The Crush Letter No 35: Trick or Treat Issue

. 15 min read

Hello Crush,

Happy Halloween!  It's my absolute favorite time of the year.  A holiday where creativity and exploration of our inner spirits and wild imaginations is exalted.  That's my kind of thing.  We've got a special issue full of Tricks & Treats for you -- enjoy!

Thanks to the Crush Readers who sent in recommendations for our monthly DEVOUR column {what to do, read, watch, listen to and know}.  A set of PrimeCrush coasters is going out to Crush Reader Steve Kane for his great recommendation for the British thriller, The Collector, a chilling film from 1965 based on a novel from the great John Fowles.  Thank you, Steve!  Eerily perfect timing.

And if you’d like your own set of coasters: While they last, for any Crush Readers that send in DEVOUR recommendations that we publish.  (I will continue to curate and edit it (naturally).  Send them to me at dish@primecrush.com.  (Hint, our readership is national so we shy away from purely "local programming".)


In This Letter.  +TREATS: A Sex Toy  Smorgasboard Preview. By Dish Stanley. Update on our posse of PrimeCrush Sex Toy Testers who will bringing you their independent & honest reviews.  +TRICKS: What I Am Learning In Colette Pervette’s Online Dominatrix Class That You Should Know, Too. Part 1.  By Lady Shade. Think you don't need these tips because you never want to be a dominatrix?  Think again.  It's about stepping into your power and taking responsibility for creating the safe space that allows for life-affirming self-expression.  +BITE: A Tricks for Treats Menu. By Ali Waks Adams.  An autumnal menu to gather by.   +Book Review: Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark. By Cassandra Peterson. Review by Evie Arnaude. Heroism comes in unexpected attire sometimes, as we see from this demonness, who did a lot more than cast spells with her low-cut dresses and confident, powerful feminity.   +PrimeCrush & Chill:  The Collector (1965).  Hat tip to Crush Reader Steve Kane for recommending this chilling psychological drama.  +Love/Sex/Moon Magick: My Personal Journey to Becoming A Witch. By Lynn Eaton.  Our beloved wiccan tells us about her introduction to the coven.  +Hook Ups: Meet Kate Porter, Founder of Burning Desire Shop. We introduce you to an entrepreneur whose products we love.  +Our Song of the Week.  Don't turn your back on me, baby.


TREATS: A Sex Toy Tester Update (& Preview). By Dish Stanley

I hear you.  The single most recurring request I get from CRUSH Readers is for more recommendations on sex toys, products, techniques, sites and information.  Honest, independent reviews on things CRUSH Readers might want to try from the CRUSH community.  This was true when I published the first product recommendation, on the suction vibrator that Dame Products sold out of shortly after its launch (reprint below), and then again when I wrote about arousal gels (reprint below).  After I published the article a few weeks ago Field Trip: What Five Midlife Couples Learned On One Powerful Weekend Away With A Sex & Relationship Therapist, I got more.

I really like learning about sex products and experiences because "it is out of my comfort zone, but reading about in The Crush Letter makes me think that maybe it shouldn't be."

It's a big reason I'm here writing The Crush Letter, focusing on providing the information on relational well-being that CRUSH Readers want. In the Five Midlife Couples article one of the (long-married) retreat participants said that it was at the urging of sex and relationship therapist Dr. Jess that she and her husband tried sex toys.  Changing things up, doing new things, having a laugh over it (even if it doesn't work), has become such a fun way for she and her husband to be close, she said.

To that end, PrimeCrush has launched its Sex Toy Tester group.  We have over a dozen volunteers, solo and partnered up, who will be testing a wide range of toys, books, props, lubes and apps (etc) and then (confidentially) letting us know what we might want to try.  They will be getting their first box in November, and we will be reporting back to you in December.

It's not toooo long to wait, but to hold you over here are some sex toys, products, and tips we’ve already shared some quick takes on.  (By the way, we don’t get any affiliate fees or other compensation, we just honestly enjoy these:-0).

