name: shannon boodram aka shan boody
age you feel: i feel 49
occupation: clinical sexologist
hobby: reading, watching my friends youtube, game night, dancing and doing nothing on the internet
TGM: how did you get started in the clinical sexologist field
SB: i started sex education officially when i was 19 years old, i had come back from the states as i had gone to coppin state university on a track scholarship for a year... and then when i was there i realized i hated running and that i wanted to do something else with my life. so the first thing i did was enroll in journalism because writing had always been my secondary passion, next to sports, and in journalism class they tell you to write about what you know... and what i knew at the time was that sex had been a very negative and powerful part of my life thus far that i hadn't understood. so at that point i began writing my book 'Laid' which was an anthology of people's stories ages 18-25 about monumental sexual experiences they had. what i wanted to do with the book was combine the salacious and hot sexy stories that you saw on tv and read about in books with the facts and information that you maybe learned about in school but never really listened to. i didn't see anybody else, especially women of color, filling this void of a young person who was researching sex and wanted to share information.
TGM: so you started tackling a big subject at 19, how did you feel about that
SB: well when i started to write 'Laid' i wasn't an expert at the time obviously, i just had a strong interest in helping young people to understand this very big part of their life. so from there i finished school and got a degree in print journalism, and then i went to the university of toronto to become a sex education counselor and then when i moved to america i went to the institute for advanced study of human sexuality and i got an associates in sex education... in 2016 i got certified as a clinical sexologist! and that's how we got to today!
TGM: you know your stuff! that's amazing! so how did you get into social media and youtubing, was it a natural transition
SB: so in 2009 my book was published, i started to write it in 2005 and it took four years to get a publishing house on board. when i finally got a publishing house on board, myself and my best friend at the time were kind of trying to figure out what kind of voice we wanted to have online since it was this emerging thing... and i thought, what better way to publicize my work than by doing youtube? and no one in toronto, which is where i'm from, was doing youtube so we had to figure it out as we went along. and so, i didn't set out to become a 'youtuber' it was just a platform i was using for my book, and then after my book came out i stayed on youtube because i really liked it. i actually left youtube from 2012 to 2015.
TGM: what made you come back to the platform?
SB: i came back because i was working on projects that weren't getting green-lit, and so i would basically spend six months of my life working on these tv-shows or working on some deal and then last minute the head the project would get fire or the network wouldn't pick it up... and i was like what about youtube? where whatever i want to say or put out actually gets to go live and the hard work i put in, people get to see and i am in control of it... and so i got back on the platform, although a bit reluctantly, and it was the best thing i could have done.
TGM: so growing up, was sex a topic at home
SB: i had very young cool parents, my dad is a very progressive person but they kind of had this 'talk to us about anything' approach with sex, and when you don't know what to talk about and how to start the conversation it's a lot of pressure on the child ... and then when i didn't know how to talk to them about sex and they found out about a few things i had done they responded with a lot of negativity. i got in trouble a lot, even from a young age. i had my first sexual experience at age like five, it was with one of my friends, and we had a sleep over and she and i didn't touch each other but we did sexual things to our pillows, like making out stuff -- like that... and it was a positive experience, but then she told her mom and my parents found out and i got in trouble! and then i wasn't allowed to have my barbies naked - because they were always naked - growing up i was always very touchy, my mom would call me lewd a lot... which means like sexually inappropriate... and so i think i was just discouraged. when i became sexually active, even though they had this open door policy, i didn't talk to them and so they responded to that really negative. and then it became something i had to hide because it was shameful for me.
TGM: is there anything you would have wanted them to do differently
SB: i don't know what i would have wanted them to do differently, but i do know that what they did didn't really work for me... i think there's a lot of taboo and shame in sex because it's an area of great control. it can be controlled by society, people, religion, the government... they want people to feel insecure.. they don't want you to be self-actualized. there's a high demand or obsession with controlling people's sex lives, because controlling someones sex life controls a lot about how they live. so i think that there's political reasons for that. there's passed down years of shame and taboo that come from religion and politics... and parents are the primary one's responsible for a lack of our sexual progression. and the internet is probably the answer, but even that is taking a while.
TGM: how do you think most people learn about sex?
