Guide Beth: An Erotic Story of Lesbian Love

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Using a combination of humorous and erotic performance in conjunction with research and scientific data, Stephens and Sprinkle draw our attention to the very real problems we are facing on a planet that is being consumed by industry, greed, and overpopulation. This concern became the basis for much of their collaborative work since They want to remind us that we need to assume responsibility for a relationship that has become so unbalanced that it threatens our survival as a species.

Caressing, touching, licking—Stephens and Sprinkle use sexual metaphors and sexual acts to wake us up to our destructive attitudes towards the natural resources on which we depend. For the artists, sexuality is a natural part of human relationships that has become de-naturalized through religious and cultural restrictions and taboos.

This de-naturalization has resulted in our alienation from the earth and from each other. In order to re-assert the positive energy and power that is released upon acceptance of our sexual natures, Stephens and Sprinkle often go to comical lengths in order to question taboos and re-assess the value of sexuality for relationships and for the respect and love of nature. It was a blast; funny, playful, and sometimes ridiculous, it was easy to over-look the serious point they were making and yet, ultimately, their humorous approach succeeded in making manifest the vital importance of our connection to a deeper appreciation of the natural world.

For Sprinkle and Stephens art is sexy, funny and fun but it is also a means by which to address more serious issues. Using humor and eroticism, Sprinkle and Stephens arouse awareness and interest in issues that might otherwise be dismissed as too banal or dark to address. And so I think humor is essential.

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There are some people who would say that we are being somewhat disrespectful of the issue but I strongly disagree with that. I think humor has always played a role in Southern culture and Appalachian culture. We make complete and utter fools out of ourselves having sex.

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Photo by Julian Cash. Design by Naomi Pitcairn. Before becoming a performance artist and sex educator, Annie Sprinkle was a porn actress and prostitute for twenty years. Artistically both Sprinkle and Stephens are activists who see art as a vehicle for expression, for exploration of issues that are fundamental to their world views, each, to a certain extent derived from and evolving around eroticism and sexuality.

Some people have a Catholic eye, some people have an art eye, some a biology or science eye. It may seem odd to think of challenging mountaintop removal mining with sex and eroticism. Mountaintop removal mining is, after all, a product of industrialization, of Capitalism, of a male-dominated, socio-economic worldview that sees nature, like women, as products to be used and mined for pleasure, power, and profit.

How can two women performance artists, one coming out of prostitution and pornography, the other from a lesbian alternative lifestyle, confront an industry that has seemingly little to do with them?

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Yet, Stephens and Sprinkle have triumphed through the medium of art, a medium they have each claimed as their own even prior to meeting and marrying one another. They are now carrying this literally grass-roots challenge to the foundations of Capitalism—challenging the returns on destructive environmental activity that is parlayed into financial gain. From diamond mines to oil fields, the power of the few enslaves the many, an imbalance that contributes greatly to the loss of all of us in relation not just to future generations of human beings but to the health of the planet.

Of course, Sprinkle and Stephens are not the first artists to challenge the Capitalist, industrial system and its destructive fall-out. Duchamp and other Dada artists thumbed their nose at the idea of creating art for profit. Image by Greg Archer. Drones, review: a sobering report on the dark side of drones 4.

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