But it’s not only the women who are in need of comfort and assurance. “I’ve had to soothe an awful lot of men,” Frank says, “who could not get it up when they thought they should. I know how I would feel in a situation like that—here this other guy’s fucking my wife’s brains out, and then it’s my turn and I can’t get it up. So I say, ‘Hey, this happens all the time. You’re not used to having another guy with your wife, you’re not used to having somebody watching, and there’s a lot of pressure on you.’ So I just try to build their egos back up a little bit.”
Basically, though, Frank is well aware that most of the couples who come to him are struggling through a difficult period in their own relationships. “There’s something wrong,” he says, “and they’ re experimenting in the hope it’s going to save their marriage.” The women, in particular, seem confused, perplexed. “Sometimes the girl will call me back the next day. She realizes that her relationship is not what she wants it to be, and she doesn’t know what to do about it. She just wants someone to talk to.”
Occasionally Frank’s sympathy moves past the talking stage and becomes downright intervention. “If a guy’s really obnoxious,” he says, “when he leaves the room I’ll try to see if the girl realizes that she doesn’t have to put up with all this. I mean, I don’t come out and say the guy’s a schmuck—you can’t do that—but I might say something like, ‘Hey, you don’t have to do this. He’s just a guy, and there are billions of us around.'”
This approach has on at least one occasion produced a surprising twist, in this case with an unmarried couple.
“One woman called me and asked me if she could see me on the side. I said sure. I mean, business is business. So I saw her a number of times by herself. Then one day she called me up and told me she had married her boyfriend. She said, ‘Well, he keeps asking me and asking me, so I finally gave in and married him.'”
“Well, she wanted to go on seeing me on the side. So we talked about it, and I said that maybe it would be a good idea if she put her energies into the marriage and see if it’s going to work before she starts seeing me or anybody else. I mean, why get married if you’re just going to turn around and get divorced?”
In the end, it seems, very few of these troubled relationships survive, and Frank is ultimately rather uncomfortable with his role as an extemporaneous sex therapist. “I’ll always talk to them,” he says, “but I’m not a trained sex therapist. I always tell them that they shouldn’t accept anything I say as the word of God, that I’m only speaking from my own experience. Actually, when you get right down to it, I feel kind of foolish in that role.”