Like countless other teens and young adults in North America, I listened to and watched Sunday Night Sex Show. Debuting in 1996, the live TV show Sunday Night Sex Show (predated by a live call-in radio show on Q107 and TV series on Rogers TV) featured the grandmotherly Sue Johanson offering up no-nonsense advice from callers who had questions about everything to do with sex. Wanted to know how to put a condom on the right way? Sue would grab a banana and roll one onto it. Worried that you could get pregnant through your belly button? Well, Sue had an answer for that as well.
Airing Monday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on W Network, the feature-length documentary Sex with Sue explores the decades-long career of the renowned sex educator. Written and directed by Lisa Rideout and produced by Banger Films (the same folks known for excellent music documentaries), Sex with Sue kicks off with footage of a typical call Johanson received on her program. A young woman is asking about a foot fetish her boyfriend has, and how uncomfortable she feels about a certain request he’s made. Johanson, true to form and with no judgment at all, offers up an interesting solution to the young woman, alleviating her stress. That was Johanson’s MO and why she was beloved by a legion of young adults. Regardless of the question, query or situation, she listened and offered solutions, putting young minds at ease and, often, offering humour along the way.
Johanson graced magazine covers, and appeared on talk shows hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, Conan O’Brien and David Letterman; not bad for a woman who got her start in Don Mills, Ontario, in 1970. It was there that Johanson launched a birth control clinic in Don Mills Collegiate Institute, the first of its kind in Canada. From there, she moved to the stage, speaking to kids and young adults about sexuality before transitioning to radio and TV.
That, and more, are discussed through a series of intimate conversations between Johanson and her daughter, Jane.
Featuring interviews with sex educator Shan Boodram, Dan Savage, Nina Hartley, Russell Peters, George Stroumboulopoulos, Delta Work, Bree Mills, Margaret Cho and past Sunday Night Sex Show crew, the excellent documentary reflects on Sue’s influence while looking forward to what’s next in progressive sexual education.
Sex with Sue airs Monday, October 10, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on W Network.
Image courtesy of Corus Entertainment.