Susan Marilyn Block
, also known as Dr. Susan Block
and Dr. Suzy
, is an American sexologist
, author, filmmaker, therapist
, cable TV talk show
host and cultural commentator. She is perhaps best-known for her television specials
Chosen as one of "America's Greatest Thinkers" by the Great American Think-Off of New York Mills, Minnesota, Block is also known for her philosophy of ethical hedonism and "The Bonobo Way", as well as her writings on sex, love, politics and culture in CounterPunch, Perfect 10, the New Haven Advocate, LA Weekly, Los Angeles magazine, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Metro, The Brentwood Bla Bla, Beverly Hills, The Magazine, and her own publications Dr. Susan Block's Journal, The Cannes Bla Bla and her weblog, Bloggamy.
Block is also known for her bacchanalian celebrations attended by couples and other participants, as well as her Internet, TV and radio shows featuring professors and porn stars, erotic art exhibitions, sex educational salons, seminars and other events at the Dr. Susan Block Institute for the Erotic Arts & Sciences, a.k.a. Dr. Suzy's Speakeasy in Los Angeles. Block is also a sex therapist in private practice and works with clients from all over the world, using her "pleasure sex" therapy techniques to deal with various sexual problems, both in person and over the telephone.
Block was born in Philadelphia
, and grew up in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania
, an honors student at Harriton High School
, recipient of the DAR Award
of the Philadelphia Model United Nations
of the Harriton Forum student newspaper
which she renamed the Harriton Free Forum
(the name stuck for over 20 years). She was accepted into Yale University
in 1973, graduated from Yale magna cum laude
, with distinction in Theater Studies, in 1977. She received her masters
degrees in philosophy
from Pacific Western University
in 1991, where she wrote her doctoral thesis on “Being A Woman: A Philosophical Analysis of the Four Aspects of Female Psychology
According to Toni Wolff
.” Pacific Western University
is a non-accredited school.
In the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Block continued her studies in theater, sex and philosophy at PWU, San Francisco State, UC Berkeley, Naropa Institute and More University, while working as a New Haven City Mime, performing as a member of the casts of New England Commedia and La Mer Mime and Mask Theater, and writing freelance articles for local publications. She climbed to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, several times with members of the San Francisco Suicide Club who later founded Burning Man. She also traveled extensively throughout the U.S., Mexico, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal.
In 1984, Block wrote her first book, Advertising for Love (William Morrow) which forecast the personal ad revolution that soon began in newspapers and magazines and is now on the Internet. Toward the end of that year, she began hosting her first radio talk show Radio Match, sponsored by the LA Weekly, on KIEV in Glendale, California, where she helped singles meet on the air. Later it aired as Date Night, produced in collaboration with John Clark.
Marriage and collaboration with Lobkowicz
In late 1984, she met her husband-to-be H.R.H. Maximillian Rudolph Lobkowicz-Filangieri through KIEV. Though they became good friends, they were in relationships with other people, and didn’t get romantically involved until six years later. In 1986, Block started some of the first 976 and 900 number telephone dating, advice and fantasy lines. That year, she also started co-ghostwriting
the best-selling book Being a Woman
), which was published in 1988 and became a New York Times bestseller
, with pioneer radio psychologist Dr. Toni Grant
. In 1987, Block moved her radio program to KFOX
92.7 FM, where it became less of a matchmaking show and more of a call-in talk show about sex, politics and culture with guests like Dr. Timothy Leary
, John Densmore
of The Doors
and comedian Sam Kinison
. During this time, she also contributed short stories
to Dr. Lonnie Barbach
, Erotic Interludes
and The Erotic Encounter
. She wrote the last story with Lobkowicz.
In 1990, Block collaborated with Lobkowicz to produce the audio cassette series “Desert Susan,” distributed to the troops of Desert Storm, and “Bedtime Stories for Adults.” They also published Dr. Block's Journal. In 1992, Block and Lobkowicz got married in Philadelphia. That same year, they began filming Block's radio show, now called The Dr. Susan Block Show, for cable TV. They also founded the Dr. Susan Block Institute for the Erotic Arts & Sciences. In 1993, Block's show was syndicated nationwide on over 75 radio stations through the Independent Broadcasters Network. In 1996, after the owners of IBN were indicted for fraud, Block started one of the Internet's first radio stations, RADIOSUZY1.com, where her show is still broadcast, live and taped, 24 hours a day. That year, she also hosted her first HBO special, Radio Sex TV with Dr. Susan Block, and published her third book The 10 Commandments of Pleasure: Erotic Keys to a Healthy, Sexual Life (St. Martin's Press).
