She Talked Penis Size With Letterman, Taught on Fetishes

Former nurse Sue Johanson, who became a celebrity sex expert in US and Canada, dies at 93
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 30, 2023 7:43 AM CDT
She Talked Penis Size With Letterman, Taught on Fetishes
Sue Johanson, from Oxygen's "Talk Sex" call-in show.   (AP Photo/Oxygen)

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, per the AP. Johanson's straight talk about sexual practices earned acclaim across Canada and the US. People delighted in calling in to 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 in 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 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 traveling to schools across Ontario to offer sex education, and her radio show hit Toronto airwaves a decade later. After the US version of her show started airing, she became a favorite on the American late-night talk show circuit. 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.

story continues below

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," Rideout said. "She had a huge influence on the sex educators that are now out in public, that are operating on social media. She talked about sex as pleasurable, which right now maybe doesn't sound radical, but it was at the time." (More sex stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.