Episode 62: ADVENTUROUS MONOGAMY with Annie Sprinkle
ADVENTUROUS MONOGAMY with Annie Sprinkle, Prostitute/porn star, turned Phd Sexlogist, educator, multimedia performance artist, and sexecologist. Author of "Dr. Sprinkles Spectacular Sex - - Make Over Your Love Life" and "The Female Genital Massage" DVD
In this episode, Annie Sprinkle, who has done it all, shares what makes her 7 year genitally monogamous relationship sizzle. Learn the difference between Genital Monogamy and Energetic Openness. Discover how to share with your partner your Top Ten Turn Ons and the suprising new adult toy every home should have. Explore how being willing to make mistakes, and learn from experience can transmute fear into ecstacy.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome to Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra. I’m your host Francesca Gentille and with me today is Annie Sprinkle. Annie is amazing, she’s incredible. I’ve been talking with her before I get to talk with you on air. Annie is a prostitute/ porn star turned Phd sexologist. She’s led an incredible life. She’s an educator, a multimedia artist, a utopian entrepreneur and the author of “Dr. Sprinkle’s Spectacular Sex: Make Over Your Love Life” and the DVD “Female Genital Massage”.
Annie Sprinkle: If you go out dancing you could totally just be focussed on your partner or you could take in the whole energy of the whole room.
When I used to teach workshops, I’d say, “OK, we’re going to all go and make love with something out in nature. Women would come back and say they had one of the best sex experiences of the life making love with a waterfall or a rock or the sky or whatever. So it’s about letting your energy flow freely through you with other people and with the universe and with nature, but at the same time your genitals are committed to each other.
I think some conversations you can have making love, kind of erotic fantasies. “Oh honey, I’m imagining you kissing this other woman, but then you make love with me.” Then there’s other things you want to discuss over dinner, taking a walk, that aren’t in bed that might be more emotionally charged. “Honey, you know, I really would like to explore anal sex but I don’t know where to start. What do you think? There’s this workshop at Good Vibrations…” There’s lots of kind of couples-based sex shops.
Taking personal risks can really generate a little fear and anticipation; like if you are going to do something that’s new and kind of risky, not safe sex risky, but just personally. Like pushing your own buttons. You know, like getting on stage and stripping yourself or even doing a strip tease for your lover – you’ve never done it. It can generate this, like, fear, which can transmute into ecstasy. So it’s just all energy.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome Annie.
Annie Sprinkle: Hello Francesca. Hello everyone out there listening.
Francesca Gentille: [laughs] I am honored to have you on the show. Annie is one of those women who has been on the forefront of the sex positive culture. Many of us, regardless of our age, know a little bit of the history of the world and our culture. That there was so much repression and it’s really been, you know, only in the last, since, you know, the 1960’s, that there’s been this evolution and this revolution of an openness and awareness and embracing of our sexual nature. And Annie has been on the forefront of that. And today we’re going to invite Annie to give us some of her expertise and her wisdom from the explorations that she’s done. And the topic that we’ve chosen to bring to you, our listening audience, is “adventurous monogamy”. What is it from her, as she said to me earlier, that she’s the woman that’s done it all [laughs]. From all of that she is now in a seven-year, beautiful seven-year relationship and she can, she can translate for us, what does it take to keep it going with a lot of spark. So, Annie, you’ve done it all. What inspired you to feel like you wanted to focus and go deep with one person and what are the benefits of that kind of focus?
Annie Sprinkle: Yes, good question. Well, I had done a lot. I’d worked as a prostitute, as a pro Dom and Submissive in porn and I had done a lot of Tantra workshops and had spiritual yoga experiences and all kinds of different lovers from one extreme to the next and in between. But eventually I realized, well, I’ve never been in a monogamous relationship. And it seems to be a very popular choice for people and I thought, you know, what would it be like to just be with one person, at least genitally. Because I don’t know if you can really be with just one person on an energetic level in some ways, but I think that one person is an entire universe unto themselves and there’s a depth and intimacy that you get when you just focus all your, your sexual…interactions with, at least genitally, one person. I call it adventurous monogamous because my partner and I do have adventures. We might go to a sex workshop or watch strippers or do a sort of sensual massage with a friend of ours who we love very much, who is kind of a lover but we don’t have any genital sex with him. So, anyway, we have all kinds of adventures and get to explore and learn new things and get inspiration. We might even watch some porn some night or something. So there’s adventures and variety but we’re committed to just being with each other on that very deep level. And it’s interesting because it is a challenge when you’ve had lots of lovers, there’s always a new… I had lovers for twenty years, but it wasn’t someone I lived with, that I was monogamous with. So I had lovers that I saw for many, many years. But it’s really different when you, you know, really live with someone and you’re that intimate and you go really deep. And it’s profound. I think it can go into real deep kind of love that a lot of us long for, is to be loved on a really profoundly deep level. And that’s what you get from that.
