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television: Dr. Truth

Canada’s sexpert, Sue Johanson, talks sex on Sunday nights.


Is America ready?

You know you’re in for something hard-core when the program opens with what looks like one of those FBI warnings you see on rental movies: “This program contains sexually explicit dialogue. This program, Sue Johanson and Oxygen Media do not advocate or encourage any obscene or criminal behavior.” Then come the James Bond-ish opening credits with a peek at a nipple or two.

That’s about the extent of the visual aspect of the show — unless you count the props. Johanson sits at a desk on an orange-and-blue set decorated with shelves full of art glass. Under the desk she keeps a variety of show-and-tell devices — although some might call them sexual toys.

Callers don’t seem to hold back in their quest for information, and Johanson is never flustered, never stumped. To her credit, she rarely giggles the way Dr. Ruth did, back when talking about sex on TV was still unheard of. Johanson is a pro, and she’s there to dispense information, not judgment.

On one recent Sunday-night show, a caller, “Shelly,” posed a typical query: She and her boyfriend both shave their pubic areas, but when “the stuff” gets on the shaved areas, “it burns.” What to do? Johanson suggested the two shave daily, using a shaving cream, and use a moisturizer — “but don’t get it on your labia, because that will sting.”

Johanson pulls no punches with her callers. “The penis has a head but no brain, so it doesn’t do any good to talk to it.”

When another caller says she has food allergies and is concerned about having oral sex, Johanson tells her it’s unlikely to be a problem, “but get yourself a couple of Epi-Pens” in case of a reaction and “tell your boyfriend to squeeze your arm to signal you” when the time comes.

There’s also a Hot Stuff segment on every show. Recently, the new product was the Wild Sexual Bondage Kit, which includes a 7-inch plastic vibrator, some strawberry warming massage oil and a set of fur-lined handcuffs. Johanson said the items were flimsy and not fit for “a night in the barracks.”

Some viewers will be put off by “Talk Sex.” Others will watch to be titillated. But the smart viewer will pay attention. Johanson is performing a valuable public service and offering information most people can’t get — even from their family doctor. S

“Talk Sex” with Sue Johanson” airs on Sunday at 11 p.m. on the Oxygen network.

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