Bright-red, ribbed and pliable, it sits upright in the centre of a boardroom table. I was going to try and break the subject matter to you gently. But this is a pre-production meeting for The Sunday Night Sex Show with Sue Johanson, a call-in show for questions regarding sex and relationships, that airs on W network every Sunday at 11 p.
As anyone who has watched either show will know, this is not a place for soft-pedalling truths. It's a perfect location, when one considers that that the SkyDome and the adjacent CN Tower have been described as the city's ovum and phallus. The assistant sniffs the newly unpacked sex toy, wrinkles her nose, and passes it along.
Story continues below advertisement "Yeah, it does," says the next person, holding it to her nose, then to her neighbour's. Yup, we're talking about a scary-looking sex toy like it's some kind of new toothbrush. At least, they try," answers Johanson, looking up from her script for what will be the th episode of The Sunday Night Sex Show. A production assistant gives the device a withering look of contempt.
Anal Ecstasy has been rejected. It won't even make it to air. Wild Ride, meanwhile, another toy on the boardroom table, is quite good, apparently. Designed as a small car with two smallish vibrating pods, supposedly headlights, at the end of two long wires, it can be used to, well, go ahead and use your imagination.
That's how you test them, you know. If you can't bear the vibration there, it's too strong for you, and you shouldn't try it anywhere else. Which is not to say they don't find humour in it.
Sitting in the call-fielding room during the show, the team's comments were often funnier than some of the callers' questions. Each episode of The Sunday Night Sex Show receives approximately 65, attempted calls, of which 50 to get to the call screener. Chosen to provide a variety of topics, only 12 to 16 get to air. I guess it's love the one you're with. It doesn't pretend to be hip. It offers straightforward information that Johanson believes can help callers make the best decisions for themselves.
Story continues below advertisement Story continues below advertisement Of course, for viewers, it can be hugely entertaining, like the time a caller asked if she could get pregnant by swallowing her boyfriend's ejaculate or the call in which a man asked if it was normal that he liked to masturbate into a jar of peanut butter. Johanson, whose sense of humuour is never far beneath her professional surface, felt compelled to ask if he liked crunchy or smooth.
Johanson's obvious concern and knowledge about the questions people call in about accounts for the show's enormous popularity. She is our sexual conscience. In , Johanson was appointed to the Order of Canada for her years of service in sexual education. Christine Campanile, a spokeswoman for the Oxygen network, says Talk Sex, now in its third month, is one of their top-rated programs. In response, Johanson has become the latest star sexpert in the U.
She appeared on the Phil Donahue Show earlier this month. Last week, she was on NBC's Late Night With Conan O'Brien, talking about sex toys, some of which she brought along in her Hot Stuff bag which she sewed herself , like a grandmother with treats for her grandchildren. When Johanson pulled out a thin, pen-shaped vibrator, the men guffawed, and she turned to them with a scowl. The vagina has no nerve ending in the top two-thirds," she instructed.
Chastised, the men shriveled up, collapsing into the sofa. O'Brien offered a perfect Johnny Carson look of bemused shock. Then Johanson pulled out an enormous contraption called The Accommodator, a dildo on a chin strap basically, that allows the wearer to use his or her mouth at the same time as, oh my, you get it, I'm sure. Johanson strapped it on her chin and did the appropriate mouth movements.
It's been an interesting journey, as they say, for Johanson, who was born in Toronto, the only child of a British war hero, Wilfred Bayley Powell, and Ethel Bell, a member of an affluent Irish-Protestant family. She did not have an easy childhood. Her father was an alcoholic; her parents' marriage, stormy. They had separated by the time she was born. She lived in genteel poverty with her mother, who was emotionally distant, until she died of breast cancer when Johanson was Cared for briefly by a bitter aunt, she moved to Brandon, Man.
But his alcoholism caught up with him again, and the family lived a hardscrabble existence. Story continues below advertisement Asked what most informed her attitude about sex, she folds her hands in prayer position, closes her eyes in mock supplication, and says, "St.
Married to a Swede named Ejnor Johanson, whom she met on a blind date, she was bored at home. She had also encountered many young people, friends of her teenaged children, who were struggling with unwanted pregnancies. She ran the clinic for 18 years. In the mid-eighties, she had a radio program on Toronto's Q for a year, then in , a TV show on Rogers Cable in Toronto that lasted 11 years.
I don't believe in withholding information. Her age, for instance. Her age helps, doesn't it? Callers feel less intimidated asking embarrassing questions of a clinical-looking grandmother than they would of a blond bombshell.
And believe me, honey, if I had cleavage, I would display it, but you're looking at 28 As. That's why I wear turtlenecks. We better rent a room at the airport! Go to movies together, skating together. I make curtains for him. But he can't stand my crazy schedule. She rises at 6 a. In the summer, Johanson retreats to a cottage on Lake Simcoe.
We're the only ones. And we can have fun with it. It's doggie style, almost exclusively, so it's a position of power [for the man. What ever happened to relationships where her pleasure is important and the fact that she's uncomfortable with it doesn't seem to be number one?
He wants it, so she goes along, to keep him happy, because the implication is that if you don't do it, I'll find somebody who will. Basically, all I can do is ask her what she feels about it, not what I think. Lauras of the world, who judge people on moral grounds. The only taboos on Johanson's shows are bestiality, pedophilia and slang terms for genitalia. As we walk down the corridor to the studio, Johanson prattles on about her homemade sex toys, as enthusiastic as a new mother about a valance for her baby's crib.
She has never been ambitious, she says. Her work ethic is grounded more in a fear of not being busy. I'd drive myself crazy. I have this energy. I need to be active. Why, she will even agree to answer people's questions when they recognize her in a grocery store line-up.
Right there with the vegetables and cheese, she'll be telling you how to tickle your G-spot. Follow Sarah Hampson on Twitter Hampsonwrites.