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.

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..



button_thumbIt all sounds like quite a tall order but we at pleasure towers have a theory and we have put it out there on the open democracy forum . Open Democracy ‘is a digital commons – a pluralist, high quality online space free and open to all – covering world affairs, ideas and culture’





So our view is that not only is discussion of pleasure important for expanding our ideas and sex lives into bigger broader explorations of good safe sex but also for a much more inclusive more exciting and more liberating type of sexual liberation

‘Sexual liberation is not only about more sex for some people, or more orgasms, but should prioritize pleasure, consent, and respect for a range of sexualities, (dis)abilities and body types’.

So we think 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’.

hippiekissIts not enough to ensure that some groups get liberation in the form of more orgasms but to open up aspirations for safe pleasure in a wider range of relationships, or for people not traditionally expected to experience pleasure.

We also stride forth on our usual pleasure propoganda that sexual pleasure does not cause sexually transmitted diseases but fear based sex education does, so we think that ..

Safer sex is promoted best through positive incentives and building communities of practise, learning from people who constantly negotiate safer sex, like sex workers, with people who are seen as the experts, like sex educators.

Anyhow read it for yourself just here in full and let us know what you think of our theory for a new kind of sexual revolution, that just might be televised this time if we let the cameras into our bedrooms.






susan sontag

This week our very own rather brilliant pleasure propagandist Arushi, sings the praises of asking the right questions of your self to make the most of your sexual career. And basically taking responsibility to know what makes you feel good (and letting other people know..)

See her post here on the hiv stops with me website.

She also busts the myth that ‘real’ sex means putting his key in her ignition*  and gives some great sexy tips about all the other types of sexy stuff you can try, that is also real good safe sex.

After all you don’t want to end up like poor old Rockefeller..


* you know ;-)  or else email us…


conditions for great sexHappy New Year Pleasure Propagandists ! Its been quite a year out there for pleasure and safer sex.

The year really kicked off for us when we attended an International Women’s Day Festival in London although we got a bit depressed about the lack of encouragement for women to seek pleasure.  We did find a pussy blanket that was magnificent, and not unlike our very own Great Wall of Vagina  and we take part in a wild session about feminist porn or the ability to make explicit materials that are sexy, consensual and hot. The audience trumped the panel for entertainment values with the sweetest mum in the world making a daring confession spurred on by discovering cherry lube in his room. However,  the debate was terrible with polarized positions, complete lack of evidence and personal emotional attacks. And to top it all no one mentioned sexual health or well-being. Porn was being blamed with causing sexual violence in the Congo to erectile dysfunction in ten year olds in the UK. We agreed there needs to be better research especially on access to internet porn, which allows unheard of ease to see hard core porn.

And of course the world needs to still wake up to lube and safer sex.

In the meantime getting frustrated about the lack of any informed debate on good safe porn  we wrote a chapter (hurrah) in the rather brilliant book focused on pleasure ..Could watching porn increase our expectations of safe pleasure ?

image‘Women, Sexuality and the Political Power of Pleasure’ published by Zed  We give our  new view of harm reduction and the possibilities of good safe sex in porn and some of the wonderful people who do just that. We quote a few brilliant dirty writers who always do it safe to show how much the safer sex world has to learn about pleasure from the pleasure world. The book is filled with pleasure propogandists talking good sense such as Jo Doezema who busts some myths about sex workers and pleasure, such as ….they never getting it at work or that sex work is  ’easy money’. Jo talks  sex workers as ‘pleasure professionals’ have a huge amount of skills to teach non sex workers about pleasure, something we could not agree more with at Pleasure Towers,  as the best good safe sex skills can often  be traced back to a sex worker.


omgAnd then in March Bill Gates dared to say the word pleasure…..and issued a call for more pleasurable condoms. WOW. We held onto our hats and latexgot quite excited. It felt like the Pleasure WAVE was building and we also had pleasure articles on national  US radio and the Huffington Post. So we said  “Hurrah!” to the Gates Grand Challenge – but with some trepidation – as the call asks for only ‘product changing’ proposals. This is not just a techno fix…We know that the biggest sexual organ is the brain. …

That is a vibrating cock ring feels sexy, why can’t the ring of a female condom ? Or if a tight fitting latex pants are  hot ?

Why can’t the slow roll of a condom down a dick feel the same way ?

But onward and upward….and upward indeed. In April we were featured in a rather brilliant article in The Guardian ‘Lets be more open about the Joy of Sex’ In this our work to map pleasure work and see pleasure as the primary motivation for sex as a positive and a way forward. The Pleasure Project took part in an online chat with The Guardian about how sex education needs to move away from the mechanics of sex to the skills and joy of it.

masturabtionIn May, International Masturbation Month we urged you all to take pleasure into our own hands and have some good safe solo sex and got a mention in the New Yorker about our pleasure salons in Delhi’s bookstores..

Later in the year we were asked to give an Ignite Talk at the HIVOS Open for Change which brought a huge range of social innovators to Rotterdam to talk about how they are changing the world. We heard about alternative currencies in Brazil, art in Kenya and computer gaming for social change. We also gave an Ignite Talk, a rather petrifying experience..called the TED X on speed.….

and ran a workshop with the rather Brilliant ‘O Project’ our long lost sister spreading the word about the beauty of female pleasure in Indonesia.

The year wrapped up with a BIG bang. We launched our new website and tool kit ‘ The Trainers Guide to the Secrets of Mixing Pleasure and Prevention‘ at the Bangkok AIDS conference.

We hosted a packed out satellite meeting ‘Saying Yes to Good Safe Sex’ with interesting debates about the skills needed to have good and safer sex, but also some interesting questions to  one of our speakers.  See the chat on twitter. Ana Santos, ever the good sport got down on all fours to show some really practical ways to have good safe sex. Arushi talks about it all here and how the audience called for some pleasure GPS. And videos of the workshop attendees selling good hot safe sex are here.

We also launched in partnership a good sexy erotic video site Tongue in Cheek TV with real couples enjoying satisfying good safer sex and a huge video library to download for your pleasure.. Here is a snap from one of the scenes..and take a look at the videos. You can try three for free..

See you all in 2014 for more hot safe sex…




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