Sprinkle, Annie (M.) 1954-
SPRINKLE, Annie (M.) 1954-
Born Ellen Steinberg, July 23, 1954 in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of Ray Steinberg (a professor) and Lucille (a teacher) Malvani. Ethnicity: "Polish/Russian." Education: Balboa High School, Panama; School of Visual Arts, B.F.A.; Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, Ph.D.. Politics: "For freedom of expression and prostitute's rights." Religion: "Raised Unitarian."
Writer, actress, artist, photographer, and educator. Actress in numerous adult films; conducts teaching workshops and lectures on sex and related issues; performance artist in one-woman shows about her life in sex. Member of board, St. James Infirmary, San Francisco, CA; member of steering committee, Prostitutes of New York (PONY); member of board, Museum of Sex, New York, NY; field director of International Sex Worker Foundation for Art, Culture, and Education; founder, Union Labia Sex-Positive Feminists.
Firecracker Alternative Book Award, 2002, for Hardcore from the Heart: The Pleasures, Profits, and Politics of Sex in Performance; Rhodes Family Award for Outstanding Achievement in Photography.
Love Vibration, Fiction Gallery (Tokyo, Japan), 1994.
Annie Sprinkle, Post-Porn Modernist: My Twenty-five Years as a Multimedia Whore, Cleis Press (San Francisco, CA), 1998.
(With Gabrielle Cody) Hardcore from the Heart: The Pleasures, Profits, and Politics of Sex in Performance, Continuum (New York, NY) 2001.
Contributor to periodicals, including Utne Reader, Penthouse, Drama Review, Hustler, and On Our Backs.
Sprinkle's works have appeared in anthologies, including Living with Contradictions: Controversies in Feminist Social Ethics, Westview Press (Boulder CO), 1994; Whores and Other Feminists, edited by Jill Nagle, Routledge (New York, NY), 1997; Ritual Sex, edited by Tristan Taormino and David Aaron Clark, Rhinoceros Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Annie Sprinkle's motivation for writing, she told CA, is "to promote better understanding of sexuality." This is a mission she has been on for more than thirty years as a writer, actress in adult films, prostitute, performance artist, and sexologist. Sprinkle has "passionately researched and explored sexuality in all of its glorious and inglorious forms for thirty years," she explained to CA, and has shared what she has learned "through producing and starring in her own unique brand of sex films, photography, teaching workshops, and college lectures." Describing herself as a "committed metamorphosexual" who was "born half-mermaid," Sprinkle lives and works in California's San Francisco Bay area.
Sprinkle, born Ellen Steinberg, "was a chubby and timid Jewish girl, living in suburban LA with her two academic intellectual parents," wrote Ziad Touma on the Society of Human Sexuality Web site. "It was only after having lost her virginity at the age of seventeen that she became impassioned with sex and gave birth to her alter ego: Annie Sprinkle." Since the 1970s, Sprinkle has appeared in hundreds of adult magazines, films, and performances. She has also worked as a prostitute. Sprinkle "got a job at a massage parlor and had sex with her clients in the spirit of exploring her sexuality, and only two months later realized that she was actually a prostitute," wrote a biographer on the Miasma Web site. "In my naivete, I thought of myself as a horny masseuse who simply ended up having sex with the clients," Sprinkle wrote in her biography, Post-Porn Modernist: My Twenty-five Years as a Multimedia Whore, as quoted on the Miasma Web site. "I was working as a prostitute for a good two months before I realized it! When it finally did occur to me, and I got over the initial shock, I enjoyed the idea," Sprinkle wrote.
As Sprinkle told CA, she cites influences on her writing as "my sexual experiences and the way sex is viewed in society. I write from experience because I have something to share, or for money." A controversial performance artist, her stage shows have stirred the ire of conservative viewers and authorities throughout the United States. She encourages audience participation and invites viewers to bring along cameras. During one part of the show, Sprinkle uses a speculum and flashlight and invites audience members to inspect her cervix while she chats with them. "Annie's genuinely candid use of sexually explicit material is not the least bit sensationalist," Touma observed, "instead she educates audiences about the various aspects of women's sexuality and potential by demystifying female anatomy." Thomas Mygatt, writing in Back Stage, and reviewing one of Sprinkle's performances, observed that "the reaction to Sprinkle's show was explosive. It generated much excitement (and not all of it sexual) among even the most jaded of performance-goers." In her show, Sprinkle "consciously used a medium which has traditionally exploited women—pornography—to deconstruct the myth that women are either mothers or whores," Mygatt wrote.
In Hardcore from the Heart: The Pleasures, Profits, and Politics of Sex in Performance, Sprinkle provides a biographical retrospective of her career. A combination of Sprinkle's participant observation and academic analysis at the hand of coauthor Gabrielle Cody, "the book is entertaining and provocative, and should delight any serious student of feminist performance art," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer. The book includes essays, conversations between Sprinkle and friends as well as critics, and performance texts. Krista Ivy, writing in Library Journal, called Hardcore from the Heart "a colorful biographical scrapbook of [Sprinkle's] career as a porn star and performance artist."
Sprinkle has also been a vocal champion for sex-worker rights and for health care for workers in the sex industry. Sprinkle's inspirations to write on subjects related to sex, she told CA, are that "1. Sex can heal. 2. Our world needs better sex ed. 3. Sex is the most interesting subject there is."
The reason for her career-long interest in sex as a subject of study, Sprinkle writes on her Web site, is "because sexuality is not only something that can be used for the enhancement of an intimate relationship, for physical pleasure or procreation. It can also be used for personal transformation, physical and emotional healing, self-realization, spiritual growth, and as a way to learn about all of life … and death. I want to help our society mature and evolve sexually, and be a safer place. My motto is: Let there be pleasure on earth, and let it begin with me."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Sprinkle, Annie, Post-Porn Modernist: My Twenty-five Years as a Multimedia Whore, Cleis Press (San Francisco, CA), 1998.
American Theatre, March, 1999, James Oseland, "A Goddess Unbound," interview with Sprinkle, pp. 24-26.
Back Stage, October 5, 1990, Thomas Mygatt, "Performance Artists Fly into Storm amid Lawsuits and Controversy," p. 38.
Cineaste, fall, 1992, Amos Vogel, movie review of Linda/Les & Annie, p. 90.
Entertainment Weekly, October 29, 1993, Jill Rachlin, "Female Misbehavior" (video review), p. 71.
Library Journal, July, 2001, Krista Ivy, review of Hardcore from the Heart: The Pleasures, Profits, and Politics of Sex in Performance, p. 94.
Publishers Weekly, April 23, 2001, "Art with an Agenda," review of Hardcore from the Heart, p. 68.
Women and Language, spring, 2002, review of Desire and Disguise: Femininity and Sexuality in the Work of Annie Sprinkle, p. 41.
Annie Sprinkle Home Page,http://www.anniesprinkle.org (June 17, 2003).
Miasma Web site,http://www.kissyourshadow.com/ (June 3, 2003), "Annie Sprinkle."
Society for Human Sexuality Web site,http://www.sexuality.org/ (June 3, 2003), Ziad Touma, "Sprinkle, Sprinkle, Little Star."