What’s Love Got To Do With It?
by Carla Fischer

Malibu Magazine
November 2003

Magnificent cityscapes from atop Sunset Boulevard light the penthouse offices of power team Dr. Ava Cadell, love and relationship expert and board-certified clinical sexologist and her attractive, willing husband and celebrity criminal defense lawyer, Peter Knecht. Peter and Ava recently did a pilot for television called “Power Couples.” We both free people. Ava explains, “Peter frees them from jail, and I free them from sexual guilt and shame. We’re very supportive of each other’s careers. Sometimes criminals have sexual problems, and we have also shared clients involved in crimes of domestic violence,” explains Ava. “Anyhow, crime and sex are a great combination!” Peter jokes. His motivation to defend people’s rights may well have been precipitated by the near loss of all of his own rights and life in World War II when the Gestapo kicked in the door of his family’s home, leaving him (a mere toddler) for dead and carting his father, a physician, off to be shipped to the death camps. His father managed to escape with his family in the nick of time.

Friendly and relaxed, Ava, who has a perfect figure to match her beauty, offers me cherry pie. She defines her own sensual pleasures through her enthusiasm for good food, adding, “My husband loves my cooking.” Originally from Hungary, she makes chicken paprikas and other traditional European dishes. Their family includes their dog, Romeo, found at a rescue shelter and Charlie 2, a rag doll meow!

AC: Peter is really entrenched in the Malibu community. He bought his home in 1978.
PK: I was the Malibu DA in the late `60s. I started as Deputy DA in Beverly Hills. One of the reasons I’ve kept our home in Malibu is so we can take weekend vacations. I love walking on the beach from our home to Paradise Cove.
AC: It’s our love nest. We love to go to Nobu at least once a week, because sushi is so sensual! We also go to Guidos every week. It feels like family. We have barbeques and enjoy giving parties. Richard Chesterfield of Monrose, is the best caterer.

CF: How did you meet?
AC: I was writing human-interest stories for a local newspaper in Toluca Lake. I called up “the noble advocate.” I asked him if he was dating anybody special, and he said, “Oh, nobody special!”

CF: What did you think when you met her?
PK: I opened the door, looked at her and I thought, “Oh, my God! I don’t want to let her go!” I have the story framed in our home.

AC: It took a long time until I met my knight in shinning armor 15 years ago. I kissed a lot of frogs until I met my prince. When I met Peter, he was a playboy. He had never wanted to get married. I always tell everybody that my best qualifications are not my TV shows, not my books, not my Ph.D. It’s the fact that I tamed a stallion. I married this playboy lawyer who was afraid he would be tied down.

When somebody says to me, “What is the secret to getting the man of your dreams?” I say, “It’s simple, just make a man feel good when he’s with you. It’s as simple as that! It has nothing to do with how good you look, how young or sexy you are, nothing! It’s just about making him feel good: not complaining, whining, and being negative or needy. PK: When I was attending Hollywood High, we had a graduation at the Hollywood Bowl. Some guy asked me if I was going to marry my high school sweetheart, and I said, “The girl I’m going to marry hasn’t even been born yet!” And that’s true. She hadn’t been born yet! I was smart enough to know at the age of seventeen, I probably wouldn’t marry till later in life.

Everyone said, “When you marry them, they change.” We were together for five years, and there was no change.

AC: We got married in Malibu at our home by Judge Bert Katz, another Malibu resident.
PK: We’re living happily ever after.

AC: I believe in fairy tales. I have a book called “Twelve Steps to Everlasting Love,” and that’s my number one seminar for all single people. I show them how you can believe in fairy tales, but you have to know how to heal from past relationships, and you also have to know exactly who and what you’re looking for before you can find it.

