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Review: An Intimate Life: Sex, Love and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner

Hey sex fans!

I have another swell sex-positive book to tell you about today. Anyone who frequents this site will already be familiar with my dear friend and esteemed colleague, Cheryl Cohen Greene. If ya don’t believe me type her name into the search function in the sidebar to your right and PRESTO!

Not only will you find the fabulous two-part SEX WISDOM podcast we did together, (Part 1 is HERE! And Part 1 is HERE!) you will find a posting about the movie The Sessions. You’ve seen it right? It’s the award-winning film staring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy. It’s the story of a man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity.  He contacts a professional surrogate partner with the help of his therapist and priest. Ms. Hunt plays Cheryl, the surrogate partner in the movie

Cheryl also contributed a chapter on sex and intimacy concerns for sick, elder and dying people for my book, The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying.

With all that as a preface, I now offer you Cheryl’s own story: An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner. The first thing I want to say is this book is it’s not a clinical or technical tome. It is an easily accessible memoir. And that, to my mind, is what makes it so fascinating.

She writes in the Introduction:An Intimate Life

I started this work in 1973, and my journey to it spans our society’s sexual revolution and my own. I grew up in the ‘40s and ‘50s, a time when sex education was—to put it mildly— lacking. As I educated myself, I found that most of what I had been taught about sex was distorted or wrong. The lessons came from the playground, the church, and the media. My parents could barely talk about sex, much less inform me about it.

What follows is a candid and often funny look into the personal and professional life of a woman on the cutting edge of our culture’s movement toward sexual wellbeing.

Cheryl comes out of her conservative Catholic upbringing and her often tortured family dynamics with what one would expect—her own sexual awakenings as well as the conspiracy of ignorance and repression that wanted to stifle it. This is a common story, the story of so many of us.

Starting when I was around ten, I masturbated and brought myself to orgasm nearly every night. … If my nights began with anxiety, my days began with guilt. I became convinced that every earache, every toothache, every injury was God punishing me. … I couldn’t escape his gaze or his wrath. Sometimes I imagined my guardian angel looked away in disgust as I touched myself and rocked back and forth in my bed.

The miracle here is that this troubled tween would blossom into the remarkable sexologist she is today.

rsz_1greenecherylSome of the chapters in her book describe one or another of her hands on therapeutic encounters as a surrogate partner, but equally important and compelling are the chapters that describe Cheryl’s own sexual struggles as she moved to adulthood and beyond. Cheryl’s acceptance of her own sexuality enables her to build a career out of helping others do the very same thing.

Everyone has a right to satisfying, loving sex, and, in my experience, that most often flows from strong communication, self-respect, and a willingness to explore.

Despite the frank discussion of sexual topics within the book, there is no prurience or sensationalism. For the most part, Cheryl’s clients are regular people, mostly men, who have pretty ordinary problems—erection and/or ejaculation concerns, dating difficulties, as well as self-esteem, guilt and shame issues. Cheryl helps each of her clients with the efficiency and confidence of the world-class sex educator she is. Most of her interaction involves her supplying her clients with some much-needed information, dispelling myths, and giving them permission to experiment. As she says;

I continue to be amazed at how solid education delivered without judgment can eradicate much of the guilt and shame that turns life in the bedroom into a struggle instead of a pleasure.

Her most famous client, Mark O’Brien, the 36-six-year-old man who had spent most of his life in an iron lung after contracting polio at age 6, was the author of How I Became a Human Being: A Disabled Man’s Quest for Independence, in which he writes about his experience with Cheryl. This, of course, was adapted into a film, The Sessions, which I mentioned above. For her part, Cheryl delivers a most poignant remembrance of Mark early in her book.

I explained Sensual Touch to Mark. Although he was paralyzed, he still had sensation all over his body, so he would feel my hands moving up and down. … I encouraged him to try and recognize four common reactions: feeling neutral, feeling nurtured, feeling sensual and feeling sexual.

