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The "Sex Surrogate"
Aired January 26, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST (voice-over): Here we go.
The sex surrogate, a new film about a woman who has intercourse with clients for therapy. Is it an edgy new trend or the world`s oldest profession? She`s here in the flesh and has a lot to say.
Then reality check. A real housewife with a real problem. Brave admission of alcoholism.
And later, marathon man, he`s running races blindfolded and beating vision loss to the finish line.
So let`s get started.
(on camera): Welcome to the program. Tonight, we`ll be discussing sex and pretty much every topic will include that topic, so parents you might want to move kids to the other room for tonight`s conversations. Not going to be explicit, but you might want to think about whether the kids should be listening to us tonight.
All right. Now, you may not - you may not have heard about the film "The Surrogate." It opened to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this week. The film highlights the work of a sex surrogate and what she does to help people with their dysfunction. Here now is a clip.
CHERYL COHEN GREENE, SEX SURROGATE PARTNER, PLAYED BY HELEN HUNT: So -
MARK O`BRIEN, POLIO PATIENT, PLAYED BY JOHN HAWKES: Your money`s on the desk over there.
COHEN GREENE: Yes, it is. Thank you.
O`BRIEN: That was the wrong way to start off.
COHEN GREENE: It really was. Should we start again?
O`BRIEN: Please, you start.
COHEN GREENE: Although the aim is for us to have sex, I`m not a prostitute. You don`t have to pay me up front. I have nothing against prostitutes, but there`s a difference. We can talk about that later.
O`BRIEN: I`m sorry.
COHEN GREENE: The other thing is there`s a limit to the number of sessions we can have. Did Laura mention that when you saw her?
O`BRIEN: I`m sorry - I don`t remember.
COHEN GREENE: The limit is six. That gives us plenty of opportunity to explore. So I understand you`re able to have an erection.
O`BRIEN: Yes, but not by choice.
COHEN GREENE: Do you know how many men there are who would give anything for a natural erection?
PINSKY: Joining me tonight, the real life surrogate partner Cheryl Cohen Greene, and her husband Rob Greene. Now Cheryl, can you describe to us exactly what your job is?
COHEN GREENE: My job is to help people who are confused and have a lot of misinformation about sexuality, because we don`t live in a very sex positive culture, help them understand themselves and not try to fit them - have them fit into what they see in the media, what they`ve red in books or seen in erotica, help them to understand how to relax, how to know more about their own bodies, how to share that with a partner -
PINSKY: But Cheryl -
COHEN GREENE: Yes.
PINSKY: In that clip and what I understand at least some of what you do is helping people with severe disabilities and maybe even medical problems that maybe have no other way or opportunity to engage in this sort of situation.
COHEN GREENE: That`s true. Absolutely.
PINSKY: So that really is not about changing a culture or changing people`s thinking about sexuality. That is helping people who have real serious medical issues and have no other way of helping.
COHEN GREENE: That`s true. And those people have just as much of a sex drive and interest in finding out what they can or cannot do. Mostly what they can do with a partner and 10 percent of the population that I work with are people with very severe disabilities.
PINSKY: Let me ask you this, has the people coming home from war now with all the severe injuries, have you had to work with veterans? Or has there been an uptick in that kind of injury that you need to work with?
COHEN GREENE: I personally have not had the opportunity. I am in contact with a therapist right now and I`m going to be working with a man who was a Vietnam veteran and has a lot of emotional concerns right now. He`s had them for years around his sexuality and he`s sort of absorbed some of his concerns through alcoholism.
And we`re going to - we`re going to work together. We`re going to do - the therapist is feeling really good about the possibilities of him being able to be with somebody he can communicate with.
PINSKY: All right. Here`s a clip from the Oscar-winning 1196 documentary "Breathing Lessons." It shows the late author and poet Mark O`Brien who suffered from childhood polio recalling his visit with Cohen at 36 years of age in order to lose his virginity. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`BRIEN: I thought of myself as the ugliest man in the world. But I looked like something would want to have sex with and Cheryl was very kind to me. She kissed me on the chest after we had intercourse. I felt like my chest was very unattractive. She kissed me right there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Cheryl, can you talk to us about what that was like helping Mark?
COHEN GREENE: It was profound for me. Mark was probably the first really severely disabled person that I worked with. And he contacted me and told me that he felt like he was on the outside of a window looking into a place where everybody was enjoying a feast that he would never have a chance to taste.
And he came to me through a therapist and the therapist had told me a bit about him, but Mark shared more and more each session we had with each other. And I felt it was really important for him to discover his sexuality. What he taught me was there is somebody out there for everybody. He was an amazing, amazing poet and writer, and he met a person several years after we worked together who he had a relationship with through the last - through the last of his life.
PINSKY: Bob, can you tell me why you needed to be a client? What was going on? And how do you go from client to husband? I got a lot of questions. And, you know, isn`t that a boundary issue, Cheryl, to go from client to husband?
And then how does Rob deal with the fact that you have sex with people with your job?
COHEN GREENE: It is -
PINSKY: I`m asking Rob. I`m asking Rob.
