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I Was a Sex Surrogate for 40 Years

The real-life surrogate who inspired Helen Hunt's Oscar-nominated "Sessions" role reveals what the film left out.

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I was going to ask about that, because we see a lot of jealousy there, so that was not present? Okay. So you really related to Mark then, in terms of the religious background and sort of baggage?

Oh God, yeah. I mean he was from Dorchester, if you know Boston, it’s a part of south Boston, and I was from Salem. And we related, in the Catholic end too, although he told me when we were together that he had to believe in a god because he had to blame someone. I loved it when I saw it in the movie with he and Susan. He had a marvelous sense of humor and we really did relate. He still had this guilt, I mean you know in the movie when he looks at Helen and he says to her, “When I’m naked, everybody else is clothed.” He [really] said those words. And he was waiting for his parents or a priest to come charging into the room, and I said then, “Not today.”

The movie definitely implies that your character experienced some very complex emotions towards him, and perhaps even romantic feelings. Is that accurate?

I did experience complex feelings, I did have – you know that scene where he has the orgasm, and then I actually held him in, and he didn’t lose his erection and I was able to have an orgasm with him? I kissed his chest, when I looked at his eyes, he had these beautiful blue eyes, and I could see tears in his eyes. I said, “What’s wrong?” I thought maybe something had happened and I was busy having my orgasm and ignoring him, and I had kissed his chest, and he had a – they couldn’t afford to do the special effects to really create Mark’s body, but his chest went up into like a ridge, and I just kissed him, and it was an emotional moment for both of us. And he did tell me he loved me and I told him I loved him. When you do what I do with people, there’s no lack of emotion. It’s a really good thing to be able to develop some, a friendship, a caring for each other. And I know, I’ve been with people in the past, and probably [with] clients in the future, where we’ve gone through so much together and we have an experience like that, and I love them. And I don’t feel like holding back and not saying that. But I actually said to Mark, “You can love people right in the moment. And I really love you right this second, or right these minutes. And you’re going to have a more rich and more delicious relationship in the future with somebody else that you can have the full type of relationship with.” And I worried that that wouldn’t happen, but it did, when he met Susan.

So I was kind of surprised by the scene where your character orgasms with him. It seems so intimate, and like she’s potentially allowing herself this real vulnerability. You just said that that actually did happen; is that something that routinely happens? Is that something that’s a bit of a challenge? It seems like you would feel so personally exposed.

Yeah, you know, I think we’re personally exposed throughout the whole process. Because, you know, we both do … we start off with being naked, and doing the breathing, and relaxing, and doing communication. Then we do something called “the mirror exercise,” where I stand up in front of a full-length mirror and I’m nude, and my client listens to me while I talk about my body, how I felt when I was growing up and how I feel now, and I can always hear my grandmother in the background saying, “You don’t have to tell them what you don’t like, they’re not even gonna notice!” [laughs] And people will say to me, “Gee, I wouldn’t have noticed you had a waddle until you told me!”

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