Shan Boodram is not shy when it comes to sex. A certified sex educator, dating coach, relationship expert, and best-selling author, Boodram believes that knowing what you want out of dating, love, and sex, is a powerful part of self-discovery. Known as “Shan Boody” to her over 600k dedicated Youtube followers, the sexpert, wife, and new mommy is known for having open and honest dialogue about intimacy in today’s day and age. Now Boodram is making her mark in the dating show space as the resident sex and dating expert in Andy Cohen’s new dating game-show/reality television program, EX-RATED, where she and the tv producer re-unite former flames to talk about what went wrong — all in the name of personal growth.
BUST: Tell us about your new show, EX-RATED?
Shan Boodram: Yes. So the premise of the show is somebody says, "I'm single, and I keep bumping up against a brick wall and I can't really figure out what it is I'm doing wrong, but I know that I'm not having the romantic life that I want." About five to ten of their exes get issued out a survey that's 21 questions in length, that has to do with both in and out of the bedroom. So things like communication, ability to be vulnerable, creativity in the bedroom, and knowledge of the other person's anatomy. So all of those are on the survey, and then in essence they get an immediate score on each of these categories.
B: You’re the resident sexpert, yes? Tell us a little bit about your role exactly?
S: Andy walks the people who come on the show—the singles, through the survey results that they got. So Andy asks them “Hey on foreplay: how good do you think you are?” They give themselves a rating, and then Andy reveals what their rating was from their exes. Then he asks questions, interviews them, and once they really identify what area is their weakest and most needed improvement, that's when I come in to do in-person exercises with them, or it's just have a conversation sometimes. The goal of the show is not to embarrass people and make them feel like oh my gosh you're actually much more terrible in bed than you thought, it’s to say, this is a pivotal point where you can actually now start to educate yourself. Lots of us never benefited from having any sex education at all. So, this show is really trying to highlight that to say, it is not uncommon for a lot of us to think that we're much better than we actually are. But when we acknowledge our weak areas, that's actually when positive change can start.
B: Is it a counseling session? Are you playing games with them?
S: Here's an example: Somebody came on the show and they had a really low score in creativity; they did the same position all of the time. I came in and I had a sex doll or a love doll, and I had the person learn various different sexual positions that you can get into, just to open up their horizon in terms of the possibilities that you can utilise - because all of their partners complain that they just never really spice it up in the bedroom. But again, considering the fact that a lot of people don't talk about these things, it's not completely unheard of that it wouldn't have even occurred to them that there's other positions and ways. Especially when you don't understand your other partner's anatomy, you don't understand the benefit of different positions and that's what I was really there to fill in the blanks for.
B: A few years ago I saw an experiment on your YouTube channel. You were interviewing one of your exes. What are the benefits of maintaining a relationship or friendship with an ex?
S: Yeah, I think it's important to note; I definitely have exes that I would not do this exercise with. And in my book The Game of Desire, which is the first time that I did this exercise for myself back in 2018, I had to really think about who was safe for me. Who was valuable for me to talk to again, and also, who am I going to talk to who I'm not going to cause harm to by re-entering into their life, to ask these questions? So it's important to know that I'm not suggesting that every one of your exes is a valuable resource. It's really the people that, when things ended, it wasn't because anybody had done something wrong, it's because you just really weren't right for each other. Then I did this exercise, I just chose somebody I trusted, and who I had a great connection with, and I had a great relationship with. Maybe it didn't end perfectly but what we shared was valuable, and as a result I knew that they would have some valuable insight because they knew me better than anybody else, arguably, at that time. your friends and family can also in essence do this exercise for us, obviously not when it comes to sexual performance because you haven't had sex with them, hopefully! But what an ex can provide is the ability to be brutally honest with you in the name of self-growth, without having to go for tacos with you afterwards, which can be kind of awkward.
B: You started off make your own content on YouTube, and put out a book, The Game of Desire in 2019, why was television the next natural progression for you?
S: I started out in this space in 2005 and to be honest with you, I really and truly just wanted to become the Martha Stewart of intimacy. I wanted to become the go-to, somebody who made this area approachable. I think Martha Stewart made DIY and delicate elaborate home decor approachable, and was this everyday person, I want to make sex education sexy. So, if I'm ever considering a project, I think "Is this something that the average person is going to be interested in watching?" Because as much as I love talking to fellow sex positive people, preaching to the choir isn’t necessarily going to be the change that's going to shift the world. So EX-RATED to me, is a project where, whether or not you have ever read a sex education book before, or whether you are completely versed and you know everything possible and you're a member of the National Coalition for Sexual Health, you're still going to find some value in the show, and that to me is the perfect project. It is sex positivity but it is still approachable and real to the everyday person. I think that's the sign of good TV: you want to not just impact the person watching it, you want them to take away something and think "How can this change or impact my life for the better, if I implement some of the ideas I got from the show?"
B: What do you love most about working in sex education?
