Posted In Blog,Love,Relationships,Sex,Society
Women have long been considered the sum of all wickedness. Something about our siren nature, which is able to distract, lure, bankrupt, limp, stronghold, harden, weaken and dilate a man’s – well – everything. Add money to the mix, and you have some interesting table talk.
My interest in the lure of sex work has little to do with the pedestal-izing of its workers, more so with their private relationships. Likely, it is difficult to carry on a typical, standard, monogamous partnership if your profession dictates you wrap your hands, lips, and lady bits around your male clients. Are sex workers, by nature, polyamorous? And what are the risks of telling or not telling your boyfriend or girlfriend what you do for a living?
I got up the nerve to chat with two really cool ladies, who are 100% comfortable and very erudite when asked to talk about such issues. In fact, as widely respected sexperts, they are frontrunners in the carnal knowledge movement. In this first installment of a two part series on love, sex, porn and polyamory, I chat with famed “prostitute and porn star turned sex educator and artist” Annie Sprinkle. During our conversation, I decided to roll the dice and ask her about a few other things I’m, ahem, curious about…Listen in:
Darrah de jour: Congrats on your recent marriage to long-time partner Beth. Your work in the sex industry and as a performer spans three decades (and is studied at universities). Do you ever have ‘bad sex’?
Annie Sprinkle: Beth and I have had eleven weddings. Eight of them have been ecosexual weddings; we married the Earth, Sky, Sea, Moon…One was a legal wedding in Canada. It’s been a fantastic ten years together, making art, making love, and growing old together. I’m so in love with her. I never was that interested in committed relationships until I met Beth.
Of course, I’ve had lots of “bad” sex, mostly in my late teens through early thirties. I had sex with literally thousands of people. So of course there were going to be some lousy sex experiences. When I was very promiscuous, I liked all kinds of sex. I could enjoy bad sex on a bizarre level. Bad sex can be interesting and fun. I’ve said it before, there’s junk sex, health sex, and gourmet sex. I have a range of tastes. If you’ve never have bad sex, then you probably have played it really safe, and haven’t tried hard enough to find the really great sex. “Bad” sex happens. Thankfully I have never ended up in violent situations. I had good guardian angels.
Ddj: How do you know when you’re in love?
AS: I guess it’s different for different people. Amazing that sometimes people can fall in love really young. I have had many loves. But the love of my life didn’t come along until I was 46. But then I still love all my former lovers. Now that we have become ecosexuals, our love has grown to enormous proportions. It’s so exciting.
Ddj: Do you like S/M personally, and had you discovered it before sex work?
AS: I got into sex work in 1973, when I was 18. So it’s been all my adult life. And yes, I was interested in S/M at 18. I got a big crush on Gerard Damiano, the director of Deep Throat. I became his mistress and moved to New York City to be with him. He gave me the book, The Story of O. I read it, and it really turned me on. Damiano was kind of my dominant, and I was submissive. At 26, I became a pro dom. I was interested in fetishes, and golden showers, and all kinds of things right away. I think it’s normal to have some kinky fantasies at some time in one’s life. I was always very touched when people shared their deepest, most kinky fantasies with me. Of course, it was before AIDS when I was my most promiscuous. Times were really different. It was an incredible sex revolution in NYC in the ’70s. I’m glad I lived through the pre-AIDS days. It was totally hot, hot, hot. And fun. And exciting. But things change. Change is good. For the past ten years I’ve been what I call an “adventurous monogamous.” I don’t need or want a lot of lovers, just Beth. We do have little adventures together. Like some friends of mine do Bondassage.
Ddj: Is S/M still part of your repertoire?
AS: I’m not into rough sex anymore. I like really gentle sex. I’m a tantrica at heart. However I guess being lovers with the Earth, Sky and Sea is kinky.
Ddj: If you are comfortable answering this, what were your personal limitations with a john?
AS: I got out of prostitution when I was 38. I worked for twenty years mostly in Manhattan massage parlors. I had a pretty good experience with it all. I always felt safe, because there were other people around. I did let men do some bondage stuff on me, but was always very careful to have someone around while it was happening. I was very into the sex overall. I did kiss, I certainly did have orgasms – why not? I usually enjoyed the sex. I particularly liked clients that would touch my heart – differently abled or socially immature – over the young jock stud types.
Ddj: How did you romantic partners handle your day job?
AS: Some better than others. I felt pretty good about my job most days, so they felt good about it too. On the days I felt badly about my job, just like with any job, they were less happy about it.
Ddj: Do you think all sex workers are polyamorous by nature or by default?
