Toy Tester Report - Part 1 of 2

. 21 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about life, love, and culture for those 50+.  Because midlife and beyond is so much hotter than they said it would be.  Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.

Hello Crush,

How are you doing with the approaching end of the summer?

Here's where I'm at:

Is it that I wrenched my knee chasing down a backhand playing tennis this week (my partner soooo hates to lose)? Is it that the injury has caused me to miss out on the work outs I have been religious about this summer? Is it that an increasing number of self-inflicted injuries over the last year points to me not fully accepting my physical limitations as I age? Is it that I will no doubt need help packing my shit up and - more existentially - that I find it so very difficult to ask for help when I need it? Is it that I will be spending quality time with my aging parents soon, and these visits are becoming increasingly loaded with a complicated emotional wallop of joy, appreciation, angst and fear?

Is it simply the end of summer?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.

I'm anxious. And maybe I've slipped into in a funk.

I have things coming up with people I love and enjoy. I'm leaning forward into those as if I'll be dipping into a sea of peace. I'll get there.

How are you doing with the seasonal transition?

bad idea right? Go for it.

Olivia Rodrigo, 20, wondering about some of the guys she's been with.

I've been playing Olivia Rodrigo's propulsive new release bad idea right? on repeat. It's from her forthcoming album SOUR, and about bad idea says simply  that she's dated some people she "shouldn't have."

Yeah, hello! Olivia, you're 20 honey. That's exactly, precisely what you're supposed to be doing. Getting out there, making mistakes, learning.

I should probably, probably not / I should probably, probably not / Seein' you tonight, it's a bad idea right / But God, when I look at you, my brain goes "Ah" ... And I'm sure I've seen much hotter men  / But I really can't remember when

It's light and fun and humorous and involves hooking up for the night with somebody you know you really shouldn't (in this case, her ex). It reminds me of how daring I use to be. When I was young. Sure, I made some questionable judgment calls (especially that one very naughty lover I kept going back to in New York during 1992 and 3. He was a really good bad idea though, if you catch my thrust.) When I got bruised, which of course I did, I picked myself up, dusted off and moved on. Fun had; no permanent damage done.

Somewhere in the last decade I started playing it safe in love. Nothing reckless, nothing impulsive, nothing out-of-control. No daring moves. Not.As.Much.Fun! All potential romantic partners were carefully considered to optimize for longterm-ability and minimize the chance that my heart, or his, would be broken.

When you feel fragile (as I have), you tend to play it safe. Of course, the person sitting across the table from you on date night feels your tentativeness. Like, instead of getting the energy of how hot you find them, even though you find them quite hot, they're reading tentative. (If they're reading you at all. A lot just bulldoze through, for better or worse.) But playing it safe, as I have become increasingly, painfully aware, has its own set of dangers. When I look back, most of my least fulfilling relationships I entered into because he looked safe – solid and responsible. Getting out of those looked stupid, in fact dangerous, but were the absolute right moves. In contrast, my most satisfying relationships required nerve, moving on emotion and what appeared to be a dicey leap.

bad idea right? is, unexpectedly, a sideways reminder that fundamentally, the important lesson about mistakes is not to avoid making them at all costs. There are costs to not making them, too. And they can be really fucking fun to make. And who knows, things that start out looking like mistakes can, inconceivably, work out.

The thing about mistakes that I have to remind myself (again and again, it turns out) is that I've done the really hard work (therapy, coaching, prioritizing my network of friends, building an emotionally and financially stable life as a solo) to ensure I can pick myself up if I have to. Which I will no doubt have to.

Of course, we are all at the stage where we know that much by now. In life and love, it's not about falling, it's about getting back up. Living it, though. Whew! I think it gets harder to make mistakes as we age. Is it because of ego, scars, past failures, a sense that you have less time to redirect? Not sure. But I do believe that being fully alive means continuing to take worthwhile risks.

So. bad idea right? Maybe. But, like Olivia, go ahead and give him a whirl anyway.

Listen to it below; it's our song of the week.

