"In Trader Joe's, People Smile Knowingly:" The Life Of A Sex Rehab Alum

In a hilarious essay for The Daily Beast, Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew alumnus Duncan Roy alleges that Drew's a fraud, the show was artificially packed with porn stars, and — most shocking — the experience actually helped him.

Roy may be a recovering sex addict (he cops to "compulsively looking at Internet porn, Internet hookup sites, phone sex, multiple Internet identities on sites such as Adam 4 Adam, intrigue with straight men, flirtation, oral sex with straight-identified men, manipulation, and lying"), but he's also an engaging writer, and he seems winkingly aware of the LOLworthiness of his entire piece. As a director, he says he was initially uncomfortable being the "talent" on Sex Rehab, or, as he puts it, "the meat in this particular pie." Dr. Drew, meet Sweeney Todd.

While Drew may not be a demon barber, he is, according to Roy, pretty much a charlatan. Roy writes,

It was immediately apparent that while Drew may be an astounding drug and alcohol specialist, he knows very little, or anything, about the precise science of sex addiction. More disturbingly, he does not believe in God, which is a fundamental prerequisite to any 12-step program. (He admitted to me that he is an atheist.)

Drew apparently simply parroted the "thoughts and insights" of sex therapist Jill Vermeire, whose breasts, Roy notes, "fit snugly in duchess satin shifts." Unlike Roy, I don't begrudge Drew his atheism, but since the good doctor has been a main culprit behind the ridiculous proliferation of narcissism trend pieces, I was pretty gratified to read that "it comes as no surprise that Drew writes about narcissism because he genuinely wrestles with his own."

Some of Roy's revelations, while sordid, aren't particularly surprising. He writes,

First, I found out that all of the women on the show-Jennie Ketcham (the porn star), Nicole Narain (the Playboy playmate), Amber Smith (the model), Kari Ann Peniche (the former beauty queen), and Kendra Jade (the former porn actress)-had been wrangled and represented by a man named David Weintraub. He turns out to be a reptilian creature feeding off of the demi-fame of people like Sean Stewart, Rod's wayward son, who had been on a season of Celebrity Rehab.

And:

The Weintraub revelation shook me because I understood with sickening clarity that the women might not be on the show for the same reasons as I was. That they might not have any desire for sexual sobriety. That I might be part of a huge pantomime.

And, most hilariously:

The other disturbing fact was that James Lovett, a professional surfer, had been paid a huge amount of money to wear named products. Hence he wore socks on his hands and odd shoes, as every logo he wore would be logged and for that he would be reimbursed.

You mean ... reality shows are often masterminded by unsavory characters, and their casts often include women who have made careers out of being hot? And some of these women might appear on the show to acquire fame and notoriety, and not out of a genuine desire for self-improvement? What's the world coming to? Still, one aspect of Roy's article seems like nothing short of a miracle: as a result of the show, he actually got better. After a breakthrough in therapy, Roy found that he "could make different sexual choices in the future, ones that did not include recreating situations I had suffered with my stepfather when I was a child." The only obstacle, of course, was his newfound reality-show fame. Roy writes that "in Trader Joe's, people smile knowingly" and that "only yesterday, a gorgeous, straight 25-year-old man came right up to me and offered to give me the sexual equivalent of an 8-ball" (what exactly would that be?).

Roy's essay discusses two diagnoses du jour — narcissism and sex addiction. It also seems to illustrate two sides of Roy's personality — the serious patient disgusted at becoming reality-TV "meat," and the man comfortable enough with fame to write a Daily Beast article about it. Roy says his persona on Sex Rehab was that of "12-step anthropologist," but he might have more in common with the average reality show viewer — or, perhaps, the slightly self-conscious reality show viewer who tells himself he's watching "ironically." On the one hand, Roy disdains everything about Sex Rehab, from Dr. Drew to his fellow contestant with the socks on his hands. On the other, he clearly got something out the experience. Like our Self-Conscious Reality Show Viewer, he got a feeling of superiority. Of course, he also got something else that the Viewer can't really hope to achieve: healing. Despite Roy's claim that "we helped a few" ordinary people with the show, it's safe to say that when we watch reality TV, the best we can really hope for mental-health-wise is to break even.

Image via VH1.

Is Dr. Drew A Phony? [Daily Beast]