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"'Fifty Shades of Grey' spurs sales of sex accessories, bondage material"

on Friday, 08 June 2012. Hits 1950

The NY Post

There’s a run on rope — and not the camping kind.

White-hot read “Fifty Shades of Grey” has left unassuming New York women so feverish, they’re snapping up all the tools and toys that bondage and S&M hunk Christian Grey introduces to “unexplored” young heroine Anastasia in the book.

They’re even slipping into hardware stores and demurely asking for bondage material — the very type of natural-filament rope in the trilogy.

“Oh, we’ve been selling rope to women,” says Clifton Kahn, owner of Lexington Hardware on the Upper East Side. “I’d say tenfold more rope than usual in the last six months. The women are definitely buying, and it’s still continuing.”

The store’s most popular item is the soft-cotton “clothes line” rope, which retails at a bargain $5 for 50 feet.

Tarzian Hardware in Park Slope, Brooklyn, has also seen a rash of rope sales. “It’s usually men buying rope, but the women, they’ve been coming in the last few months,” cashier Christina Davila told The Post. “I’ve actually read the book. So when the women buy rope, it was kind of like, ‘Hmmm, that does seem a little unusual.’ ”

Nathaniel Garber Schoen, co-owner of Garber Hardware in the West Village, says customers eager to get tied up rather than secure lumber have a telltale sign: They request softer nylon material. In which case Schoen recommends the 12-gauge, non-braided nylon — “Anything skinnier is too small. You might hurt yourself,” he says of the rope, $18 for a 50-foot spool. “For those purposes, 12-gauge is a reasonable choice and the most popular.”...

"Hitman Absolution game director apologises for controversial trailer"

on Friday, 08 June 2012. Hits 1435

PC Gamer

As reported by IGN, Hitman Absolution game director Tore Blystad has apologised for the controversy caused by the Attack of the Saints trailer, which featured Agent 47 brutally killing a group of assassins dressed – as Tom put it at the time – as BDSM nuns.

“We’re sorry that we offended people” Blystad told journalists at E3. “That was truly not the intention of the trailer.”

“We’ve been reading as much as we could of the articles and responses” Blystad continued. “We were surprised that it turned into such a huge topic. Something similar happened with our Sniper Challenge pre-order bonus. We just wanted to make something cool, it wasn’t the intention to stir up anything.”

Blystad then went on to explain that the nuns are enemies from the game – assassins from The Agency – and that the trailer was designed to show off a scenario that players will encounter in Hitman: Absolution.

“It’s a level from the game called Attack of the Saints, and this trailer I guess you could say represents one possible outcome. As you know with Hitman games, you can go about it any way you want.”

Aside from the hard-to-watch spectacle of a group of hypersexualised women being killed in slow motion, many commenters also pointed out that ultraviolence on this scale isn’t something that has ever been associated with the Agent 47 character. Blystad said that this is symptomatic of the broader problem of presenting an open-ended game in trailer-friendly form. ...

"A Draught of Hemlock: Sandcastles, theater and art "

on Friday, 08 June 2012. Hits 497

The Daily Astorian

I would be remiss as a bookseller if I did not mention the phenomenon of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy currently abroad in the land.

Yes, it is a BDSM opus which has sold over 5 million copies in 37 countries.

I think that BDSM covers bondage, domination, sadism and masochism – for starters. Everybody says that’s not their cuppa tea, but we can hardly keep the three volumes in stock, so one has to wonder who’s reading it.

The other two books are Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. One is not enough for the fans of E.L. James. The London author started writing fanfiction, changing the names of the characters but parodying the “Twilight” series.

Then, it took on a life of its own. Says E.L.: “It’s my midlife crisis; all my fantasies are in there and that’s it.” It is heralded as “mommy porn.” Many people who carry it to the counter insist that it’s for a friend, a sister, someone who is too shy to buy it … and they are sometimes Fifty Shades of Red as they hand over their money. We have never been censors and have no intention of starting now. We know it’s naughty and we don’t mind.

Since this is a family newspaper, we will not titillate you with the details of the story. The paper would simply curl up in your hands. I haven’t read any of them yet, but the description is as follows: “When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant and intimidating.” He is also off-the-charts wealthy, has to be in control and has secrets of his own. What a combo. Then, the fun begins. We dare you to read just one. We will happily ship them to you in a plain brown wrapper. ...