Enough about me. For you, dear CRUSH-ers, we're back today with more PrimeCrush Toy Tester reviews – sharing our readers' reviews of the Tenga Solo Premium Cup (for men), as well as re-sharing a couple of previously published pieces. This is Part 1 of 2 because we want to share all of our past reviews with you, and will continue by re-posting those in next Saturday's Letter. Next week we'll republish the favorite couples sex toy of our testers to date! So come again next week, CRUSHes.

If you're new to the PrimeCrush Toy Testers project and would like to know why we got started reviewing sex toys, it was because of this article I wrote after meeing a midlife woman from the midwest who had organized a week end with a sex therapist and invited four married couples to join. (This was not a polyamorous outing, but rather four long-term married couples who each wanted to spend a week end committed to their marriage.) She characterized the 10 people who attended as people who were all into personal growth, emotional health and strong relationships. None of them were people who thought they would find themselves going to a sex therapist, but once she suggested it they thought, why not? Field Trip: What Five Married Couples Learn on One Powerful Weekend Away With A Renowned Sex Therapist. I got so much reaction to that piece, including a lot of "Okay, Dish, but how do we get started with sex toys? Any recommendations?" I myself was not an expert on the full range of toys (not to burst any bubbles, here), but I thought we could all figure it out together (through a lot of hard (ahem) work).

You're irresistible. Speaking of intimacy, I've discovered the graphic artist Joce Cova and I'm so into her. The black socks here hint that this bum squeeze is a casual ("remember, I find you hot, honey") squeeze. That kind of affectionate, passing reminder of how desirable our partner is to us is so meaningful.

(In fact, we asked you to tell us how important affection is to you in long-term romantic partnerships and you OVERWHELMINGLY told us you wished your partner showed you more of this kind of incidental, passing affection. We will re-run those results next Saturday in The CRUSH Letter No 126.)

Sometimes (depending on what else might be going on (or not), simple, incidental affection everything.

If I had to caption it, this is where I'd go:

"I know you're getting dressed for work and I'm getting dressed for work so we have no time for this but your bum is irresistible to me, babe." {Dish}

There's a lot more Joce Cova in Social Media I Loved This Week below, to which I've added my dorky, equally heartfelt captions. You're welcome.

And there's this shot of married love from cupofjo, which is its own variation on very sexy. Especially his text the next day. This is what I'm talking about when I write to you about sexting, CRUSHes. If you think it's only for shooting over a graphic pic or lascivious phrase, you're not thinking hard enough. :-) It's is its own art form, like this. And we need every tool in the kit.

If you're new here (welcome!), I'm Dish, the Master of Ceremonies. For more about me and why we're here go here.

In This Letter.  +Let's Get It On: The PrimeCrush Toy Tester Project. Our PrimeCrush Toy Testers are sharing their reviews of The Tenga Solo Premium Cup    +{Re-Share}: We Read Tracey Cox's Great Sex Starts at 50 and Here's What We Thought. By Dish Stanley   +{Re-Share}: Everything’s Better Wetter: A Few Words About Lube! By Dish Stanley    +Social Media I Loved This Week By Dish Stanley    +Our Song of the Week  But, God, when I look at you, my brain goes "Ah"

Tenga Solo Premium Cup (for men) ($12)

We ask our PrimeCrush Toy Testers which type of toys they want to test. Five men agreed to test this disposable Japanese-made masturbation toy; four sent back reviews. (Thanks guys!) It is what it looks like - a lubricated vacuum cup you place over your penis, and then stroke. In addition to the "premium" cup we tested, there are cups with stronger or more gentle suction, dual sensation, softer cups and rolling head cups. These are all disposables (one and done). As you can see from their candid reviews below, while all four expressed some initial hesitation, the experience itself was appreciated. Here are a couple of illustrations of the inside:

Would you recommend the Tenga Solo Premium Cup to other CRUSH Readers?

4 out of 4 toy testers said “Yes.”

