A woman’s compelling memoir of her unusual career.
Being a surrogate partner is not a profession most people would choose, but as Cohen Greene points out in this moving account, it’s not uncommon for someone to require a surrogate’s assistance. “My ultimate aim,” she writes, “is to model a healthy intimate relationship for a client, and that involves much more than intercourse.” First developed by William Masters and Virginia Johnson in the 1960s, surrogate partners help men and women, singles and couples, with sexual issues. Whether it is premature ejaculation, lack of desire or experience, a poor body image, or a lack of knowledge regarding genitalia, surrogates help a person "address some of the most deeply personal, anxiety-provoking issues that they…face.” Over a series of six to eight visits, a surrogate uses deep breathing and relaxation techniques to help a person reconnect with his/her sexual self. As the two become more intimate, hands-on exercises eventually lead to sexual intercourse. Growing up Catholic, where her frequent masturbation and sexual activity at age 14 were major topics during confession, Cohen Greene had some major hurdles to cross before becoming a surrogate, but coming-of-age during the sexual revolution of the 1970s and a move to the San Francisco Bay area helped. The author adroitly twines stories of her own life with tales of compassionate care for a wide variety of clients, including the physically handicapped and a 70-year-old virgin. Baring it all in a sexually explicit but clinical, non-erotic way, Cohen Greene opens a door onto an intimate life of some of the more than 900 partners she has worked with over the course of four decades. Her work with one handicapped man is the basis of the film The Sessions, starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt.
An illuminating revelation of the unfamiliar.