Articles by Annie


Annie founded The Pleasure Project after attending one too many sexual health meetings where the normal words for our “downstairs bits” were rarely used – let alone the clitoris ever being discussing….Her current safer sex obsession is air sex (after attending an air sex competition) which she thinks has rare potential for extremely safe sex education. Annie currently lives in India – where is learning more about pleasure from the places where is was recognised as sacred first. She has worked in international public health for 20 years and thought about sexual pleasure for longer – with experience that ranges from female condom promotion in Mongolia to school sex education in the UK. She has qualifications in Psychology and Health Policy.

Blog by Arushi

So we’ve been a little quiet on the blog front but that’s because the blog site was not functioning for a few months and we’ve finally been able to sort it all out! The blog is back up and running and then we realised that the last blog was about our event in Goa.

Well guess what – this blog is about another event in Goa! Anne was holidaying in Goa and when Arushi and Anne got together we decided to rock the Goa scene a little and found a third partner in pleasure to do so – Q, the filmmaker. Opening the eveningWe had a fantastic evening discussing cinema erotica, access to sexual information, the politics around sexuality and taboos, porn, and how it all relates to good, safe sex.

Q talked about his journey from being a teenage porn film watcher to a grown up cinema erotica maker. Q Growing up in India meant a distinct lack of access to any kind of information on sex, pleasure, desire, or spaces for exploration. That’s one reason that Q began to make his own sexy films that push boundaries and hold up a mirror to society on sexuality. Gandu, is in an indie ilm, that has tantalised 4 million people to download it…

The Pleasure Project’s work, of course, aims to counter this paucity of information and of positive reinforcements around sexuality. Anne spoke about our work and how we try and counter all the negativity around sex, sexual acts, hierarchies of sexual acts and identities, and the

Anne quoting from 'Sex and the Citadel'political power-play around pleasure. One of our motivations for bringing together the public health world and the pleasure world stems from Reich’s comment on the sexual misery of the masses.

Our audience was riveted and they stayed to watch snippets of the porn films that The Pleasure Project has done condom consultancies for. Our quiz prize winner was able to come up with the maximum number of ‘signs of sexual arousal among women and men’!  Nupur wins the prize!A super sexy evening with the super sexy Goa crowd!Full house!

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Arushi does a sexy female condom demo

Arushi does a sexy female condom demo

The rapt Goa audience

The rapt Goa audience

The reaction did not surprise me; but the incredulity on our friends’ faces did when we invited them to the first fantasy open mic in Goa, the undisputed party capital of India where ‘anything is possible’ is listed on restaurant menus. A promising open event at a hangout popular for socially conscious events almost did not happen. And then it happened.


 Those who confessed to feeling uncomfortable around sex talk did not come. But many who did not know that we intended them to share their sexual fantasies came too. We shared words of food and pleasure. We read erotica

Reading erotica

Reading erotica

by Indian authors – about people watching, time travel, getting caught, and supernatural sex!, personal fantasies, 384 lovers, poems. We wrote and drew fantasies, shared jokes (even one involving Scarlett Johansson as a literary muse), discussed sexy female condoms as toys, and lamented the lack of language for orgasm and pleasure.


 We also made some music and some danced. The combination of an

The rabab player playing to everyone's fantasies...

The rabab player playing to everyone’s fantasies…

interpretive dance on fantasy with a world-class rabab player kept the full house rapt.

The interpretive fantasy dance

The interpretive fantasy dance

 Pleasure and Desire were there too. They sat on chairs of questions and quips, mingled with beers, chatted with strangers; some without words, heard new stories of open minds and promised to meet more often. Everyone later agreed on the supernatural sex – that pleasure is super and talking about desire is natural. Then they got home safe and happy for the moment.

post by Sameer Thakur

aids allianceThe year kicked off with a bang and a provocative ad to promote safer sex by the AIDS Alliance – that racy bunch and they inspired many to come together safely…the ad placed on channel 4 hope inspire viewers to put safer sex at the forefront of their minds when thinking pleasure..

They said “We hope the advert educates in a way that it is joyful and expresses what we feel about safe sex: that it is something to be enjoyed and something that helps save lives.”  People after our own heart…

Another organisation that we are huge fans of is DKT, and in February Chris Purdy asked ….Does the U.S. Really Need a National Condom Day? in the Huffington Post. Highlighting that National Condom Day and Valentine’s Day both fall on February 14.He said…

‘Nobody expects Congress to observe Condom Day or for President Obama to announce that he has given the First Lady a year’s brazilsupply of condoms. But it’s no accident that National Condom Day and Valentine’s Day are the same day. Valentine’s Day is a time to say “I love you.” And there is no better way to express that than to use condoms so the romance has a healthy future.’