Here are some specific comments on the Tenga Solo Premium Cup:

  • This is the most real feel and truly an interesting thing. Good to have “on hand” so to speak. I’m pretty exploratory, but I’ve never tried anything like this. Recommended. - “Lee”
  • Very surprised how much I liked this. Initial reaction was WTF. After trying it, OMG. - “Harry”
  • Once you get lubed up, it feels fantastic and quite realistic. It does seem like a lot for a one-time use but it was certainly pleasing. - “Greg”
  • I am usually not a guy who jerks myself off. I am a humper. So my first moments using this were not great. In fact - and I think it was more coincidental than anything - I had a rare cramp in my calf. But I survived that, and when I tried it again I found that it was quite remarkable. In fact, I would say it was as good a masturbation experience as I have ever had. It was not quite as good as the real thing - a quality blow job, for example. But it felt amazing. It was also quite efficient, in terms of how easy it was to use without making a mess. I could even see it being a fun toy to use with a partner, if you wanted to try something different or could not, for whatever reason, do the real thing. If it were cheaper and I was single and not having sex on a regular basis I would probably use it quite often as a masturbation tool. - “Anthony”

We Read Tracey Cox's Great Sex Starts at 50 and Here's What We Thought.

Equal parts celebration, empowerment, and how-to, Great Sex is a practical resource for anyone who wonders how the changes in their own--or their partner's–bodies may affect the emotions or mechanics of sex.  It is much more than that, as Cox approaches sex as psychophysiological, meaning she explores the ways that your mind links to your sexual responses.  In writing about sex she takes an expansive view of what it is and includes non-penetrative, non-orgasmic touching and play.  Cox focuses on the health benefits of regular sex (solo or partnered).  She addresses the practicalities (and upsides!) of having sex with the same partner over many years, as well as the significance that having sex (or not) has on relationships.  She offers guidance on how to approach difficult conversations because, according to Cox's research, the couples who thrive sexually talk openly about sex.

The most shocking thing she discovered in couples over 50 was realizing how many couples post-50 have just stopped having sex and never talked about that fact, even among couples who otherwise communicate well and feel close and deeply in love. Some couples do decide not to have sex as part of their relationship and live perfectly happily, Cox points out, but if you are going to cut out such an important aspect of your relationship it is worth understanding why. If it isn't discussed, all sorts of inferences are often assumed, which themselves have an impact separate and apart from the physical. For instance, not feeling desired.  Which, by the way, is a major deal.

Did the PrimeCrush Toy Testers like Great Sex? Here's what they said:

Would you recommend Great Sex Starts at 50 to other PrimeCrush Readers?

5 out of 5 Toy Testers saidYes.”

Here are some of their specific comments on Great Sex.

What specifically was the most helpful?

The parts about how your bodies change - it is so important to be aware of not only your own (menopause in my case) but also what changes your partner’s body might be going through (in my case male); especially important because it is not like if he was aware he would necessarily feel comfortable sharing it. (He is shy and prone to embarrassment on such things.) I also read the parts about lube and sex toys. -“Dawn”

Lots of topics related to the expansion of horizons. We needed a nudge on anal play and this helped.  “Greg”

The Motherf*cker That is Menopause was an informative and amusing chapter. It was helpful to read about other women’s experiences. The sex toy chapter was stimulating. The chapter on affairs was also (unfortunately) of relevance to me. “Dixie”

I thought it had good, practical ideas about how to be both sexual and intimate. I have friends who are clamoring for me to give it to them. I love that it includes 30,000 feet (how and why our bodies change) and the 3-foot view (how to give a blow job after 50). “Susie”

In general, the book was fun to read as well as informative. I read the chapters that were relevant to me first and then found I was curious about some of the others. I definitely DO feel sexy, but reading the chapter on NOT feeling sexy, I discovered the section “Who Decided Old Was Unattractive?” A very good question. One we should all ponder in our youth-obsessed culture. “Dixie”


We asked PrimeCrush Toy Testers to volunteer the brand they had already been and loved best. Out of 10 responses, only one brand got multiple (4) mentions, Sliquid. Personally, one of my straight-up favorites is their Sliquid Naturals H2O. It uses plant cellulose as a thickening agent, and for that reason it lasts. Like the Sizzle and Soul formulations, it is free of glycerin, parabens, gluten and sulfates and other harmful products and is also 100% vegan-friendly, non-toxic and hypoallergenic. Based on some of our Toy Testers' familiarity with Sliquid, we picked two different Sliquid formulations that were likely to be new to them: the Sizzle and Soul formulations.