COHEN GREENE: Oh, I`m sorry. I thought you`re asking me -
PINSKY: Bob - I keep calling you Rob. I beg your pardon. It`s Bob.
GREENE: Bob. Well, I first met Cheryl 33 years ago, and, yes, I was a client. I had gone - I was 30 years old at the time. I had gone through a number of unsuccessful relationships that failed because of what`s - I didn`t know at the time but it`s referred to as performance anxiety. There was nothing wrong physically with me. It`s just that I was playing mental games with myself. I had loss spontaneity and -
PINSKY: Well, talk to me - talk to me about how you go from that to husband. And then, Cheryl, why isn`t that a major, major ethical issue for you?
COHEN GREENE: Who do you want to go first?
PINSKY: Whoever wants to speak up? Whoever has got an answer for me.
COHEN GREENE: Talk about that.
GREENE: OK. Well, my surrogate partner therapy with Cheryl was indeed successful. I did see her for seven or possibly eight sessions. And once we ended therapy, we had enough - we hit it off personality-wise sufficiently that I asked her if I could have lunch or dinner with her after therapy ended.
And she - Cheryl was in an open marriage at the time. And we - we just segued post therapy into having - into becoming very, very good friends and lovers.
PINSKY: And then how do you deal with what she does now? How do you deal with that Rob - Bob?
GREENE: Because I - because I know what Cheryl does in a therapy session. And I know what benefits the client can gain from it. I don`t have a problem with that at all.
PINSKY: I don`t know. I would know - I would know what my wife would do with somebody if they were not a client even and would benefit from it and I wouldn`t be too cool about it.
Cheryl, let me - I got to take a break quickly here. But let me ask this last question of you first. How is this not an ethical problem for you?
COHEN GREENE: Well, it isn`t and it`s part of the code of ethics that surrogates work by is that the clients in the most important element of the whole process getting that client through the process and not having a personal relationship after therapy.
So, believe me, it was an ethical issue for me. He and I were friends for quite a while, but we wound up getting involved. And I feel like this has been such an amazing relationship in my life. I`ve been with Bob for 33 years. I really don`t think I hurt him. I think he`s benefited.
PINSKY: All right. Fair enough. Fair enough. And I`m going to take a break now and we`re going to bring people in who want to take issue with what Cheryl does and say that perhaps she does more harm than good, their objections, her response, straight ahead. Don`t go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`BRIEN: How much do you think it would cost -
COHEN GREENE: Take a deep breath - and let go.
O`BRIEN: Do I seem anxious?
COHEN GREENE: You do a little.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Welcome back. That was a clip from the film "The Surrogate" which is getting rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival this week. The film is based on the life of Cheryl Cohen Greene, a sex surrogate partner, who says she has sex with clients for therapeutic reasons.
But the question is, does sex surrogacy really help people become healthier, more comfortable with their sexuality? Some mental health experts say Cheryl`s work does more harm than good.
Back with me, Cheryl and her husband Bob that I keep calling Rob. And joining the discussion now is clinical psychologist Michelle Golland. And before I go to Michelle, I have a question, though, for Cheryl.
Cheryl, I`m an internist by training and I - I have a couple of concerns before we get into the psycho dynamic aspects of this - or the mental health aspects of it, I should say. Are you aware of what the leading implication is of erectile dysfunction in, say, a middle aged male?
COHEN GREENE: The leading implication?
PINSKY: The leading implication. I mean, what every internist immediately does when we see that problem?
COHEN GREENE: You start doing tests to see where there are vascular blocks. I`m not - test the cardio, overall testosterone levels.
PINSKY: Right. That`s all part of it, but heart disease is the first thing. It is the first. It`s a very powerful indicator of coronary artery disease.
So anyone out there who is - this is a public service which I know Michelle has more public service announcements here, but my first one is if you - your male partner has this problem, particularly the smoker, who is middle-aged, it is a first indication that sometimes the very first symptom of significant blockages in the heart, coronary artery disease.
So, Cheryl, do you refer people for medical workups before you get involved?
COHEN GREENE: No. My therapist - the therapist - the referring therapist does that.
PINSKY: Do you check to see that they`ve done that? I mean, I worry the guy`s going to have a coronary.
COHEN GREENE: No. That`s never happened. But the referring therapist often after reviewing - you know, seeing the client for several sessions before I`m even brought into the situation, and often I`m not. Not every man that goes in for concerns like that are going to see me. But she will have them have all sorts of checkups. Yes, we do - we are concerned.
PINSKY: OK. You may want to make sure because, Cheryl, therapists are not physicians and you might want to be sure yourself to protect these men if that in fact is the problem.
So let me go to Michelle Golland, start with you. Where do you think people should go when they need this kind of help?
MICHELLE GOLLAND, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I have to say, Dr. Drew, the first thing I want to say is this show should be a public service announcement and a warning around sexual surrogates, because the things that I am hearing as a clinical psychologist are disturbing. And I work with couples and individuals with sexual disorders and sexual issues in my practice all the time.