Arousal Gels, Babe. Arousal gels for women have been piling into my ad space lately, so I ordered three from natural brands I trust: Dame Products, Simple Jane, and Foria. They all feel good (not at the same time!), amplified the feels, made me tingle, heightened the experience, and felt more "organic" than a lot of lubricants.  Here's my quick take: I like them all, but Temptress from Simple Jane and Awaken from Foria both have CBD in their formulas (maybe I imagined it, but I felt calmer and more open, and I really liked that).  Temptress (with CBD) has a spicy/clove smell that I wouldn't pick for a beach vacation but is great for a cold night (and, let's be real, it also has the best name). Foria's Awaken (with CBD) had a subtler taste and smell (and I preferred that on a warm night) (and Foria has a version called Pleasure that also has THC in it, which I'd like to try but couldn't get). Dame Product's straightforwardly named Arousal Serum had the most tingle, my favorite smell and taste (mildly minty) and is the least expensive (and if you prefer it without CBD, this may be your pick). Pro Tips for all of them: start with a very small amount because the sensations can be strong. And they might take a few minutes to rev up (especially the CBD products).  Arousal gels are distinct from lubricant, and don't replace lube.  It's kind of wonderful to try them at the same time, tbh.

Literal Good Vibrations. Dame Products has been making sex toys for women (by women) since 2014, so we expect good moves from them. But under the heading, "T.M.I." a reviewer in Refinery29 says that Dame’s just-released latest, a suction vibrator, made her feel like she was getting oral play from a cloud. (The review itself was pretty exciting, truth be told.) “Dame's Suction Vibrator Feels Like Getting Oral From A Cloud". And if this toy sounds maybe a little too advanced, depending on how far along you are in your toy journey (not judging here), it might make sense to first dip into this seminal piece by Liza Lentini, Features Editor at perennially hip rock mag Spin. “The Sex Files: A Crash Course in Sex Toys

Traveling with sex toys. A few pro tips for traveling with your toys:  go small with the toys (for instance, I wear this, bring this and know guys who don't travel without this "it's f*cking fabulous, Dish!"; wrap/pack up your toys in separate silk bags or stash them in this (so they don't go off!);  to get around the 3.4-ounce liquid size limits plan in advance by stocking up on these lube packs; do NOT pack your toys in your carry-on - they will disappear! (TSA evidently only hires people who want to try your toys!); and - most importantly - if you do find yourself standing in front of TSA security while they rifle through your silk bag of sex toys, there is only one way of handling it.  Look them straight in the eye, shrug, and say "Yeah, it's going to be a good trip.  I've got a handle on it (wink.)."

Tricks: What I Am Learning In Colette Pervette’s Online Dominatrix Class That You Should Know, Too. (Part 1)  By Lady Shade.

Don't think you ever want to be a dominatrix?  Neither does Lady Shade.  But there are still a lot of really good reasons to take a dominatrix class.  Just ask her.  In this new, regular column Lady Shade shares with us what she is learning in Colette Pervette's inaugural online Mistress Class.

I'm Lady Shade.  That's my dominatrix name.  It's new.  I came up with it on the fly during the first meeting of Colette Pervette's Mistress Class.  A place I never imagined I'd be.  Because I never wanted to be a dominatrix.  Certainly not a professional one, and even after our first class, I'm still not sure I want to be one in my personal life, either.  So why'd I sign up?

Let's step back for a second.  I'm not particularly extraordinary.  Which is to say, I am only extraordinary in the sense that every single one of us is extraordinary in some way.  But I don't like to stand out.  I am uncomfortable being the center of attention.  Truthfully, I sometimes don't even like to ask for what I want.  In bed or otherwise.  It's often easier to give way to those who like being vocal and insistent than have to figure it out about myself.  And it feels good – pleasing others, feeling appreciated.

But someone (I can't say who because I am bound to keep the secrets of all the Mistresses), sent me a note telling me about the Mistress Class.  She didn't seem certain she wanted to be a dominatrix either, but she was signing up.  What she knew she wanted to learn, she said, was "stepping into her power."  Check, I thought.  I'd like to feel entitled to that too.   As well as more about "her own sexuality, a little bit of kinky play, empathy, listening skills, boundaries and how to create a sacred, safe space for her and her partner to explore intimacy."  Check x 6, I thought.  And signed up.

Our first assignment was to pick a domme name.  Lady Shade came to me immediately.  I have always been more comfortable lurking in the shade.  I like the dark, am a night owl naturally, in fact.  If I believe in anything, it's in the complicatedness of life.  The complicatedness of everybody and how that multiplies increasingly with every relationship.  I abhor black-or-white philosphies, or the taking of positions (not sexual, naturally) that can't fathom the possibility of the legitimacy of the other side.   My religion is curiosity and openness and interconnectedness; the antithesis of black or white.  I like gray.  I'm Lady Shade.

