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Her Own Boogie Nights

[whitespace] Annie Sprinkle Pro-Porn: Annie Sprinkle's new show, 'Herstory of Porn--Reel to Real,' includes a basic how-to information for anyone interested in making porn movies.

Annie Sprinkle talks about art, arousal and why she won't show her cervix in her new SF show

By Lori Roniger

Former porn star and prostitute Annie Sprinkle is coming to a theater near you, but don't let go of your zippers just yet. In the latest reincarnation of her show, Herstory of Porn--Reel to Real, which combines film clips from the past 25 years with her own live stage performance, Sprinkle will be keeping her clothes on. She says that will be more of a shock than anything else, coming from someone who has "shown my cervix to 25,000 people."

Herstory will be performed at the Fort Mason Center April 29-May 16. The show will include a recently filmed mermaid fairy tale in which Sprinkle--an older mermaid--educates a younger mermaid about sexuality. Now 43, Sprinkle literally passes a torch on to the younger mermaid and then "dies an orgasmic death." The film also provides basic how-to information for anyone interested in making porn movies.

Although Sprinkle's film work, performance and writing are her current priorities, "in two to three years, I want to be a housewife," she says. She wants to settle down with a professional, androgynous woman, transsexual or intersexed individual. "Or possibly a man," she adds. For the record, Sprinkle says she is now in a bisexual phase, having ended her recent years of lesbianism a few weeks ago when she took on a male lover.

I recently had lunch with Sprinkle on her houseboat in Sausalito, where she's lived since last summer. Dressed in a long black velvet skirt with a black, frothy scarf bobbing above her head, she reminded me of the earthy, motherly girlfriend in Woody Allen's short film Oedipus Wrecks, who cooks traditional Jewish meals and wins the approval of Allen's mother.

Fuchsia curtains adorn Sprinkle's modest living room. Colorful wall hangings, photographs of Sprinkle and friends in various states of dress and undress, and sexually explicit artwork hang throughout her home. While we munched on sushi, we discussed Sprinkle's current artistic projects and her views on sexuality and feminism.

Metropolitan: Tell me about your upcoming show.

Sprinkle: I interact with each of seven film clips. And I perform the character I was when I made the clip in a rather tongue-in-cheek way.

Metropolitan: What do you hope that people will learn from the show?

Sprinkle: I think it's really good for anyone who doesn't know much about porn. It shows all the different kinds of pornography. It's also a story of a woman's journey. My main motivation is to raise thought, conversation, and to educate people about pornographic possibilities. Ultimately I hope they can see that pornography is a valid subject matter for filmmaking.

Metropolitan: Do you regard porn as an "art form"?

Sprinkle: Well it can be and it can not be, just like food can be an art form and it can poison you.

Metropolitan: What types of porn do you like?

Sprinkle: Porn that's more educational, artistic and experimental.

Metropolitan: How do you expect audiences to react to the show?

Sprinkle: I'm a little concerned, because there's a real aversion to pornography. This goes beyond pornography. It's using pornography to touch upon very primal, deep aspects of humanity. It's reverting to being an animal. Watching big penises going into big vaginas strips away a lot of stuff. I think it can really push a lot of buttons. Also, to do something in a public setting makes a big difference.

Metropolitan: Do you expect negative reactions to the show?

Sprinkle: I guess I do because I have some of it myself. I put some clips in there that I'm not proud of, but I wanted to show the whole scope. I show some rather violent, misogynist scenes. But I've come to appreciate them for what they are. There are also clips that are so beautiful and so healing, like this mermaid movie. Mermaids are my big, new erotic fetish.

Metropolitan: What other projects are you currently working on?

Sprinkle: A documentary on orgasms. There isn't one film on the topic.

Metropolitan: Can you talk about the controversy over your NEA funding a few years ago? How do you feel about the intensely negative reactions some people have to your work?

Sprinkle: I think that's understandable. Sex can be a scary, dangerous topic. I am not surprised that people feel the need to censor it.

Metropolitan: It doesn't make you sad that people are trying to restrict your work or are afraid of sexuality?

Sprinkle: Sad? No. It makes me curious. I'm interested in all points of view. I don't agree with censorship, but I'd like to talk to people who do. I'd love nothing more than to hang out with women against porn for a weekend or coffee. I heard Andrea Dworkin speak at the Meese Commission hearings, and some of the things she said, I did agree with. Like when she talks about people making child pornography or snuff films. That's not part of the commercial sex industry.

Metropolitan: Do you consider Dworkin to be a feminist?

Sprinkle: Absolutely.

Metropolitan: How would you define Annie Sprinkle feminism?

Sprinkle: Just the fact that women are magnificent, brilliant, talented, special people, and they deserve the very best. And that includes great lovers, the necessary education about our bodies and our health. Women deserve to be safe from violence or abuse, and they deserve to have lots of time for sensual, erotic pleasure and fun, intimacy and love. They deserve freedom to be the sexy, beautiful beings that they are without having to hold back, and we've had to hold back.

Metropolitan: You call yourself metamorphosexual. What does that mean to you?

Sprinkle: That's how I want to identify now, as someone that's always changing. That is an important aspect to my sexuality and I think to most people's, although we don't acknowledge it. I'm working on a new book called Metamorphosex. It can be about sexual preference in terms of gender, but even within that you're going to have times when you're very, very sexual, and times when you want to be celibate, times when you want to be held, times when you want to get into S/M, and times when you might be turned off to sex. We tend to say you're straight, gay or bi, as if that's the important thing. I think those are rather minor topics.

Metropolitan: In your opinion, what makes someone sexy?

Sprinkle: The truth is sexy. When somebody's really being honest and open and vulnerable. That's what turns me on.

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From the April 20-May 3, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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