Francesca Gentille: Well, you know, let’s focus in a little bit further into some of things that you just covered. I love…I love, you just said so many things: that there’s a difference between genital monogamy and energetic openness. You talked about one person being a universe and an opportunity to really go into a deep intimacy and experience loving someone very deeply and being loved very deeply. And…there’s a lot in there! One of the things I wanted to distinguish a little bit more for our listening audience is: what do we mean by genital monogamy versus energetic openness?
Annie Sprinkle: Well, for example my partner and I, we think of the Earth as our lover. We’re very involved with creating a new film we called “Sexocology”, which is the Earth as your lover. And through your senses you can make love with the Earth. I mean, where would we be without Her? And the Earth has all these sensual – the lights - and can bring you great ecstasy and you know, just taking in Her colors and our sunsets and all those kinds of things. And if you do it erotically…so in a way She’s a lover we’re energetically connecting with.
Francesca Gentille: I just, I want to check in with you if this is, if I’m understanding this correctly. One of my teachers once said to me, I was in a new relationship and I said, she said, “How do you feel about your lover?” and I said, “Oh, he’s so wonderful. And you know, when I think of him I feel these waves of just juicy energy going through my body.” And she said, “I want you to feel that about a flower. I want you to feel that about life.” And, so, that’s…I think that’s what you’re pointing to when you say that there’s a way that we can be in an energetic relationship or erotic ecstasy with the Earth or with people. Is that what you’re pointing at?
Annie Sprinkle: Yeah, for example, if you go out dancing, you know, you go, you know, country dancing or you go to a night club or do ballroom dancing, you could just be totally focussed on your partner or you can take in the whole energy of the whole room and be with the other people as well and enjoy that kind of ecstatic energy together. Which can be very erotic and sensual. But back to the Earth thing. I used to teach workshops at the Eiserman Center in New York and it was like a four day thing. And during the four days I would say, “OK, we’re all going to go make love with something out in nature.” And we split up and it was usually women. Women would come back and say they had one of the best sexual experiences of their life, making love with a waterfall or a rock or the sky or whatever. So, it’s about letting your energy, your sexual and erotic energy, flow freely through you with other people, with the universe and with nature – but at the same time your genitals are committed to each other. And that’s not, I’m not to say that adventurous monogamy is for everyone. It is an option that we decided to talk about today. I mean I think some people are at a place in their lives where they want to have several lovers, or you know, some people, maybe for some reason, their genitals aren’t functioning like most people, or, you know…I have a lot of transgender friends and they had, some of them don’t like to interact with their genitals. So it’s not really the genitals. There’s different levels. You know, each couple has to make their ideas, share their ideas with each other, what they would like and want and what works for them. Like I have friends, in Hawaii, a beautiful couple together for like twenty-five years, and they will even kiss people, they’ll kiss and make out and fondle other couples or with other, you know, in their hot tub, or whatever. They’re very open to sensual adventures, but when it comes to intercourse, no. So I, it’s just a nice option and I don’t know, it would be great to hear from couples listening, who are monogamous, how do they do that?
Francesca Gentille: I think you bring up a wonderful idea that I want to go into more after a break and a word from our fabulous sponsors. And I always want to encourage our listening audience to support our sponsors. We’ve got wonderful arrangements with them where you get free gifts at 50% discounts and we encourage you to support our sponsors because that helps support shows like this continuing to come to you. And we’ll be back with Annie and this exploration in adventurous monogamy after a few minutes.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex. Talking with Dr. Annie Sprinkle, Phd and Sexologist, who spent her life at the forefront of the sex positive culture. Author of “Dr. Sprinkle’s Spectacular Sex: Make Over Your Love Life”. So we were discussing that adventurous monogamy and what is it and how does a couple really discover what is monogamy for them? What would you suggest is a way for them to start bringing up that conversation? Or for someone who is newly, who is single or who is dating and wants to start to go deeper. How do they bring that up?