Sliquid Soul Naturals is made with coconut and other organic oils. It can actually be applied to your skin topically to moisturize it as well as used as an intimate product. Like the Sizzle (discussed below), Soul is free of glycerin, parabens, gluten and sulfates and other harmful products and is also 100% vegan-friendly, non-toxic and hypoallergenic. I have a lot friends who use just coconut oil as both a moisturizer and lubricant, and Soul's "selling point" is that it is a luxurious step above for those consumers. Note that (as introduced in my ode to lubes below) because it is oil-based it can't be used with latex (toys, condoms, etc).

Sliquid Sizzle Naturals is similar to an arousal gel in that it is infused with food-grade menthol. It is a water-based lubricant intended to create a zing as you start things up.  It goes on cool, but warms with friction. Like Soul it is toxic-free and natural. Because it is water based it is good for use with toys. Note that it is not as thick as the Sliquid Naturals H2O mentioned above. (For more on arousal gels, scroll down.) When we asked our Toy Testers what they thought of the Sliquid products here's what they said:

Would you recommend the SLIQUID Sizzle & Soul Lubes to other CRUSH Readers?

4 out of 4 toy testers said “Yes.”

Here are some specific comments on Sliquid Sizzle & Soul:

  • Worked like a lot of lubes. Effective but the Soul didn’t stand out. Also, I don’t normally use lube to masturbate but the warming sensation felt great. Seemed like we needed to use more than other lubes (Soul).
    - “CJ”
  • I enjoyed them both equally and for different reasons. I love that both products are free of parabens and other unwelcome chemicals. Sizzle has a wonderful cooling effect when first applied and then warmed up once we got started. This is an amazingly great feature. Truly. Fun to try. A simple way to mix things up. My partner and I enjoy a bit more friction, and at times, Sizzle was too slippery. Sliquid Soul, on the other hand, has the perfect texture for us. It feels delicious. It is oil based (cocoanut) so not for use with latex products, but is non-staining so feel free to spread it around! My partner and I have a lot of fun together in many aspects of life. Being a toy tester has created even more playfulness. Thank you, Dish!
    - “Dixie”
  • I really loved them both. I looooove knowing that they are non-toxic. And for a non-toxic straight-up lubricant, I could see the SLIQUID Soul becoming a regular. But you can't use it with products, and for that I use the water-based Sliquid H2O Natural. It lasts longer. I have to say, I’d never tried a “warming” lube and it felt good. They feel similar to us in terms of slipperiness and thickness. They feel great. I would say that they are not quite as “natural” feeling as the Beloved serum {reviewed below}, but they are both probably longer lasting. The warmth of the Sizzle will be great on a cool night. Thanks, Dish!
    - "Kay (57)"
  • Liked the SLIQUID more than some other lubes we've tried. We were overzealous using SLIQUID Sizzle the first time and found a little goes a long way. My (male) partner liked it as much as I did. Now, need to get more. Sliquid Sizzle is more than enough to shoot you over the edge…multiple times!  It definitely helps you sizzle:)  
    - “Andrea”

{Re-Share}: BELOVED Intimacy Serum & Moisturizer

This intimacy serum is brought to market by Founder Sara Gold, a woman of a certain age who discovered that moving into her "change of life," as she puts it, brought on a change in her hormones that resulted in dryness. After searching for a lubricant that was both safe and made with high-quality, natural ingredients while also being packaged in an attractive, discreet bottle suitably sophisticated for "us," she decided to create a product herself.

Beloved Intimacy Serum & Moisturizer is a luxurious product that combines lube with a moisturizer and mimics the feel of a woman’s natural wetness. It is intended for those looking for a sensual and natural consistency and because it is intended to mimic natural wetness, it feels less greasy, sticky, slick, and thick than a lot of lubes. It comes in an attractive “serum” holder that looks more like an upscale facial moisturizer than a typical lube. And it is completely free of bad ingredients, of course. (Like every lube we recommend, it has none of the toxic stuff in it.) When we asked our Toy Testers, here's what they said:

Would you recommend Beloved Intimacy Serum to other CRUSH Readers?

4 out of 4 toy testers said “Yes.”

Here are some specific comments on Beloved:

Tell us whether you enjoyed your BELOVED Intimacy Serum & Moisturizer.

