Private Practices (Unrated) 1986

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(19) IMDb 6.5/10

In this cult doc from 1985, director Kirby Dick (This Film Is Not Yet Rated) weaves a fascinating study of the curious role of a sex surrogate in the then-new discipline of sexual therapy. Maureen Sullivan and two of her clients agreed to have the entire progression of their therapy taped, and what emerges is a disarming and compassionate look at the struggles people face in connecting with one another. Twenty-five-year-old Kipper is a virginal grad student who gets nervous just talking to a girl, let alone touching her, and John, at 45, is newly divorced and suffering from fears of sexual inadequacy. As Maureen attempts to build up their confidence, she also exposes her own doubts in this touching film that dismisses a clinical approach to sex.

Starring:
Catherine Coulson, Kirby Dick
Runtime:
1 hour, 15 minutes

Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Kirby Dick
Starring Catherine Coulson, Kirby Dick
Supporting actors Noreen Hennesey, Warren Robert Jason, Maureen Sullivan
Studio Zeitgeist Films

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3.5 out of 5 stars
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Alice K. on January 29, 2009
Format: DVD
I loved this film--as an 80s time-capsule of poor video quality and bad fashions, it immediately sucks you in. I expected it to be a kind of comical, after-school-special type film, but it is so unflinchingly honest about private human impulses and desires and longing to connect with others that I found myself quite moved. The director commentary is really great--he goes through the interesting boom-and-bust history of sex surrogacy, what happened to Maureen after the film, and what it was like to film such intimate scenes. At first I thought his conversational partner was annoying and borderline rude, but then I realized that he does represent a common reaction to the film--that of, "Well isn't she just a prostitute?"--and Kirby Dick respectfully treats it as a valid reaction but goes on to articulate what makes Maureen's work so special, and why she's so good at it. See this film!!
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By R. Robinson on May 22, 2010
Format: DVD
Other than I think she talks to much for a therapist(and is a bit overbearing in response to her feminist mentality), often interrupting her patients stream of consciousness speak, but there are plenty of interesting bits in this movie as we view the mind of some of these men and their perceptions about women and about themselves. The scene at 44 minutes is one, you see the 2 brothers contrasting attitudes, and the one that is a patient, his has grown and he is likely to surpass his brother as a lover because of his changing attitude and education that his "hands on" therapist has given him. I like this film, the humility it takes for all these people to go on camera share their most intimate of thoughts, words, and actions (and this before reality t.v.; it makes me humble myself and want to work on improving myself by defeating the negative perceptions of myself and others. The scene at 57 minutes with the therapist's family is also very enlightening.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Seb on June 20, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
1980's documentary styled, its a fair honest sharing with minimal nudity. Lots of talking, like witnessing private therapy sessions. Do wonder if there are any surragotes out there to help.
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By MsKyle on July 9, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a very sensitive documentary by a first time filmmaker about a topic that really deserves to be covered. Whether you agree with sexual surrogacy or not, some people need help breaking out of fears and insecurities about sex. I am a psychotherapist who is studying this option on behalf of my patients. I believe that with proper boundaries and the involvement of an ethical psychotherapist, this can be a beneficial therapeutic experience. It is a lucky thing that this is legal in California and there are therapists who are skilled and respectful. My only concern is not about how the film was made, but about the training of the surrogate. I thought she did an excellent job overall, but made some serious mistakes. Hopefully, modern day surrogacy has benefited from past learning.
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Format: DVD
Touching, poignant, and beautiful. Real people dealing with real problems.

I enrolled in a sociology class in 1976 at CSU Long Beach, after I got out of the Marines. Sitting next to me was a pretty redhead. I made friends with her. She was Maureen Sullivan.

I wish I could have gotten to know her better. I went off to grad school and she went into the line of work shown in this film.

A few years later I heard of her horrible car accident in a snowstorm. I don't know what happened to her after that.
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16 of 25 people found the following review helpful By doctork on June 28, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I watched the film partly out of curiousity. Yes, my hormoes were jumping. I enjoy tasteful nudity. At the same time, orgies without a plot become dull at best. Having used sex surrogate services in the 80s when my girlfriend wanted a guy to use what he had better than just its size. After getting some help, there was a better ability to please her but I still fell short. Should have stayed with one surrogate longer.

The surrogate in this film is part of the story. But the supporting therapists provide very helpful guidance to the clients depicted. Moreoever she worked with each from Day 1 and had a definite plan as well as a time table. The two surrogates I utilized sat on a bed and spread their legs. Each was paid separately every time. To them I was a paying John, not a client who needed counseling. One became more helpful after a few times. But still she did not have a long term plan for helping me much. The other just waited for me to perform w/o providing any guidance.

This surrogate learned about her clients' needs and helped them to acquire needed knowledge, discussing things as she went along. She was under therapy herself so the sessions fulfilled some sex needs.

I wish this film would have been made in the 80s. Of course CPUs did not exist vs today. My partner would have been much more pleased then had I the chance to apply what was learned while we were still dating. The surrogate who I valued invited her clients to talk and discuss common interests, to relieve some of the anxiety before the learning sesssions.
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