Annie Sprinkle: Well, I think a really good way is to look and see, if you’re in a city especially, what workshops are out there and there’s all kinds of sexuality workshops, some would be online as well, that a couple could take that are very, you know, fun and interesting and exciting and kind of titillating. For example, there’s kissing workshops, you know, or there’s a workshop where someone teaches you about oral sex but everyone’s dressed, it’s like a two hour thing. Or the learning annex. So if a couple wanted to have some sort of sexy adventures together, workshops really are a great way. But I understand that some people really might not want to be seen at these workshops and are very private. So also I just worship erotic dancers, so I like…so if you’re out of town or whatever, on a trip, maybe…my lover and I were sometimes in different countries, we like to check out what’s erotic dance like in a certain country. Or even in Spain, like Spanish dancers, it was so erotic. The flamingo and…just having these kind of sexy adventures, romantic adventures, but… so that’s a way to start. There’s basic easy things, but then there’s a little more challenging things like maybe let’s go to a sex party and just watch, agree to watch. That can be really interesting. Or…
Francesca Gentille: I think I want to go a little more upstream so to speak from there. Is…here’s my partner and I or someone I’m dating and there’s a kind of assumption that we know what monogamy is. That monogamy means, I’ve heard some people even define it, that you can’t even look at another person…
Annie Sprinkle: Yeah.
Francesca Gentille: …flirt with another person. You can’t dance with another person – all of that would be breaking my monogamous relationship with you. If you did that. And then I definitely know people who consider themselves to be emotionally monogamous. They have other sex partners but they feel the thing they keep private, safe and sacred for their partner is their heart.
Annie Sprinkle: Right.
Francesca Gentille: So if somebody’s wanting to – that’s a big range from you can’t look at someone else without breaking the monogamy…
Annie Sprinkle: Yeah, that’s right.
Francesca Gentille:…to you can do whatever you want with someone else sexually as long as you keep your emotion, emotional connection for me. Now let’s say I want to explore that with my partner and what would I start with? Would I say, “You know, I want to talk about monogamy and our relationship and maybe the fact that we think we know what monogamy is, but I want us to describe or define what it might feel, what might feel right for us as a couple. Would that be a good way to start?
Annie Sprinkle: Yeah, um, I think some conversations you can have while you’re making love, kind of erotic fantasies, “Oh honey I’m imagining you kissing this other woman but of course, but then you make love with me. Some erotic talking of fantasies in bed. And then there are things that you want to discuss over dinner or taking a walk, that aren’t in bed that might be more a little more emotionally charged. For example, “Honey I really, you know, would like to explore anal sex but I don’t know where to start and maybe we could…what do you think, there’s this workshop at Good Vibrations” or there’s lots of kind of wonderful couple-safe, you know, sex shops now all over that have that have, you know, simple oral sex or anal sex workshops. So maybe something like that. Just like a…get some ideas or…Hmm, I know always find it hard to talk about communication about things because I find it, personally I find it so easy to talk about sex. It’s such a great topic. And I notice some people have trouble talking about sex, but if you hang out with other people that talk about sex, that’s a good thing, yeah.
Francesca Gentille: You know that, I mean that, you really bring up a great point, is that we’re raised so differently. Annie is a California girl; I asked her, “Where were you born and raised?” and she said, “Southern California” and uh, that she started out shy, but when she started having sex, it opened up a whole new world and it, you know, stop me if I mistook what you said, is that you have this sense of a door opening and feeling like you wanted to jump into it like full force when you started to be sexual…
Annie Sprinkle: Yeah I had a very good, I was really shy and afraid of sex, uh, as a teenager, but then lost my virginity at 17 and it was a very positive, liberating, wonderful experience. I was happy to get rid of my virginity, frankly. And um, so from then on I just wanted to learn everything I could about my sexuality and other people’s sexuality and had all kinds of great adventures. But ultimately decided that is want a really deep kind of love that I was hungry for that I could find in monogamy.
Francesca Gentille: And what was your, did you come from a family that was supportive and open-minded or…
Annie Sprinkle: Yeah, pretty much, early on my parents, I was raised Unitarian, um, both my parents were feminists and political, open-minded, intellectual kinds of people. But, you know, when I got into the sex industry you can be sure it scared them more than anything. They were worried. But after about twenty years they realized it wasn’t a passing phase and then they, my work is actually taught in women’s study courses and some history courses and theatre, the history of theatre and performance art so, I went from sex to art. So I really made a mark in that world. And then what we call radical sex education, for example, now I do a performance art piece, where it’s called, there’s a free sidewalk sex clinic where I offer free sex advice from 6 or 8 sex experts for the public on the street with a big sign and people can just sit and talk about sex. Talking about sex is great. I mean, I really encourage people who, who are, you know, shy about talking about it t6o just get over it. You know, practice, try, it’s such a good topic. And, you know, I know it’s hard at first; it’s like learning any new language, but once you start talking about it or…Maybe you have one friend that talks about it and kind of practice with him or her. And, you know, just get comfortable…
Francesca Gentille: You know, I think people can start to like you’re pointing to, gather little, you know, if they’re women, you can get together with other women for tea. You can talk about relationships and sexuality. You know men can have, across the country, starting to have men’s gatherings to talk about relationship and sexuality. And it can feel a little awkward at first, but as we start to get into it, we realize that so many of us, I’m one of them, was raised in a more conservative religion. I didn’t use to be able to say the word ‘sex’ it just felt naughty to even say the word ‘sex’ or maybe dangerous. I was very frightened of being naked or seeing another naked body. There was something that felt like maybe that was wrong or bad. And it really, when you come from that kind of background, there really are little baby steps along the way.
