The Pleasure Principle
“Let there be pleasure on earth and let it begin with me.”
with Annie Sprinkle
Annie Sprinkle is mostly known as the porn star/prostitute who became a performance artist/sex guru. She spent many years exploring a multitude of. sexual possibilities in Manhattan’s kinky sex clubs and through her roles in hundreds of hard-core XXX films, where she achieved legendary status and such earned titles as “the queen of Kink, ” “the Mother Teresa of Sex, ” “the Shirley MacLaine of Smut, ” and “the Renaissance Woman of Porn. ” As an exhibitionist who liked to do it all, she posed for every major, minor sex and fetish magazine there is, and she was a “Photo Funny Girl “for National Lampoon for two years. All along Annie has been a very creative individual, but recently she has emerged as what she describes as a “post-porn modernist, ” creating her own eclectic brand of feminist, sexually explicit media. Her latest one-woman show is part autobiography, part parody of the porn industry, part sex education, and part sex-magic ecstasy ritual. It is controversial, powerful, and popular
After twenty-two years of devoting her life to learning and experiencing all she could about sex and doing sex work, Annie has become a unique kind of expert. She has authored three hundred articles on the topic, as well as an autobiographical book entitled Annie Sprinkle: Post-Porn Modernist. She produced and directed several videos, including the lesbian classic The Sluts and Goddesses Video Workshop, or How To Be a Sex Goddess in 101 Easy Steps. She has been invited to teach and lecture at many museums, universities, and holistic: healing centers, including such prestigious institutions as Columbia University, the Museum of Modern Art, the Wise Woman ‘s Center New York University, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art. Some of the topics she ‘s presented are the “Pleasures, Profits, and Politics of Women’s- Sexualities in the ’90s, ” “Sacred Sex Technologies, ” “Cosmic Orgasm Awareness, ” and the “Secrets of Sacred Slutism. ” HBO ran two specials on her work. She ‘s such a “character” that someone has even created a comic-book series about her:
Midway through Annie’s career her views about sexuality changed radically when the AIDS crisis hit and Anni ‘s lover was infected (although Annie never was). Through having to practice totally safe sex, she learned that sex is not just about bodies coming together and the electric embrace of genitalia, but also about the exchange of energy. Consequently, her work merged with the long tradition of achieving health, well-being, and spiritual growth through meditative sexual union. Annie metamorphosed into the more multidimensional incarnation Anya, whose goal is to get a handle on the source of orgasmic energy, and who is inspired by the archetypes of the sacred prostitute and the Goddess.
At present, Annie is half-finished with a feature documentary about orgasm, Orgasm Scrapbook. She is also making a deck of “Pleasure Activist Playing Cards” from photographs of women she has taken over the years, and marketing her own designer dildo, the Sacred Sex Tool. She is experimenting with monogamy, “Zen sex, ” gender play, and training her girlfriend’s dog, Hillary, to give her cunnilingus.
Annie has a big, warm heart and a very sweet spirit. She seems to completely lack any inhibition or guilt regarding sexuality, yet she is actually kind of shy. She ‘s optimistic, funny, sensuous, and she appears to be a genuinely happy person, often hovering, it seems, on the verge of orgasm. Rebecca and / interviewed Annie on November 1, 1992 at her parent’s house in Granada Hills, the Southern California home in which she grew up and where she was visiting at the time. The house was quite ordinary, rather conservative, and nothing gave the slightest hint that this place would have produced an Annie Sprinkle. We conducted the interview in the back yard by the pool. When her mom walked by, Annie whispered “Sh … I don ‘t want her to hear us talking about my sex life. It makes me nervous, ” We interviewed her again in Maul, Hawaii, on July 26, 1993. Just as we began the interview, Annie said that she had to stop because she needed to orgasm. So I switched off the tape recorder; and she went into the other room and turned on her vibrator. She returned five minutes later with a smile on he rface. “Okay, ” she said, “now we can begin. “
David: Annie, how did you become interested you in sex and how did your early development influence your later career choices?
Annie: You’re at Granada Hills, the place where I grew up. This place is very white bred and straight and I wasn’t aware of any sexuality when I was young. The only thing that really turned me on was the swimming pool, but I wasn’t a sensual, sexual child because it was such a great mystery. I feel kind of sad that all that time was wasted. I could really have being enjoying myself. (laughter)
David: Can you see what it was that inspired your interest?
Annie: What clearly inspired my interest was the ignorance and fear. I used to wake up in the morning having to pee. I was having orgasms, I think. The full bladder pressed against my clitoris, or something, so I’ve connected peeing with eroticism a lot. (You know, the clitoris is much bigger now. According to the feminist view, the clitoris is a hugestructure – it’s almost as big as a penis) And then there was a big nothing period in my life. What I was more focused on was menstruation. That was the big, scary thing. All my questions were about that and I didn’t even know about sex. I heard a little bit in the playground at school, but that was it.
Rebecca: So there wasn’t any sex education to speak of?
Annie: There wasn’t, no. There was the egg and the ovum – the biology of sex, but nothing practical at all! When I discovered how great sex was that made me mad. I lost my virginity at seventeen and I thought, “this is great, everyone should know about this. How come nothing is being done about this?” (laughter)
I think that losing my virginity was one of the happiest days of my life up to that point.(laughter) A year later I moved into prostitution and that was another really happy transition for me. When I discovered sex, I thought, “I’ve got to learn more about this, this is the greatest thing.” And that’s really been my focus in life.
Rebecca: Why do you think sex has become so distorted? Do you think it’s just the effect of Christianity or are there other factors?
Annie: I think that had a lot to do with it. And also the idea that sex was dangerous for women and also a source of power. I think when women express their sexual power, it freaks men out a lot. So I think it was suppressed partly because of that. Also there’s disease – it’s a very dangerous thing. (laughter) It’s dangerous on the one hand, and it’s total liberation and freedom and joy and ecstasy on the other.
Rebecca: What do you think are some of the worst social consequences of a culture which denies the body and sexual freedom?
Annie: War, drug abuse, suicide, loneliness, skin diseases, cancers, violence, rape.
Rebecca: Zits.(laughter) So you regard sex as fundamental to a healthy life?
Annie: Yes. And suppressing it makes people crazy. All the fear and ignorance around it is amazing. But then, that’s part of the fun.
Rebecca: Part of the fun? (laughter)
Annie: It’s such a huge subject, you know. It’s really enormous.
Rebecca: It seems that sex was beginning to be viewed with more openness in the sixties. Then AIDS came along and alarm bells went off again with this whole fundamentalist exclusiveness against homosexuality. Do you think AIDS has polarized the issue of sexual freedom so much that there is little hope for constructive understanding between the two sides?
Annie: I think it’s normal. There’s this pendulum of freedom and repression that goes back and forth in relation to sex as well as to many other things. And now, because of AIDS, sex is considered dangerous again. But it’s not going away. Sex cannot be repressed. On the whole it’s spurring everyone on. I always look on the positive side of everything. Of course there are many sides, but there is a lot of great stuff happening in terms of sex. You have more freedom to be gay and lesbian than there ever were before. You go to high school and there are all these little baby dykes.
David: You see that in California quite a bit, but this doesn’t necessarily reflect what’s going on in the rest of the country.
Annie: Well, I have no idea.