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An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner Paperback – November 20, 2012


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An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner + How I Became a Human Being: A Disabled Man's Quest for Independence (Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (November 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593765061
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593765064
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #658,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Thanks to the movie The Sessions, starring Helen Hunt and John Hawkes, the story is well known. Greene is a surrogate partner, not a sex surrogate, yet the first line is an eye-opener, I have had over nine hundred sex partners. As a surrogate partner, she explains, she uses hands-on methods to help clients to overcome their sexual problems. She admits that some people may still equate what she does with prostitution. Whereas prostitution is one of the world’s oldest professions, she counters, surrogacy is one of the newest. Although Greene has been a surrogate partner since 1973, today few people practice it. According to Greene, the International Professional Surrogates Association only has 50 members. Greene’s clients come from all walks of life and socioeconomic levels, including CEOs, truck drivers, attorneys, and carpenters. The youngest was 18; the oldest, 89. Greene interweaves her own story with stories of her clients (names, physical characteristics, and mannerisms have been changed to protect their privacy) to create a provocative and unusual book about a provocative and unusual profession. --June Sawyers

Review

Praise for An Intimate Live

"Cheryl Cohen Greene's book allows us to share in her beautiful work. We read about sexual healing and we are healed ourselves. Give yourself the gift of reading this book and getting a glimpse of what is possible." —Helen Hunt

"A rare look at a worthy and fascinating subject. At its core a love story, Cheryl Cohen Greene¹s memoir demystifies surrogacy and debunks its creaky myths with an empowering sense of dignity and truth. Raw, brave, touching and ­ above all ­ unflinchingly honest." —John Hawkes

"A woman’s compelling memoir of her unusual career…Baring it all in a sexually explicit but clinical, non-erotic way, Cohen Greene opens a door onto an intimate life... Her work with one handicapped man [Mark O'Brien] is the basis of the film The Sessions, starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. An illuminating revelation of the unfamiliar." —Kirkus

"For more than 30 years of our personal and professional association I have urged Cheryl Cohen Greene to tell her story to the world. Finally here it is. "An Intimate Life" is bolder, more sensitive, more touching, more entertaining, more informative, and just plain more fascinating than I ever could have hoped. This is a wonderful book on so many levels I can honestlyrecommend it to anyone." —Isadora Alman, author of Doing It: Real People Having Really Good Sex

"An Intimate Life could easily fall into the realm of sensationalism that plagues most media depictions of Cohen Greene's career, but in Cohen Greene's memoir, there are no sexual freaks or failures. Her clients are everyday people with universal problems, and Cohen Greene confronts their sexual hangups with the frank assessment of a nurse." —Windy City Times

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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This well-written book gives very frank details on various hangups normal people can have about having sex.
Pete Duskey
Its a good read but much more...I thank and admire Cheryl for sharing her intimate life story and enlightening myself and others about her work!
RebeccaJean
It's good there are people like Cheryl out there to compassionately help others overcome sexual shame and obstacles.
Kendra Holliday

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bob Spinner on December 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is an eye-opener. Not only do you learn about an occupation that few people are aware of or understand, but you learn about Cheryl. Cheryl demonstrates a level of sensitivity, feeling, emotional honesty and wisdom that Deepak Chopra only wishes he had. In clear, almost matter-of-fact language, she depicts behavior and emotions that are difficult to even acknowledge. This is a woman who deserves all the attention this book and the accompanying movie, "The Sessions," are receiving. In a world where Reality TV pretends to be real, Cheryl provides a window on a reality that is authentic. Oh, did I mention it was funny? Well, it is. So stop reading this review and buy the book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Harvey Caplan on December 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a physichiatrist/sex therapist, I was originally skeptical of referring patients for surrogate partner work, but having worked near exclusively with Cheryl Cohen Greene for over 20 years, I've often expressed the wish that every man would have the opportunity to work with Cheryl--it would change many lives for the better. Talk therapy and homework for sex problems can be quite therapeutic, but nothing rivals direct, hands on experience under the tutelage of a deeply committed therapist like Cheryl. Most every referral has achieved positive outcomes, not just in terms of improved sexual functioning, but in developing intimacy and sensitivity that can be transferred to the original relationship. It is no surprise that many patients fall in love with Cheryl, but it is a measure of her profound skill that these patients are ultimately able to detach and transfer sexual functioning and intimacy to the primary relationship or improve their skills and confidence in establishing new relationships.

Cheryl's evolution as a surrogate partner is a most fascinating journey from her roots in a conservative Catholic milieu to marvelous spokesperson for the wonders that healthy sexuality and true intimacy can provide. The writing is concise, descriptive and clear--I must say Cheryl's explicit descriptions of her work with clients directly convey the essence of her selfless giving of herself and generosity. The reader can "feel" her through her words and come away with a near direct appreciation of what this amazing woman accomplishes. Like wishing that every man (and woman) had the direct experience of Cheryl, I similarly wish that all would read this honest, sensitive experience of Cheryl's work and come away much the better for it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Van Raalte on December 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't have a review, I just had to give this 5 stars. FAS.CI.NA.TING. Could not put down, finished it in two sittings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dan Missildine on June 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I chose this book because I had seen the movie "The Sessions" starring Helen Hunt. The movie is based on Cheryl T. Cohen-Greene life and career. Although the movie focuses on just one case, her book is a broad overview of her life and the complex family relationships that led to her career and how her choices impacted her family and others.

The author is astute and honest in her observations, especially when examining her life and the cultures she has lived in and understanding why she made the decisions she did.

An excellent read and finally a powerful, moving story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sally Baxter on February 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner is profoundly moving on so many levels. First, of course, is the honest discussion of sex and intimacy. But beyond that, this book also honors marginalized groups, like the disabled, by portraying them a whole, vibrant people complete with the need for sex and intimacy and fully capable of having those things in their lives. The book is also a wonderful portrayal of the unique journey of the women of the Baby Boomer generation, myself included, who were raised by mothers with the values of the 40s and 50s, but who came of age in the turbulent 60s when everything changed for women. This is a must-read with an important message about love, intimacy, acceptance, and forgiveness!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By mj on June 13, 2013
Format: Paperback
I am the wrong person to review Cheryl Cohen-Greene's memoir because, like the key people in her life who made her unhappy, I can be very judgmental. It was hard for me to respect her when she admitted that her career was a way to channel an overactive libido (p. 124), that she started masturbating daily at age 10 and started having frequent sex at age 14. When she wrote that she had the most popular jock boyfriends in high school because of her vibrant personality, it reminded me of the old term "putting out". That she ended up married and pregnant at 19 and on welfare in California while attending wife-swapping parties, and then having a polyamorous marriage with a former client as the second co-husband... I couldn't see her as a credible therapist.

And that's why I rate this book so highly. Because despite my incredulity, and despite my dislike of her apparent lack of self-esteem, I could not put the book down.

Her client stories are written in a very step-by-step factual way. She clearly and repeatedly describes the process she uses with her clients, with whom she has 4-8 sessions, getting naked on the first session. Her basic approach is to teach clients (mostly men) how to be considerate lovers, ask what a partner wants, and be honest about what he wants or doesn't want. She likes to give an analogy about how a surrogate partner differs from a prostitute. Going to a prostitute is like going to a restaurant and ordering dinner, but going to a surrogate is like going to culinary school and learning how to cook a fine meal. But the book is not self-help material, because I think you have to learn these techniques through personal interaction with a partner you like and trust. Whether that person is a surrogate, a prostitute, or someone you love depends on you.
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