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Annie Sprinkle

I hitch-hiked a lot and put myself in a lot of vulnerable situations.

And I was always aware that I didn’t have to. I was never forced into it. If I was at a party I would go off with the guy who seemed the most likely to murder me, (laughter)and just see what that was like – if I could get out of it. It was an adventure. I don’t do it anymore because I don’t need to.

Also, I don’t know for sure about reincarnation, but I’ve had an idea that I may have been a man in a past life who had taken advantage and raped and violated a lot of women and that I was paying off a lot of karmic debt. If you work as a prostitute in a massage parlor and you see four or five guys a day, a third of them are going to be less than respectful. They’re going to be clumsy and rough and somewhat abusive. But I found the danger erotic.

David: I’m having a little bit of a hard time understanding that because to me the whole thing about eroticism is trust.

Annie: Well, it gets your adrenaline going. It’s like going to see a movie that puts you on edge. It’s a challenge and there’s also the intrigue.

Rebecca: So you think that the reason people want to talk about the negative stuff is because they get turned on by it, a reversal of the pleasure principle?

Annie: Maybe it’s the same reason that people go to horror movies.

David: Perhaps part of the pleasure comes from being scared out of your wits and knowing that you’re safe – which is the thrill of watching a horror movie or being at an amusement park.

Annie: That’s interesting. Well, as I learn that sex is more about energy than anything else, when you add that violent aspect or fear aspect, it raises a lot of energy. And I think that people don’t know how to raise their sexual energy…

Rebecca: Without that.

Annie: Right. Unless they’re in a violent relationship or engaged in a violent fantasy. That’s why S & M is so popular now.

Rebecca: S & M can be very therapeutic. Using the symbolism of violence without having to hurt anybody.

Annie: I admire people who can go into those violent fantasies and surrender to them. But we barely have a language for discussing pleasure and ecstasy – we know how to talk about violence.

David: It’s very difficult to write a book that doesn’t have some element of violence – it’s hard to stay on the topic of pure pleasure if you want to keep people’s attention.

Annie: People get bored. Most people can’t sustain happiness for very long.

David: Have you noticed that there’s an inverse relationship in cultures between and openness towards sex and the frequency of violent behaviour?

Annie: Well, the aborigines had a good idea. They had a system where everyone was sexually taken care of. Everyone had a mate, everyone had a lover, and they also engaged in ritualistic rapes. I’m just questioning that maybe there’s more to it than we think. I realize that it’s scary to do that.

Rebecca: What do you think about rape?

Annie: Camille Paglia’s book Sexual Personae is my answer to that. I don’t know about rape, I know about pleasure. If I’m getting a root canal, I go into pleasure. So I’m just wondering if instead of focusing on the horrible garbage and shit that happens, we can reframe our thinking about those things. I created this in my life to learn the next lesson, for example. In prostitution, there were the same people always getting arrested, the same people always getting raped. Why was I never raped and my friend was raped several times?

I believe that our society generally mixes sex and violence, and this is one style of sex. A lot of people use their rape experiences, or the fear of rape, to keep them in a cage. Because they were raped or abused at five years old, that means they don’t have to enjoy sex as an adult – how convenient! They’re so afraid of their sexuality that they’ll use any excuse not to enjoy it.

People are terrified of pleasure because they’re hung up on pain and suffering. Well, if they want to choose this, they can have it – it’s an option. All I’m saying is that you don’t have to choose pain and suffering and agony, you can have pleasure and joy and ecstasy.

Rebecca: Even when you’re being raped?

David: I know a woman who was raped and she enjoyed it very much.

Annie: I’ve talked to a lot of men who were in the war and killing people and getting erections and totally getting off on it. Some people choose that. Some people stay in violent relationships with their husband who beats them up all the time because they’re enjoying that kind of sex and they don’t know how to have another kind. I’m trying to teach them another kind.

Rebecca: What are the most common problems you come across as a sexual counselor and workshop leader?

Annie: Well, certainly women who are hung up on something horrible that happened to them and they can’t get past it. I just say, oh, forget about that, go to therapy and work on it there, but let’s go, let’s have a good time. I show them that you don’t have to dwell on that. We’re a pleasure-negative culture. The average length of intercourse is two minutes. I go to a college, and I’m talking about

how to have a gold orgasm, and they want to talk about rape and child abuse and child pornography – it’s their favorite subject!

Look at the news. No one wants to watch people having a good time, they want to see blood and guts and gore. Rape is not the fault of porn, the fault of rape is that people on some level choose that. If you get your nipples ripped off in the Bible, you’re a saint, but if you’re having pleasure, you’re a hedonist. You’re no good if you’re always having fun. Pleasure-seeker, nymphomaniac – the terms are all negative.

David: Why are we pleasure-negative, do you think?

Annie: I think people get off on it.

David: But everyone’s drawn towards pleasure and recoils at pain from animals to the simplest living mechanisms.

Annie: No, it’s not true. I think vacations are as close to ecstasy as most people get, and our society is set up so you only get about one week a year. I think there’s a lot of thrill and excitement in pain. I was a dominatrix for a couple of years. I explored my weight fantasies and went totally into it for a couple of years without a lot of judgment.

I was in situations where I thought I’d be killed. I was hitchhiking and got picked up by five guys. They gave me some drugs and took me out into the desert and we had a big orgy and I knew, if I didn’t enjoy this, I was going to have a terrible time. So I got off on the adventure. So it’s always interesting. Here we are talking about my worst sexual experiences, but no one ever asks me about the best. People don’t want to know. How much ecstasy have you had?

David: Hey, I’d like to know. What was your greatest sexual experience?

Annie: Two days ago. (laughter)

David: What do you think about the importance of keeping a sense of humor in regard to sexuality.

Annie: I use humor a lot. A good, hard belly-laugh is orgasmic. But also, sex is really scary to a lot of people and one way of dealing with fear is through humor, so a lot of my work is kind of funny. I had a lover who liked his food stepped on before he ate it – it really turned him on. I really like the humor in that.

As an erotic photographer, I’m often having to say to people, stop laughing because it doesn’t look erotic. Then again, I’ve used a lot of humor in my work because I find it makes the medicine go down easier. But there’s beauty in being serious as well

.David: Tell us something about Post-Porn-Modernism.

Annie: Post-Porn-Modernism is a term that an artist in Holland came up with and I borrowed it. It implies something after porn, it implies something artistic. To me it implies something more intellectual or creative or experimental. Sexually explicit rather than just erotic. Erotic is just one aspect of sex. Generally my work hasn’t been about eroticism.

David: What has it been about?

Annie: All the things I’ve mentioned. Ideas, exploration, feminism, politics, experimenting with life, creating life. Sex isn’t always erotic. It can be funny, for example. I would like to find an environment where I can really focus on sexual exploration, just like a scientist in a laboratory. We did this unconsciously at the Hellfire club for a few years. I want to make a video on orgasm. I’m totally fascinated by this subject. There’s so little about it and it’s the most pleasure most people ever know in their lives.

David: Why is it that you live in New York city when California is so much more pleasure-orientated?

Annie: I think because it’s a communications center. It’s the throat chakra of the world. It’s kind of like the Grand Canyon, the buildings are erotic. Also, I like the feeling of hundreds of thousands of people very close

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