  • A product I didn’t know I needed has become one of my favorites. The slip and feel of BELOVED are startlingly natural. The light consistency and natural feeling of wetness made this a perfect product for daily moisturizing, which I thought was a weird thing at first, but is now a normal ritual. Oh, it’s also great for play! I tend to prefer oils when with my partner, but BELOVED pairs nicely with my toys:) My elegant container of BELOVED Intimacy Serum & Moisturizer isn’t hidden away in some drawer, it’s sitting proudly on my bedside table.  
    - “Dixie”
  • Well, it’s so pretty. I love the container. So that’s the first thing I noticed. I really liked it; so lovely. I love the feel of it - very natural, not too slick or thick. As I said, really lovely. What I realized after using it is that in terms of lovemaking, it is best for nights when I just want a little bit of lube - a little bit of extra wet. I will use something thicker and more long-lasting for a “Saturday night” (eg, a big sex night). But honestly, my partner and I have a lot of nights where it is just a kind of nice little quickie and I don’t want or need all the goo for those nights. Beloved is perfect for that. Highly recommend it! I have been using lube more, and I have you to thank for that, Dish. It really is better. I’ve also never thought there was much difference between lubes - and I never paid attention to lube ingredients. So I thank you very much for your “Wetter Is Better” piece. I liked knowing that Beloved (as well as the other lubes you sent us for testing) were non-toxic.
    - “Kay”
  • I love this. It is not tacky. It is so natural. I haven’t tried a lubricant that feels so natural. I would say it is not a typical lube in that it is for adding some extra wetness for some lovely intimacy rather than a situation where you have a night of porn sex in front of you. But honestly, most nights I am *not* spending the night doing porn sex. So I’d rather use this on a day-to-day basis and pull out the thicker lube on occasion.
    - “Jane”
  • Good… Pleasure to use but guess I was somehow expecting more… something.
    - “Harry”

{Re-Share}: Everything’s Better Wetter: A Few Words About Lube! By Dish Stanley

Lube is a Toy Box favorite, but make sure to check the ingredients. The same standards for clean products that have infused other parts of the health & wellness industries are not as widespread in the intimacy products market.

Wetter Is Better (or Why Lube Is Liquid Magic).  Lube is like a liquefied Silk Sonic song as far as I'm concerned. It turns me on. It makes everything feel smoother, more intense, and like we're exploring something exciting.  One of my best friends is adamant about only one thing when it comes to sex.  (She's a fluid sort.) It’s better, and she has more orgasms, with lube than without it. Why? It’s silky and soothing, it’s fun, it can become part of a foreplay ritual (eg, a hand job that glides smoothly while applying the desired pressure), it can allow you to have sex longer (if you want!), and if you use it every single time it eliminates not only dryness but also (even more importantly) anxiety about potential dryness. (Because even if you are naturally well-lubricated, some day-to-day variation is inevitable.)

Consider this: I have another girlfriend who had never tried it because she said, she didn’t need it. But she’s a game person and with some urging from me and another girlfriend (in a Sex And The City moment over brunch), gave it a shot. What’d she say?

“I’m wet enough that I didn’t think I *had* to have it. But the sex was wetter. Wetter is always better when it comes to sex. We’ll definitely keep using it.”

What’s In the Lube Matters. I have some friends who aren’t particular about what lube they use - whether it is silicone-based, water-based, or oil-based (though you don’t want to use most oil-based lubes with most toys because it degrades latex). They don’t notice or care about feel, consistency, smell, or packaging.

I have become more particular.  That’s because (and I hate to be alarming) the more I learned about lubes, the more I realized that the “clean” movement that has spread through much of health and wellness-focused products has not extended as deeply into sex products. There is toxic shit in a lot of lubes.  I try to avoid additives and chemicals in my food and other body/cleaning products, and I sure as hell don’t want them up my vagina. A lot of lubes have ingredients, like various forms of sugar, that whether or not you are limiting them in your diet, you sure as hell should eliminate from your lube.

I started taking the ingredients in lube seriously a couple of years ago after trying a significant brand’s “Organix” lube in a pinch and ending up with a yeast infection two days later. My doctor pointed out that many lube contains forms of sugar, like glycerin. Sugars are a food source for microbes, particularly yeast. I checked the label on that lube and sure enough, it had “Xanthan Gum” in it, which I looked up and sure enough, it’s essentially sugar. So the lube was “all natural” but not healthy. That’s not sweet.

