I am sitting across from a couple at a table at a Halifax brasserie, but I feel like a mere voyeur, peeping into their perfectly-perverted public personas. The both of them are actors (they met while studying theatre at Ryerson University in Toronto), so maybe they’re playing it up a bit, but their natural chemistry has an undeniable magnetism.
Meet Bryde MacLean and Jeremie Saunders. They’re both yoga instructors, actors and hosts of the sex-positive podcast, Turn Me On.They’ve been married for seven years, and, after our interview, Saunders is going to meet his girlfriend, Bekah, and her friend, for a threesome.
“I'm going on a date tonight with my girlfriend and somebody else, literally right after this,” Saunders, 30, tells his wife (who also has a boyfriend) and I.
Saunders, who also hosts a separate and successful local podcast, Sickboy—with his cystic fibrosis diagnosis at the centre of it—says his “full on fetish” is a threesome. More specifically, having sex with a woman and a man at the same time.
“I identify as a straight male,” he says, sipping a cocktail. “I've never been sexually active with a male, but there’s something to the idea of having a threesome with another woman and another man and being fully engaged with the man as well—I think there’s room to make that lid fit.” A “lid,” he says, is that thing—that subversive desire—that makes someone tick.
Turn Me On, aims to celebrate everyone’s “lid”—shame-free and fully-freakily—focusing on the stories, interests and experiences of obliging (but often pseudonym’d) guests.
“Often times, we dive into territory of intense kinks and sexual desires that the general population might think is really fucking weird,” says Saunders. “And it only takes one or two conversations to get past that and think, yeah.”
Saunders says their second episode featured a guest who gets paid to urinate into coffee cups in public washrooms which her payee will then drink in front of her. “As they were sitting having coffee with one another, she went to the bathroom and filled his Starbucks cup with piss and when she came back, he drank the whole thing in front of her—and that is what really turned him on. And I remember hearing that and thinking that’s your job. You get paid to have someone drink your pee in front of you. And that was our second episode.”
Now 60 episodes in, Turn Me On ranks among the top sex podcasts, and with episodes with titles like “The Five Cardinal Rules of Butt Play,” “Cirque Du Squirt” and and “Death and Libido,” it’s not hard to understand why.
From boylesque and bondage to robot sex and trans orgasms, Turn Me On hasn’t shied away from much. Still in its infancy, the Halifax-based podcast launched its second season earlier this summer.
“Sometimes our guests disclose something about their sex life that absolutely fucking floors you,” says Saunders. “A friend of mine who I had been working with, a colleague of Bryde’s, came in to talk to us with his partner and they engage in what’s referred to as a female-led relationship. So, she is the dominate figure through and through, she calls all the shots. And one of the things they partake in is, she chastises him. She locks him up. If he misbehaves, she puts his dick and balls in a cage, locks it, and keeps the key. One time she left, went to Toronto, and he was locked up. For three days.”
“Couldn’t jerk off,” says MacLean.
“And he loves it,” they both say simultaneously.
MacLean, 34, says it’s not only their guests and listeners who feel a sense of liberation from the show, adding that growing up, she wasn’t comfortable with her own sexuality because of the shame and stigma engrained in her upbringing.
“My mom has four children, and my dad has 10 children with five different women,” she says.
“I think, for me, I look at my parents, and I have a lot of them. And I have a lot of women in my ancestral view, including my mother and grandmothers who don't talk about sex and don't embrace their sexuality and have shamed themselves, and therefore have shamed me for having an interest in wanting to talk about things that are normally tucked under the table.”
MacLean says hosting this podcast has allowed her the space to reclaim her creative power while gaining a sense of self-comfortability with her sexuality.
“I want to create things that are changing the world or the better—to take a look at talking about what’s uncomfortable. It’s been a very liberating experience for me.”
I wanted to know if talking about sex all day and exposing your own intimate lives for public consumption is taxing on a relationship—be it with one another or their respective partners, but the couple says they intentionally choose to keep their own sex lives on the periphery of the podcast, rather than the focal point.
“It’s just kind of weird to be like, ‘I know when I masturbate, blah blah blah,’” says MacLean. ”Which we do drop now [and then] in episodes, but it’s not all about us.”
“We don't talk about our sex life also because [with] Sickboy, my entire life is out there for anyone to listen to,” says Saunders. “For Turn Me On, it’s nice to have this sense of at least a sliver of privacy. It’s a blend, [but] we want to keep a little bit of our relationship private.”
Recently, Saunders was chosen to be a participant on a nationally-broadcast reality show competition but then had his chance revoked after the network execs deemed Turn Me On not something they wanted associated with one of the show’s contestants.
“Everything was signed, dotted, ready to go,” he says. “[Then] we got a call and it was with the network and the producers and they informed us they had to cut us from the show and replace us with a backup team. The network was afraid that as a family show, advertisers would not be cool with some kid looking up Jeremie Saunders and Turn Me On being one of the things that comes up.”
After getting the call, Saunders said it only furthered his questioning of society’s weirdness with sex, fuelling a new objective: to normalize and de-stigmatize all things coitus.
“One of my goals with this is to be like, can we all just realize how fucked up that is and how silly that is? A conversational podcast about normalizing the fact that we enjoy sex and that everybody approaches sex in their own unique way—like, that’s something we look at and go, ‘no, that’s so far left-field that we can’t even fucking touch it.”
MacLean says they have hopes of potentially bringing their sex talks to high schools or universities one day, but until then, they're just going to keep crusading into the sexy (and sometimes dark) abyss—challenging their listeners’ comfort levels within a safe, sultry space. And if nothing else, maybe their listeners will learn a thing or two.
“I’m just going to keep riding this out until I'm dead,” says Saunders. “I want this to be something that becomes a normalized part of everyone’s life—to un-taboo the topic of sex and sexuality.”
Hillary Windsor is a writer living in Halifax. You can follow her on Twitter.
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