Patients With Benefits
Meet the real sex surrogate from "The Sessions"
In a surrogate, clients find someone willing not just to accept, but literally to embrace the parts of themselves they find most shameful—and the issues that come up in that process are rarely limited to the bedroom. Blanchard recalls a 50-year-old germaphobe who was finally able to overcome a lifelong fear of kissing; a pro athlete who realized the anxiety he felt in the bedroom was left over from childhood feelings of being unloved by his mother. In her new memoir, An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner, Cohen Greene writes about a man whose marriage was on the rocks because he'd developed a bondage fetish and a predilection for wearing constricting clothing. When Cohen Greene indulged the fantasy, the man was able to unlock a long-buried memory of childhood abuse by a babysitter.
IPSA puts prospective surrogates through an in-depth screening process, followed by 100 hours of classes and an internship lasting up to a few years; surrogates-in-training learn, among other things, relaxation techniques, body-image therapies, and mindfulness of all sensations, not just sexual ones. But there is much that can't be taught. Clichéd as it might sound, Cohen Greene has an innate ability to find something attractive in every human being—and something enjoyable in every experience. Of one client who was obese and prone to road rage: “He was very ashamed of his body and didn't think anybody would touch him. After our first session, we became more intimate, with him touching me. I was stroking his back, and his skin was so soft and so smooth. Of course I felt the weight, but that wasn't the focus. It was more about how clean he smelled, how wonderful his skin felt against mine, and, eventually, what a wonderful kisser he was.”
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