The Bonobo Way
In 1994, Block first saw the “Make-Love-Not-War” bonobo chimpanzees
, and in 1996, she started the Block Bonobo Foundation, an advocacy group for the highly endangered
bonobo chimpanzees. Called "the Erin Brockovich
of the Bonobo" by Salon
, Block uses the highly sexual, remarkably non-violent and non-male-dominant bonobo "lifestyle" as inspiration for her philosophy of “Ethical Hedonism,” a.k.a “The Bonobo Way of Peace through Pleasure.” She contributes to the conservation efforts of the Bonobo Conservation Initiative, among others, and produced The Bonobo Imperative
with Bushmeat Project Director Tony Rose and “The Bonobo Way” with Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham
. She is also featured in the documentaries Cousin Bonobo
, among others.
Sex, fetish and Dr. Suzy's Speakeasy
In 1998, BlockFilms began producing the Encyclopedia of Sex & Fetish
series, including “The New Horny Housewife”, “Feet: An Erotic Study in Podophilic Sexuality”, “Kenneth W. Starr
: A Pornographer for Our Times”, “Vibrators & other lovers”, “The Fine Art of Fellatio
”, “Luscious Cunnilingus
”, “Sex Heals” and “Spanking for Adults Only,”. Around this time, Block became a consultant for the Los Angeles Public Defender
's Office, Death Penalty
Sex Crimes Division.
Also, in 1998, she moved her institute and production company from the “Villa Piacere” in the Hollywood Hills to “Dr. Suzy's Speakeasy” in Downtown LA. “We call it a Speakeasy because we speak about subjects that are not so easy to speak about,” says Block. The Speakeasy Gallery of Erotic Art exhibits erotic art works from artists around the world. Block's first gallery opening was featured on HBO's Real Sex. The scene at Dr. Suzy's Speakeasy is often described as “Felliniesque” and “Warholesque.”
On January 22
, 2000, Block, Lobkowicz and Lasse Braun
, the “Father of Euro Porn,” joined forces to produce the first celebration of “Eros Day
,” a holiday of lust and pleasure held on the day of the year when the planetoid 433 Eros
is closest to Earth. The Block Institute celebrates Eros Day every January. At Eros Day 2003, Block as a minister in the Universal Life Church
, performed the wedding ceremony of Laura Moore and Jared Hoffen. In 2004, it was called Eros Day: The Counter-Inaugural
Ball. Almost every year, Eros Day gets bigger, and Eros Day 2007 was the biggest celebration yet.
Freedom of speech, politics and education
On the evening of February 26
, for the second time in two years, armed officers of the Los Angeles Police Department
invaded Block's television studio
on the night of a live broadcast of The Dr. Susan Block Show
. Though they spent several hours there, she was never charged. A year later, Block, acting in pro per
, sued the LAPD for infringement of her First
and Fourth Amendment
rights, and won a settlement
. Also in 2000, Block started fighting a public Freedom of Speech
battle with Adelphia CEO John Rigas
the nudity on her public access show. She told her viewers to “Dump Adelphia stock”. By mid-2002, Rigas and sons had been indicted for fraud
, Adelphia was bankrupt
, Block's show was back on the air uncensored, and the Wall Street Journal
was praising her "prescient financial advice."
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Block began writing The Terror Journals, a series of essays which Steven Mikulan in the LA Weekly called "among the most readable to come out of LA, smartly combining outrage...with levelheaded warnings about the loss of civil liberties."
In February 2002, Block returned to Yale as a visiting lecturer participating in the first Sex Week at Yale, a week of collegiate sex education. SWAY has since become a biannual Yale tradition, and Block has participated as recently as 2006.
