Damn. We’ve lost another legend. CBC reports Sue Johanson has passed away at age 93. According to a rep, the groundbreaking Canadian sex educator died yesterday in a long-term care home just north of Toronto. She was surrounded by family (and hopefully a bunch of sex toys).
Sue was born Susan Powell in Toronto in 1930. She attended nursing school in Winnipeg, graduating as a registered nurse. Soon after, she married Ejnor Johanson, a Swedish-Canadian electrician (insert joke about Ejnor turning Sue on). They had three kids: Carol, Eric, and Jane.
During the 1970s, Sue opened a birth control clinic at a Toronto high school and ran it for nearly two decades. Her first Canadian live call-in sex program, Sunday Night Sex Show, premiered on the radio in 1984. The TV version began in 1996. This led to an American spinoff, Talk Sex with Sue Johanson. Sue’s mission was to de-stigmatize and educate the masses about the joy of safe sex. She was a huge proponent of condoms, sex toys, and communication between partners. Sue also wasn’t afraid to talk about more “controversial” topics, like anal sex, fetishes, and sexual issues in the queer community. She didn’t give a flying fuck about offending the pro-lifers or pearl-clutchers.
Here’s Sue teaching Susie from Alabama how to give her boyfriend a proper beej without throwing up on his giant dick:
And some other clips:
People loved Sue’s straightforward approach to sex, which was obviously pretty shocking coming from a woman who looked like your grandma. Her star blew up, and she appeared on Arsenio Hall, Letterman, Leno, and Conan O’Brien. Here’s a clip of Sue making Conan O’Brien and fellow guest Ray Romano squirm in their little boy boots:
Sue decided to end her show in 2008. Global News says in her late 70s, her energy was beginning to dwindle. She also felt that the rise of technology, including online dating and internet porn, “was beginning to outpace her knowledge and understanding of many sex topics.” But her daughter, Jane, says her mom always kept up with the world of sex and reproductive rights. Jane says that when Sue learned about the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe V. Wade a year ago, she was heartbroken:
“She cried when she heard that… It just made her so sad, but I think almost relieved because she thought, ‘That’s a battle I can’t fight now. I’m too old.’”
Last year, Sue was the subject of a feature-length documentary. Sex with Sue covered Sue’s life, career, and legacy. She was interviewed for the doc and seemed just as sharp as ever. Apparently, many of the feature’s laugh-out-loud moments came from the crew who worked on Sue’s shows. They recounted how she’d give them sex toys to take home and try for themselves. She uses these “crew reviews” for a Consumer Reports-style segment at the end of each episode.
Jane says her mom never aimed to be famous; she just wanted to talk about sex, meet new people, and make them laugh. This morning, she gave this statement to CBC News:
“My mom was amazing. She could be anywhere at any time, and people would recognize her voice,” her daughter Jane Johanson told CBC News Network Thursday.
“She never brushed people aside. She treated everyone absolutely the same. She was never judgmental, nor was she condescending or disapproving of any question that came her way.
“I think everybody felt like they had another mother or another grandmother with Sue.”
I don’t know about you, but I spent many a teenage late night watching Sue’s show with the volume cranked down to 1, just in case my parents suddenly developed super-human hearing and caught me… (gulp) learning. She was blunt, badass, and made me feel so much less shame about wanting to do unspeakable things to Giles from Buffy. Tonight, let’s all bust out our vibrators, cock rings, dildos, butt plugs, electric toothbrushes, whatever, and rub one out in Sue’s honor.