Sexual healing for church’s roof and elevator

Having fun while raising cash for Judson Church at Pleasure Activist Sunday, seated, Linda M. Montano, left, and Veronica Vera, and standing, from left, Robin Leonardi, Annie Sprinkle, Beth Stephens, Barbara Carrellas, Janna Jassen, BarbiKat and Veronica Hart. Photos by Bob Krasner

BY BOB KRASNER | Picture this: The local church is having a fundraiser, spearheaded by a group of women who have great affection for their place of worship.

If you have an image of traditional church ladies making cookies for the bake sale, fuggedaboudit. The sanctuary in question is the Judson Memorial Church, and the women organizers are led by Veronica Vera, a former porn actress who notably runs Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls, a cross-dressing academy.

Vera, a self-described “sex-positive feminist activist,” said she considers Judson her “spiritual home.” Wanting to help out financially with the Washington Square South church’s pressing need for a new roof and elevator, she enlisted the help of a few friends: Annie Sprinkle, the performance artist, activist, filmmaker and former porn star; Beth Stephens, an interdisciplinary artist, activist and educator and filmmaker; Linda M. Montano, a performance artist; Barbara Carrellas, an author, sex educator, performance artist and certified sexologist; Veronica Hart, an actress, director and former porn star; and Betty Dodson, a sex educator, pro-sex feminist and author. A veritable Dream Team of vivaciousness, they came together for an event dubbed, fittingly, Pleasure Activist Sunday.

The group drew a sizable crowd, who were eager to chat with these accomplished women, as well as check out the various vendors tables.

Raffle tickets were sold; one gentleman looked somewhat surprised when he walked away with a deluxe dildo. Food and drink were consumed. And healing, massages and cuddles were offered while the silent auction quietly rang up sales.

The auction consisted of, among other things, a variety of memorabilia, which included original XXX movie posters donated by Ashley West of, a Web site dedicated to the history of “the golden age of adult film.”

HBO’s “The Deuce” contributed a promo poster for the show signed by all the principals, including James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal. HBO also handed over “the largest single cash donation” for the event, according to Vera. Vera, Hart and Sprinkle have all consulted on “The Deuce.”

The event’s big-ticket item turned out to be an original oil painting on paper by Clover Vail, a Judson congregant.

Veronica Hart came in from L.A. to support the project, not just because she is a good friend of Vera’s.

“I’m the most religious of this group,” she explained. “And this embodies what a church should be — it embraces everyone.”

Judson’s Reverend Donna Schaper spoke specifically of the church’s history of helping outsiders, and why it made perfect sense that the sale of sex toys and dirty magazines would pay for a new elevator.

“We are a sex-positive congregation,” she explained. “And that puts us beyond liberal. This church set up a health clinic on wheels to help sex workers in the ’50s.”

Annie Sprinkle with a silent-auction item, a poster for “The Deuce,” signed by the cast. The HBO show — whose title is a nickname for 42nd St. — is about the porn industry in the 1970s.

Partners Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens chose the event to premiere their new documentary film, “Water Makes Us Wet,” an “ecosexual” study of H2O that looks at the spiritual, sexual and practical nature of the liquid.

“We wanted to show it here first,” said Sprinkle. “It’s much more special than a film festival.”

The whole evening was a major success, according to Vera.

“We made much more than we expected,” she said. “We’re still counting the money and the total is about $7,500.”

Watching the volunteers at work and noting the contributions of various groups, Reverend Schaper said, “I am so moved by how much help Judson gets from the people who are considered outcasts. The way to be a good church is to side with the outsiders.”

By the way, homemade cookies were served, courtesy of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise. They came decorated with a variety of words and phrases, such as “Bite Me,” “Suck It,”  “69” and a few more that are not printable in a family paper.

Information on how to donate to the Judson Memorial Church’s $4 million renovation project is available at

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