My life as a sex surrogate: A different side to the industry

I SAT in the hotel room waiting for my client. The lights were turned down, the room was warm, comfortable and ready for his arrival.

I didn't know much about him before we met but I did know he had experienced traumatic relationships with the women in his life, and I also knew that he had erectile dysfunction and he ejaculated prematurely.

I knew his sexual inadequacies were causing him distress and pain - in fact, that's why I was there.

As a sex surrogate, this is my area of expertise - using intimate touch and intercourse to help heal a whole range of problems, both sexual and otherwise.

It's sex work with a difference. I don't work in a brothel or advertise online - rather, clients are referred to me by their psychologists to help work through their intimacy issues.

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I began working as sex surrogate after a psychologist approached me at a Tantric sex conference I was lecturing at.

This psychologist explained his work helping people overcome their sexual issues and said that sometimes a surrogate was required in order to teach intimate touch.

After listening to me speak about my experience teaching Tantric techniques he believed I had the knowledge and skills to take part in his work.

When he asked if I was interested I jumped at the chance. I've always been fascinated by how sexuality can change our lives and this felt like an opportunity to bring transformation through structured learning of intimacy.

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A sex surrogate triangulates the work that a sex therapist or psychologist does with a client. Often they discuss what happened in session and report back separately but they very much work together to get to the bottom of sexual issues. One works on understanding the mental blocks, and the other approaches the physical.

Sex surrogacy work is embraced in many countries around the world although it's still quite secretive in Australia. In Israel, surrogates are used to help returned servicemen overcome their sexual problems, or help people with brain injuries and disabilities overcome their fears surrounding intimacy and sex. It's empowering and beautiful work.

Sessions, particularly first ones, start awkwardly. The men are nervous, often struggling to even make eye contact because even locking eyes with a woman leaves them crippled with shame.

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The first time, we just sit and talk, practising holding eye contact and discussing why that makes them uncomfortable. For most of my clients, even the language surrounding intimacy is difficult.

We then progress to simple touch in the next session.

I touch an arm, or a back, nothing wild and sexy - it's about learning to recognise when touch feels good and relaxing and enjoying that touch.

We also work on how to request the types of touch that make them feel nice, building language and awareness in the body.

Next, we work on moving past the shame around masturbation. This is a beauteous shift - when a man can masturbate without embarrassment.

I wouldn't perform the act for them, but instead partake in "witnessed masturbation" which was basically watching them and seeing if I could offer suggestions to help them increase pleasure and help them be more present in that moment instead of being distracted by other things.

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One client would look at his watch to see how long he was lasting. Just that simple action took him out of the moment and introduced pressure and stress that were stopping him from performing.

Once masturbation is mastered, anything can happen. One client in his 30s told his therapist he had never seen or touched female genitalia. He requested to explore mine.

We sat opposite each other and I slowly gave him an intimate anatomy lesson, pointing out all of the various parts. He then asked to touch me and with shy fingers, he felt a woman for the first time.

It wasn't about pleasure or learning how to please a woman - he just wanted to explore something so mysterious to him through touch. Once he had, his intimacy problems suddenly didn't seem so insurmountable.

This is life-changing work and I take great pleasure in helping people step into their sexual and intimate power.

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