The Magazine


Mar 23, 1998, Vol. 3, No. 27 • By TUCKER CARLSON
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MONICA LEWINSKY'S THERAPIST is on the phone from Los Angeles explaining how her patient wound up having an affair with Bill Clinton. Starting work as an intern at the White House, says Irene Kassorla, a Hollywood psychologist who has counseled Lewinsky, is "like your first day of kindergarten. Can you imagine being this little kid in kindergarten and there's this nice daddy there? Your mommy has left you, she's gone home and told you to be brave. There are 250 of you in the class, and all of a sudden the biggest daddy in the place takes you by the hand and shows you how to color, and shows you how to play with the clay, and shows you how to get on the tricycle, and when you fall he picks you up. I mean, it's pretty nice."

In fact, says Kassorla, who is a longtime sex therapist, Clinton the paternal kindergarten teacher was almost irresistible: "What intern in what country wouldn't if the top guy said, 'You're adorable, you're wonderful'? It's so seductive, it's so delicious to have a Big Daddy look at you. And then the thing develops. At first you think maybe he just wants to talk to you or something. It develops." Kassorla says that she, a married woman in her mid-60s, can empathize with Lewinsky's attraction to the president. "I think he's cute," says Kassorla enthusiastically. "But if he and I did it, we'd have to have penetration. I'd insist."

Kassorla will not disclose whether she gave similar advice to Monica Lewinsky. Nor will she say when the two last spoke. (An acquaintance of Lewinsky's says that her counseling sessions with Kassorla began in high school and continued, over the phone, until as recently as several months ago. ) But talk to Monica Lewinsky's shrink for a while and what has happened to Lewinsky begins to make a lot more sense.

Irene Kassorla first came to national attention in 1980, when she published a sex manual entitled Nice Girls Do. Based partly on Kassorla's own experiences with her boyfriend (who was then the west coast editor of Penthouse magazine), Nice Girls Do promised to take readers "beyond orgasm, beyond sexual gratification, and into sexual delight whenever you wish." It was not a book for beginners. In order to reach the "untamable Maxi Orgasm" (comparable in intensity to a grand mal seizure), Dr. Kassorla prescribed gymnastic couplings like the Bass Fiddle Position, as well as a grueling regimen of genital exercises. "Sex is a skill that has to be learned, practiced and honed to precision," she wrote, and many book buyers seemed to agree. Nice Girls Do spent weeks on the bestseller lists, eventually selling more than 3 million copies.

By the mid-'80s, Kassorla had become something of a celebrity in Los Angeles. Billing herself as the "Shrink to the Stars," she hosted a radio call-in show, made regular appearances on Donahue, and struck up a friendship with Oprah Winfrey. In 1985, Kassorla helped develop her own television special, 99 Ways to Attract a Man. "I'm the world's best-known psychologist," she told a reporter at the time. In 1988, Kassorla took time from her busy schedule of media appearances to marry Norman Friedmann, a wealthy computer executive. These days Kassorla lives, as she puts it, "like a queen," in "a huge estate, right near [Hugh] Hefner. It's a palace, nestled between Beverly Hills and Bel Air."

Kassorla could have retired from her practice years ago, but she continues to work as a therapist, mostly, she says, because she's so good at it. "I'm the most amazing shrink," she explains. "I'm the strongest, most effective shrink you ever saw. I know it. I have a gift. People kiss my hand sometimes when I go on the street. They say, 'Oh, you've saved my life.'" The secret to successful lifesaving, Kassorla says, is her rapport with clients. "I have Kleenex in every room of my house because my patients come in here and they really spill their everything to me."

At some point, one of those who spilled her everything to Kassorla was a now-famous pudgy girl from Brentwood. Kassorla is both proud of her connection to Lewinsky and fearful that it will disrupt her life. "This is my nightmare, that Ken Starr will find some loophole or something and come get me talking," Kassorla says, sounding worried. "I have a cushy life. I live in a bloody mansion here. I got a husband who thinks I'm 14. And if you think I want to be under Starr's glance or pressure, or be in Washington when my patients need me. . . . My life would be over. I'd be in the Enquirer as the crazy shrink who crazied the crazy."