PINSKY: Do you want to ask Cheryl something about her training or experience that can either shine a light on that concern or maybe sways your concern a little bit?
GOLLAND: Well, I think one of my concerns is, are you in an open marriage now? You were defined -
COHEN GREENE: No, I`m not.
GOLLAND: OK. But your first marriage was an open marriage?
COHEN GREENE: Yes.
GOLLAND: OK. So - and then you were having - doing this service, practice, and you married one of your clients, correct?
COHEN GREENE: That`s correct.
GOLLAND: OK. If I am a therapist or a psychologist referring to you, you should be on notice because your license is in and of itself in danger because you have already -
PINSKY: Well, maybe she - are you licensed, Cheryl?
GOLLAND: No. I mean the referring psychologist, Dr. Drew.
COHEN GREENE: No.
PINSKY: Oh, the referring psychologist.
GOLLAND: The onus is on the referring psychologist.
PINSKY: So Bob`s referring psychologist would have their license -
GOLLAND: Any psychologist that is referring to this woman -
PINSKY: Even now.
GOLLAND: Particularly now.
PINSKY: Because knowing that she would marry a client.
GOLLAND: Knowing that she became - because if we go the line of sexual surrogacy, we are talking about a neutral clinical position. She violated that completely.
COHEN GREENE: Could I speak?
PINSKY: Go ahead, Cheryl. Go right ahead.
COHEN GREENE: Her tone of voice towards me denotes a real discomfort with sexuality in general to me -
GOLLAND: Wait, I`m not even going to let you do that to me.
COHEN GREENE: Oh, please. Oh, please.
GOLLAND: Because I have to tell you it is disturbing -
GOLLAND: How long have you been practicing sex therapist? I`m interested in how long you have been -
COHEN GREENE: You actually are dangerous.
PINSKY: Well, is -- are you a sex -
GOLLAND: You are dangerous.
PINSKY: You`ve been practicing for how long?
GOLLAND: I have been licensed over two decades.
PINSKY: Twenty years as a licensed clinical psychologist.
GOLLAND: As a licensed clinical psychologist.
PINSKY: And Cheryl? Do you - go ahead.
COHEN GREENE: I`ve been a surrogate partner for 38 years.
PINSKY: And do you have -
GOLLAND: Absolutely and you have violated serious ethical guidelines as that.
COHEN GREENE: Excuse me. She sounds - I`m sorry that you are as worried as you are because if you want to -
GOLLAND: Yes, because I am here to protect. I am here to protect the public so that they realize what you do -
COHEN GREENE: I am here to protect my clients.
PINSKY: Ladies, let me get in the middle of this. Let me get in the middle of this. The American Psychological Association does not have a position on surrogacy. But as, again, as you`re seeing here some people do have concerns. There`s another person I`ve here that`s concerned as well. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETHANY MARSHAL, PSYCHOANALYST: You have a person holding themselves out to be an expert or an authority figure engaging in an act that puts another person in a position of tremendous vulnerability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: That`s Bethany Marshall. She`s a psychoanalyst by training. And, Cheryl, I`ll let you respond now. Go ahead.
COHEN GREENE: I`ve heard this woman`s response before. And my first thought was every client that she sees puts themselves in a vulnerable position. I know she`s talking about the fact that I`m going to be working with a client with hands-on approach, nudity is involved, all of that, but my clients are no more vulnerable than hers are in many ways.
If the client goes to a therapist who is very, very uptight about a certain issue, has a lot of judgments, they`re not going to share what they really need to share. I`ve worked with therapists over the years who are the most open wonderful people. And if we could have one of them on some time to talk about their experiences working with surrogates, I think that would be wonderful -
PINSKY: But let me - let me have -
COHEN GREENE: But this woman clearly doesn`t like us.
PINSKY: Bob - Bob`s been very quiet sitting there. He maybe he can represent the client side. Go ahead, Bob. What do you got to say?
GREENE: Well, prior to seeing Cheryl through a therapist, I had tried conventional talk therapy, once with a psychiatrist in 1973 and twice later in the late `70s. And I read all the books that were published concerning the subject of male sexual dysfunction. And I still remain in the same vicious cycle. I couldn`t break out of it. And all I can say is that is once I went through the therapy with Cheryl I - it succeeded.
PINSKY: OK. Bob, I appreciate -
GREENE: I needed to be with someone that could slow my mind down, and I trusted her. And her intuitive intellect and sense of humor, all these factors worked in. I learned not to take myself so seriously. And I worked myself through my problem.
PINSKY: OK. Bob, I appreciate it. Cheryl, I appreciate you letting us take this on. And Michelle, as always, thank you for your openness, your opinion.
And let me just say also quickly that from a medical standpoint, a lot of medical doctors are saying - we talked about sexual dysfunction, erectile dysfunction particularly here, these days it`s a pretty - you know, sometimes correcting the problem biologically helps people get over their anxieties and their fears about it. So just something pharmacological gets men back in the game again and don`t have so much anxiety about it. To have to have to even talk therapy or a surrogate or anything. Sometimes it`s a simple problem these days.
Cheryl and Bob are back next for your comments and questions.