CF: From being a “very confused teenager to believing your mission in life was to find out as much as you could about love, relationships, sexuality and overcoming your own guilt and shame to sex as the greatest gift to give to somebody worthy of it” covers a lot of territory. What were some highlights that shaped your journey?
AC: I was born during the Hungarian Revolution. I was orphaned and smuggled into Austria and raised for the first few years in an orphanage run by Hungarian nuns. When I was seven, I went to England with a man who said he was my father. He was very abusive and that’s why I do what I do. He said I looked like my mother, and he hated my mother, whom I’ve never met. I didn’t see the light for a very long time. In England I was an au pair girl and emotionally I was really screwed up. I was like teenagers today, especially girls I talk to. They always regret loosing their virginity to whomever they lost it to because when they give it away, they think sex equals love. They’re searching for love and attention they’re not getting at home.

CF: Ava explained how she became an actress as an escape into fantasy. She also modeled, saved her money, came to America, to Miami to open up a dinner club, and lived with her aunt, who was very conservative.

CF: How do you account for your genesis as a sexologist and relationship expert?
PK: When I first met her, she was an actress. As she progressed in her life, she said to me, “I want to go to school and become a doctor.” A few years later she said, “I want to do a seminar. Come on, I’ll show you.” We went to a hotel near LAX and sure enough, there were 100 people sitting there and I’ve never seen her like this before. She was a natural motivational speaker. At first I was afraid for her, ‘cause I didn’t know what was going to happen there. It was just amazing to see, but she could handle the audience, the heckling, and questions. She had it all in control. Since then, she’s traveled all over the world conducting seminars, speaking to Fortune 500 people.

CF: Do you have gurus, teachers, or books that have influenced or inspired your work?
AC: Deepak Chopra, and I love the Dalai Lama, especially his definition of love, which in a nutshell is: When you love somebody, you will do anything you can to prevent him or her from suffering. I’ve done all of Tony Robbins’ courses. He’s very empowering. I always describe myself as a cross between Dr. Ruth, Dr. Phil, and Tony Robbins. I motivate people to change.

CF: You stress openness and communication. What are some sure-fire techniques to developing basic communication skills that promote intimacy and taking a chance on having fun with your partner?
AC: I have a program called “Passion Power,” which is an enrichment program for couples. It’s guaranteed to improve communication, enhance intimacy and expand your sexual horizons, but you have to sign a commitment form (I’m very big on forms) that you’ll go through the six-week program, do your homework, which I call “lovework.” It’s six one-hour audiocassettes, much like Tony Robbins, except mine’s for relationships. It includes a hundred-page workbook, and every day you do an exercise that can take from one minute to a half hour, depending on whether it’s kissing, (I insist on kissing passionately twice a day for at least twelve seconds) or giving each other a sensual massage. It’s definitely fun work. I help people to be less inhibited about sex. I’m not judgmental. I believe that anything two adults do is ok as long as it feels good, they both want to do it and nobody gets hurt.

CF: How difficult is it to actually change or shift clients’ behavior with your treatment, considering that psychological imprints are pretty indelible?
AC: Sexual proclivities come from a time when one is very young, and, in fact, 80% of our subconscious mind is developed by the time we’re eight years old and another 15% is developed by the time we’re teenagers, so it’s not easy. When someone comes to me for help, we’re half way there. What I do with them is discuss and identify the negative pattern(s), and then we start to change the pattern(s) slowly. With some people, when they become adults and realize that what they’ve done is unhealthy, detrimental, dangerous, or illegal, they’ll come to somebody like me. Most of the time it boils down to a lack of self worth and almost self-loathing. For example, a beautiful, sexy, rich, famous celebrity woman I know of constantly chooses bad relationships with men who humiliate her, physically and emotionally because her father did the same, and it was a familiar pattern. Now, she’s breaking the pattern. Sometimes it takes a lot of beating down, a lot of trauma, before you realize “Hey! I have a worth, more than this. I do want to be happy.” I always say there are only two ways to go. One is to emulate your parents and the other way is to rebel against them. Depending on what your upbringing is, you try to choose the right one. I personally had a bad childhood, and I rebelled, which is why I do what I do.

CF: What are your goals?
AC: My goal is to continue to love happily ever after and to enhance as many other lives and relationships as I can.

“In the end, nothing that we do, nothing that we say, matters as much as the way we’ve loved one another. That’s all we take with us.”