Watch the trailer for Channel 4’s 40-Year-Old Virgins documentary
A 45-year-old devout Christian reveals how he lost his virginity to a 68-year-old ‘sex surrogate’ in a shocking new documentary.
40-Year-Old Virgins follows Clive, a British IT engineer, as he flies to the U.S. to meet Cheryl Cohen-Greene, a sex therapist and surrogate sexual partner whose work inspired last year’s Oscar-nominated film, The Sessions, starring Helen Hunt.
Mrs Cohen-Greene, who is married to a ‘wonderful, supportive partner’ and charges $300 for a two-hour session, performs multiple sex acts on Clive, who has intercourse for the first time after a fortnight of radical sex therapy.
40-Year-Old Virgins: A new British documentary follows Clive as he flies to the U.S. to meet Cheryl Cohen-Greene, a surrogate sexual partner whose work inspired last year’s Oscar-nominated film, The Sessions
Mrs Cohen-Greene, who makes approximately $50,000 a year, helps Clive to face his fears of intimacy during the documentary, which airs on Britain’s Channel 4 on Thursday,
She explained to the New York Post that ten percent of her clients are academics, or career-focused virgins who failed to concentrate on their love lives.
‘Theyâ€™re like “Oh my God, I donâ€™t want to come across as inexperienced,”; she said. ‘[The virgins] finally say, “Life is too short. Iâ€™ve got to go into surrogate therapy.”‘
40-Year-Old Virgins also follows 29-year-old virgin Rosie, who dreams of marriage and children, but can’t bear to be touched by men.
Rosie, who thinks men smell like ‘a cross between aftershave and ham’, is seen working with her own surrogate partner, 55-year-old Gary, an ex-professional tennis player turned counsellor.
‘If you want the job done, get an expert‘
She is determined to lose her virginity and says of her mission: ‘If you want the job done, get an expert.’
Channel 4’s chief creative officer, Jay Hunt, said of the documentary: ‘It’s heart-warming. I’ve never seen anything like it.
‘They talk in detail about what it’s like to have never had any sexual contact with anybody.’
Thanks to The Sessions, a real-life story about the late polio sufferer Mark Oâ€™Brien and his sex surrogate, Ms Cohen-Greene, several other real-life ‘sex surrogates’ have opened up about their controversial profession.
Shy virgin: Paying $300 for a two-hour session, Clive engages in multiple sex acts with Mrs Cohen-Greene, before he has intercourse for the first time after a fortnight of her radical sex therapy
Sex therapy: The documentary, set to air on Britain’s Channel 4 on Thursday, also follows 29-year-old virgin Rosie as she works with her sexual ‘surrogate’, Gary, 55
Fern Arden, the founder of a private clinic close to Manhattan’s Central Park West, is a sex therapist who provides treatment for psychosexual problems.
Her female staff of ‘surrogate partners’ give clients, mostly 40-something virgins, one-on-one coaching in ‘caressing techniques, kissing, feeling relaxed with another person in the nude and, inevitably, the sex act itself,’ according to the New York Post.
The film 40-year-old Virgin may have been a successful comedy of errors, however for these professionals, it is no laughing matter with overwhelming embarrassment and shyness crippling their self-esteem.
Ms Arden, who has a Ph.D from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality,explained: ‘The focus is not sex, but familiarity and intimacy. We provide an environment, not for sexual pleasure, but for sexual learning.
‘People tend to be ill-informed about what a surrogate partner does. They think of it pejoratively, the same as a sex worker, but itâ€™s not,’ she added.
‘Just as you have legitimate massage therapists and people who run massage parlors, there is a huge difference between them.’
Ms Arden charges clients between $3,000 and $5,000 for an average course of 12 to 15 sessions, some with herself, and some with the surrogate.
Today there are 30 sex surrogates registered in the U.S. under the International Professional Surrogates Association. Surrogates must complete a two-week training program with the society to become registered, and they mus also work for a licensed sex therapist.
Not everyone is convinced of the practice’s legality, or ethics, however.
Sex surrogates: Since the release of The Sessions, real-life ‘surrogates’ have opened up about their profession
One-on-one coaching: Sex surrogates help with caressing techniques, kissing, feeling relaxed with another person while naked with sex itself
Derrelle Janey, a defense attorney at the Manhattan law firm Gottleib and Gordon, believes a sex surrogate is much the same as professional prostitution.
He said: ‘It doesnâ€™t matter if the client is disabled, it doesnâ€™t matter if he is suffering from some kind of emotional distress – that just makes it kind of sad. They have agreed to pay money for a sexual experience, and everyone understands thatâ€™s the transaction. In my view, thatâ€™s prostitution.’
However Ms Arden, who founded the Abel 2 Counseling Center 22 years ago, and is not a member of the International Professional Surrogates Association, insists it is purely a public service.
Ms Ardenâ€™s staff have ‘college degrees’ and are ‘professionally trained clinicians’ who report to her after each session, with take place in the center’s offices, she says.
‘You would typically need a partner to resolve most sexual problems and for single men that is obviously an issue. Most of the men who come to my center are sexually inexperienced, so the surrogate program allows them to progress with their treatment.’
She continued: ‘People have this perception of a sex surrogate as: “Oh wow, I am going to have a sexual teacher and weâ€™re going to have hot sex!” but itâ€™s not that way at all.
‘The sessions with the surrogate evolve gradually. Itâ€™s a very gradual, sensual process of getting used to holding hands, caressing and kissing. [The clients] could come into treatment for several visits before they even take their clothes off.’
Mrs Cohen-Greene agreed, saying: ‘I look at our work like this: If you go to a prostitute, itâ€™s like going to a restaurant. You read the menu, you choose what you want, they prepare, they hope that you love it, and hopefully you want to come back.
‘With a surrogate, itâ€™s like going to cooking school. You get the ingredients, you learn to make a meal together – and then the point is to go out into the world and share that and not come back.’
Ms Ardenâ€™s ‘surrogate partners’ are required to be tested for STDs at least once every two months, as are the clients.
Sarah, one of the center’s surrogates whose background is in sexual psychology and social work, said: ‘I usually begin sessions by working on eye contact and the way they hold their bodies.
‘We use massage and touch therapy, so the client can learn to be in the moment, be comfortable with their bodies and become aware of the sensations.
‘We take a mind-and-body approach and slowly remove anxiety out of the equation.’
She would not comment on whether she had penetrative sex with her clients, however.