And later, he`s a long distance runner losing his sight, but his vision is inspiring. He`s gearing up to run a dozen marathons blindfolded. Wait till you hear why.
PINSKY: We`re back. Joining me once again, sex surrogate partner Cheryl Cohen Greene and her husband, Bob. The film about their story is a hit at the Sundance Film Festival.
Our Facebook and Twitter pages have been filled with your questions for Cheryl. But, first off, let us take a call. We have Paula in Florida. Go ahead there, Paula.
PAULA, PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hey, Paula.
PAULA: I have just a quick question.
PAULA: Does a sex surrogate count as cheating? Because, in my mind, it would be an image I`d have a really hard time getting out of my head -
PAULA: -- even if it were for the good of my marriage.
PINSKY: Interesting question. Cheryl, what do you do with that question?
COHEN GREENE: I`m not sure what - what she`s saying. Who`s cheating (ph)?
PINSKY: She`s saying - she`s saying that if her husband went to you and had a few sessions, she would be freaked out by it. She couldn`t get it out of her head. And how do people not call that cheating - how do the partners deal with this?
COHEN GREENE: I don`t work with married men unless their partners have said to them you go get help because I don`t want to deal with this anymore. I don`t deal -
PINSKY: Do you meet with the partners also? Do you evaluate them as well?
COHEN GREENE: I prefer not to have people come to me who are in a relationship. The therapist doesn`t want that either. They want the client - the partner - the client to go in with their partner because it`s a relationship issue, usually.
PINSKY: Got it. Facebook, "Cheryl, how many sessions do clients generally need before they can move on?"
COHEN GREENE: Between six to eight sessions. It`s short-term therapy. And I question whether a therapist who keeps having a client come back and back and never thinks to work with a surrogate, whether that - what he or she are intending. I mean, you can see people for years and make a lot of money.
But this is short-term therapy. I think that`s one of the most beautiful parts about it, is people get help in a rather quick fashion.
PINSKY: And - and I`m thinking about the - again, the medical. You know, I`m a medical guy, so I think with the medical parts, there is obviously STD potential, and if you`re dealing with erectile dysfunction, you make these guys wear condoms?
COHEN GREENE: Absolutely. For years and years, ever since AIDS became an issue, before that people always got STD tested and I would regularly do that too. But I`ve - my client - my client population that I work with are a low-risk, but we always for many - 30 years, almost, we`ve been very clear about teaching people nothing is safe, but safer sex practices -
COHEN GREENE: -- and condoms are a must. I won`t work with anybody without using them.
PINSKY: There we go.
Maria tweets, "How did you feel about Helen Hunt`s portrayal of you in the movie?"
COHEN GREENE: I loved it.
PINSKY: You loved it?
COHEN GREENE: I thought she - we spent time together, Helen and I, spent hours together, talking. She asked me the best questions I could imagine. She was very concerned about portraying the work in a - in the way that it`s really meant to be.
PINSKY: And Mindy tweets, "Cheryl, do you ever get the sense that some people are using you just for sex?"
COHEN GREENE: That doesn`t happen. The - the therapist that refers to me, that I keep in touch with after every session with a client, give feedback and we all work as a team together. Those therapists rule out anybody whose intentions are other than to get really seriously helped.
PINSKY: And lastly, Wendy on Facebook writes, "Cheryl, do you generally follow-up with your patients later, say years later?"
COHEN GREENE: No. This is an unusual experience for any surrogate. I don`t know (INAUDIBLE) a surrogate who fell in love with their client. I - and I`m out there and open about it because I`m not ashamed or embarrassed about that.
But I fall in like with people, and there`s a big difference. And clients feel strongly towards me, but we`re talking about that with the therapist all the time and they know there`s a beginning, a middle and an end to this relationship -
PINSKY: Cheryl, I`ve got to interrupt you. I`ve got to go to break. But thank you guys for doing it, and we`ll be right back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Coming up, E.J. Scott is slowly going blind from an inherited condition. Running a marathon blindfolded to call attention to the cause in a race against time.
But first, one of the "Real Housewives" has some explaining to do. Kyle Richards is showing a new and not always nice side of herself to TV viewers. Is it reality or just a trumped up plot twist?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): I didn`t write that. Welcome back. This season has been a tumultuous ride on the cast of "Real Housewives of Beverly hills." There`s been sibling rivalry controversy, cat fights, rehab, divorce and a death, right? That`s on this season? All right. And we`re just getting started here. Watch this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hate you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t watch (EXPLETIVE DELETED) anymore. Watch the finger.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you kidding me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you kidding me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At least I don`t do crystal meth in the bathroom all night long.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what, Brandi, let me tell you something, you do not want --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You do not want to talk to me like that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seriously?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. You do not want to go there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go with my kid --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My sister, don`t ever talk about her like that again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) get your finger out of my face.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re going to get my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) finger in your face too.
OK. Don`t you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) threaten me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guys, enough!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re a pig.
