Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ecosexuals Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens marry that mountain

Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens
remake environmental activism for a sexy new era.


Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle stand before all the world--tall in their funky platform boots--as proud, passionate ecosexuals. And they recruit. With those two, you're well aware, surely, of the sexual part. But what's with that eco prefix?

The couple answered that question--and more--last night at the New York City premiere screening of Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story, their 2014 documentary film about mountain-top removal mining in the Appalachians where Stephens was born and raised and has family. That's the eco part. We'll get to sex in a minute.

Hosted by Abrons Arts Center, the event helped launch the 2015 Queer New York International Arts Festival in partnership with MixNYC, the queer experimental film festival. The cheerful pair greeted the audience after having led an EcoSex walking tour of Central Park earlier in the day. They shared a list of "25 Ways to Make Love to the Earth."

"Talk dirty to her plants" and "Love her unconditionally even when she's angry and cruel" were two standout suggestions. So, if you have not pieced it together already, ecosexuality--a state of mind, identity and practice open to anyone regardless of gender or orientation--derives from the notion that Earth is not Earth, Our Mother but Earth, Our Lover.

"Mommy's not going to take care of us," Stephens warns. "Mommy's tired." We have much work to do.

Through giddy imagination and wit, Sprinkle and Stephens shift the balance of power to inspire us to take a more direct role in the well-being of our planet. As they see it, the key to this new form of activism is bonding with nature through enlivened senses and pleasure--the sensation of slippery mud and gnarly tree bark and chlorophyll on one's skin. The pair have traveled around, staging weddings in which they get married to mountains and snow and the moon and what have you. And, you know what? I have no idea what "cloud sex" is, but I'm all for it.

In Spain, they married coal. In Stephens's West Virginia, they married a mountain and helped local activists draw awareness to the coal mining technique that imperils natural beauty, biodiversity, health, community and heritage. Goodbye Gauley Mountain shows what they're up against--a powerful industry holding the whip hand of steady employment over many workers who envision no other way to feed their families. But Stephens interviews others who know all too well what's going on, and their intellectual resistance--and deep love of the land--is most clear and ultimately moving.

To learn how you can see Goodbye Gauley Mountain, contact Stephens and Sprinkle here.


Queer New York International Arts Festival continues events at Abrons through September 26. For information and tickets for other QNYIAF events, click here.

Abrons Arts Center
466 Grand Street (at Pitt Street), Manhattan

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