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An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner Paperback – November 20, 2012
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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
"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
Top Customer Reviews
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. While not officially a "self-help" book, I think this book can achieve personal results without professing to do so.
I always invited Cheryl to lecture in my sexuality classes for professionals and she was always awarded the highest evaluations by the students. I've encouraged her for years to write about her experience and with the creation of her remarkable story as expressed in the film, "The Sessions" to stimulate her, she has fulfilled my wish at last and has made her remarkable work and self available to the world.
"My Intimate Life" is an easy, fascinating read that is hard to put down. I strongly recommend this book to anyone wishing to explore the deeper meanings of sexuality and intimacy.
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.
The book's first chapter describes the iron lung patient on whom the movie "The Sessions" is based. It is important to remember/realize that people still have sexual needs, no matter how profoundly disabled. It was also astonishing to learn that the client was only 4'7" and 70 pounds.
The memoir is an interesting read, and because it covers her 40 years in the business, you get a little history of sex surrogacy as well. A different angle that shows similar benefits of "formal" sex is the Dutch movie "Ouwehoeren" (Meet the Fokkens), which is about twin 70-year-old prostitutes who recently retired after 50+ years and about 355,000 men. Compared to them, Cheryl's 900 clients amount to a drop in the seminal bucket.