Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D., is a bubbly, badass artist and sex education pioneer who got her start in the adult industry pretty much by accident. Now 63, Sprinkle recalls how a job as a popcorn girl when she was 18 at the infamous X-rated Plaza Cinema in Tuscon, AZ, changed her life. “I didn’t even know X-rated films existed. I just needed a job, and I liked movies,” she explains from her home in the Bay Area, which she shares with her partner Beth Stephens. “As a young hippie, I dabbled in prostitution right after that, too. Well, I wouldn’t say dabbled. I threw myself into it.” Eventually, she found her way into adult film, making seminal movies like Deep Inside Annie Sprinkle, which she co-directed, and a counter-culture heroine was born.
Sprinkle has always been ahead of the adult curve when it comes to porn, art, and activism, from redefining S&M porn and educational porn, to inventing “post-porn,” which she defines as “porn outside the box.” Some of her most famous works include her Public Cervix Announcement, a live show where audience members were handed a speculum and invited to get up close and personal with Sprinkle’s cervix, and Annie Sprinkle’s Herstory of Porn, a solo performance and film diary that traced 30-years-worth of Sprinkle’s sexual experimentation.
Sprinkle and Stephens are now out-and-proud “ecosexuals,” combining environmentalism with eroticism in new and exciting ways. It’s both an “identity concept and sexual orientation,” she says, and they share it with others by creating walking tours, multimedia art projects, documentaries (like the recent Goodbye Gauley Mountain), and books, including their latest title, The Explorer’s Guide to Planet Orgasm. Here, the feminist icon opens up about 45 years on the cutting edge of sexual expression.
People like to say when it comes to sex, everything has already been said and done. How do you manage to keep your tank full and not just burn out?
By continuing to learn new things. I go through personal changes decade-to-decade; there’s a whole new kind of sexuality each decade, if not every year. Most people go through changes in their sex life just like they do in life, in general, like in their career life or their hobby life. You know, you could do photography for 10 years and maybe at some point, you suddenly become interested in riding bicycles.
Has it been difficult to be ?taken seriously as an artist and academic because your work ?is sexual?
Sex is political, sex is controversial, and if you like anything outside the norm, then you are a “slut and a pervert,” of course. I’m outside the box. Every single time I go in a different direction, people scoff and go, “Oh my God!” I was very heterosexual in my 20s. I was not interested in women at all sexually. And then I became interested in women, and everybody rolled their eyes and resisted that. And then I became interested in trans people. Everyone rolled their eyes. “Oh God, what’s she into now?” And with the ecosex [projects] we’re doing, believe me, a lot of my friends roll their eyes, “What’s she into now?” There’s always resistance every time I change. But then people come around, and they get it, and they become interested, too.
Tell me more about ecosex. What does that mean? How do you and your partner express yourselves ecosexually?
I imagine the Earth as my lover and partner, and I find nature (both human and non human) sensual. Beth and I [symbolically] married the Earth in 2006, and that day we started exploring ecosexuality though activities like telling the Earth “I love you,” spending time with her, asking her what she wants and needs and trying to give that to her, admiring her, stroking her, touching her, tasting her, swimming naked in her waters, burying our body parts deep in her soil, and planting seeds within her. We are artists, so for us, ecosex is an art project!
By Jenni Miller
Photo via anniesprinkle.org
This article originally appeared in the October/November 2017 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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