SB: i'd say porn for sure
TGM: where do you want to take your mission and brand in the next few years
SB: i always say that whatever i'm doing right now is exactly what i want to be doing, otherwise i wouldn't be doing it. so i want to do what i'm doing right now, which is having a direct line to people to talk to about sex, but i want to do it through my counseling services... not just my youtube channel. i also what to find other ways to bring the topic to other people who wouldn't necessarily seek it out... that could be through fiction writing, or through other projects. i really want to be the gateway drug for sex education... i'm trying to reach the person that doesn't think this doesn't apply to them, is too shy and has so much guilt and disassociation with their sexuality that they rather not even think or talk about the topic... and so that means me doing projects that aren't necessarily sex focused while still trying to find a way to encourage people to still explore this uncharted part of their lives.
TGM: as someone who has really studied the subject and puts herself out there on a topic that others my shy away from, what would you tell other women who want to pursue an unconventional career
SB: i think you need to look at niche as a very important part of life as we move forward... you really have to think about what you enjoy and are good at and what isn't being done in your community, in your culture in your circles... and so if you are attracted in something like sex education, which by the way-- i get daily messages from people telling me they want to pursue this, then you have to really find your niche. for me it was young women of color, there wasn't a young woman of color who took this on as a profession, whom i saw doing this on a larger and more approachable scale... like there's a lot of great sex experts that i know that do stuff on how to give a great blow job or what are the best sex positions when pregnant, but there wasn't someone giving digestible information and being a voice of a generation for the topics that the less bold person would be attracted to. so, when you find your niche do the research to learn what education comes with that! because with any health field it is heavily mandated from state to state... so becoming a sexologist in nevada is probably drastically different than becoming one in california.
TGM: in general, it is always stressed to have a mentor. how do you deal with the people that ask you for mentorship on a daily basis
SB: there was a girl named andrea syrtash who did not mentor me, but taught me something. i had reached out to her and i said to her 'i really want help in this, can you guide me?' and she told me there was a fee attached with that... and i was like that's so rude! i'm just looking for help how dare she! but now, i charge people. because the number of requests i get are overwhelming, there's no way i could sit and talk to every single person, and i charge only $15 dollars, i'm not charging you a hundred. what i'm saying is there's a difference between a person that wants access to this information and a person who doesn't. cus' i can't say yes to everybody. regardless of her response, i adored and studied andrea syrtash career and learned a lot.
TGM: what are some brands you'd love to collaborate with
SB: trojan is absolutely one of them, i'm working with crave on their vibrator necklace, which i wear all the time... but i think what makes my story and path unique though is that i don't just want to go with the obvious choices of condoms and vibrators, i also want to work with companies like smashbox to develop a line of makeup that's based on the principles of arousal
TGM: will there be another book from you
SB: my great passion is writing, but i wouldn't do another book unless i know i can sell hundreds of thousands on my own, because it's just hard to get a deal... maybe in the future
TGM: there's a fire in your apt, you can only save three things - what are they
SB: i have this alexander mcqueen jacket that i bought, and i shouldn't have bought because i was much poorer than i am now, but! it was just one of those things that i said 'this is THAT piece' it's my i've arrived piece... these pair of boots from goodwill that are snakeskin and probably wont find again, and some of my lingerie like from this canadian brand named mary young
TGM: what are three fashion shows you'd like to sit front row in
SB: i like jeremy scott, he so fun for females... alexander wang, i'd love to afford him one day, he combines male and female so well... and my mentee is winnie harlow, i've never seen her walk in a show, so i'd love to see her on any runway
TGM: if you're collaborating with smashbox and you get to come up with 3 names for your line, what are they
SB: a lipstick called the color of seduction, bronzer called fertile, and an eyeliner or mascara called come here
TGM: if you could raid anyone's closet, whose would it be
SB: i like micah gianneli a lot, i think she'e very flirty and feminine, and also ari fitz... she's like a tomboy model and a really good friend of mine. she's a woman that dresses very sexy but very masculine
TGM: describe your style in one word
SB: two words... the womb
JUST FOR FUN
TGM: what's your favorite sound
SB: i like the sound the computer makes when you throw something in the garbage, it's really satisfying
TGM: what's your favorite song to be seduced to
SB: jeremih - fuck u all the time... it was on magic mike which kind of like ruins it, because it's not as exclusive as it was, but i still love it
TGM: describe your best sex in one word
