Over at Babeland, a New York sex shop, the best-selling trilogy “Fifty Shades of Grey” has shifted from erotic fiction to how-to guide. On a recent Friday, a hundred or so women, four men, and one Chihuahua crowded into the SoHo store for a class inspired by the books. “I found out about the books because people kept coming into the store and asking about specific products—floggers, restraints, paddles,” said Claire Cavanah, Babeland’s co-founder.
The series, which is light on plot, centers on the lives of Christian Grey, a young businessman, and Anastasia Steele, an innocent college student, as they enter a dominant-submissive relationship. (The conflict comes when “Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own identity.”) Cavanah says that she’s seen a twenty-per-cent increase in sales of B.D.S.M. gear since the books’ début. The only analogous moment she can recall during her twenty years at Babeland was when the characters on “Sex and the City” discussed a rabbit vibrator: “There was a run on the store!”
The “Fifty Shades” guests, as they waited for the class to start, tooled around the displays while sipping cocktails (cranberry juice and vodka) and avoiding eye contact. On display were such items as a “pinwheel” the size of a cooking thermometer (twenty dollars, no explanation), sienna patent-leather handcuffs with a matching paddle, and various chains that recalled a rappelling device. “My kids would love these,” one woman from New Jersey said, picking up a bag of phallic-shaped sour-patch candies. “What is this?” A woman wearing black loafers and a blazer asked her friend. They both tapped inquisitively at a gray cannister with a pink, rubbery filling, their lips curled. “Now that’s gross,” the friend concluded.
E. L. James, the author of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy, is a mother and television executive in her forties. The series started as “Twilight” fan fiction; James has said that she modelled her two main characters after Bella and Edward. Yet, even though her characters are college-aged, the books have resonated most strongly with James’s contemporaries—mothers, wives, “The View” enthusiasts—women who, if they owned riding crops, would store them in the garage between the skis and mountain bikes. The promise of erotic reading may be the initial draw, but, for many readers, there’s the added fantasy of E. L. James herself—the working mother and fan-fiction writer turned overnight success. ...
It's a book that's topped the New York Times best sellers list for more than a month. "Fifty Shades of Grey" is a romance novel with a twist. The book is filled with racy themes that are getting some women to open up about their sex lives and to become more adventurous in the bedroom.
Erotic, sexy, and mysterious. "Fifty Shades of Grey is a love story, touching on themes of "BDSM"---that's bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism.
"We all enjoy sex. It's a lot of fun," said area regional manager of the Lion's Den, Jeannie Smith.
For some readers, it's a "permission slip" to spice things up in the bedroom, and open doors to a taboo topic.
At the "Lion's Den," an adult store in Acadiana, manager Jeannie Smith says the "Fifty Shades of Grey Effect" is two-fold.
"We can't keep them stocked right now. The publisher sold so many they had to make more copies so this is a problem for all stores across the United States," said Smith.
But reading the book isn't enough for everyone. Smith says some have come in wanting to mimic what they're reading.
"More women are open when they come in after reading the book they have a little bit more confidence to come in and shop," said Smith.
Some of the popular items at the store, blind folds, handcuffs, and whips. "Fifty Shades of Grey" is not the first erotic book to peak women's sexual interest. ...
When Joy Behar, a host of "The View," asked President Barack Obama, "What's the controversial sex book that's on millions of womens' bedside tables?" Obama responded, "I don't know that." I was immediately reminded of President Bill Clinton's statement, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."
Behar is referring of course to the now infamous, X-rated book, "Fifty Shades of Grey," by E.L. James. When people ask me if I've read it, I say, "I don't know that book and I have never read it."
Described by some as pornography, the book has revealed much about the reading interests of the American consumer since it topped the New York Times best-seller list. The story chronicles Anastasia Steele's first intimate relationship in graphic detail with her first boyfriend, Christian Grey. He demands submission from her in a bondage, discipline, sadomasochist relationship (BDSM). The entire book revolves around Steele's emotional conflict regarding Grey's BDSM demands.
The story steps into an improbable fantasy land with a window into the odd world of BDSM. Like the preposterous names of the characters in daytime drama television shows (my personal favorite is Reginald Love from the show "Another World") the main characters cheesy names, "Anastasia Steele" and "Christian Grey" suggest romance can be expected before the third chapter. ...
Avid readers won’t find any copies of a New York Times Bestseller on the shelves of a local library any time soon.
The Gaston-Lincoln Regional Library said it did not order any copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey” because of the book’s erotic content.
The book is the first in a series set in Seattle that traces the relationship between a college graduate and a young businessman. It has garnered national attention because it contains erotic scenes featuring elements of the BDSM lifestyle.
The second and third books in the series are titled “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed” respectively.
Mecklenburg County libraries do offer the book, but there is a waiting list. All of the library system’s copies have been checked out and there is a request list 800 names deep waiting to check out the book.
Maraglino also appears in photos with Louis Ray Perez, 45, one of the other suspects. Perez is a Camp Pendleton Marine staff sergeant.
He and fellow suspect Jessica Lynn Lopez, 27, pleaded not guilty to the murder last month.