PINSKY: Joining me right now is one of the stars of the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" and author of a new book, "Life Is Not a Reality Show." Here it is right here. I`m going to hold it up. Kyle Richards. There it is on the full screen. Kyle, when people look at that footage, OK, they want to believe that that`s somehow not real.
KYLE RICHARDS, STAR, "REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS": That`s what I want to believe, too. What a coincidence.
PINSKY: And I think -- try to pull the curtain back for me a little bit about a reality show. The producer sort of set things up in a way where things can become volatile, certainly not scripted, right?
RICHARDS: It is not scripted at all.
PINSKY: Do they stir you guys up in any way? Do they pull you aside and go, Kyle, you`ll never believe what, you know, Russell said about you?
PINSKY: So, there`s none of that?
RICHARDS: No. Hasn`t happened with me ever.
PINSKY: And they set up circumstances where there`s likely to be conflict or is that just --
RICHARDS: Well, they may say, you know, would you girls like, you know, go to lunch and discuss what happened last night. That kind of a thing.
RICHARDS: But they don`t whisper in my ear or try to get us worked up at all or anything like that.
PINSKY: OK. So, what you`re seeing when people watch those fights they think, oh, that can`t be real.
RICHARDS: I know. I know, I get that comment. A lot of people assume it`s scripted, but it`s really not. I have to say. And as many times I`d love to blame it on a script, believe me, but it`s all very real.
PINSKY: The other thing I want to talk to you about is my wife and I have a little sort of (INAUDIBLE) about reality shows and that`s why we will not allow cameras in our house is that every time a reality show comes into the household of a married couple -- almost every time except Ozzy and Sharon, that`s the only one actually I think of, eventually or as a result of, it seems, the marriages don`t seem to survive. Have you seen that as well?
RICHARDS: I`ve seen that a lot, but for me, personally, I never would have done a show like this if I didn`t feel I had a solid marriage to begin with. And I can say that it`s definitely not hurt my marriage in any way. Many times, my husband is my only source of support and he`s very good about letting things roll off his shoulder with the show and stuff. So, thank God I have him.
PINSKY: So, this has been cool for your family. You have three kids, right, or four kids?
RICHARDS: Four kids. Four daughters.
PINSKY: And they`ve been OK with all this? Hasn`t affected them negatively?
RICHARDS: No. Not at all. You know, they don`t care about the show. They don`t care about being filmed on it. They`re not impressed by it at all, which I love that about them.
PINSKY: Good. OK.
RICHARDS: So, not at all.
PINSKY: Let`s look at another clip. Here the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," Kyle and Taylor had a confrontation at Kyle`s party. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARDS: We have a problem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?
RICHARDS: No, I guess, I don`t know if you know I guess the e-mail you sent Camille, I guess, now her lawyers are saying or whatever that she can`t be around you guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The e-mail, that was set up. That was inappropriate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was very kind to her. I said please call me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guess what, I read the e-mail. It was --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all read the e-mail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: So, if I understand, Kyle, Russell had e-mailed you something inappropriate at that point?
RICHARDS: Russell had e-mailed Camille saying that he was going to take legal action because we had discussed the abuse on camera.
PINSKY: Domestic violence?
PINSKY: And you know, at the beginning of the season, it seemed like Bravo had taken the position that none of Russell`s story would be played out on television, and yet, every time, every episode is there he is.
RICHARDS: No. He actually didn`t come in until, I think, the sixth or seventh episode.
PINSKY: OK. But there`s a lot of him when they originally said there would be none of him. Does that bother you at all?
RICHARDS: Well, they went back and forth. They have toyed with not airing the show at all, to completely editing him out, and then, to just minimally. So, it`s very disturbing to watch at times. No doubt.
PINSKY: It`s funny just bringing him up. You`re whole affect has changed. So, I want to talk to you more about that. It`s really an unpleasant topic.
RICHARDS: It is. It`s unsettling at times to watch him, but it`s a part of her story. A part of what was going on in all of our lives. And I think it was also important -- there`s a lot of people who have dealt with suicide and domestic abuse. So, I think it was, in some ways, important to address it.
PINSKY: I`m always in favor of that, in terms, of showing how it should be treated and dealing with it head-on. Is there -- did something get missed? Did a ball get dropped somewhere for poor Russell or was this just inevitable and just had nothing to do with the show?
RICHARDS: Oh, his problems? No. This had nothing to do with the show. He was in deep, deep financial stress, and everyone was coming after him from every direction.
PINSKY: And that part --
RICHARDS: He owed a lot of people a lot of money.
PINSKY: But that part wasn`t on the show.
RICHARDS: They had more than they did.
PINSKY: But isn`t that a piece that if the show were being -- again - -
RICHARDS: We didn`t know that. We all thought that. The producers thought that.
PINSKY: Thought they had money or thought they didn`t have money?
RICHARDS: Well, that`s -- before the show, that`s --
PINSKY: It`s my point. Wouldn`t the real story have been, hey, let`s look at people that are upside down and the stresses of that and the consequences of that? Wouldn`t that have been a better story to really learn something from and how desperate people -- talk about desperate housewives how bad it can become?
