Susie Bright, Bestselling Author


Cool Tools Show 191: Susie Bright

Our guest this week is bestselling author Susie Bright. Susie is a pioneering preeminent feminist sex writer and legendary audio producer. She’s also reached peak satisfaction as a guest editor of Boing Boing, and early member of The Well. Susie is one of the world’s most respected voices on sexual politics, as well as an award-winning author and editor who’s produced and published thousands of the finest writers and journalists working in American literature and progressive activism today. You can find her on Twitter @susiebright.

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Show notes:

Gingher Craft Scissors
One of the most important tools that I use every single day of my life is the Gingher craft scissors. Having good scissors is priceless. Really priceless. It’s like having a decent knife on your belt. But this particular scissors are not as big as a scissors that you would imagine — usually like eight, ten inches long with the long sheers. These are short and one of the things that is remarkable about it is that the points — the very tip of the scissors — are vicious. When you need to get to the very end of something and have a perfect complete cut and you cannot have one scintilla out of place, this is the scissors. I’ve had these scissors for 15 years and I thought I would eventually take them to one of those knife sharpening places and get them spruced up, but they’re magic, they never get dull. They feel good in your hands. They’re so small and they have this little leather pouch that the tips go in so you don’t accidentally hurt somebody. Even the leather pouch feels like supple, lovely leather. They have never gone cheap on these scissors. This is one of these companies where I made the effort to write them a fan letter and say, “I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you’ve kept the quality of this going even though everything in capitalism tells you not to, that you insist on your craftsmanship.”

Palomino Blackwing 602 Pencils
This pencil is simply the creamiest, smoothest, most perfect texture on texture experience I’ve ever had in my life. It doesn’t matter whether you’re making a mark on some shitty little receipt that you got out of a parking machine or whether you’re using linen paper, this lead is just the right smoothness and composition that it makes writing a whole new thing. Since the advent of keyboards, my handwriting has really gone down the toilet. I went to Catholic school, I used to get As in handwriting and now I can’t even write, “I love you,” without some screw up as I’m using my hand. This pencil brought me back. The moment you place it on anything and you start to move, you have this effortless charcoal experience that is just heaven. People are fanatics about Blackwings. You meet someone who’s using Blackwings, you’re in the cult. There are people who will tell you about the 1990s when these things went out of business and people were paying $40 per pencil on eBay to get one of these. That’s how crazy it was.

Original Magic Wand
The tool that I am the most associated with is the very one that I have probably sold more of myself than anyone on earth and that is the Hitachi Magic Wand. This simply is the magic machine that has turned more women onto the experience of a real live screaming orgasm than anything. It’s remarkable. The first time I encountered it, I was in San Francisco, it was I guess 1980 and a friend of mine said, “Yeah, there’s this therapist who has a feminist vibrator store down the street in the Mission.” She wanted to have a place where women could get a vibrator where you didn’t have to go to a dirty bookstore and you could get something that worked, so I toddled on down there, I met Joani Blank, the owner of Good Vibrations, she was this philanthropist who started working in her therapy practice with a lot of women who, like everyone who read the usual propaganda, were naive. Well, after I met Joani Blank, I start working at Good Vibrations and I remember women would come in and they would be feeling so sad. Some of them would say they were there because their doctor had told them to. It really is a consciousness raising experience when you feel like sexual satisfaction is elusive to you. You feel like everyone else understands something about themselves and that you don’t. I sold thousands of these and to this day, I’ll be somewhere talking about completely different subject, I’ll be talking about immigration reform and somebody will come up to me and say, “You sold me my first magic wand. You changed my life. I’m so grateful to you. I feel like you should be up there with my first lover or something.” And I know what they’re saying. I felt the same way. I felt that grateful.

Heavy Duty Commercial Potato Ricer
I am an Irish Catholic socialist, right? So nobody expects me to make classic Eastern European latkes. Unless you’re already my friend, who would think to call Susie Bright and say it’s Hanukkah, where are the latkes? But in fact, all of my friends, no matter how they were raised, bow down before me and say, “It’s sad but true, Susie makes the best potato pancakes in the whole world and we do not know her secret.” Well, now they know my secret because I have told on myself. Potato pancakes are just the best. I mean, they’re so good. They’re so salty. It’s right up there with the potato chip except it’s warm and it’s crisp and soft inside and it’s got a little bit of onion and then you put lots of salt and pepper and then you put on the sour cream and your head just explodes. It’s so good. When I first made potato pancakes, I was really disappointed with the results. I was like, these are watery and weak, they aren’t flavorful. What am I doing wrong? And it took me some experimentation but I realized that potatoes are watery and usually in a recipe book, they’ll say something like, you should let them sit for a half an hour or you should salt them and let the water seep out. Well that doesn’t work. Maybe if you have 14 days to let the water drain out, but no, it’s time to make Laktes. So what you do is, you get the industrial ricer. There’s a lot of crap ricers. The only ricer I want you to get is the one that I gave you the link to. It’s great because you can put it on the edge of your sink and just use torque to press all the water out. You grate your potatoes, stuff a bunch of them in the ricer, a couple of handfuls and then you press down and kaboom all the brown water expresses itself. You then take your nice expressed fresh crispy dried potato leavings, put them in a bowl, add the matzo meal and the onion and the egg and all of a sudden you are the most popular person in town because your pancakes are the best.

Also mentioned:

Santa Cruz Noir (Akashic Noir Series)
I live in Santa Cruz, California which I think has a bit of a mythic status in the rest of the world. We’re known for our surfing and the redwoods and the beauty of the surroundings. When you live in a town that is known for being beautiful and perfect and everyone, millions of people come here as tourists to fall in love and have an experience. What you don’t hear about is the working class life of this town. I showed the galleys to cops and DAs and cab drivers and bartenders and I’d say, what do you think of this? And at first they didn’t believe it because they’re the invisible people. Then they would look at one of the stories and they would go, Holy shit, this is the real thing. The ugly side of surfing. I also could’ve done a whole book called gentrification noir, I mean, the ugly side of the working class being forced out of our area, because you’ve got tech executives and then people to wait on them for minimum wage and everybody else can go fuck themselves. We have all that. Of course we have colorful crimes. We’re one of the birthplaces of sex, drugs and rock and roll. I got the whole town involved, the local museum had a mystery scavenger hunt, the libraries put on a show. I got to meet people I never would have met otherwise and I certainly got to hang out with the best writers in this town and we have some incredible writers. Santa Cruz noir is my latest book and I think anybody who’s listening, if you enjoy reading mysteries or you have a pension for noir, you’re going to like this book.


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