Annie was was born Ellen Steinberg, a daughter of middle-class white Jewish parents. As Annie puts it, "Ellen was fat and ugly and nobody seemed to want her." She lived in L.A. during her childhood, and then moved with her family to Panama City at age 13. When she was 16, she met a 26-year-old hippie named Van, and at 17 she lost her virginity. She realized how great sex was, and decided to explore her sexuality as much as she could. She got a job at a massage parlor and had sex with her clients in the spirit of exploring her sexuality, and only two months later realized that she was actually a prostitute.
No one ever said the words "whore" or "trick." The customers were "clients," and we gave "full-body massages." In my naivete, I thought of myself as a horny masseuse who simply ended up having sex with the clients. I was working as a prostitute for a good two months before I realized it! When it finally did occur to me, and I got over the initial shock, I enjoyed the idea. (Annie Sprinkle, Post-Porn Modernist)
In addition to her job at the massage parlor, Annie started working at a film studio that produced porn, and soon found herself in front of the camera, and having a great time! She took the name Annie Sprinkle because she had always loved water as well as a wide range of bodily fluids, and the name stuck with her.
Annie continued work as a prostitute on and off and created more than 150 porn films as well as appearing in a variety of magazines like Playboy, Cheri, and Hustler. She frequented S&M clubs, made a lot of new friends, and participated in many activities that the government did not approve of. Annie's easy smile, generously-proportioned breasts, and her willingness to sexually experiment in fields where other female porn stars refused made her a star in six months. She maintained a successful (and enjoyable!) career in this field until her early thirties, when she decided to explore the less mainstream options available to her.
In 1988, Annie attended Linda Montano's Summer Saint Camp and emerged reborn, as an artist.
Linda's magic really worked! Overnight I went from being a sex mag cover girl to an art mag cover girl. The week Veronica Vera and I spent with Linda Montano at the Art/Life Institute is beautifully documented in NYU's prestigious The Drama Review, Sprint 1989. (Annie Sprinkle, Post-Porn Modernist)
Annie Sprinkle proceeded to explore her creativity in decidedly sexual ways. She did erotic Bible readings (probably not too popular among the more conservative set, but not much of her work is :) She used her ample breasts in a variety of ways, performing the Bosom Ballet and making tit prints (see the gallery for examples). She took up photography, and had her work published in many of the same porno mags she had originally posed for. Annie was (and is) active in a variety of sex worker movements like COYOTE and ISWFACE. As the 90's began, Annie had to deal with many of her lovers dying of AIDS, and emerged from the emotional ordeal a champion of safer sex and a bit older and wiser. Annie created her "Post-Porn Modernist" perfomance piece and toured America and Europe. In it, she explores her rise to sex symbol status, the pros and cons of the sex industry, and shows audience members her cervix (one of the most controversial parts of the show, but according to Annie, a very natural and honest way of educating people). You can see Annie's cervix here! She ended the shows with a masturbation ritual which explored her emerging "goddess" aspect, and of course upset the press and government to no end.