TGM: name a book, movie or song that you love that people wouldn't expect
SB: i really like the movie evita (peron), and i love the song you must love me by madonna... i play that song at least once a month
TGM: you win a trip around the world, who do you take and what's your first stop
SB: i take my partner with me because he just makes my life easy and fun and i enjoy being with him... first place we go to is a subway station in the city we're in... we're all about figuring out our bearings and planning from there
TGM: which are your favorite apps
SB: audible, instagram, twitter, youtube and this lighting system app for my home -- lighting is very important to me, i like to play around with it depending on my mood
TGM: favorite cereal / cartoon combo as a kid
SB: captain crunch and pepper ann
TGM: they're making a film about you, who do you cast and what's the genre
SB: zendaya! i'd cast her in a second... genre is coming of age woman
TGM: you found a time traveling machine where do you go and why
SB: it's so corny, but i like where we are now... i don't want to go in the future because i saw that movie interstellar and things are pretty shitty, there's no movie about the future where things look good... i don't want to go backwards because people were even more racist... i'd take a regular ass plane to fiji and stay in this time period (laughs)
TGM: which side of the bed do you sleep on
SB: closer to the window
TGM: you get to have a private dinner with four people who are they
SB: oprah, dan savage, esther perel, and michael jackson
TGM: what's your favorite smell
SB: chlorine... (laughs)
LETS GET PERSONAL
TGM: when was the last time you had a good cry and what was it about
SB: i went through a love situation where i had a person from my past re-enter my space, and so i had to kind of reconfigure what that situation meant and my partner gave me space to understand it. but in that space that he gave me he was still honest about how it made him feel... and so, just having those really honest conversations about what our love is and the insecurities that come up when someone threatens the partnerships that you've built... it was a very loving conversation, and eye opening... i cried out of gratefulness and out of understanding love on a new level
TGM: tell us a lie you told that you regret
SB: faking an organism... i always hear men talking about how they give women four amazing orgasms in one night and i'm just like (sigh) who lied to you?
TGM: what's an obligation that you currently have that you wish you didn't
SB: none... i live a life of what i want to do
TGM: what makes you feel vulnerable
SB: i think of late, my youtube channel used to be like 80% women and now it's like 60/40 and so i wake up everyday to comments like 'you're a whore' 'slut' etc. so i think the masculine judgemental eye on sexuality is something that makes me question myself in ways i have never done and that's new for me... and so i don't know if it's vulnerability, but it makes me feel exposed
TGM: what's one thing you want recognition for
SB: to be known as someone who is not afraid to be herself for better or worse
TGM: what do you want your life legacy to be
SB: i think it will be someone who lived in pleasure and encouraged others to do the same
TGM: name something about yourself that you're currently working on
SB: it's kind of silly, but in driving i noticed that if someone is responding erratically... like speeding towards me... i'll like freeze and look at them to see what they'll do next (laughs), i need to work on that... but on a serious note, because i've become very good at understanding my emotions i can change them. i'm never subject to how i feel, so sometimes in conflict with my partner instead of choosing to be vulnerable which might help them at the time, i'll choose to be in control of a situation where vulnerability would serve better... so i'm trying to learn when it's good to use that power and when it's not
TGM: name something that you've made peace with
SB: my process being slow. or what my level of success will look like... i've been in the space of sexual education for 10 years, and i realize that i'm not this massive character and i don't have the money that someone like dan savage has, i don't travel the world like esther... my process is a lot slower, i'm not an overnight success and i'm okay with that
TGM: name something another female has taught you
SB: my best friend maya washington (shamelessmaya), who's another youtuber, has really taught me the power of investing in other people... she pays EVERYBODY she works with, even though she might not be in a financial place where that risk is okay, and it's because she believes in people... and i've seen that pay off for her time and again, i've seen how she's impacted other peoples lives for the better
TGM: what scares the shit out of you
SB: anything paranormal, i don't do scary, i don't fuck with halloween
TGM: being on social media, what do you feel is one misconception people have about you
SB: that i have sex with everyone i take a photo with, because i talk about sex they think that this is the case... and if it was that would be my business, but it's not the case
TGM: write your 15 year old self a note
SB: find your clitoris... literally and figuratively
TGM: write your 75 year old self a note
SB: are you having fun?
TGM: finish these sentences... i should have _______
SB: kept pursuing sex education and not let shame put a five year gap in my progress
TGM: LA is _____
SB: whatever you want it to be
TGM: i miss _____
SB: my family
TGM: my future is full of _____
TGM: my girlfriends are _____
SB: my inspiration