Why have ruins been so fascinating for artists? And is there an inherent melodramatic quality to states of ruin? What is the link between architectural ruins, financial ruin and ruinous lives? And what kinds of ways out do artists offer to counteract ruined affairs? The paper looks at a prominent case of a ruined city Detroit and offers readings of how artists (photographers, filmmakers, musicians, and cityscapists) have taken up the challenge to view and experience a city that has been prone to destruction, desolation, and doom. The range of productively working with and against notions of decay includes the highly melodramatic as well as the ludicrously comic (both prominent in the TV series Hung), and for new ways of achieving success there are not only technological, athletic and horticultural incentives at stake, but one may even have to rely on the age-old means of commodity: ones own body. The ‘melodramatic penis will therefore be discussed as a tangible sign of economic and spiritual crisis.