Take a former prostitute and porn star, add an advanced degree, stir in over three decades of research, lectures, performances, films, workshops and life experience, and you’re sure to have one of the most interesting guest speakers to appear in East Central Illinois in a long while.
Annie Sprinkle has been on the sex-positive and feminist scenes for longer than I’ve been alive. In fact, upon hearing she would be in town this week, my father excitedly asked me to score an autograph from the only porn star to ever earn a Ph.D. Apparently he’s a fan, but we didn’t go into details.
After a year of organizing and co-sponsor searching, UIUC’s Sexual Health Peers (SHPs) have finally succeeded in bringing this entertaining and often controversial artist and sexologist to campus. Dr. Sprinkle will grace Urbana-Champaign with her presence for two full days, beginning this afternoon with the Free Sidewalk Sex Clinic. These programs are part of iSHAG (Illinois Sexual Health, Awareness and Guidance) week, and her lineup over the next 48 hours is free and open to the public:
Wednesday, April 14
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Free Sidewalk Sex Clinic on UIUC Quad
8:00 p.m.: “My Life and Work as a Feminist Porn Activist, Ecosexual, and Radical Sex Educator.” Altgeld 314.
Thursday, April 15
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: The World’s First On-Campus Ecosexual Walking Tour (Co-created by Elizabeth Stephens). Meet at the South Side of the Quad.
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: Love Picnic. Come Schmooze and bring your work to show Annie. South Side of the Quad.
7:30 p.m.: Screening of Annie Sprinkle’s Amazing World of Orgasm. See what she has to say about the big “O”. Greg Hall, Room 100.
Amirrah Abou-Youssef, President of UIUC’s Sexual Health Peers, answered a few questions about what we can expect from Dr. Sprinkle’s visit to campus.
Smile Politely: Annie Sprinkle’s line of work in general, as well as her lengthy employment history, is pretty controversial. Have you received any negative feedback about her visit to campus?
Amirrah Abou-Youssef: Surprisingly not. We originally had looked to specific campus groups and organizations for co-sponsors, but some didn’t want to be affiliated with controversy. Now we are co-sponsoring with the Women’s Resources Center, LGBT Resources Center, Gender and Women’s Studies Programs, Student Cultural Programming Fee, and Student Organization Resource Fee.
SP: Your Sidewalk Sex Clinic features a panel of local and campus “sexperts” as well as Annie herself. I’ve heard Dr. Sprinkle has communicated with the sexperts via email and phone in preparation for the event.
AAY: Yes, she’s been reaching out a lot. It shows her investment in the process and it’s been great she’s had direct contact. She’ll be great with the students, and we’re all very excited to work so closely with her!
SP: Do you think the campus population knows who Annie Sprinkle is? Have you had to advertise more than usual?
AAY: A lot of GWS students have heard of her and they are massively excited for her visit. Other people are just hearing about her for the first time and that’s been very intriguing considering how long she’s been an artist and activist.
SP: Anything you’re particularly excited about during Dr. Sprinkle’s visit?
AAY: The Eco-Sexy Walking Tour is a college premier and has never been done on a campus before. It’s a tour and lecture in one, about loving the earth and thinking about the earth as one’s lover. It will be really interesting, as will all of the events!
To learn more about Annie Sprinkle and why you shouldn’t miss these opportunities to hear her speak, visit her website.