He highlights creative safer sex campaigns from Caipirinha flavoured condoms in Brazil to Turkey and EVEN  gives The Pleasure Project a plug (blush…) alongside the Gates Foundation innovation challenges to create a ‘more sexy condom’  ‘The name of(our) session during the 2012 International AIDS Conference spoke clearly about their mission: “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pleasurable Safer Sex but Were Afraid to Ask.”

allianceIn March we headed to a rainy Brighton to give a talk at the AIDS Alliance called ….‘Pleasure and prevention: strange bedfellows or long lasting lovers?’ and were pitched as the guerrilla girls of HIV prevention… we got the staff to create sexy adverts and had some vey imaginative role plays. These people are serious about pleasure….

In March we also we kind of like this cliteracy stuff and   this debate between an ethical porn worker and a radical feminist activist and writer in the New Internationalist

Still in March we explored The Pleasure Corner with Tarshii tarshin Delhi  and wrote a love letter to our body…

ken and barbieApril was all about the after sex selfies craze (remember that ! ) but with only a few  few mentions of safer sex….but lots of solo masturbation…..




And April saw an amazing blog by our very own Arushi…on the HIV stops with me website  asking hippiekissus to ask ourselves  ‘ What is sex?’ and ‘What gives me pleasure?’ and how to re-explore our sex life in light of an HIV positive diagnosis.

By May – Spring had definitely sprung because we said  ‘sex liberation is not just about more sex for some people’ as we held forth on the open democracy website as part of the liberation series. We wanted to expand the boundaries of our thinking to happiness and sexual liberation more broadly  and boldy stated that ‘Getting in touch with what we want from our sex lives might unearth much broader visions of liberation, the kind that moves beyond the individual to recognise collective visions of change.’

10155654_10152061970141883_3894187595748905953_nIn May we continued being liberated and loving ourselves in Masturabation month aswell as blogging for the Institute of Development Studies Sexuality series.. 

The Melbounre AIDS conference saw a little bit of pleasure with this great article about the need to ramp up the pleasure with the science and we pushed the pleasure message hard on this Guardian live chat and the radical notion that sex education should promote pleasure not just talk about danger….We might have had some impact because this article about the importance of realistic sex education came soon after…

We then went one further to write about ‘busitng the bum taboo’ and how heterosexual anal sex needs to be talked about more in sex education otherwise people think its safer than it is ..

As we say ..rose
‘Anal sex is one of the last taboos of the HIV world. It is not mentioned in campaigns targeting straight couples and leads to informal messaging that it is actually safe or there is no need to wear a condom,” said Anne Philpott, founder of The Pleasure Project, an organization that works with NGOs, sex counsellors and erotic film producers on incorporating “sex-positive” approaches to sex education.

zimbabwe circucisionIn June we saw this male circumcision campaign in Zimbabwe focusing on pleasure..

In September we lost it with this joker who said wanking reduces productivity...I mean seriously ?

And then it got worse these guys tried to say they were highlighting the importance of ending female genitla mutiliation by asking women to get on a bucking bronco on Venice Beach..

safe_image.phpBut the Wonderful Benedict Cumberbach brought us back round  in September by talking about the importance of experimentation…. said, “sometimes its just about playing with yourself”

In November we liked to take time to put on our condoms and sabvour the roll on…for more safety…andharry we loved sharing our dirty little secret on World AIDS day with Prince Harry..

We love sex with condoms. It makes us feel sexy and safe (the next day) and quite frankly ( it’s less messy) 


squirtAnd in December the UK Censorship Board banned random acts in porn including female ejaculation, come toospanking and face sitting where the woman recieves pleasure. It was all female pleasure discrimination. And no mention of good safe sex.

But we had a lovely protest.. What a way to end the year.

Have fun pleasure propogandists and see you all more in 2015..








sex and loversSexual Health is about Sex, Satisfaction and Pleasure too ! Um yes…

There is quite a buzz about this new book Sex and Lovers an explicit sex education book that actually shows young people what to do, how to do it well and has the photos to boot. We are quite proud because we feature as a resource in the book :-)

There is quite a media buzz about the limits to sex education and the beginnings of instrucational pleasure education. All one and the same of course.

See thisfrom the metro paper that seems to be very excitable.

There has also been a recent article in the Guardian newspaper that prompted and Oxfam blog highlighting the need to broader the medical definations of sexual health, teach people about sexual satisifation away from porn and making sure contraception and infection prevention feels good too ..

Woo hoo way to go the pleasure wave increases …







And now a quick post from Arushi our travelling expert….arushi

Here I am, feverishly tapping out this blog in between trips. The past five months have seen me at home only for a few days at a time, while I have been going from one place to another, either for work or pleasure. As a result, this much delayed and long promised blog is combining a number of different threads that The Pleasure Project has been involved in. But mostly, it’s about condoms.

