Sue Johanson, the blunt, slutty and lovable Canadian sex teacher and host of the long-running TV call-in show “Sunday Night Sex Show” and its American counterpart, “Talk Sex With Sue Johanson,” died June 28 at a nursing home facility in North Toronto. She was 92 years old.
Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Jane Johansson.
Sue Johansson dressed gracefully, often in jackets and wire-rimmed glasses, but she had comedic timing and instincts, defusing the hot topics she tackled. (At demonstrations, she had a way of stretching condoms—she was a missionary to them—she recalled a clown making balloon animals.)
Like Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Holocaust survivor and Israeli sniper turned sex therapist, Ms. Johansson, a registered nurse and mother of three who ran a public high school birth control clinic for nearly two decades, became a media star in midlife.
She said, “I wasn’t young.” “Sex with Sue,” a documentary about her in 2022 It is directed by Lisa Rideout, with Jane as her mother’s interviewer and the film’s creative advisor. “I wasn’t pretty. I didn’t have my body tatas. I was a mother and she had a lot of information.”
Is it weird to put body glitter on your boyfriend’s testicles? Is it safe to have sex in a hot tub? Can a Ziploc bag be used as a condom? If condoms are left in the car and they freeze, are they still good? Answers: No (chlorinated water is too harsh for the genitals, especially women). of course not. And yes, once unfrozen.
Every Sunday night questions poured in about straight sex, gay sex, masturbation and all sorts of fetishes, fantasies and fears. At the show’s peak, in the early 2000s, approximately 100,000 calls were dispatched and screened by the operators, although only 10 or 12 were made on the air on a given night.
Sex toy manufacturers sent their wares by box loading. Ms. Johansson split them among her young crew for road tests—”Canada’s unofficial sex toy testing facility,” she calls them—and displayed their features on her desk, reaching for her “hot stuff,” a black bag adorned with flames, to pull out the latest offering. She liked to say: “The good, the bad and the ugly.” (The makers of tulips tended to paint the tulips, like the company that made a vibrator with a camera at the tip. “It gives a whole new meaning to, ‘I’m ready for my close-up,'” said Ms. Johansson.)
A child of the Great Depression, she was thrifty and cost-conscious, often offering homemade alternatives. Why not ring your mobile phone to vibrate, put it in your underpants and tell your friends to call non-stop?
“I remember her giving a hand job to a cucumber,” Canadian comedian Russell Peters said in the documentary. “I’ve never looked at the same option.”
Ms. Johansson began her broadcasting career in radio with a very popular show on a rock station that ran for over a decade. The “Sunday Night Sex Show” first aired on Canadian television in 1996. In 2002, the Oxygen network released an American version that played immediately after the Canadian show, so that American callers could get their picture taken. The American public was much more shy and gullible than her Canadian viewers, Ms. Johansson told Mireya Navarro of The New York Times in 2004; They seem to lack basic knowledge. Many young female callers wondered if they could get pregnant from oral sex.
“Ms. Johansson said she couldn’t ride the subway or stand in a grocery line in Canada without being approached to answer the kind of question that would make even frozen chicken blush,” Navarro wrote. But in the US, a much larger market, her growing fan base seems almost shy but mostly grateful. “I find Americans to be so polite and respectful that being recognized is wonderful,” she said. People will look at me and say, “Hey, I love your show.” And that’s where it ends. “
However, she was honored on the American talk show circuit, appearing with Jay Leno, Ellen DeGeneres, David Letterman, and Conan O’Brienwho terrorized her one night with the contents of her bag of hot stuff: it included a vibrating rubber duck, a dildo she attached to her chin, and a homemade vibrator she made from a tin can with bubble wrap and a tube sock.
“You’re such a perverted MacGyver,” said Mr. O’Brien, horrified.
“I consider sex a gift from God,” said Ms. Johansson. “We are the only ones who are truly capable of enjoying 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 mother, Ethel (Bell) Powell, was a homemaker. Her father, Wilfred Bailey Powell, was in the Royal Canadian Air Force and had a number of jobs. Her mother died when Sue was ten, and she was raised mostly by an aunt.
Ignor met Carl Johansson, an electrical inspector, on a blind date before entering nursing school at St. Boniface’s Hospital in Winnipeg; They married in the early 1950s and moved to Toronto to take over her aunt’s real estate business.
Ms. Johansson opened her birth control practice in 1970, after a high school friend of her eldest daughter got pregnant and had an abortion, which was mostly illegal in Canada at the time. She told a reporter in 1983: “Children engage in sex without their parents’ consent, and therefore should be able to obtain contraceptives without their consent.”
Throughout her career, high school and college students have been her biggest concern. She was a tireless speaker, a regular at college freshman orientations each fall and at hundreds of high schools each year. Jane Johansson said her husband was a reserved and private man, unlike his socialite wife, but that he handled her career and fame with kindness and “took her like a hero”. He passed away in 2014.
In addition to her daughter Jane, Mrs. Johansson was survived by another daughter, Carol Howard. Two grandchildren and one great-grandson. Her son, Eric, died in 2021.
Ms. Johansson also wrote a magazine column and was the author of three books: “Sex, Sex, and More Sex,” “Sex Is Just Normal But Not Naturally Perfect,” and “Sex Talk: Answers to the Questions You Can’t Ask Your Parents.”
in 2000, Received the Order of CanadaIt is the nation’s highest honor for pioneers in their field.
The Canadian Mrs. Johansson show went off the air in 2005, and the US version in 2008. The time has come: The Internet has become the go-to source for sexual inquiries. As sex columnist Dan Savage said in the documentary about Ms. Johansson, there was a Wikipedia page for every piece of equipment and every sexual act, and Ms. Johansson felt unable to keep up with the times. At 77, she was ready but sad to call it quits.
“There will be a huge hole in my heart,” she said when she presented her final episode in May 2008, her voice breaking. “I love doing this show.”
She added, “I’ll end with the same condom quickie we finished the premiere 174 episodes ago: The sex would be sweeter if Peter drew.“