RICHARDS: Yes, but they weren`t being honest about that. We didn`t really know the full scope of that until after he took his life.
PINSKY: And I can see in you that it`s really -- it hurt.
RICHARDS: Well, it`s very sad. And Taylor`s a friend of mine, and they have a small child, and it`s very sad.
PINSKY: Yes. Is there a message we have to the fans of the show?
RICHARDS: I think that the message really is that no matter where you live, what kind of car you drive, that, you know, we all have problems. And, this is not just a frivolous reality show. These are real problems that people really deal with in real life all over the world.
PINSKY: Those being?
RICHARDS: Domestic violence, suicide, financial problems.
PINSKY: Do you think that the viewers make the housewives -- that they want to see the housewives fall? It makes them feel good to see people that have a lot of money take a fall?
RICHARDS: I think a part of that, yes. I see that for the shows (ph). But also, they also like to escape and see, you know, living in the lap of luxury, so to speak. But I think that, you know, some of this has been too real --
PINSKY: Do people get resentful for you in a time of stressful economy? You know , sort of showing your wealth like that? Does that bother some people?
RICHARDS: You know, my -- the people who gravitate towards me on the show, no, because they really see me more talking about my family and my husband.
PINSKY: So, it doesn`t matter? The wealth doesn`t matter?
RICHARDS: For me, no. I don`t really think --
PINSKY: All right. The remaining minutes tell me about the book.
RICHARDS: I started the idea of writing the book because so many people were asking me on Twitter like how do you have a marriage like that? I want to have a marriage like that. And I grew up in a family of all women, all girls. So, I had the best education imaginable for, you know, how to get the right man, how to keep the right man because I was the youngest of all these girls.
So, I think a lot of women have lost hope and think that they can`t have a great marriage, but, you know, if you care about your spouse, you can have an amazing marriage. But the girls are doing the wrong thing. These women thinking, you know, oh, I got the job, that`s it now. So, they`re just playing their cards right. You still have to keep playing those cards even after your married.
PINSKY: With your partner?
RICHARDS: Yes, you do.
PINSKY: Tell me about ambition versus opportunism.
RICHARDS: Ambition versus --
PINSKY: That`s a whole profile you have.
RICHARDS: No, but I`m really talking about my marriage right now.
PINSKY: Yes. Yes. I thought that was all part of it. I mean --
RICHARDS: Well, I do talk a lot about that stuff, too, but I talk mainly about my relationship with my husband and really that giving women hope again to have an amazing relationship with their husband. And I also talk about beauty and fashion and all that stuff because that`s part of, you know --
PINSKY: It`s how to empower women.
RICHARDS: I`m a mom of four daughters. I want to empower women.
PINSKY: Right. And your kids, are they in college now?
RICHARDS: I have one that`s three years old all the way to 23 already graduated college.
PINSKY: Wow! That`s quite a spread.
RICHARDS: Yes, I`m a professional mom.
RICHARDS: At this point, I think I`m a professional mom.
PINSKY: I really appreciate you coming in here and being honest and being straightforward and letting me grill you a little bit. Best with the book. The book is called "Kyle Richards" Life Is Not A Reality Show." And I know people are huge fans of the show. I got kind of sucked into it here. I don`t think it was the last time you were here. Somebody else -- was it you?
RICHARDS: I think it was me.
PINSKY: And we did something in the hall here.
RICHARDS: I forgot, but --
PINSKY: No, it wasn`t Kyle. They`re saying no. It was another member -- Lisa was here.
RICHARDS: Oh, Lisa. Yes.
PINSKY: She pulled me out, and said, I need something for my internet.
RICHARDS: Oh, yes, yes.
PINSKY: And it showed up on the show. I was like, oh, this is awesome.
RICHARDS: Oh, that`s right. You did make an appearance on our show.
PINSKY: I did make an appearance on your show.
RICHARDS: That`s right.
PINSKY: Much to my amazement.
PINSKY: I did not understand that was going to happen.
RICHARDS: The next thing you know you`re going to be the seventh housewife husband.
PINSKY: (INAUDIBLE) not because of Beverly Hills housewives, but because we predict that of reality show. I`ll read your book.
PINSKY: And you know, to me, I`m not taking aim at reality shows here because my experience on reality shows having done "Celebrity Rehab" and "Teen Mom," and "16 and Pregnant." This is documented reality. There`s a little bit of jockeying and waiting and setting cameras up and then reality goes. And reality is whatever they document. In my opinion, these are at their best when they show treatment, and then, I wish there had been more treatment for Russell.
RICHARDS: Well, they did try to cover some of, you know, Taylor and Russell`s problems and going to therapy and all that.
PINSKY: But it`s very complicated problems they had. And I wish there would be more of that. That`s all I`m saying.
PINSKY: They didn`t expect the outcome they did, so I understand that. But thank you very much, Kyle.
RICHARDS: Thank you.
PINSKY: Next, I`ve got a long distance runner who is slowly losing his eyesight. And he`s gearing up for a dozen marathons just this year. And he`s going to do them blindfolded. I will tell you why after the break.