Annie Sprinkle: I think it’s great people are listening to shows like yours or watching HBO’s “Real Sex”, not that I love it so much but there’s a lot of, you know, media out there that people are talking about sex. So I think it’s probably a lot easier than it used to be for people. But you also have to be careful who you tell what. You know, you still do. If you have your woman’s tea group, you know, there’s certain people you might…you want to make sure that it’s confidential and people you trust maybe. Or, you know, there are concerns that if you say something, you know, that it gets around a small town. There are those issues.
Francesca Gentille: Absolutely. And then of course there’s going to coaches or therapists or councellors who also would be a safe beginning place to start talking about questions and interests, to get feedback and feel like it was going to be anonymous, good point. That who you talk to can be very important because you can have positive feedback and feel like you’re safe in speaking. And I want to come back and talk more about how we move into, maybe have a discussion and more of the options for people and that term you brought up, that “radical sex education” sounded very intriguing, after we come back and a word from out sponsors.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex with Dr. Annie Sprinkle, who has the DVD “Female Genital Massage” and who is a sexologist and an educator and utopian entrepreneur. And we’re still talking about adventurous monogamy. And, Annie, what’s next? So maybe they’ve had the discussion, they’ve had the, you know, maybe started making a list of possible options – do you have other options you suggest, or what’s next for…?
Annie Sprinkle: Oh, you know what would be really fun is to both sit down and write a list of ten turn-ons – each make a list of ten things that would excite them to do. And then kind of compare notes and see which one your partner is willing to do and which not. But yeah, once you start exploring adventurous monogamy, for people out there who have been monogamous and very kind of focussed just with their lover and want to open up energetically and learn some new things and experiment and explore. So, so you might, say, for example, want to go to a little workshop on oral sex and if one wants to leave… and there’s theatre pieces out there that are about sometimes it’s exploring sexuality that are interesting. Or sometimes people might want to leave, so you leave. You can always leave and…and I always say be willing to make mistakes. So, two steps forward, one step back. It’s just like with life: when you try something new, hey, it might not have been for you and let’s go back and what did we learn? If you learn you win. So you’ve got to be willing to back mistakes in life and otherwise you never grow, you never change if you don’t take any personal risks. So yeah some of these things might be risky. You might have six kids to go to, to open up, you know, to flirt with other people… Say, OK, let’s flirt with other people, it might bring spice to our relationship. You know there is a certain risk in that. If it doesn’t work, you know, and if somebody freaks out, go back and what did we learn? What did we learn. And whose issue, you know, do we, is it worth continuing in this vein or not? So then you have to re-assess. So it’s a kind of negotiation but, you’ve got great, you know, the world is full of adventures, erotic adventures, sensual adventures, and to just, you know, do the “in-out” every night for three minutes, which is what most people, most heterosexual, long-term, monogamous married couples, the average length of intercourse is three minutes…
Francesca Gentille: Wow.
Annie Sprinkle: …and it can get really pretty boring and dull. So, one thing that I really like to do that I’ll mention too is just to really start making love and then be willing to show your authentic self and be honest in where you are at in that moment. And for me, often that will include a little cry, something will move me or it’s kind of stress relief or…so I call it a cry-gasm, to have a little cry, to have your lover hold you. And, but, somehow when I move into sexual energy it opens my heart and I can…So I think, I say, you know, one person, one monogamous relationship can hold many, many different possibilities and adventures. I also really recommend getting a massage table. And, yeah, I, the last ten years or so, my sex life has really revolved around our massage table.
Francesca Gentille: How does that work?
Annie Sprinkle: Uh, it’s like you, you actually make a time and say, OK at 8:00 or 9:00 let’s go upstairs and I’ll get the room ready and candles, incense, nice light, massage table, some warm oil, have wort oil or powder and start with some massaging of each other and I find that can lead into the most beautiful sex. It’s also very comfortable for oral sex and different kinds of sexual positions that you can’t do in bed, where you sink into the bed.
