From the Publisher
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
A woman's compelling memoir of her unusual career. Being a surrogate partner is not a profession most people would choose, but as Cohen Greene points out in this moving account, it's not uncommon for someone to require a surrogate's assistance. "My ultimate aim," she writes, "is to model a healthy intimate relationship for a client, and that involves much more than intercourse." First developed by William Masters and Virginia Johnson in the 1960s, surrogate partners help men and women, singles and couples, with sexual issues. Whether it is premature ejaculation, lack of desire or experience, a poor body image, or a lack of knowledge regarding genitalia, surrogates help a person "address some of the most deeply personal, anxiety-provoking issues that they…face." Over a series of six to eight visits, a surrogate uses deep breathing and relaxation techniques to help a person reconnect with his/her sexual self. As the two become more intimate, hands-on exercises eventually lead to sexual intercourse. Growing up Catholic, where her frequent masturbation and sexual activity at age 14 were major topics during confession, Cohen Greene had some major hurdles to cross before becoming a surrogate, but coming-of-age during the sexual revolution of the 1970s and a move to the San Francisco Bay area helped. The author adroitly twines stories of her own life with tales of compassionate care for a wide variety of clients, including the physically handicapped and a 70-year-old virgin. Baring it all in a sexually explicit but clinical, non-erotic way, Cohen Greene opens a door onto an intimate life of some of the more than 900 partners she has worked with over the course of four decades. Her work with one handicapped man is the basis of the film The Sessions, starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. An illuminating revelation of the unfamiliar.
Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from An Intimate Life
I slowly lifted off the blanket that covered him. His frail body was in a red, long-sleeve, button down shirt and a pair of black sweatpants. Slow and gentle, slow and gentle, I said to myself, like a mantra. “Let’s start with your shirt.” I undid the first button and then worked my way down the column of buttons. When I was finished I undid the button at the wrist of his left sleeve. Then I folded his shirt over his arm as much as I could. The collar rested off his shoulder against Mark’s salt-colored skin. I briskly rubbed my hands together to warm them up and then slid one under the shirt. I slowly brought Mark’s delicate arm toward me while inching the sleeve off of his shoulder. As I continued to peel it away I brought his arm gradually back down toward the bed. The sleeve was almost completely off when Mark screamedloud. Oh my God! Had I hurt him? “What’s going on?” I said in as calm a voice as I could muster. “My nail, you caught my nail in the shirt,” he said. “Okay, okay
Let me see.” I freed his fingers from the shirt that was now clustered around his hand. “Mark, I need to know when something doesn’t feel good, but yelling isn’t sexy. I know we need to be very careful with your body, so don’t ever not tell me if you’re feeling uncomfortable or worried about getting hurt, but try to do it in a calmer voice. Remember, part of what we’re doing here is modeling how you’ll communicate with a partner and that could really scare someone and kill the mood.” Sure scared me, I thought. I realized that I had goose bumps on my skin that I hoped that Mark didn’t notice. “Do you need some oxygen before we go on?” To my surprise he didn’t. After I had freed his left side from his shirt I went to work on the right.