Annie Sprinkle is a lot of firsts. America’s first sex-positive feminist, pioneer of ecosexuality, and the first porn star in history to receive a PhD. From sex worker to groundbreaking performance artist, Annie Sprinkle wears many hats - author, activist, academic, and filmmaker who has forever revolutionized sex work and pornography.
Ellen Becomes Annie
Picture this: you’re 18 years old and are working at a ticket booth in Tucson at the very same moment ‘Deep Throat’ was playing. Now, imagine this film gets busted, and you eventually need to appear in court as a witness, wind up meeting the film’s director, fall in love, and follow him to New York City. I know, it’s a long shot BUT this is the start of Annie’s long and illustrious career. Shortly after moving to New York, out of sheer curiosity, she began working in porn herself, Ellen F. Steinberg officially became “Annie Sprinkle.”
"I was attracted by the sprinkles over ice cones (I am a bit of a sugaraholic!) and I love waterfalls, urine, vaginal fluids, sweat, anything wet. So the name 'Annie Sprinkle' seemed perfect.” - Annie Sprinkle
In her over 20 years as a sex worker, Annie starred in over 200 adult films, mainly focused on the female orgasm and pleasure. She never played the role of submissive, but rather the aggressor, dismantling preconceived ideas of feminine sexuality. Notably, she became the second best selling video star of 1981 for her film: “Deep Inside Annie Sprinkle” - a revolutionary film that became a new form of pornography, introducing never-before-seen concepts like female ejaculation, the power of pleasure, and the role of men in the sexual act. Not only did it achieve acclaim from those in the film world, but also from sex scholars, academics, and mainstream filmmakers. She spoke directly to camera, breaking the third wall - seamlessly blending the worlds of art and sex.
The Star Becomes An Artist
Her work as a film star always incorporated an artist’s flair, so there is no surprise that Annie eventually became a renowned multi-media artist. Starting in the 1980s, she created one-woman shows and burlesque performances about her life, frequently incorporating comedy and performance art - two of her most known works: Post Porn Modernist and Hestory of Porn. A champion of social justice and sex education, her film, The Sluts and Goddesses Video Workshop has been played in over 100 film festivals, as well as museums and galleries, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC. While creating, she also received a BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts.
“Because I love and adore women, I fight to decriminalize and de- stigmatize prostitution and other sex work.” - Annie Sprinkle
Annie The Academic
Touted as a renowned lecturer and popular visiting artist at many univerities and colleges, she is groundbreaking with her success in bridging the gap between academia, sex, and the art world. Annie is the first porn star in history to receive a PhD, receiving a doctorate in Human Sexuality For Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco.
She continues to educate, empower, and inspire through her innovative works through art, workshops, and demonstrations. Her lecture presentation is called "My Life and Work as a Feminist Porn Activist, Radical Sex Educator, and Ecosexual." Always true to her commitment to advocacy, she also offers free sex education to the public through the series “Free Sidewalk Sex Clinics.” She frequently collaborates with her long-time partner and wife, Beth Stephens, most recently creating visual art and performances, as well as their new documentary, ‘Water Makes Us Wet: An Ecosexual Adventure.’
Thank you, Annie
Annie’s work has long been focused on sexuality, fused with spirituality, artistry, and politics. While radical at the time, Annie has since paved the way for feminists, artists, academics, and the sexual wellness industry to come. She has transcended the way we think and envision female orgasm, and Lovers is forever grateful for her commitment to pleasure and to the barriers she crossed for us to exist.
Explore More of Annie’s Work
- Her autobiographical book utilizing sexually oriented visuals: ‘Post Porn Modernist’
- ‘Hard Core From the Heart; The Pleasures, Profits and Politics of Sex in Performance’ won the Firecracker Alternative Book Award in 2002