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Canadian nurse Sue Johanson, who became a popular TV sex expert, dies at age 93

Sue Johanson, a nurse who became a popular TV sex expert in Canada and the United States when she was in her 60s, has died, her daughter said.

Johanson died in Toronto on Wednesday at age 93 after a long decline, Jane Johanson said.

Johanson’s straight talk about sexual practices earned acclaim across Canada and the United States.

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People delighted in calling in to “The Sunday Night Sex Show” and its American counterpart, “Talk Sex with Sue Johanson,” with questions about obscure acts and fetishes in hopes of shocking the matronly nurse, her daughter said.

The real appeal, though, was her answers.

“She really cared, earnestly and honestly,” Jane Johanson said. “If people were uncomfortable with something, she tried to put them at ease. If she felt that it was a very sensitive topic that needed to be dealt with carefully and gently, she would sometimes put a call off until the end of the show and talk to people privately.”

Sue Johanson

Sex expert Sue Johanson appears on The Tonight Show on July 25, 2011, in Burbank, California. Johanson died Wednesday at age 93 after a long decline. (Kevin Winter/Tonight Show/Getty Images for The Tonight Show)

Johanson wrote three books on sexuality and toured Canada to give talks at schools in her mission to destigmatize sex.

She made her name talking about sex on the radio and TV, but she got her start by setting up a birth control clinic in a Toronto high school in 1970.

In 1974, she started travelling to schools across Ontario to offer sex education and her radio show hit Toronto airwaves a decade later.

After the U.S. version of her show started airing, she became a favorite on the American late-night talk show circuit.

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During an appearance on David Letterman’s “The Late Show,” Johanson charmed the host while discussing the anatomy of female pleasure.

“What people don’t realize is that penis size does not matter, because the top two-thirds of the vagina has no nerve endings, there’s nobody home up there,” Johanson said to a roar of audience approval.

 

Lisa Rideout, who directed the 2022 documentary “Sex with Sue,” said many of today’s sex experts were directly inspired by Johanson.

“Sue paved the way for the way that we talk about sex right now. She had a huge influence on the sex educators that are now out in public, that are operating on social media,” Rideout said.

“She talked about sex as pleasurable, which right now maybe doesn’t sound radical, but it was at the time.”

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