Dr. Suzy and her husband, Captain Max. Photos by Elizabeth Vazquez.
Dr. Susan Block, better known as Dr. Suzy, is a sex therapist based in Los Angeles. She has been in the business of sex for several decades. Her works spans from hosting her own radio show and television show, to authoring several books and co-creating a holiday known as “Eros Day.” To say that Suzy loves sex is an understatement.
I was given a confidential address to Dr. Suzy's headquarters by one of the many volunteers who work for her. The giant building is an old motel that is now in the process of being converted into what Suzy dubs, “Bonoboville.” Suzy is known for having sex-fueled bacchanalian parties, but the party on this night was slightly different. We were all to go to a bar nearby and celebrate the 22 years of marriage between Dr. Suzy and her husband, Prince Maximillian Rudolph Leblovic di Lobkowicz di Filangieri—Captain Max for short—who she met after he got out of prison for publishing porno magazines in the days of heavy publishing industry censorship.
I met with Dr. Suzy in her office as she was getting her corset adjusted. She described herself to me as the “green horse-woman of the apocalypse.”
VICE: So, what is Dr. Suzy about then?
Dr. Suzy: I'm a sex therapist but I incorporate a lot of play, erotic theater therapy, phone sex, fantasy role play, erotic hypnosis—
Wait, what's that?
Erotic hypnosis? Basically hypnosis with an erotic attitude. Most hypnosis is erotic anyway. Especially if you have a sleep fetish. You can be hypnotized in order to improve your health by dieting or quitting smoking, and you can also improve your sex life. You can become more accepting of yourself and enhance certain aspects of your sex life.
Do you personally do that?
Yeah, I hypnotize people all the time. Don't worry I'm not doing it now.
I don't think I'd mind. What sort of issues do people come to you for?
The most common question people ask is, “Am I normal?” Whatever their fetish is, whatever their fantasy. They worry it could be that they have a foot fetish or a boob fetish. Well, boobs are pretty international, but it could be more specific. They could have a cuckold fetish. They could have any number of desires or interests; more than one partner, or bisexuality. Sometimes it's women who can't have an orgasm, or men who can't slow down enough to give her an orgasm or can't get it up.
So you're there to console them and make them feel “normal”?
Sometimes I'm there to console. Sometimes I'm there to say, “You know that fantasy is OK, to have as a fantasy, but you got to keep it that way,” when there's certain things they want to do that are dangerous or wrong.
Yeah, you know, like lust murder. That's across-the-board wrong.
Yeah. All kinds of wrong.
So you know there are always ways to deal with a fantasy or cope with a fantasy. But, very often, I have to caution people not to act on things. People do dangerous things that are legal. Like a lot of unsafe sex that I try to help people prevent. Use your condoms! Also, “Am I normal?” It's just such a funny question. Most of the time they are, and even if they're not, I say to them, “Would you really want to be normal?”
I imagine the internet must have helped what you do?
Yeah, I don't know. My business has grown up with the internet. It started as just counseling people in person only, and then went to telephones. Honestly, I still enjoy telephones most. I feel it's the most intimate medium where you really get to mingle your ideas and fantasies and feelings. You don't care what someone looks like, and you just really get into the ideas and thoughts and feelings. Webcam is all about the looks, even more so than in person.
I totally get that.
Inflection is very important. When you have the deprivation of the other senses you can really put someone under you know? You can also more easily go into their past, when they were younger. Delve deep into the root of their fetishes. Childhood always affects you, and it's hard to talk about that when someone's looking right at you.
What do you make of sex today? Are we really that much more liberated and sex-positive?
We have some things that are better, but not so much. I'm a big supporter of the bonobos.
Oh yes, I was going to ask you about the bonobos.
They're highly endangered, but we're building more awareness. I feel they could be saved. Bonobos are the “make love not war” chimpanzees. They swing through the trees as well as with each other. They're apes. Like common chimps, they're 98.7 percent genetically similar to humans, but unlike common chimps, they've never been seen killing each other in the wild or captivity. They have a lot of sex, in lots of different positions. They have a lot to teach us about sex and sisterhood. The females are very sex positive and aggressive. The males are pretty chill.
I assume they're just happy to be getting laid.
Yeah, it's a cool “kissin' cousins” group we got in the family tree.
So we should model ourselves after these bonobos?
I'm not going to say we should model ourselves after them, but well, you said it. I don't know. Obviously, there's a lot to learn from them about our capacity for peace and capacity for pleasure.
Solving conflicts through sex?
Make peace through pleasure. I think there's hope for that in the world. Sex is always with us. It ebbs and flows. I'm celebrating 22 years of love tonight. Marriage is not very fashionable right now. It's more fashionable to consciously uncouple or whatever.
"Gwen and that guy from Coldplay"-style?
Yeah, Coldplay. I don't know his name. Anyway, it's OK. I'm all for it. Although, I love my husband. I love him, and I lust for him. Twenty-two years later feels like 22 minutes. I mean marriage is not for everybody. It's maybe even not for most people.
Do you think there's any sort of ideal relationship? I mean, is it truly different for everyone? I guess I'm talking about polyamory versus monogamy. That sort of thing.
It could be polyamory for some. I have my one-and-only. I love him with all the romance of old times. I'm all for polyamory. I'm kind of polyamorous. We play with other people, but we have this thing between the two of us called a marriage. It's a good thing for us. Marriage is an institution, and most people don't want to be institutionalized. Neither do I, but my marriage happens to be very freeing. That's the paradox of sex. Sometimes bondage is freeing. Marriage is bondage in a way. The way I don't like to be ball-gagged, some don't like to get married.
Marriage is a kink maybe?
It is! Marriage is a kink. It's a fetish. It's a thing some people are into. A good marriage that is. One that has love and lust. Love is important, but lust is what makes you happy to be together. It's what puts the spice in your enchilada.
Well, what got you first into all this sex stuff?
I first started masturbating when I was two years old.
Well, that's my first memory of doing it. I probably started before that. Not to orgasm but just for comfort.
It is comforting.
Sex is so many things. I think we hurt ourselves when we define it in one way. I don't even know. Fucking is great. Can I say fucking?
Yes, please do. Do you have different types of sex in your mind? Or, terms rather. Like this is fucking, and this is love making, or whatever.
No. When I'm fucking I'm making love. I don't have that kind of bad fucking anymore that I had when I was single.
That's exactly where I'm at now.
I feel for you.
What would you do in those situations? In those cases where someone was bad? Tell them to stop and show them what to do, or just let them have their fantasy?
Sometimes I'd tell them to stop and leave. You try all kinds of things. Kiss all kinds of frogs. Sex-wise, you could have more than one prince or princess. You can have a lot of good sex. You don't want things to be too easy. When things are too easy then you make trouble.
After our talk, Suzy had to finish getting ready and I was escorted to the bar where her party was taking place. It wasn't as crazy as I was expecting. There were topless women with pasties here and there, but it was overall a mellow night. I left at around 12:30 after having a conversation with an older man who told me he was Drew Barrymore's brother. The next day, I got an email from one of Suzy's producers. He wrote, “Hope you had a great time. Sorry you missed the after-party orgy on the Bonoboville kitchen table.” I'm sorry I missed that too, but I guess there's always next time.
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