An Intimate Life chronicles Cheryl’s life-long interest in human sexuality. Her life and sometimes-turbulent loves are on display, but in the most considerate fashion. She teaches by example. She’s even able to speak with great compassion of her time living with and through cancer.

As I inch toward seventy, I appreciate more and more how much I have to be grateful for and how fortunate I’ve been. I was lucky to find a wonderful career and to be surrounded by so many smart, adventurous, caring people. My personal sexual revolution auspiciously paralleled our culture’s, and in many ways was made possible by it. I am eternally grateful to the pioneers, rebels, and dreamers who made our society a little safer for women who embrace their sexuality.

There is so much I loved about this book, but mostly it’s the humanity I found in abundance. Cheryl’sdr.-cheryl-cohen-greene enlightened soul shines brightly from every page. Her no nonsense approach to all things sexual is an inspiration. And her perseverance to bring surrogate partner therapy into the mainstream is laudable.

…what separates surrogates from prostitutes is significant. When people have difficulties grasping [that], I turn to my beloved and late friend Steven Brown’s cooking analogy that I’ve so often relied on to help me through that question: Seeing a prostitute is like going to a restaurant. Seeing a surrogate is like going to culinary school.

Finally, An Intimate Life is the culmination of Cheryl’s life as a sex educator, her surrogate partner therapy practice being just part of that mission. I highly recommend you read this book. You will, I assure you, come away from it as I have, a better person—enriched, informed, as well as entertained.

Cheryl, thank you for being in my life and being such an abiding inspiration. Thank you too for this marvelous book; now you can be in the lives of so many others who need you so that you can inspire them along their way.

Be sure to visit Cheryl on her site HERE!

More SEX WISDOM With Katie Querna — Podcast #427 — 09/10/14


Hello sex fans! Welcome back.

As you remember from last week, this week marks the end of my podcasting career. I’ve done 427 shows in just under eight years and I’ve decided that’s plenty. While I am exceptionally proud of the quality programming I’ve brought to you, my international audience, it’s time to call it quits. But I’m happy to report, all my podcasts are archived right here on my site and they will remain so for the foreseeable feature. So I hope you will visit often.

For my last show I welcome back my good friend, colleague, social worker, and real life neighbor, Katie Querna for Part 2 of her appearance on this the SEX WISDOM show.IMG_6200

But wait, you didn’t miss Part 1 of this conversation, did you? Well not to worry if ya did, because, like I mentioned above, all my podcasts are archived here. All ya gotta do is use the search function in the header; type in Podcast #426 and Voilà! But don’t forget the #sign when you do your search.

Katie and I discuss:

  • Sex pairings and sex role stereotyping;
  • Gayle Rubin’s “Charmed Circle”;
  • The disparity in access to reproductive and sexual health care for women and men;
  • Fear of sex and sexuality;
  • Children, teens, sex, and gender;
  • Learning is a lifelong process.

Katie invites you to visit her on her site HERE!

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Look for all my podcasts on iTunes they will remain archived there as well. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously. Just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice.

Today’s podcast is bought to you by: Dr Dick’s Stockroom.

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The SEX WISDOM of PJ Raval — Podcast #421 — 06/16/14


Hey sex fans, welcome back.

Our Pride Month extravaganza continues, but we will be shifting gears a bit today.PJ 02

After two weeks visiting with a noted Australian author, Benjamin Law, with his unique perspective on the gay scene in Asia, we circle back home to meet an equally remarkable personality who is making waves with his groundbreaking move, Before You Know It.

This is the SEX WISDOM show and I have the distinct pleasure of welcoming the award winning filmmaker and documentarian, PJ Raval. He is here to discuss his movie, which features three senior and elder gay men. I know, what in the world was he thinking?

PJ goes out of his way to make the invisible visible by shining his spotlight on an often-ignored segment of our youth-oriented culture and the result is nothing short of stunning. Stay tuned as we find out how and why.