I invite you to join my journey as I learn to become a Mistress.  To witness my transformation from someone whose comfort lies in the shadows to a woman who is powerful, magnetic, compelling and in charge.  Sexually, and otherwise.  I am ready.  Are you?

Kiss kiss, slap slap.  

Xxxx, Lady Shade

BITE:  A Tricks for Treats Menu. By Ali Waks Adams

Chef Ali designs an autumn-inspired, harvest-time nourishing menu to make your mouth water.

Hello October! It’s harvest time for apples, pears, grapes, pumpkins, hearty greens, and all the squashes. Autumn is the time to get into the kitchen.

I’ve been doing Whole30 and I hate it a lot. It’s been very challenging to make food that tastes good without soy, miso, Parmigiano, butter, black bean paste, milk, gouchuang, and sugar. Mashed potatoes with almond milk taste a lot like almonds, but not in a good way. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it is challenging. I‘ve had to relearn how to cook for myself that is nourishing, but not punishing. The first week I tried all these “products”—special sauces, cauliflower rice, zoodles—trying to make things taste like what they aren’t. It was no fun.

Then I started just making food.  I pureed cauliflower with roast garlic and really good olive oil, I made a fantastic salad with tahini dressing, I roasted a chicken with lemon and garlic, I made a beautiful butternut squash soup and garnished it with apples and toasted hazelnuts (once this is over I’m definitely drizzling some crème fraiche in there). The lesson that I’m learning from the Whole30 may not be the one they expected me to learn: I need to eat real food, good food, and make it the best I can, and in order to do that I need to rely on my cadre of cooking tricks.

Continue reading here

Book Review: Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark.  By Cassandra Peterson.

Review by Evie Arnaude.

No matter how old you are, you can proudly proclaim that you were raised by Elvira. And after reading Cassandra Peterson’s new memoir, Yours Cruelly, Elvira, you’re about to start your own fan-club chapter and elect yourself president. We know that not all heroes wear capes, in Cassandra Peterson’s case, some wear dangerously low-cut dresses, catch a whole lot of shit for it, and push forward in the name of progress. If you’re reading this here, there’s a good chance you can’t recall being shocked by Elvira’s appearance, but if you close your mind and harken back to Satanic-panic ‘80s America, network execs and a whole lot of others “freaked” out at a sexy, dark demoness. Seems ridiculous now, right? Well, yes, but that’s always the way for anyone who had to start something and fight for change, even when they’re cracking purposefully terrible jokes while hosting the best-worst of the B-horror genre.

If you’re wondering if there are any gigantic reveals in the book, there are—sort of. The headlines promoting the book’s September release touted Peterson’s 19-year relationship with a woman, as though that’s the whole story. No doubt, it’s beautiful when a celebrity chooses to share something intimate about their world with the rest of us. Though that “reveal” comes at the end of the book, it’s hardly the end for 70-year-old Peterson, who is still portraying the iconic character she created.

This is truly a story of a strong woman who made it all work, somehow, against all odds. From her very rough start with a complicated family and a burn accident that scarred her for life to topless showgirl, to living in a haunted house (no—really!), to a marriage marked by verbal abuse, nothing came easily for her. Laced with her signature upbeat tone, I’d highly recommend getting the book on audio, as her warm, distinct voice is like that of an old friend.

PrimeCrush & Chill:  The Collector (1965).  By Dish Stanley

In this periodic column we hook back up with our favorite ex's--as in classic movies worth a re-watch.

If you are looking for some hair-raising suspense over Halloween, you couldn’t find anything more chilling - or with more critical chops - than this British psychological thriller.  A study in terror and obsessiveness, it is the story of a bank teller’s hobby as an avid butterfly collector.  One such butterfly is human, unfortunately.  Samantha Egger plays the caught beauty Miranda Grey utterly convincingly - flitting from terrified to clever to seducer and back (as any desperate prey would) - for which she won both an Academy Award and a Cannes Best Actress Award.  The bank teller, Freddie Clegg, is played by Terence Stamp, who also won a Cannes.  The movie racked up many more nominations, including for Best Direction (William Wyler).  And as if that is not enough, it is based on the novel by the great John Fowler’s (who also wrote The French Lietenant’s Woman).  The whole thing is an example of artistry and craft.  This recommendation was sent in by Crush Reader Steve Kane (follow him on insta here), a fan of both the movie and the novel it was based on.  “Because the world has forgotten brilliant author John Fowler’s and it’s a goddamn shame.  The movie is also brilliant … [with the] cunning, weird, awesome Terence Stamp as Freddie.”  Thanks Steve.
Watch the trailer here.