S: Learning everyday, learning from my audience and never being bored. here's nobody who has taught me more than my audience, and this is a topic that we're supposed to only learn about for two weeks in school, and yet here I am 15 years deep and there's still things that I'm like "what is that?" A couple weeks ago, someone told me about findommes and I was like, "Oh I don't know what that is." And you know what, I don't know a lot of stuff, so they were educating me. And then in the comment section, a lot of people were like "Oh, financial domination, I have a friend who does that!" So, it just fascinates me how much people know. I think now that we're making this topic less taboo, people are willing to share on a public platform, and I'm happy to be a part of the generation who's making that shift.
B: You mentioned you are back in school. Are you getting a PhD? Tell me about your background in sex education?
S: I actually graduated from school for journalism when I was college age, and then from there I became a sex education counselor, I got certified after my first book came out, and then I got certified as a sexologist. But now I do want to pursue the title of behavioural psychologist, so I'm back in school right now to get my degree in psychology.
B: Oh wow, that's wonderful, congratulations on that!
S: Thank you. It's nice to be congratulated for being in school, because it’s the completion that usually gets the praise!
B: In the past you've had some people openly doubt your skills and qualifications. Why do you think that your presence in the sex and relationship space intimidates or bothers people?
S: Well I'm “LOL,” — learning out loud, so there's tons of mistakes that mean, there's valid reasons that people might need to dislike me or just find my content not helpful. I think the thing that I want as well is to show that diversity doesn't mean one more, it means many more. And I always tell people that I may not be your sex educator. That's what I'm really trying to usher in, a space where we're not all just looking to Dr. Ruth, we're not just all looking for one person. So if I’m not your person and your style, that's okay.
I know incredible names in this space, and I don't try to force myself on anybody—I think that that's not sexy at all. It's talking about sex, and trying to make people like me—I don't have to go about it that way. But what I will say, I think as somebody who's young presenting, as a woman of color and a woman—period, talking about a topic that already makes people uncomfortable and feel insecure, when you think about the person you go to for advice or you think about someone that you want to learn from, I don't have that visual representation. So, already as it is there might be a "Why would that person know more than me?" just from my visual representation.
And again, I think, in general, people are already so insecure about this topic that, and because I talk about it, I often get the brunt of those projections. But, like I said, there's probably a lot more valid reasons for why people are just not interested or into it, but I'm really grateful for projects like EX-RATED, who championed me as their expert and to say "she is valuable and she has something to say and she is worth listening to." And we want to let everybody know that this is kind of sex education that we stand behind, and that just means the world to me.
B: You're a new mother and wife, how has motherhood and marriage changed your relationship to intimacy and sex?
S: I think I made the shift to intimacy prior to getting engaged and married. I do everything selfishly, to be super honest with you. I started becoming a sex educator because my sex life was super trash, and I just was like ‘there has to be another way." So I started researching and I was like, "Wow, there is another way!" On top of that, I don't think this is common knowledge and I want to be the person who is a part of a community who helps to change that. Then maybe about 10 years later, I was having great sex and great orgasms, but very very poor quality connections and a terrible dating life. So then I was like "Okay, well how do you date? How do you connect with people and choose the right person?" That's really what spawned my second book The Game of Desire, to be really more just about attraction, seduction, dating and connecting in general. Now that I'm a mom, my natural interest area probably is more in psychology and in child rearing, development, and teaching adults. And so, everything that I do is about what I need right now.
B: Do you have any tips on navigating dating and romance in this new COVID-19 era we're in?
S: At the start of the summer when everyone said the pandemic was over, I was constantly getting requests for articles about the "waxed and vaxxed" season, and how everyone's going to be having casual sex, and that this summer is going to be this super libertine culture. And I was like, "Man as much as it's cool to have these catchphrases, let's not forget that this is about finding a potential lifelong intimate partner!" This is somebody who could be with you on your deathbed, the person who could decide whether or not to pull the plug or not. So why are we making the process of finding that into something trendy? So my main advice for people is, you don't have to go with what's mainstream.
There’s over 400 dating apps online, so if you're not having success on the Tinders or the OKCupids, there are ones that are about people who have butterfly tattoos on their chest and septum earrings, and that's the name of the dating app! Then you'll find people where that's their area of interest that's their passion area, and maybe there's fewer people and less traction, and maybe you don't log on every day because users are more slow to trickle in, but the quality of the connections that you're going to have is already so much greater.
I think, with dating overall, whether it's in person or online, the most important thing is to enjoy the process, and not to forget that the whole point of this is; two strangers who have no reason to be in touch, just want to get to know each other. Which doesn't happen in Starbucks, it doesn't happen as an adult who's married and not seeking. But dating is the one place that people want to intimately get to know each other, just to see! So, if you can remind yourself of how privileged and beautiful that exchange is, try to do those things. Even if it means less dating and less action, the quality of those exchanges is going to help you out in the long run to stay in the game, for as long as you need to until, you want to come out.
-By Niesha Davis and Kelsey Kitzke
Peacock Original EX-RATED is streaming now.
Top and bottom photo: Photography by Maya Washington
Middle Photo: NBC Universal: MediaVillage
Niesha is a writer, diversity editor, and traveler. Her bylines include Glamour, Mic.com, Business Insider, Women's Health, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. She is the digital editor for BUST. Keep up with her at brownandabroad.com