It all started in May when an an article in the guardian laid out the reasons behind people in their twenties and thirties using withdrawal instead of condoms or other, more reliable, contraceptive methods. It seemed like all the respondents for this article were dissing condoms for several reasons while using withdrawal or nothing as contraception! Some of the negatives against condoms were that they were funny, disgusting, awkward, or made sex seem premeditated. Strangely enough, these are all terms that I associate with awesome sex! I’m not a big fan of pulling out – it interrupts the sex act like nothing else does! Spontaneity goes for a toss if you’re using the rhythm method because you can’t have sex on certain days if you don’t want to get pregnant, no matter how horny you might be feeling.

Some people said they just weren’t confident about bringing up the subject of condoms, especially on a one night stand type situation. Now that is exactly the kind of situation where a condom would be most useful. The author of the article seemed to think that sex educators (in the UK) should focus on providing people with the language to talk about condoms, rather than only focusing on convincing them that they are sexy and erotic. I don’t see why we can’t continue to show people how sexy and erotic condoms can be, as well as helping them with language to initiate them.

Short Term Perceptions ?

Short Term Perceptions ?

Real Me Use Condoms?

 This lack of language or ability to bring up condoms holds true for younger people as well. The Pleasure Project was invited in June to a consultation on the emotional and social factors that affect the use of condoms among young people. The Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs had done a literature review on this and invited us to share our experiences on it. They wanted to discuss how we could re-position condoms for adolescents. Expert Consultation on condom use

Among the main issues that came out through the literature review on social and emotional factors affecting condom use among young people, trust and pleasure were high on the list. And both of these are related to conversation – having the right language, as well as discussing these issues at length with one’s partner(s) are critical to ensuring safer sexual experiences that are also intensely pleasurable.

Condoms are just another object we use in our love-making – people use sex toys, fetish objects like food, scat, whips and chains, among other things. But the public health world seems to have succeeded in associating them with risk and disease so much that they no longer fit with people’s idea of sexual pleasure. And of course, if I trust my partner, then why would I need to use condoms with them? (For your information, I’ve been with my trustworthy partner for 11 years and we have always used condoms – happily and with pleasure! We just don’t need to think about it at all – it comes naturally and both of us always have them handy, for when we get hot. Condoms are a part of the household grocery list, can’t run out of milk, coffee and condoms!)

One of my criticisms of the approach towards measuring the success of a public health programme is the obsession with counting the numbers of condoms rolled down penises. This, in my opinion, perpetuates the penis-in-vagina norm – as though that’s the only kind of sex, or what counts as ‘real’ sex, when there are myriad other ways of getting pleasure and which are also safer. Until public health professionals (and donors) don’t lose their inhibitions and talk about sex in the context of sexual pleasure instead of disease, they will not be able to achieve health outcomes effectively and instead have the danger of perpetuating harmful stereotypes around sex.

So this is only the first instalment of my travels around the world, talking sex, pleasure and condoms! Watch this space for some sensuality and food, and many more things!

Real Me Use Condoms? The note taker at the US Condoms meetings

Real Me Use Condoms? The note taker at the US Condoms meetings


We were thrilled to see the news about the new book Gay Men draw Vaginas and really hope our coffee table can grace one soon. They do a pretty good job.We are not totally sure about the pineapple but we think its good.


We were also THRILLED to hear them mention that they were inspired to draw vaginas on napkins when in a restaurant in Bangkok.

Could it? Would it ? Possibly be our GREAT WALL OF VAGINA event at fabulous Eat Me restaurant  in Bangkok 2004 Bangkok AIDS conference.

A rather special restaurant much favoured by our penis loving male friends. In fact we remember the restaurant owner telling the men that worked there on the night of the opening of the Great Wall of Vagina ‘ you think about cocks all the time, now have one night looked at vagina drawings‘. And us having to urge the rather surprisingly SHY gay boys  draw something they claimed they had never seen, inclduing the rather dashing Rupert Everett we might add. We said ‘ Well you saw one at least once’ so draw ‘your vision of one, or one you know well’

And they drew some lovely ones, some of which might be featured in our poster..

Vaginal Wall Poster

Well we are super chuffed that they might have been drawing vaginas since 2004 and we wish them all the best.

Our own Great Wall of VAGINA is a collection of drawings made by people affected by HIV, either those infected, those having safer sex, or risky sex, working with people having sex or being in some way part of the AIDS world. We collected them as part of condom promotion workshops, especially the female condom, in over 15 countries includnig China, Bangladesh, Mongolia, the UK, India, Thailand, Cambodia and Kenya,

We also were part of a large mobile mural project in India and we painted a large canvas as a as  a community in Delhi and watched it be sent off on a train across India..


So join the party Gay Boys and keep ’em coming….we love our Vagina art..



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