By Larry Clinton
In 1999, a fire destroyed the waterfront home of one of Sausalito’s more colorful residents: former porn star and prostitute Annie Sprinkle.
In a fundraising appeal posted on Compuserve immediately after the fire, a friend of Annie’s wrote:
“Thankfully, she was not there; she was in Seattle performing her show. It seems that her housesitter left a candle burning when she went out to do the laundry. The fire destroyed everything, but the most difficult part for Annie was that her two beloved cats, Linda & Tuddles, perished in the fire.”
After a 20-year career as a prostitute and porn star, Annie morphed into an artist and sexologist. Her show was called Herstory of Porn--Reel to Real. A review on the website metroactive.com said it “combines film clips from the past 25 years with her own live stage performance.” However, she had decided to keep her clothes on this time around, saying that would be more of a shock than anything else, coming from someone who has “shown my cervix to 25,000 people.” That reference was to a previous show, which Annie had called “A Public Cervix Announcement.”
Annie's entire professional life as well as all her personal possessions were destroyed in the fire, according to the fundraising appeal: her camera equipment, photo archives, master copies of her videos, her computer, her wardrobe, drafts of her upcoming books, art supplies, and more.
The appeal continued: “The form of your donation is completely up to you. You may wish to dedicate an orgasm to her. You may wish to pray or do a ritual (if you use any candles, for Goddess's sake, be careful!!!).
“Whatever form you choose for your donation(s), I invite you to be as generous to Annie right now as she has always been to all of us. Annie has touched all our lives in so many ways. She may be one of your dearest friends. You may have had the good fortune to work with her. You may consider her a role model or a mentor. Your life may have been enriched by one of her workshops or videos. Or perhaps you are one of the many people who have benefited from her courageous and delightful discoveries about sex. Perhaps you've had sex with her yourself! Whatever your connection to Annie, she needs your love and support right now.”
After losing her Sausalito home, Annie picked up the pieces and continued to reinvent herself. Her website, http://anniesprinkle.org, summarizes her life this way:
“She has passionately explored sexuality for over forty years, sharing her experiences through making her own unique brand of feminist sex films, writing books and articles, visual art making, creating theater performances, and teaching. Annie has consistently championed sex worker rights and health care and was one of the pivotal players of the Sex Positive Movement of the 1980’s. She got her BFA at School of Visual Arts in NYC and was the first porn star to earn a Ph.D. She’s a popular lecturer whose work is studied in many colleges and Universities. For the past 12 years she has been collaborating on art projects with her partner, an artist and UCSC professor, Elizabeth Stephens. They are movers and shakers in the new ‘ecosex movement,’ committed to making environmentalism more sexy, fun and diverse.
“In 2013, Sprinkle proudly received the Artist/Activist/Scholar Award from Performance Studies International at Stanford, and was awarded the Acker Award for Excellence in the Avant Garde.”