Porn Goddess
Annie Sprinkle on sex, drugs, and what turns her on

Imet Annie Sprinkle, the porn star-cum-performance artist, at a clinic that gives free medical care to whores. Annie and her girlfriend had come for an STD checkup; I opted for acupuncture. Afterwards, we were all a bit dazed and tired. Annie's tests had been particularly rough: she had Band-Aids up and down her arms from where they'd tried, unsuccessfully, to draw blood.

See also...
... by Athena Douris
... in the Crave section
... from September 17, 1999

Incredibly, she was still in excellent spirits. "Wasn't that fun, isn't the clinic so wonderful?" she said sincerely as we made our way to the restaurant for the interview.

I should have expected to be shocked by a woman like Annie Sprinkle. A legend in the sex industry, she appeared in hundreds of critically acclaimed movies for men before she got off the porno bandwagon and began creating feminist porn. Now Annie is touring the world with the show that tells the tale of her life (it's also a video), Herstory of Porn. Here's what we talked about as we nourished our clinic-weary bodies with some coconut-milk soup and Pad Thai.

GETTINGIT: You've said that making porn is the best kind of therapy. What do you mean by that?

ANNIE SPRINKLE: Making porn is art therapy. Looking at what's there, exploring our psyches, our fantasies, our realities, our bodies. And then you can look back at it years later, and you can grow.

Making Annie Sprinkle's Herstory of Porn, my own story, was super-enlightening. Having made movies for 27 years, and getting to look back -- I learned so much. I imagine the more people document their sex lives, the better off we'd all be.

GI: You also appear in a new video called Erotic Genital Massage. Can you talk about how that got started?

AS: For the past seven years I've been facilitating these erotic massage rituals for women... In terms of sexual healing, they're just incredibly amazing. It's based on massage; it works best if it's done by two people. One person focuses on genitals, one spreads the energy around.

If you can get a massage table out under a tree, out under the stars, or at the beach, it really becomes like making love with the universe. It sounds corny maybe but we really do become one with everything, there's actually an energetic connection.

I feel totally awed and fascinated by the possibilities for healing and spirituality and true sexuality. I've traveled the world looking for people who are interested in those kinds of things.

Actually I'm going to an interesting conference in Hawaii next month, it's called the All Chemical Art Conference. It's with all the leaders who use psychoactive substances for shamanic journeying. Anyway, it's all artists talking about how psychoactive substances have influenced their art.

GI: Psychedelics?

AS: Yeah, like mushrooms, LSD, and Ayahuasca. Those kinds of things.

It's kind of interesting because I've experimented over the years, like a few times a year, sometimes once a year … sometimes a little more! [Laughter] And I realize that's been a really important part of the journey. Because you can have very intense experiences, they can be good markers, signposts.

I always say that drugs are the lazy person's sex, and you can get to those places through sex, but sometimes to have [such] intense experiences activated through plants -- goddess-given plants -- can really be interesting. I'm just coming out and talking about that, because there's a huge stigma about sex and drugs and porn and drugs.

I'm very excited about this conference. I'm doing a presentation and I'm going with my girlfriend Barbara. A lot of big artists will be there -- Constance Denby; Alex Gray, the painter; Tom Robbins, the writer. Alice Walker was scheduled to go, but she had to cancel.

My girlfriend and I do this wonderful exercise I've learned from my tantric teacher. You write down your top ten turn-ons in life. I really recommend everyone do this with a partner. Do you want to hear them?


AS: My number one is the ocean, communing with the ocean. Number two is making love. Number three is experiencing inner peace. Number four is crying. I love to cry -- I have crygasms. Number five is looking at and exploring and learning new things. Six is massage. Seven is doing conferences that relate to my work, like the World Whores' Conference and the first International Conference on Pornography. Number eight is laughing. Number nine is listening to devotional music. Number ten is art.

GI: In April, your house burned down. How are you now?

AS: I was out of town when it happened. My house sitter left a candle on for ten minutes when she went to the laundry mat.

Barbara wrote an email about it that went all around the world. There were these huge benefits. People were donating orgasms, people were doing all kinds of auctions. You know, people were incredibly generous. I was on HBO, I've done four HBO Real Sex segments over the years, four times over the years... They sent me a huge donation. This is a business, a television show about sex, and they took up a collection and sent me a really sizable donation!

Susie Bright was very generous, the Guerrilla Girls were very generous, various SM groups were very generous. Tristan Taormino sent me money she got because she offered her bottom for spanking at some party. Toys in Babeland made a painting where people could stick their heads and have a Polaroid taken as a mermaid or a Tom of Finland.

Here in San Francisco, there was a big benefit where 150 people performed over the course of nine hours. It kind of hit me that if you make love to the world, the world makes love to you back. It's been hard, it's been stressful, but aren't relationships, anyway, aren't love affairs, total chaos?!

Athena Douris was the editor of the lesbian porn magazine On Our Backs until last month; now she is the sex expert at large for the British men's magazine FHM. She's tried many times to come up with a fake name as wonderful as "Annie Sprinkle," but cannot.