Later in 2002, Block's show was threatened with censorship by Berkeley City Councilwoman Betty Olds in Berkeley, California. The Dr. Susan Block Show continues to broadcast without censorship on BTV, where it is produced by First Amendment advocate and artist Frank Moore. She is running for Vice President of the United States in 2008 as Moore's running mate for his independent presidential campaign
In 2003, Block and Lobkowicz founded the Cannes Press Club in Cannes, France, began publishing the Cannes Bla Bla online, and broadcasting shows in Paris and the South of France. In 2004, she starred in The A-Z of Fetish.
Female ejaculation, health and ethical hedonism
In 2005, Block produced, directed and hosted Dr. Suzy's Squirt Salon: Secrets of Female Ejaculation
, featuring Deborah Sundahl
and Annie Body
, premiering at the Barcelona Erotic Film Festival
and New York
's CineKink Film Festival. Dr. John Perry
, author of the best-seller The G-Spot
, calls Dr. Suzy's Squirt Salon
“Masterful...raising the bar for female ejaculation videos”. In 2005, she also started working with award-winning filmmaker Canaan Brumley
on a documentary
which will be released in 2008.
Besides ethical hedonism and the Bonobo Way, Block promotes what she calls “Pleasure Sex”, sex that is recreational, healthful, relationship-oriented or celebratory as opposed to reproductive. She also advocates what she calls “Faith-Based Sex” and “Blue Values”. Cara Jepsen puts in this way in the Illinois Entertainer: "Dr. Susan Block's HBO specials expose inhibited Middle America to the idea that it's OK to discuss—and enjoy—sex...”
Works by Block
- Chaingangs (play, 1978)
- Mattress Madness (performance poetry, 1983)
- Advertising for Love (book, 1984)
- The Dr. Susan Block Show (radio show, 1984- ), formerly called Radio Match, Date Nite and The Susan Block Show, Block's talk show has gone from radio to cable TV to the Internet. As of 2007, Block has produced over 1000 installments of her radio program, over 800 cable TV shows and many more Internet shows.
- Being A Woman: Fulfilling Your Femininity and Finding Love (book with Dr. Toni Grant, 1988)
- Desert Susan (audio series, 1990)
- Bedtime Stories for Adults (audio series, 1991), featuring "The Great Train Ride", "Passions of the Plaza" and "Office Fantasies"
- Dr. Susan Block's Journal (magazine, 1991)
- How to Give a Woman Pleasure (video, 1992)
- Real Sex (HBO TV series, 1994)
- The 10 Commandments of Pleasure (book and audio book, 1996)
- Radio Sex TV (HBO TV series, 1996- )
- The Bonobo Way (video, 1996)
- Feet: An Erotic Study in Podophilac Sexuality (video, 1997)
- Sex Acts with the Artist Heilman-C at Jack Tilton Gallery (interactive art exhibit, 1997)
- The New Horny Housewife (video, 1998)
- Kenneth W. Starr: A Pornographer for Our Times (video, 1998)
- Dr. Suzy's Speakeasy (HBO television special, 1999)
- Spanking for Adults Only (video, 1999)
- Erotic Art of the Apocalypse (art exhibit, 1999)
- Democratic Sex (art exhibit, 2000)
- Eros Day: Holiday of Love & Lust (video, 2000)
- Inner Space: A Sex Odyssey (video, 2000)
- The Bonobo Imperative (video, 2001)
- Adelphiagate (video, 2002)
- Sex Heals (video, 2003)
- Bellydance, Bukkake & Other Beauty Tips for the Horny (video, 2003)
- HOODS & handjobs: Anti-War Insurgency & Orgasmic Sex (video, 2004)
- Republican Torture (art exhibit, 2004)
- Eros Day (art exhibit, 2005)
- Dr. Suzy's Squirt Salon: The Secrets of Female Ejaculation (video, 2005)
- Weimar Love: Hot Sex in Pre-Nazi Berlin (video, 2006)
- Blonde Island: An Island of Pleasure in a Sea of War (video, 2006)
- Double-Annie Squirting Anniversary (video, 2006)
- ''Zorthian: Art & Times (video, 2006)
- Yale's Whim 'n Rhythm at Dr. Suzy's Speakeasy (video, 2006)
- Max's Birthday (video, 2006)
- Squirt Crazy (video, 2007)
- Dommes & Hollie (video, 2007)
Bibliography and references