Love/Sex/Moon Magick: My Personal Journey to Becoming A Witch.  By Lynn Eaton

While some may believe that all witches are initiated into the craft by a coven, PrimeCrush’s resident Wiccan took her own sacred path in communion with everything, including her CD player.

In my mid-thirties, I was searching for my path to spirituality. I discovered a very open-minded congregation of Unitarians in Kenosha, Wisconsin where a celebration of Samhain raised joyful, playful energy. I read books by Marion Weinstein and Scott Cunningham.

In my studies, some authors stated that in order to be considered a “full witch” I would have to be initiated into the craft by a coven.  I found some like-minded folks and we celebrated together but I felt on the outside somehow. I was discouraged by the fact that I hadn’t been initiated, that I hadn’t come into my full power. Yet I didn’t feel like I needed to have someone wave their magic wand over me and “Presto! You’re are Witch!”

Continue reading here

Hook Ups: Meet Kate Porter, Founder of Burning Desire Shop

“Hook Ups” is an ongoing feature introducing our readers to some of our favorite entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Humorously explain your job.

I would say I’m a witch in plain clothing! I love to manifest love and light, and love to make people feel their very best. Whether it be through transformative skincare, makeup, or through my Burning Desire products. The collection includes candles, rituals, bath soaks and body scrubs that promote manifesting all your greatest desires--even love. Many products are accompanied by spells to strengthen the intention for whatever you manifest. I am always conjuring up new things to pamper and uplift my clients’ spirits.

For how many years?

I started Burning Desire Shop in 2021.

What does a love spell do?

My love spell--which can be ordered on the site with the candles--was designed to help manifest love in all aspects in your life. It could be used for self-love, finding true love, a lover, or making someone fall in love with you. The manifesting of your true desires is endless and up to you. What are you seeking in your life? The ritual has no guarantee, but it’s fun to dream and meditate and be clear on your desires. It certainly can’t hurt:) Many clients have said it works. So, I guess you’ll have to try it for yourself and find out.

How important is “desire” in our daily life?

Desire is extremely important in life as it’s what drives us in almost every arena. We desire money, we desire a lover, we desire happiness, so on and so forth. Without desire, we would be dead inside. It is the fuel to our fire. It’s so important that I’ve built a business around it, and I’ve designed spells and tools to help others achieve their deepest, most burning desires, as well.

How super-sexy are sustainable, nontoxic products?

I am obsessed with clean beauty and sustainable, non-toxic products. My candles are made with beeswax and the tins are reusable or can be recycled responsibly. I also use beeswax for my candles and ethically sourced herbs and flowers for my products. I use Epsom salts and essential oils for my soaks and scrubs.

Best way to reach you?

Learn more & view products:

www.burningdesire.shop

Instagram: @burningdesiresshop

Phone: 323-899-2143

Prices vary and don’t include shipping. First-time PrimeCrush clients will receive 10% off their first order using code CRUSH10.

Song of the Week.

Santana (live) with Peter Green.  Black Magic Woman.

Watch It on youtube Here

Have booootiful Halloween Week End, dear CRUSH Readers.

Dish Stanley XO,
Dish

We Don't Want You To Miss A Thing.  Links to Previous Favorites (in case you were on a sailboat in the middle of the Mediterranean and had no wifi).

+Stories to Read Aloud to a Lover. By A.K.A. Darla. One writer conceives a sexy birthday gift for her lover, and shares with us so we can all spread the love.

+Read all of the Reports from the Edge. By Jane Boon. Edge Play author Jane Boon’s stylish and witty column “Reports from the Edge” offers advice and encouragement on how to escape the bonds of convention, and how to pursue the unexpected and the exciting.

+Get more MAGICK with Love/Sex/Moon Magick.  By Lynn Eaton. A regular column from our resident Wiccan Lynn Eaton

+Field Trip: What Five Married Couples Learn on One Powerful Weekend Away With A Renowned Sex Therapist. By Dish Stanley. For their 20th wedding anniversary, one couple organized a (pre-COVID) retreat with a leading marital and sex therapist.  In this candid q&a with the woman who organized it, we learn why they went and what they brought back.









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