Attendees of Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle’s upcoming presentation, titled “Ecosexual Revolution,” had better be prepared. That is, be prepared for an eye opening night of candid discussion and a glimpse of the world seen through the eyes of the presenters.
Beth and Annie live and work together in Boulder Creek’s coastal redwood forest and in an old Victorian cottage in San Francisco. Devoted to developing the ecosex movement through art, theory, practice and activism since 2004, they’ve produced numerous ecosex symposiums, ecosex weddings, workshops, lectures, walking tours, and art exhibits.
Beth is a West Virginia girl who moved to Boston to study art. She was a “raucous punk rock dyke playboy type,” she says. She then went on to get her masters in fine art at Rutgers. She earned a job at the University of California in Santa Cruz as a professor of art, where she has now been teaching for 20 years. As a solo artist, Beth worked as a sculptor, installation artist, and conceptual artist doing work about gender, feminism, and queerness.
Annie was a shy valley girl from Los Angeles who moved to Manhattan at eighteen with an interest in filmmaking and sexuality. So she ended up working in adult films for 20 years as a performer, and then later as a producer and director of her own brand of “post porn.” Annie morphed into a performance artist who toured many countries with her one-woman-shows about her life in sex.
The two did a photo shoot together in 1990 and stayed in touch. Some years later, in 2004, they “got together for a date, had three days of wild sex together, and the rest is herstory.”
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the duo is bringing their “Ecosexual Revolution” presentation to Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center. According to the two women, there are a variety of types of ecosexual people who are doing ecosexuality in various ways. They claim no ownership for the word ecosexual, citing its existence for at least a decade, mainly as a dating term to describe someone who were interested in environmental issues, hiking, and vegetarianism, for example.
They said, “For us it’s about a lot more than that. It’s a lifestyle, it’s about eroticizing nature and connecting with it, it’s taking the Earth as a lover and more. The movement is growing relatively quickly. We’d estimate there are probably 20,000 people internationally identifying as ecosexual. Some are very new age, some are polyamourous, some of us are queer and freaky, some are straight. We like to give our brand of ecosex a punk rock esthetic and an edge. Our niche is that we are artists doing ecosex art projects.”
In a joint statement, they shared, “When we wanted to join the environmental movement, and be more active in protesting the destruction, we didn’t fit in so well. It was kind of straight, white, and conservative, or militant. So we wanted to create an faction of the environmental movement that was more diverse, queer, sex positive… So we launched an ‘ecosexual movement’ with our Ecosex Manifesto.”
Though Beth and Annie’s visit to the Walker during Valentine’s weekend is just one stop on their tour, they hope people will get a sense of what ecosex is about, “then get their ecosexual gaze on, and have an ecosensual experience that will ultimately inspire them to help take better care of the Earth’s resources. We hope people will take away a good art experience.”
During their time at the Walker, Beth and Annie will be doing two different presentations. First, the two are doing a visiting artist presentation about their life and work over the past thirteen years. Then, later in the evening, the women will present their “Ecosex Walking Tour of the Walker” which is a performance that is also a walk, directed by Joy Brooke Fairfield.
That night, Beth and Annie will have four special guest artists as part of the cast. First, Xandra Coe (who went to high school with Beth) and her partner Judy Meath. They recommended their two friends, performance artists Patrick Scully and Heidi Arneson. All four live in Minneapolis. They will help “demonstrate the ecosexercises, share their ecosexual coming out stories, add their two cents here and there, be devil’s advocates, and contribute some diversity and good costumes.”
For more specifics, people are encouraged to attend the evening of February 13; since each walking tour is site-specific, the women admit they don’t really know all that they will do yet.
“We’d say most people appreciate our sex positivity and are right there with us,” Beth and Annie admit. “And sometimes people think we are a bit extreme and over-the-top and don’t resonate with our ideas of what sex is. Most people who have been on our Ecosex Walking Tours generally, in the end, realize that they are ecosexual too. Sometimes we can be provocative and controversial, for sure. All part of the fun.”
For more information about Beth and Annie’s upcoming visit to the Walker Art Center, visit www.walkerart.org. And be on the lookout for more news of their book, titled Assuming the Ecosexual Position, to be published by the University of Minnesota Press.