AS: No, I don’t think all sex workers are polyamorous at all. I have known many call girls, whores, porn stars, and strippers, who are monogamous with their boyfriends or girlfriends, and see clients as a job, still consider themselves monogamous – at least in spirit. I think many sex workers are generous and generally loving, but they aren’t necessarily loving everyone they have sex with. Polyamorous to me implies that you are having multiple relationships, or multiple lovers.
Ddj: You were the first porn star to hold a PhD. Did you find you were treated differently because of that? If so, how?
AS: I got the Ph.D. to learn more about sex. It’s simply the most fascinating subject in the world. I had explored so much. I wanted a more global perspective, the scientific perspective, the historic perspective. I also fancied myself a sex expert, and wanted the degree because I felt like I deserved it. It felt good to get it. I don’t think it has hurt me, and I don’t think it has necessarily helped me, in terms of my work as an artist and sexologist.
Ddj: Did you ever do anything for the first time on film?
AS: I did a lot of things for the first time on film. That was what was so great. Fetishes, double penetration, I even learned how to have safe sex on film – my first dental dam. Yes.
Ddj: Have you ever fallen in love with a john or costar? Was it disastrous?
AS: I loved all my johns, and costars. I don’t feel that anything in my life was disastrous. I feel nothing but lucky. I lived on the edge a lot, courted danger, but always came out a winner. I’ve been so blessed. I really mean that. But maybe I just tend to block out any bad days. There are so many stereotypes about sex work.
Ddj: What frustrated you the most about the sex industry when you were in it and how have things changed?
AS: I’ve been doing sex related work for almost four decades, and don’t see myself stopping. Of course it changes as I go. My intentions change, my audience changes, my style changes, my body changes. It’s always different. I have a new theater piece I do with my partner, Beth, called Dirty SexEcology-25 Ways to Make Love to the Earth. In the end of the piece, I do a ballet striptease for the Earth, pull an Earth flag out of my pussy – my Greenpeace moment – while Beth is singing a song about mountain top removal mining devastation. Then we both are naked, and get into two breast like piles of dirt, and have sex with the dirt and each other. I’ve done a lot of taboo things, according to a lot of folks, but the most taboo thing is being older and chubbier and being naked on stage having sex. Old and chubby are the biggest taboos. It’s interesting, transgressive. I like to think of myself as fixing taboos, not breaking them.
Ddj: Is polyamory the cure for infidelity?
AS: For some people. The answer to any question about sex is simply, it depends.
Ddj: Do you find shows like Secret Diary of a Call Girl accurate, glamorizing or fluff?
AS: I don’t watch TV. I don’t have cable. I work a lot, and go see a movie every so often. Haven’t seen the show, but I do think that shows about whores are much better than they used to be.
Ddj: How do you stay healthy – body, mind, spirit?
AS: So far, so good. I take a lot of dog walks with my dog Bob, do yoga, mediate, sex, love, making art. I have a wonderful family. I enjoy going to all kinds of different churches, but don’t have time to do it much, but occasionally – I’m multi-faithful.
Ddj: What are you working on now?
AS: LoveArtLab.org is the project I’ve been working on the past six years. My older work and main site is AnnieSprinkle.org, but what I’m most excited about is the ecosexual work my partner/collaborator Elizabeth Stephens and I are doing. We do theater, visual art, big performance art weddings. We make some products, like posters, ecosex panties, and other things. We are currently planning a big Ecosex Symposium opening June 17th, co-produced by (former SuicideGirl) Madison Young’s Femina Potens Gallery.
Annie Sprinkle’s Glossary of Terms
- Eco–From latin oeco: home, household.
- A person that finds nature sensual, sexy.
- A new sexual identity.
- Person who takes the earth as their lover.
- A term used in dating, i.e metrosexual
- An environmental activist strategy.
Bondassage: What my friends at Bondassage.com do. They invented it. It’s a sort of extreme massage, a kinky massage, but also very spiritual and very healing. Very fun. Go, check it out!
Tantrica: A woman or trans-person, who does Tantra.
Sexologist: A person that studies sex.
Transgressive: Crossing over into territory that isn’t culturally normal is how I usually think of it…
Check back for Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Polyamory, Part II in June, when I’ll be chatting with Tristan Taormino, author of Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships.
Darrah de jour is a freelance journalist who lives in LA with her dog Oscar Wilde. Her writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Esquire and W. In her Red, White and Femme: Strapped With A Brain – And A Vagina columns for SuicideGirls, Darrah will be taking a fresh look at females in America.