Francesca Gentille: Oh, I never thought of the massage table as like a, an adult toy! [laughs]
Annie Sprinkle: Yeah, and it also gives one person a chance to really give and one to fully receive, which can be really satisfying. When you’re making love in bed, sometimes, you know, both people are giving and receiving at the same time, you know what I mean? So it really is a chance to go really deep and I think, for men especially who really want to please their woman, get them on that massage table, massage their body and then give their genitals and maybe their anus a really nice gentle massage. And then, actually, it can get not-so-gentle, you can actually go pretty rough and you know, there’s, it doesn’t have to be all nicey-nice and sweet and tender, it can get, once the woman is aroused, it can get pretty rough. So different women are different but… you know. So being on that massage table really gives her a chance to really let go and then add a vibrator!
Francesca Gentille: Mm hmm.
Annie Sprinkle: Like the Hitachi Magic Wand or other sex toys.
Francesca Gentille: You know, you’re really reminding me that the whole body is a playground and the man gets to surrender too when it’s his turn, then he doesn’t have to worry about performance, he doesn’t have to worry about what you’re doing…
Annie Sprinkle: Exactly.
Francesca Gentille: … or is he doing it right, he can just relax and receive which a lot of men, you know, never get a chance to do fully. So what a way…what a beautiful idea to bring that massage table into the, you know, into one’s love life. And, getting back into the adventurous side, I often encourage, you talked about the top ten turn-on list and the assessing what worked and what didn’t work afterwards so that it’s always a win if your partner’s still learning, it’s always a win.
Annie Sprinkle: Right.
Francesca Gentille: And also one of the things that I like to include is planning for the worst. So if I’m going to something new with my beloved, it could be a workshop, it could be an erotic performance event, what’s the worst case scenario. And if that happens, if I get scared, if he gets scared, if we didn’t clearly define what the limits were. You know maybe we’re at a strip club and I thought we were just going to watch and now he’s putting dollars into g-strings with his teeth…
Annie Sprinkle: [laughs]
Francesca Gentille: …and I think that was past a boundary, you know. But we hadn’t actually discussed it so now I’m upset maybe and he’s, he feels sad or disappointed that he, because he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong…
Annie Sprinkle: Right.
Francesca Gentille: Um, if we think in advance what’s the worst case scenario, one of us gets scared, we didn’t clearly define what the limits were, how are we going to handle that and we have a plan in advance. I also feel that that makes it more likely that we’ll be successful.
Annie Sprinkle: It’s also taking personal risks can really generate a little fear and anticipation, like if you are going to do something that’s new and kind of risky, not safe sex risky, but personally pushing your own buttons, you know like getting on stage and just stripping yourself or you know something like that.
Francesca Gentille: [laughs]
Annie Sprinkle: Or even doing a strip tease for your lover, you’ve never done it. It can generate this fear that can transmute into ecstasy. So it’s just all energy. So, or even a lot of people know that even after a little jealous moment, that produces a lot of energy that can be very passionate. So anything that excites in any different way can, can be energy used to have more ecstasy, a heightened experience. And of course variety. Variety is the spice of life. You wouldn’t want to live, you know, eat the same thing for breakfast every single day. I mean, maybe you do, some people do, you know, every day of your life have the same bowl of cereal with the same fruit, you know, you might be missing other things. But you know, some people, that’s fine and that’s great. I admire these people who have been together 50 years. I’ll never have that experience. I’ve done all kinds of things but I’ll never have that experience of being with someone 50 years, unlikely. And how do they do it? So I, I’d love to hear about that. I think there’s people out there who have come up with great solutions in their monogamous relationships to be adventurous and it would be great to hear. And if anyone wants to e-mail me and tell me how they do it, I’d love to know! I’m at Annie@anniesprinkle.org, like orgasm not .com, anniesprinkle.org. And that’s my website too, anniesprinkle.org. And if they want to know more about erotic massage, there’s a lot of information on my site. And enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.
Francesca Gentille: [laughs] Annie, I want to thank you for joining us today and giving us this beautiful pathway to explore from the vantage point of your experience, how to explore the deliciousness of relationships and still have a sense of adventure. I want to thank you.
Annie Sprinkle: Thank you Francesca.
Francesca Gentille: Aw, thank you. And if you want to get a hold of Annie, there’s her website, her e-mail, there’s also her bio, you can get a link to her website, e-mail her through www.personallifemedia.com, Sex, Tantra and Kama Sutra. Annie’s going to be there. And you’re also going to be able to contact me and if you have questions that you want me to continue to ask in future shows, if you want to reach either of us for private work or private sessions, you can do that through www.personallifemedia.com. Thank you for being people who are committed to the sacred, the expansive in sexuality. Thank you for listening to Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex.