A Convo with Sexologist and YouTube Star, Shan Boody
I fell in a YouTube black hole and landed on a video titled Sex Talk With My Parents.
It was Shannon Boodram, a young, professional sex educator talking to her parents about their sex life. Yes, their sex life. My astonishment quickly turned into fascination, which then turned into kudos and I. could. not. stop. watching.
Boodram, who goes by ‘Shan Boody’ is a sexologist, author and YouTuber who has managed to turn her expertise into a viable career. What I found unique about the Toronto-native is that she’s not only serving sexual 4-1-1, but also digs into her own experience, having even pulled from her real life for an educational video on chlamydia. Lately, her current open relationship has been the hot topic. She easily becomes a ‘friend in my head’ and her openness is contagiously empowering.
Shan has said she is someone who has always been a sexually precocious person and started researching information on sex when she was 19. What she found was underwhelming. That task then morphed into her writing a book titled, Laid: Young People's Experiences With Sex In An Easy Access Culture. Eventually she moved from Toronto to Los Angeles for television's pilot season, but when no shows picked up she decided to create her own content on YouTube and the rest was history, or shall I say, herstory.
When did you initially realize that you wanted to become clinical sexologist and saw it as a viable career?
I knew I wanted to work as a sexual educator ten years ago because I realized sex sells but sex ed does not! Sex ed is dry, boring and judgmental—sex ed is BAD sex! I saw a need for someone to come in and try to change that narrative. I'm not the first to attempt this feat but I'm proud of the dents I've made thus far.
Your channel initially grabbed my attention because you were talking about sex in a way that I’ve never really seen before. It's very honest and with modern day language. Do you see the world of sex education becoming more like this?
Thank you! And yes I do. I see everything going this way—we don't want fake and compartmentalized. We want people to give information the way the Internet does: expansive, enthusiastically, niche and nice!
Your parents have made appearances in your videos and you've even discussed their sex life. What was the journey like to get them comfortable with your profession?
Did you ever watch Family Matters? Urkel would always say to Laura, "I'm wearing you dowwwwwwwwn." That's how it happened with my parents. My career choice was the annoying neighbor they wished would move but then it kept coming over, it did cool things, other people liked it and you had to admit you secretly did all along too.
You're pretty open about your own experiences on your channel in a way that makes you more relatable to your audience—has this ever impacted your friendships or romantic relationships?
Oh my God, Yes! Not everyone is as open as me, so even though I try my best not to let people be identifiable in my stories...if it was you, you know it was you! I hurt some feelings, got in some heated verbal exchanges, got letters from current girlfriends...but the negative is nothing compared to the positive feedback I receive and the trust I have built with my audience. I'm now in a relationship that completely embraces my desire to LOL (live out loud) plus my family/ friends are so on board, so the challenges have become less and less.
"My career choice was the annoying neighbor they wished would move but then it kept coming over, it did cool things, other people liked it and you had to admit you secretly did all along too."
You've talked about past relationships and have even bravely decided to talk about your current open relationship. I say bravely because it is pretty courageous to expose your personal relationship to the opinions of the public, but I can imagine you did it because you thought it would be for a greater good. Can you explain what encouraged you to do this?
Yes! Being apart of a non-traditional relationship would not have been something I would have thought of five years ago. If I had, it may have made my life and my attempts at love easier. I share because not a lot of young people or women of color are owning up to their different relational needs so who else could people use as a reference? I think everyone should be creating their own relationship rules. Too many of us have adopted this strict idea of love and the rules that go with "the real thing" without ever considering what we may actually need to thrive. It's so impossible for me to keep this answer short, hence the two 20+ minute videos I made but long story short—it's for you to ask more questions about yourself not for you to judge or approve of me.
I think YouTube is a platform that can take A LOT of commitment and work to keep growing, so I applaud anyone who is successful at it. I imagine it can even be uniquely challenging with the theme of sex. How do you keep it going while also venturing out into new opportunities?
I have to keep at it. I quit YouTube before years ago and it was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. YouTube is the priority, that is MY platform those are MY people. It's not a place for me to leverage then leap out of, it is home. It is a grind, but I've done many grinds in my short lil' life (photography, writing, TV hosting, corporate) and none of them are easier or as fun. I love YouTube and I love that there is a space, even if it is just a small one, for sex-positive women like myself.
You've recently branched off into selling merchandise related to your brand, such as your vibrator necklaces. Will we see more items like this from you in the future?
Yes! When people ask me what my "ten-year-plan" is, I say "to be the Martha Stewart of sex ed!" Martha sells you books, specials, weekend getaways, sheets, etc. When you think Martha you think home DIY, then with that thought there's several avenues for you to integrate with that brand.
Also, can you explain the meaning behind the vibrator necklace?
I love this piece because to me it represents how I feel about female sexuality: sleek, chic, strong, beautiful, subtle and full of mystery. You can wear it as a portable sex toy, for sure. You can also wear it as a statement for normalizing female sexual pleasure. Or you can have it as a secret for yourself. Or—my fav—as an exceptional conversation piece. This necklace has brought me so much joy and laughter, 99% of which has happened outside of the bedroom. I'm glad to share this experience with other sensuous seekers.
The world of showbiz can involve a lot of rejection. Do you have any daily routines that keep your self confidence in tact?
I LOVE my mornings with my partner. We both prioritize that. We wake up, cuddle for a lil' then do our coffee/tea thing then run. I start my work days later and end later, but that's because my mornings thirst for this pace. I always say a big misconception about show biz is that there is a lot of rejection. There really isn't. There's actually a LOT of silence. Unanswered emails, unreturned calls, opportunities never to be seen or heard from again—that silence can be deafening if you don't have a life outside of it.
And lastly, what advice would you give others that are curious about entering this field of work?
Sexology is to sex like a nutritionist is to food. There is so much you can do in this space, use your imagination then find a muse or mentor to help you map your path. I LOVE learning about human sexuality and relationships, so consequently I LOVE the various directions this passion takes me—make sure you can say the same no matter what stage you are at!