PJ and I discuss:

  • Kyle Henry who brought us together;
  • The role of the editor in creating filmmaking art;
  • The documentary and how it is different from fictional story telling;
  • How he came to choose the film’s subject matter;
  • Storytelling tapping into something more universal;
  • The community of independent filmmakers;
  • The difference between documentary filmmaking and journalism;
  • His editorial style;
  • The public viewing experience;
  • Before You Know It…a cautionary message;
  • Who is PJ Raval;
  • How long it took him to create his film;
  • Chasing the money.

PJ invites you to visit him on his movie’s site HERE! And be sure to like his film’s page on Facebook HERE! His movie even has its own twitter feed. You’ll find it HERE!

(Click on the movie poster below to find out more about PJ’s movie.)

before you know it

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Look for all my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously. Just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

Today’s Podcast is bought to you by: DR DICK’S — HOW TO VIDEO LIBRARY.

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More of the SEX WISDOM of Benjamin Law — Podcast #420 — 06/11/14


Hey sex fans, Benjamin Law-2

Benjamin Law, the author of the critically acclaimed book, Gaysia; Adventures in the Queer East is back with us for Part 2 of his turn on this is the SEX WISDOM show. I’m so glad he has more time to spend with us again this week because he charmed the pants off me last week.

But wait, you didn’t miss Part 1 of this conversation, did you? Well not to worry if ya did, because you can find it and all my podcasts in the Podcast Archive right here on my site. All ya gotta do is use the search function in the header; type in Podcast #419 and Voilà! But don’t forget the #sign when you do your search.

And I’m sure we’ll have another opportunity to hear Benjamin read from his book.

Benjamin and I discuss:

  • Sham marriages and marriages of convenience;
  • Growing gay consciousness in China;
  • Reparative therapy through the power of Christ, Allah, or Yoga;
  • Colonialism and sexual oppression;
  • The resilience of the sexual minority communities throughout Asia;
  • Asia, the gayest continent;
  • Cultural relativism and cultural imperialism;
  • How his travels changed his life;
  • Our queer family is global
  • His next book project.

Benjamin invites you to visit him on his site HERE! And he’s also on Twitter HERE!

Click on the cover art below for more information about Gaysia; Adventures in the Queer East.

Gaysia Adventures in the Queer East

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Look for all my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously. Just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

Today’s Podcast is bought to you by: Fleshlight & FleshJack.

SEX WISDOM With Benjamin Law — Podcast #419 — 06/04/14


Hello sex fans! Welcome back.

June is indeed bustin’ out all over. And that can mean only one thing here at Dr Dick’s Sex Advice. IT’S LGBT PRIDE MONTH! Hurray!

Benjamin Law-1

To kick off our celebration we’re gonna take an audio fieldtrip to the land down under to visit with one of the most interesting men I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. And seeing this is the SEX WISDOM show, you can be certain that my guest is among the movers and shakers in the field of human sexuality. Because this is the series where we meet researchers, educators, clinicians, pundits and philosophers who are helping us take a fresh look at our sexual selves.

My guest is none other than Benjamin Law, the author of the critically acclaimed book, Gaysia; Adventures in the Queer East. Benjamin is a journalist, columnist, and screenwriter. And has a Ph.D. in television writing and cultural studies, don’t cha know. His passion is evident in all he does, but he is also funny as all get out. I can’t wait for you to meet him.

Benjamin and I discuss:

  • His way with words;
  • Cleis Press, his North American Publisher;
  • His international audience;
  • Modern gay consciousness is linked to a certain economic class;
  • Bad reviews;
  • Sex tourism;
  • Living on the sexual fringe;
  • His travels throughout south Asia;
  • Religion, family responsibilities, and sexual minorities;
  • Sex work can come from a place of pride or from a place of desperation;
  • The double standard for women and men.

I’m going to make sure that Benjamin reads from Gaysia; Adventures in the Queer East, so you won’t want to miss that.

Benjamin invites you to visit him on his site HERE! And he’s also on Twitter HERE!

Click on the cover art below for more information about Gaysia; Adventures in the Queer East.

Gaysia Adventures in the Queer East

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Look for all my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously. Just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

Today’s podcast is bought to you by: Dr Dick’s Stockroom.

drdicksstockroom.jpg

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