BY: RONNA WHITE
“When I grow up, I want to be a hooker,” is not the typical goal that you would expect from a young child, let alone a conservative mormon girl. Yet, Laurie Bennett-Cook repeatedly said just that. She remembers always wanting to be a hooker when she was growing up. The thought of getting to get all dolled up each day seemed extraordinarily glamorous to her and the fact that people would pay her tons of money just to spend time with her was appealing.
Sex and one’s sexuality were never discussed in her home due to her family’s strict religious values, yet she always felt highly sexual even from a young age. Her indecent thoughts went against everything her religion stood for, which caused her to have a daily internal battle between her natural human desires and her faith.
Bennett-Cook was not sexually promiscuous until the age of 16 when she lost her virginity to the man she would marry soon after. From the ages of 17 to 33, she raised four children as a stay-at-home mom before she started craving a more exciting and liberating life.
Her marriage with her first husband was falling apart and she knew that his strict religious values would make it almost impossible to divorce him, so she had to take serious action.
She met a guy from work, who is now her current husband, whom she slept with. Sleeping with him was one of the most eye-opening experiences she has ever encountered.
“Having sex with him woke something up in me because it was the first time that I had sex with someone just for my pleasure and fun,” said Bennett-Cook. “It was not because we were making love or making a family or that we were married.”
Although she felt liberated about the experience, she knew that it would crush her soon to be ex-husband. He tried shaming her by telling everyone what she had done, but the experience was well worth the small repercussions that followed.
Although her previous marriage ended, her relationship with her current husband slowly started to move forward. They moved in together and later got married. He lived an alternative lifestyle and made it very clear from the beginning that he did not want to be sexually monogamous. She was not very serious about the idea after living the lifestyle that she lived for so many years, but soon she realized how monogamous they could be emotionally yet still have experiences of their own.
Her sexual adventures began while at a motorcycle rally when she jokingly went up to a Mustang Ranch booth, which is a well-known brothel, and asked if they were hiring. To her surprise they told her they were looking for someone just like her: a more mature and distinguished woman. She sat on the idea for about a year and did extensive research on the subject.
The following year she returned to the same rally and she was whisked away by the same lady for an interview. The whole situation was a shock to her.
“I remembering thinking ‘I can’t believe I just got interviewed to be a hooker,’” Bennett-Cook says.
The opportunity to explore her own sexuality and the world of sex workers was right in front of her and she knew she had to take it or she would regret it. So she took two weeks off of work and went to the ranch. She learned so much about herself and other people.
“It was the most honest and rewarding work I had ever done,” she says.
Her husband was very supportive and open with her since they both agreed on a freedom-based sexual lifestyle. Her being a sex worker did not bother him at all because he knew that what she was doing was benefiting so many people.
“When I would hear her stories, I would just be so proud of what she was doing,” he said. “She was making other people feel good about themselves. As I work in a field that helps people, I understood and could relate. Even though it was somewhat different.”
Her favorite memory from working at the ranch was when an 80-something-year-old man had her completely undress with the exception of a pair of red stilettos. He chose the music and he proceeded to teach her his favorite dance steps.
“We spent the better part of the afternoon laughing,” she said. “There was me stumbling and tripping over my own feet - genuinely trying to get it right, and he being kind and charming and smiling patiently.”
By the end of the afternoon she thanked him and began to lead him out when he paused and tears welled up in his eyes. He hugged her and said, “Thank you. I have waited over 60 years to re-live that memory.” This experience made her cry and genuinely touched her soul. “This is why so many of us do the work we do,” she says.
She started working at the ranch week on, week off but it soon began to feel like work. She was neglecting her husband and his sexual needs, yet he was still supportive. She soon realized that she had moved on from this experience and was ready for something new.
She went back to school for sexology at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. While attending school she worked at the LGBT center in Chico as an outreach mediator and HIV tester and counselor. She also worked as a sex educator in public high schools as well as colleges.
People enjoyed talking to her and getting her expert advice and counseling so much that she opened a small office and started her own practice. She ran groups in her office for dominants and submissives as well as polyamorous people since there were not any other outlets for them.
She moved to the Long Beach area in July of 2014 and has continued to practice being a sex enabler and surrogate, which means she uses her body as a model and tool to help others overcome either their sexual pasts or to explore their fantasies and desires.
Paula Richer, a good friend of Bennett-Cook’s, said, “because she is bisexual she has the ability to use herself as a model and prop for these suffering individuals to help them heal themselves sexually. In my opinion her work is extremely important and we need hundreds and thousands more like her that are willing to help people.”
She plans to eventually open up her own personal office in Long Beach but for now she is very happy being a sex therapist, sex educator, and surrogate for those that need her skills and gentle nature.
Being able to explore and purposely expose herself to a variety of sexual situations that our society finds controversial has helped shape her into who she is today. She has shown that when you are so hungry for information and first hand experiences on a certain subject or lifestyle, you will completely immerse yourself in every situation to gain a greater understanding. Exploring her sexuality has not only transformed her life but she found her true calling as a sexologist where she is helping those that truly need it.