many other alt-weekly magazines. Instead Orbit focused on Detroit's art, culture, humor, and entertainment scenes. Orbit was published bi-weekly until June 1993, when it became monthly, until it ceased publication in 1999. Peterson went on to other publishing ventures including Real Detroit Weekly, with business partner John Badanjek, and one-off guides to Detroit.

In 1998, Jerry Vile created and organized The Dirty Show, an annual erotic art exhibition. The Dirty Show, perhaps Vile's most well-known achievement, features Detroit and international artists’ erotic and sexual art, and has been franchised to other U.S. and international cities.

Jerry Peterson, aka Jerry Vile, is an accomplished artist, performer, and publisher. He credits the glitter music scene of the early 1970s, Iggy Pop & The Stooges, David Bowie, John Waters, and National Lampoon magazine as major influences on his provocative style. Peterson is also a distinctly Detroit artist; in 2013 he created a street art piece titled "Crisco Fist (the Vessel of Hope)" and did a series of city-wide installations during the Detroit bankruptcy that brought him international attention.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection is primarily comprised of the periodicals Fun: The Magazine for Swinging Intelectuals [sic] and Orbit, created and published by Jerry Peterson. The satirical magazines document Detroit's pop and punk culture scenes in the 1980s and 1990s and include articles and graphics on arts, culture, humor, and entertainment. A detailed index of volumes and issues may be found in Box 8; this is a useful reference due to inconsistency of both publications volume/issue numbering scheme.

The collection also contains a small number of photographs and memorabilia from Orbit; special edition publications by Jerry Peterson on Detroit including a satirical ad he had printed in the Detroit Metro Times during the Detroit bankruptcy in 2013; and the book The Orbit Magazine Anthology: re-entry, authored by Rob St. Mary and published in 2015, which chronicles the history of Detroit's alternative publications.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Alternative publications -- Michigan.
  • Detroit (Mich.) -- Social life and customs.
  • Fun (Royal Oak, Mich.)
  • Music -- Michigan -- Detroit.
  • Orbit (Royal Oak, Mich.)
  • Popular culture -- Michigan, Southeastern -- Periodicals.
  • Punk rock music.
  • Rock music -- Michigan, Southeastern -- Periodicals.
  • Satire -- Periodicals.
  • Underground press publications -- Michigan -- Detroit.
  • Photographs.
  • Vile, Jerry.
  • St. Mary, Rob.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
Publications 1986-2015 [series]
Fun: The Magazine for Swinging Intelectuals [sic] 1986-1990, 1994 [subseries]

(See index in Box 8 for questions regarding inconsistent volume/issue numbering.)

Box   1  
Volume 1, Issues 0-12 September 1986-August 1987 (11 issues)

(Printing skips Volume 1, Issues 1 and 11.)

Box   1  
Volume 2, Issues 1-11 September 1987-July 1988 (9 issues)
Box   1  
Volume 3, Issues 1-7 August 1988-Spring 1990 (8 issues)

(Two separate editions both labeled "Volume 3, Issue 1" one is August 1988, the second is Fall 1989.)

Box   1  
Special Edition Fall 1994
Orbit 1990-1999 [subseries]

(See index in Box 8 for questions regarding inconsistent volume/issue numbering.)

Box   2  
Volume 1, Issues 0-26 August 23, 1990-October 3, 1991 (27 issues)
Volume 2
Box   2  
Issues 1-6 October 3, 1991-December 27, 1991 (6 issues)
Box   3  
Issues 7-26 December 27, 1991-October 6, 1992 (20 issues)
Volume 3
Box   3  
Issues 1-7 October 6, 1992-January 12, 1993 (7 issues)

(Two editions labeled "Volume 3, Issue 6." The "Extra Special Skimpy Vacation Issue" should be Issue 7, December 29, 1991-January 12, 1993.)

Box   4  
Issues 8-20 January 12, 1993-September 1993 (13 issues)

(Publication transitioned from bi-weekly to monthly in Issue 17, June 1993.)

Box   4  
Volume 4, Issues 1-12 October 1993-August 1994 (11 issues)
Box   5  
Volume 5, Issues 1-12 September 1994-September 1995 (13 issues)
Volume 6
Box   5  
Issues 1-3 October-December 1995 (3 issues)
Box   6  
Issues 4-12 January-September 1996 (9 issues)
Volume 7

(All issues in Volume 7 are labeled as Volume 6.)

Box   6  
Issues 1-10 October 1996-July 1997 (10 issues)
Box   7  
Issues 11-12 August-September 1997 (2 issues)
Box   7  
Volume 8, Issues 1-12 October 1997-September 1998 (12 issues)

(All issues in Volume 8 are labeled as Volume 7.)

Volume 9

(All issues in Volume 9 are labeled as Volume 8.)

Box   7  
Issues 1-3 October-December 1998 (3 issues)
Box   8  
Issues 4-8, 10 January-August 1999 (7 issues)
Box   8  
Final Issue Fall 1999
Box   8  
The Orbit Magazine Anthology: re-entry 2015

(Written by Rob St. Mary, published by Wayne State University Press.)

General Materials
Box   8  
Index undated
Box   8  
Memorabilia circa 1990s
Box   8  
Newspaper articles September-October 1990
Box   8  
Photographs circa 1990s
Special Issue Publications 2008-2015 [subseries]
Box   8  
Essential Detroit Guide: The user's guide for people who already live here 2008

(Volume 3, Issue 1)

Detroit Metro Times
Box   8  
Volume 33, Issue 44 August 14-20, 2013

("Motor City going out of business" ad.)

Box   8  
Volume 35, Issue 44 August 12-18, 2015

(Features Orbit on 25th anniversary of first publication.)