PINSKY: Now what if you were going blind and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it? One condition is so crippling it has even the medical community bewildered, struggling. E.J. Scott is gradually losing his sight due to the rare genetic disorder. It`s called choroideremia. I hope I got it right. There is no cure, but it`s not slowing him down.
He`s embarked on a journey to raise money and awareness by running in 12 marathons over the next year blindfolded. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
E.J. SCOTT, DIAGNOSED WITH CHOROIDEREMIA: Hi. I`m E.J. Scott, and you`ve got 12 marathons in 12 different states in 2012 all blindfolded for a cure. Choroideremia, actually, is a hereditary degenerative eye disease that attacks peripherally and erodes slowly over time until total blindness.
Since 2003, when I got diagnosed with choroideremia, I`ve been involved with a lot of different fundraising events, and hopefully, I will be raising an average of at least $12,000 per marathon. I must be crazy. The money raised for the marathons, hopefully, $144,000 by the end of 2012 will probably be going to a doctor in Pennsylvania.
She`s helped an eye disease called Leber`s in the past, and she`s done amazing things with that. And she`s convinced that she can do the same thing with choroideremia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Joining me now is the doctor E.J. was just talking about, Dr. Jean Bennett. She`s a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, currently doing research on choroideremia, and E.J. Scott is here with me. He was diagnosed with this disorder at age 28. That`s about seven years ago, and since then, has lost more than 80 percent of his vision. How do you deal with this, E.J.? I mean, you know it`s going to keep happening. And you know it from the moment of the diagnosis. I guess, your grandfather had the condition --
SCOTT: My grandfather had it. He died before I was diagnosed with it or we knew why he was blind, really. And how I deal with it? I deal with it mostly by doing benefits and fundraising and --
PINSKY: Trying to make a difference.
SCOTT: Trying to make a difference. Yes. Trying to be part of the solution and not just sit around.
PINSKY: Do you have kids?
SCOTT: I don`t.
PINSKY: Are you planning to have kids?
SCOTT: I would like to have kids.
PINSKY: Is that something you`d want to do any kind of genetic screening? Are there genetic screening tests for that?
SCOTT: There might be. I`m not so sure. But, if I have a son, they should be -- if I have sons, they`ll be OK. If I have daughters, they`ll be carriers. So, I`m hoping for sons.
PINSKY: So, it`s a sex linked. X-Linked disorder.
PINSKY: All right. Now, we have tried to illustrate what E.J.`s vision loss looks like from his point of view. So, watch this. And E.J., you tell me this is similar to what is happening. You said it`s like looking through -- you told my producer it`s like looking through two paper towel rolls. Is that sort of the -- it`s binocular. It comes together a bit.
SCOTT: Yes. I would say it comes together. Yes, yes, yes. I would say it comes together. But yes, that`s more or less, yes.
PINSKY: And let`s look at the eye disease as it effects the eye itself. Here`s what a healthy retina looks like, and we`re going to compare that to a degenerated retina with choroideremia. There we go. On the left, as you`re looking at your screen, the healthy eye and the damaged eye there on the right with the yellow.
Dr. Bennett, as I understand it, disorder occurs as we discussed, it occurs mostly in males, it`s a sex-linked disorder, starts in childhood as night blindness. What is the future for this disorder? You know, I don`t want to get into the -- what it is it`s a protein -- sort of folding of a protein that sustains the health and oxygen to the retina and the photo receptor, it`s the part of the eye that receives lights starts to break down. What`s the future for this disorder?
DR. JEAN BENNETT, CHOROIDEREMIA RESEARCHER: Well, we`re really excited about the future, because, right now, there is no treatment and certainly no cure for this disease. But, we now know what the gene is, what the protein and code (ph) by the gene does. And, we have the tools to be able to go in and deliver a healthy copy of that gene to the diseased cells.
So, we think based on evidence and other evidence from other investigators that it`s going to be possible to go in and correct the defect and at least halt the disease in its tracks, preventing total blindness such as what E.J.`s grandfather suffered.
PINSKY: So, you use a viral carrier or something? What do you -- how do you inject the gene in there?
BENNETT: That`s right. It`s essentially a neutered virus. A virus which delivers the normal copy of the gene, gets it into the cells, and allows the cells to produce the right protein, but the virus doesn`t replicate and cause disease. It`s essentially piggy backing the gene into the cell.
PINSKY: And dr. Bennett, go ahead -- I will say, this is a disorder that`s reminiscent retinitis pigmentosa, which is something that maybe more people have heard about. Is that receiving more attention and more research dollars than choroideremia?
BENNETT: Yes, it has, until recently. Thanks to the Choroideremia Research Foundation also known as CRF. There`s been a huge effort to try to develop a treatment for choroideremia. Choroideremia`s really a form of retinitis pigmentosa, but it`s one that`s really hasn`t been considered until recently to be part of that whole set. It`s one of the retinal degenerative disease.
PINSKY: Thank you, Dr. Bennett. E.J., I want to talk about your story. I mean, it`s pretty inspirational.
SCOTT: Thanks, Dr. Bennett.