What do I like in a lube? I like brands that use products that are formulated to be consistent with a woman’s natural pH. I like aloe (it’s soothing), and prefer water-based. I like to see “organic ingredients,” “unflavored” and “unscented” in the description, and also “safe for toys and condoms”.

What ingredients do I avoid? Anything on this list: DEA, gluten, glycerin, glycol, parabens, propylene, sorbitol, hormones, and sulfates. To learn more about lube ingredients, here is an article from SELF magazine with more detailed information. I can’t do a better job on it myself: 6 Lube Ingredients You Might Not Want to Put In Your Vagina.

So, lube up! But for your and your partner’s sake, check the label first.

Social Media I Loved This Week

This week, I'm adding my own captions to these beautiul Joce Cova graphics.

"I've gotcha babe." {Dish}

Mood ever since I left the corporate world and could allow myself to let my hair down. {Dish}

"I love you and you're beautiful as you are." {Dish}

"Could I just crawl into your heart and rest for a beat? Thank you." {Dish}

"But I'm happy if we decide to just linger on the detour, too." {Dish}

"Like a flower waiting to bloom / Like a lightbulb in a dark room / I'm just sitting here waiting for you / To come on home and turn me on." Norah Jones from Turn Me On

Song Of The Week

bad idea right? By Olivia Rodrigo

My brain goes "Ah"

Until next Saturday --

Dish Stanley XO,

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The Crush Letter
The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter from Dish Stanley curating articles & intelligence on everything love & connection - friendship, romance, self-love, sex. If you’d like to take a look at some of our best stories go to Read Us. Want the Dish?


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By Dean Christopher Hook Ups Hot Thots How to Be the Most Charming Person at a Holiday Party. By Evie Arnaude How to find porn thats actually good I am my own family I just turned 60 but I feel 22 I redesigned my closet. I'm Dish, the Master of Ceremonies Im glad my mom died In Good Hands. Kathy: This Is A Love Story About Three Friends La Mia Famiglia by Lisa Ellex Lamentations on the Lost Art of Kissing. By Elisabeth C. Lamotte Leave the husband, bring the cannoli. By A.K.A. Darla Leaving the door open Let's Reconsider, with Adam Grant Love & Mike's "Bad Girl Pasta" Love/Sex/Moon Magick By Lynn Eaton LXIX. By A.K.A. Darla Meeting Across the River Melissa Biggs Bradley's New Book Safari Style Makes Me Want To Go On A Safari midlife MIDLIFE CRISIS: When Reality Strikes, By Dean Christopher Movie Magic. By Amy Ferris My First Solo Trip: Mexico, Part I. By Dawn Larsen My Prostate Journey: A Personal Story My Tits Contain MulTITudes Naked & Not afraid by KC Roth Oasis in the Desert. 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Stanley Tucci Is Paradise Stories to Read Aloud to a Lover. By A.K.A. Darla Summer Bookstack Tell Me More. By Dish Stanley The 3 Things You're Really Fighting About The 4 Most Common Skincare Issues for Men (But Were Afraid to Ask). By Lauren D. Weinstein The Crush Letter 58 The Crush Letter Its a tune The Crush Letter No 39 The Crush Letter No 46: DEVOUR The Crush Letter No 57 The Crush Letter No 59 The Crush Letter No 60: DEVOUR The Crush Letter No 61 The Crush Letter No 62 the crush letter no 63 The Crush Letter No 78 The Crush Letter No 80 The Crush Letter No 81 The Crush Letter No 82 The Crush Letter No 83: DEVOUR The Crush Letter No 84 The Crush Letter No. 79 The Crush Letter: Culture / Comment The Dynamics of Friendhip By Lauren D. Weinstein The Friendship Files By AKA Darla The Golden Bachelor The Hole. By Kiva Schuler The Holiday Anti-Checklist By Liza Lentini The New Menopause By Dr. Mary Claire Haver The Perfect Snowy Saturday. By Jeanne Bosse The Ritual of Comforts. 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