Private Practices: The Story of a Sex Surrogate

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Private Practices: The Story of a Sex Surrogate
Private Practices DVD.png
Directed byKirby Dick
Produced byKirby Dick
Narrated byNoreen Hennesey
CinematographyChristine Burrill
Catherine Coulson
Edited byLois Freeman
Kirby Dick
Music byTom Recchon
Running time
75 minutes
CountryUnited States

Private Practices: The Story of a Sex Surrogate is a 1985 US documentary film directed by Kirby Dick about the interaction between a sex surrogate and her clients - Dick's first documentary film.


Private Practices focuses on sex surrogate Maureen Sullivan and two of her clients. Kipper, a 25-year-old college student, has had little sexual experience with women and seeks help overcoming his shyness. John, a 45-year-old divorcee, believes that his sexual inadequacies are preventing him from finding a new partner. Sullivan works with these men in an attempt to improve their body image, relationship skills, and sexual satisfaction.

The film also shows how these patients interact with their friends, family members, and therapists. Many scenes focus on Sullivan, who discusses her history as a surrogate and describes her own relationship difficulties. In one scene, she and her brother confront their father about his abusive behavior and unwillingness to accept Maureen's career choice.

The filmmakers paid for the patients' therapy in exchange for permission to record their sessions. In order to preserve the therapeutic atmosphere, Dick only allowed a single camera operator to be in the room during each session, and he and the rest of the crew monitored the filming from a remote station in a different room.[1] Furthermore, the film crew does not directly interact with the subjects during therapy, and the subjects rarely comment on the presence of the filmmakers.

A postscript to the film states that John and Kipper have gone on to form more successful relationships, while Sullivan has started dating and reduced her number of patients.


Private Practices won favorable reviews from critics. The San Francisco Chronicle's Edward Guthmann called it "an honest, courageous and sensitive study of human beings in their most vulnerable moments",[2] and Walter Goodman of The New York Times described it as a "sympathetic account of a sort of human frailty that is not easy to talk about, much less make a movie about".[3]

The film received awards for Best Documentary at the 1985 USA Film Festival and 1985 Atlanta Film Festival.


  1. ^ Private Practices DVD commentary track
  2. ^ Guthmann, Edward (1986-06-08). "Filmmaker Takes Sensitive Look at Sex Surrogates". San Francisco Chronicle.
  3. ^ Goodman, Walter (1986-09-26). "Screen: 'Private Practices'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-18.

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