March 16, 1930
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Occupation||Public speaker, sex educator, writer|
|Alma mater||University of Michigan|
|Genre||Sex education and health|
Johanson was born Susan Powell in Toronto, Ontario, to Wilfrid Powell, a decorated British war hero, and an affluent Ontario-born Irish Protestant mother, Ethel Bell. Her great-uncle was Lord Baden-Powell. Her mother died when Johanson was ten. Johanson attended nursing school in St. Boniface Hospital Winnipeg, graduating as a registered nurse. Soon after, she married a Swedish-Canadian electrician named Ejnor Johanson. They had three children: Carol, Eric and Jane. The family moved to North York, where Johanson kept house and raised her children.
In 1972, Johanson opened a birth control clinic in Don Mills CI high school, the first of its kind in Canada. She worked there as clinic coordinator until 1986. She continued her education at the Toronto Institute of Human Relations (a postgraduate course in counseling and communication), the University of Toronto (family planning), and the University of Michigan (human sexuality), graduating as a counselor and sex educator.
Johanson's career rose rapidly since her first classroom teaching in the North York schools. Later some other districts of the country noticed her performances and began to invite her in schools and universities all over the country. Johanson's humour and frankness make her a popular speaker at Canadian universities. She frequently packs auditoriums to capacity, making even standing room hard to come by.
Radio and TV programs
Johanson achieved popularity as a sex educator and therapist on rock radio station Q107. Originally she had a one-hour phone-in radio show dedicated to advice on sex. Later, the show was increased to two hours. The show was called Sunday Night Sex Show and existed for nineteen years between 1984 and 2005. In 1985 this radio program was turned into a TV talk show with the same name on the community television, Rogers Cable. In 1996 it became a national show on the Women's Television Network (WTN) with a high rating.
The first seven seasons were delivered to American audiences by Oxygen Media in 2002. The recorded program was very popular, but American viewers missed the opportunity to call in and ask their own questions. The U.S. version of Sunday Night Sex Show, called Talk Sex with Sue Johanson, produced especially for American audiences, debuted in November 2002 on the Oxygen Media.
Talk Sex with Sue Johanson was an educational talk show airing every Sunday night. The program was divided into a several segments all covering the following topics: sexual life, love and relationships. Call-in segment includes viewers' live calls with questions immediately being answered by Sue. The discussions included the most common worries about arousal or erection, pregnancy, contraception, infections, and diseases. Johanson easily covered such topics as BDSM, sex positions, sexuality trends, sex and age, and much more. The show also included a sex quiz, a sex poll where viewers could vote via the internet and see the results at the end of the episode, and included important sexual news and information before and after commercial breaks.
The "Hot Stuff Bag" segment of the show was dedicated to reviewing a new sex toy which has been tested out by one or more members of the crew. The toy is shown and its usage is explained, as well its pros and cons. It is then rated on a scale of 1–4.
The show also usually includes a book review.
The educational format of the show combined with Johanson's profound knowledge of the subject and healthy sense of humour made the program popular with all age groups. Approximately 4.2 million Americans watch the show every Sunday. The show appears in Israel, Brazil, and twenty European countries in five languages.
Johanson made two cameo appearances in the teen drama Degrassi Junior High as "Dr. Sally", essentially a fictionalised version of herself. She reprised the role a decade later for two episodes of Degrassi: The Next Generation.
It was announced on May 7, 2008, that Sunday night's episode on May 11, 2008, would be her last, opting to retire. Johanson ended the show very emotionally and was joined by her staff on stage as she said goodbye.
Johanson is the author of three books: Talk Sex (ISBN 0-14-010377-5), Sex Is Perfectly Natural but Not Naturally Perfect (ISBN 0-670-83856-X), and Sex, Sex, and More Sex (ISBN 0-06-056666-3). All of them cover the sex topics from different points and include the detailed answers of the most delicate questions asked commonly about sexual life, Johanson's advice and health information.
Johanson is also the author of a weekly column published in the Health section of the Toronto Star newspaper.
Awards and honours
Johanson's work educating and informing the public about birth control and sexual health earned her Canada's fourth highest honor (after the Victoria Cross, Cross of Valour, and the Order of Merit), appointment to the Order of Canada in 2001, for lifetime achievement. In 2010, Johanson was presented the Bonham Centre Award from the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies for her contributions to the advancement and education of issues around sexual identification.