PINSKY: Yes, there you go. You`re going out there, you`re going to support her. You`re going out blindfolded. Part of blindfold is to protect your eyes from the sun, too, right, because the sun --
SCOTT: Yes. I`m super sunlight sensitive.
PINSKY: It also damages those proteins further that you`re trying to protect.
PINSKY: But again, I think people watching this want to know about you. You know, what`s the future like for you? I mean, you`re obviously this great guy, this great looking guy, and you`re losing your eyesight, and, damn. You know, how does he do this?
SCOTT: It`s tough. The hardest thing is that it affects my whole family. I`ve got a brother who`s got it. I got a seven-year-old nephew who`s got it. I`ve got a three-year-old nephew who might have it. We haven`t tested him yet. So, that`s the hardest thing is that it`s just affecting us all.
PINSKY: How do you keep such a positive attitude? Again, I`ve got viewers out there that have a lot less to deal with that are a lot more unhappy than you.
SCOTT: I appreciate that. I try to, I think, like I said, fundraising really, really helps me.
PINSKY: The service.
SCOTT: Yes. Yes. I would say, sir. But don`t get me wrong. I definitely have my down times and I`ve cried a lot of tears. I just get back up and what`s the next step, you know? What else can I do?
PINSKY: OK. We`re going to be back with E.J. and Dr. Bennett to talk about his contribution to the treatment of disease. So, please stay with us.
PINSKY: We`re back. We`re talking about choroideremia, a progressive eye disease which causes complete vision loss. There is no cure. E.J. Scott was diagnosed seven years ago and is legally blind with less 20 percent of his vision left. E.J. has raised thousands of dollars for the cause. He plans on running 12 marathons in 2012 in hopes of raising much more. When is your first run scheduled, E.J.?
SCOTT: Nine days from today.
PINSKY: Can people contribute?
PINSKY: Is there a website?
SCOTT: Yes. You can go to curechm.org.
PINSKY: Curechm. Also, during the break, we have some comic book fans in here amongst the camera and stage hands here. And -- stage hands, stage manager, and you were saying you were going to be selling some of these comic books on eBay to support the cause.
SCOTT: Yes. I`m always trying to do something for the foundation. And I have tens of thousands of comic books I`m going to sell half of them. And I`ve been doing a little bit on eBay and the Choroideremia Research Foundation is connected to eBay. So, if you sign up on eBay, you can have the money sent straight to the foundation, and that`s what I`ve been doing.
PINSKY: And then I caught in the pre-interview here that your girlfriend, actress, Deborah Ann Woll. She is from the, of course, the series, "True Blood," which is one of my daughter`s very, very, very favorite shows, and it`s caught my eye.
SCOTT: One of my favorite shows, too.
PINSKY: I bet. You guys are together. She has been very supportive. It`s got to be stressful for her, too, as well, I imagine.
SCOTT: Oh, sure, sure. I imagine that, too. She`s also my biggest supporter. And I wouldn`t be here right now without her. I wouldn`t have lost the weight I lost without her. I couldn`t be doing what I`m doing without her really.
PINSKY: Well, E.J., you really bring up something really interesting. And, you know, it`s easy for us to sit and talk about this amazing journey you`re on with the blindfold and the metaphor you`re sort of representing by trying to run without your vision, but there`s something I like to emphasize on this show is how we affect one another.
And is it your girlfriend? Is it that support and that love that really gets you? Because I asked you how you do it and you and I get up and do it, I give service, but also having that important other there, I think, is really --
SCOTT: Definitely. You know, I was doing stuff before I met her, but she`s definitely my rock for sure. For sure.
PINSKY: So, it`s service, it`s availability of others. And then, tell me about that blindfold. We have about a minute left here.
SCOTT: The blindfold because my eyes are so light sensitive I need to wear that --
PINSKY: Not just light sensitive. The protein will further break down --
SCOTT: Yes. Yes.
PINSKY: The photon energy gets in there. So, you got to protect your eye.
SCOTT: And it`s also a good sweats soaker upper. So, that works out well.
PINSKY: Excellent. Am I right? Did you have an improv or something?
SCOTT: I`ve been improviser -- I`ve been improvising for about 15 years. And a lot of the benefit shows I`ve put on have been improv related and over at the IOS theater. A lot of whom were IOS theater in Hollywood here.
PINSKY: OK. So, again, let`s review where people need to go if they want to support you. They go to eBay to buy your comic books.
PINSKY: They go to the website to contribute --
SCOTT: Curechm.com or if you can spell choroideremia, it`s choroideremia.org.
PINSKY: Choroideremia comes up pretty easily as a Google if you try spelling it.
PINSKY: But thank you very much. I really appreciate it.
SCOTT: Appreciate it. Thank you.
PINSKY: So, here`s the deal, thank you. And if you plan on following E.J. and some of his upcoming marathons, we will be bringing you back in the coming months. We`re going to follow this story. I`m just trying to help us all understand these things and get to the bottom of it and understand the differences and these different kinds of human behavior.
So, hope you appreciate tonight`s conversation. Thank you for watching. I`ll see you next time.