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Sue Johanson, Who Talked Sex With Aplomb, Dies at 92

Sue Johanson, the blunt, bawdy and beloved Canadian intercourse educator and host of the long-running tv call-in program “Sunday Night Sex Show” and its American counterpart, “Talk Sex With Sue Johanson,” died on June 28 at a care facility in North Toronto. She was 92.

Her dying was confirmed by her daughter Jane Johanson.

She dressed demurely, typically in blazers and wire-rimmed glasses, however Ms. Johanson had a comic’s timing and instincts, which defused the hot-button matters she addressed. (A condom evangelist, she had a means of stretching them out in demonstrations that recalled a clown making balloon animals.) And like Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the Holocaust survivor and onetime Israeli sniper turned intercourse therapist, Ms. Johanson, a registered nurse and mom of three who had run a contraception clinic in a public high faculty for practically 20 years, turned a media star in midlife.

“I wasn’t young,” Ms. Johanson stated in “Sex With Sue,” a 2022 documentary about her directed by Lisa Rideout, with Jane as her mom’s interlocutor and the movie’s inventive marketing consultant. “I wasn’t beautiful. I didn’t have bodacious tatas. I was a mother with a load of information.”

Is it bizarre to place body glitter in your boyfriend’s testicles? Is it protected to have intercourse in a scorching tub? Could a Ziploc baggie function a condom? If condoms are left in a automotive they usually freeze, are they nonetheless good? Answers: No. No (chlorinated water is just too harsh for genitals, significantly women’s). Definitely not. And sure, as soon as they’ve been defrosted.

Every Sunday night time, the questions poured in about straight intercourse, homosexual intercourse and masturbation, together with these detailing all method of fetishes, fantasies and fears. At the present’s peak within the early 2000s, practically 100,000 calls had been fielded and screened by operators, although solely 10 or 12 made it on the air.

Manufacturers of intercourse toys despatched their wares by the boxload. Ms. Johanson would divvy them up amongst her younger crew for highway exams — “The Unofficial Sex Toy Testing Facility of Canada,” she known as them — and show their options at her desk, reaching into her “hot stuff” bag, a black tote emblazoned with flames, to drag out the most recent choices. “The good, the bad and the ugly,” she preferred to say. (Makers tended to gild the lily, like the corporate that made a vibrator with a digital camera at its tip. “It gives a whole new meaning to, ‘I’m ready for my close-up,’” Ms. Johanson deadpanned.)

A baby of the Great Depression, she was thrifty and cost-conscious, and she or he typically offered home made alternate options. Why not flip your cellphone ringer to vibrate, tuck it in your underpants and have your folks name nonstop?

“I remember her giving a hand job to a cucumber,” Russell Peters, the Canadian comic, stated within the documentary. “I never looked at a cucumber the same.”

Ms. Johanson started her broadcasting profession in radio, with a wildly in style present on a rock station that ran for greater than a decade. “Sunday Night Sex Show” first aired on Canadian tv in 1996. In 2002, the Oxygen community commissioned an American model, which ran proper after the Canadian present, so American callers may have their shot. The U.S. viewers was shyer and extra naïve than her Canadian viewers, Ms. Johanson informed Mireya Navarro of The New York Times in 2004; they appeared to lack fundamental information. Many younger feminine callers puzzled if they may get pregnant from oral intercourse.

“Ms. Johanson said she could not ride the subway or stand in a grocery line in Canada without being approached to answer the kind of question that would make even the frozen chicken blush,” Ms. Navarro wrote. “But in the United States, a much bigger market, her growing fan base seems almost bashful but mostly grateful. ‘I find that Americans are so polite and so respectful that being recognized is wonderful,’ she said. ‘People will look at me and say, ‘Hi, I love your show.’ And that’s where it ends.”

She was, nonetheless, feted on the American talk-show circuit, showing with Jay Leno, Ellen DeGeneres, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien, whom she terrified with the contents of her hot-stuff bag, which that night time included a vibrating rubber duck, a dildo she strapped to her chin and a home made, hand-operated vibrator she had common from a tin can fitted with Bubble Wrap and a tube sock.

“You’re like a perverted MacGyver,” Mr. O’Brien stated, horrified.

“I regard sex as a gift from God,” Ms. Johanson informed Ms. Navarro. “We’re the only ones that really are able to enjoy sex, so we have an obligation to learn about it and enjoy it.”

Susan Avis Bailey Powell was born on July 29, 1930, in Toronto. Her mom, Ethel (Bell) Powell, was a homemaker. Her father, Wilfred Bailey Powell, was within the Royal Canadian Air Force and had quite a lot of jobs. Her mom died when she was 10, and she or he was raised principally by an aunt.

She met Ejnor Karl Johanson, {an electrical} inspector, on a blind date simply earlier than she entered nursing faculty at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg; they married within the early 1950s and moved to Toronto to take over her aunt’s actual property enterprise.

Ms. Johanson opened her contraception clinic in 1970, after her eldest daughter’s good friend turned pregnant in high faculty and had an abortion, which was at the time principally unlawful in Canada. “Kids get involved with sex without their parents’ consent,” she informed a reporter in 1983, “and therefore they should be able to get contraceptives without their consent.”

Throughout her profession, high faculty and faculty college students had been her largest concern. She was an indefatigable speaker, a daily at faculty freshman orientations every fall and at a whole bunch of high faculties every year. Her husband, Jane Johanson stated, was a reserved, personal man, the other of his gregarious spouse, however he dealt with her profession and fame with grace, and “took it like a champ.” He died in 2014.

In addition to her daughter Jane, Ms. Johanson is survived by one other daughter, Carol Howard; two grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Her son, Eric, died in 2021.

Ms. Johanson additionally wrote {a magazine} column and was the writer of three books: “Sex, Sex and More Sex,” “Sex Is Perfectly Natural but Not Naturally Perfect” and “Talk Sex: Answers to Questions You Can’t Ask Your Parents.”

In 2000, she was awarded the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest honor for pioneers of their area.

Ms. Johanson’s Canadian present went off the air in 2005, and the American model in 2008. It was time: The web had develop into the go-to supply for intercourse inquiries. As Dan Savage, the intercourse columnist, put it within the documentary about Ms. Johanson, there was a Wikipedia web page for each piece of apparatus and each intercourse act, and Ms. Johanson felt she was unable to maintain up with the instances. At 77, she was prepared however unhappy to name it quits.

“There will be a great big hole in my heart,” she stated as she launched her last episode in May 2008, her voice breaking.“I love doing this show.”

She added, “I’ll shut with the identical condom quickie that we ended the primary present with 174 episodes in the past: Sex shall be sweeter, when you wrap your peter.


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