Law enforcement discovered her at a hotel in San Diego after a failed suicide attempt. Her vehicle in the parking lot has a sticker depicting a woman on all fours wearing a collar and leash, according to 10 News.
Maraglino maintains a page on several websites catering to people interested in an alternative sexual lifestyle, according to CBS8.
She wrote in her bio on one website that she is "an alpha slave to master Ivan. We have a poly home in which I own two slave girls. Life is good." Perez also maintains pages on several sites, and calls himself "Master Ivan."
Maraglino owns the yellow stucco house in Fallbrook both Perez and Lopez list as their homes, though it is now in foreclosure. She bought the house in December 2009, but Bank of America filed a default notice two weeks ago, saying Maraglino owes $12,862, according to the Times.
Maraglino, who goes by the username "twisted2plusyou," appears with Perez in photos on the websites, and writes in her bio that she is the "care giver of the household and manages it according to (Perez's) wishes."
On the same site, she writes the couple was looking for another woman "slave" to add to their relationship. ...
Police shut down business at rural home, saying it lacked a permit
Will County has shut down a swingers club operating out of a six-bedroom home in the far south suburbs, saying it lacked a business permit and that the home's basement — which included a concrete "dungeon room" equipped with chains and a padded sawhorse — wasn't up to code.
The home is owned by a Crete businessman who once ran a Mokena nightclub complex but is now thought to have fled, perhaps to Costa Rica, allegedly leaving behind hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid debts, according to records, police and a former business partner.
Club Erotica, with the motto"If it feels good, do it," held themed sex parties with food and musical laser-light shows for about six months in the rural, cabin-style home, which was filled with taxidermied animals, records show. The home is on a secluded lot outside Beecher, hundreds of yards from the closest neighbors.
The home, which is in foreclosure and scheduled to be auctioned at a sheriff's sale this month, belonged to Mark Ferrari, 54, who ran The Colosseum, a Mokena sports bar, restaurant, beer garden and music venue for about five years before it closed in 2009. Ferrari also owned construction and property maintenance businesses. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.
A phone number was listed on a Club Erotica brochure taken as evidence by investigators. The number rang up "Mike," who said he runs Club Erotica but declined to give his last name for privacy reasons.
Mike told the Tribune he "paid a lot of money" to lease the property, which the swingers club used on weekends for events such as "Naughty Schoolgirl Night" and a Super Bowl poker party, according to handwritten calendar entries in court records. The lease won't expire until December, though Mike said he was aware that the property might be auctioned before then. ...
E L James' novel 50 Shades of Grey has become a mainstream hit, in part by shining a spotlight on the world of sadomasochism, otherwise known as S&M. It's a sexual practice that combines bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, role-play, and pain to foster mutual pleasure between two consenting adults. It's not new; in fact, the term itself dates back to the late 1800s. But it's likely that consenting adults have been practicing this particular type of pleasure for much longer, as all of the characteristics of the lifestyle listed above really aren't that taboo even for partners participating in "vanilla" or "ordinary" sex.
In fact, the wide appeal of the type of sex portrayed in 50 Shades of Grey is evident in the fact that word of mouth alone initially drove 250,000 mainly digital sales of the trilogy of which this first book is a part. With the stunning popularity of the 50 Shades of Grey franchise, its publisher soon announced a printing of 750,000 hard copies of the books. The main title has already been greenlit to become a major motion picture. The steamy, at times violent world of 50 Shades of Grey is so acceptable to most that James just appeared on The View to discuss what some are calling the advent of "mommy porn."
Why is this work of S&M erotica such a pop sensation?
The appeal of 50 Shades of Grey to modern women, particularly those who don't practice S&M, likely lies in the romance that surrounds the two main characters of the book, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. Steele, a white American recent college graduate, and Grey, a young white American billionaire who far exceeds Steele's economic class status, find themselves wrapped in a complicated love affair in which they must confront each other's differences.
On the surface, it looks like the relationship is destined to be problematic, as Grey's luxurious lifestyle is very foreign and unwanted by Steele. But truly, the two have very different ideas of sex and love, which becomes the main obstacle in their relationship and a challenge to overcome. Grey introduces Steele, a virgin with limited sexual experience, to his obsession with S&M, asking her to be his submissive and to allow him to be her dominant. Prior to this, Steele had barely even kissed another man, but finds herself turned on by the idea of pleasuring Grey, even if agreeing to be submissive to a man goes against her personality DNA as an independent woman.
While the roles of "submissive" and "dominant" would seem rather simple, as the prior obeys the latter's demands, the relationship is actually quite complex, as James illustrates in the book's plot. Consent is a mandatory, always present safeguard that protects both the submissive and dominant from doing anything they don't want to do, and thus, its presence makes the power relationship fluid. The desire to have a fantasy actualized can be stopped dead in its tracks at any moment by either party. And this risk in pushing each other's limits is a turn on for many.
Even outside of S&M relationships, the balance between dominance and submission in the bedroom, refereed by consent, is what can make sex so exciting. It's this parallel that James cleverly gets the reader to notice, and thus relate to, regardless of whether they practice S&M or not. Whether in their S&M roles or as vanilla lovers, Grey and Steele are a reflection of many modern couples that are working to find balance, despite the challenge of gender roles, sexual norms, and contemporary definitions of love. ...