"Hellraiser Horrormeister Clive Barker Accused of Giving Former Lover HIV"

on Thursday, 07 June 2012. Hits 1087

E!

How's this for a scary situation?

Horrormeister Clive Barker has been slapped with a breach-of-contract suit by a former male lover, who, among other accusations, claims that Barker gave him HIV amid a salacious backdrop of sadomasochism and drug use.

According to documents obtained by E! News, David Armstrong, who reportedly lived with the Hellraiser filmmaker from 1996 to 2009, contends that Barker disclosed in 1996 that he had tested positive for HIV and that Armstrong was diagnosed with the disease afterward.

He also alleges that Barker later admitted to dating his own cousin, who later purportedly died of AIDS, and that the filmmaker had, in previous relationships, "engaged in forms of sadomasochism that involved syringes." ...

"Harford librarian drew the correct 'Grey' line"

on Thursday, 07 June 2012. Hits 1528

The Baltimore Sun

All the fuss about the Harford County Public Library's director, Mary Hastler, choosing to keep "Fifty Shades of Grey," an erotic novel with generous gobs of sadomasochism, by British author E.L James, from off the shelves has met with condemnations of censorship. But library heads have broad decision making powers about what books they will or will not stock. The novel has become a sensation and other libraries have long waiting lists of eager readers who want the book. But some reading materials are simply not suitable for adolescents, and once a book is on the shelves it cannot be kept out of the hands of kids who shouldn't be reading it without parental guidance or consent.

"Fifty Shades" is no more than pornography masquerading as literature. It has no redeeming value for kids between the ages of 14 to 18 years. This is a country where sexual trafficking, child pornography and sexual exploitation of young girls and boys are of grave concern. Campus rapes, date rape drugs, sexual abuse and unequal relationships are pervasive and problematic here. Novels about kinky sex may be perfectly fine for adults, but when middle school and early high school age children line up to borrow such books, then libraries are placed in the unsavory position of becoming purveyors of smut to the young and the impressionable. Those who defend sadomasochism as acceptable among mutually consenting adults and those who comment that the popularity of the book among moms exemplifies that women are now less inhibited or guilty about their own sexuality and hence are prepared to read, discuss and incorporate taboo sexual content in their own lives, miss the point.

At what age is this kind of subject matter appropriate for reading and discussion? Will the moms who are so taken with this novel be happy if their tweens borrowed this book secretly and read it or practiced what was written there? Where do we draw the line? Do libraries have the right to defend their own right to keep materials off the shelf that are unfit for young readers, or should libraries stock them anyway and keep them out of the hands of certain age groups? Dominance, submission, physical pain and pleasure in relationships, are issues that trouble grown-ups and can be unresolved even for sexually experienced adults. A head librarian has every right to call a spade a spade. If she chooses not to order a book because its content would be considered universally unsuitable for certain age groups that frequent the library, then she has made an ethical and appropriate decision. Adults who want to read such a book can always get it through other venues.

How do you block pornography once it is on the shelf in a library? And who decides what is pornography and should be kept out of the hands of children? Doesn't that job fall on the shoulders of the head librarian and her staff? To say that kids could and will read this book anyway or to contend that a library that works at the behest of taxpayers should submit to popular demand and opinion, is to take away all responsibility from librarians about deciding what is suitable exposure for their young and vulnerable patrons who have no voice in the matter. If such a decision should rest with the parents, a library still has the right not to participate in the questionable ethics of misguided parents who don't care what their children read. A library is not allowed to be a purveyor of child pornography.

"Stockroom Responds to 'Fifty Shades' Fever"

on Tuesday, 05 June 2012. Hits 1321

XBiz

Twenty-four-year-old BDSM and fetish gear manufacturer The Stockroom is reporting a surge in business inspired by “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

"In recent weeks, we've received literally hundreds of calls thanks to this book," Stockroom President Mike Herman said. "About 90 percent of them are middle-aged 'soccer mom' types who never imagined themselves calling a fetish sex toy company.”

The Stockroom offers advice for BDSM beginners making their first purchase. Blindfolds, Herman says, are a safe, simple, yet profound way to begin.

"Take away that one sense, and others are immediately heightened,” he said. “We are happy to see how brave and eager many women are to try some more advanced toys and deeper experiences," Herman says. "We start out discussing blindfolds, and within minutes we're talking about more esoteric topics, like bondage gear, whips, electrical stimulation, and chastity play."

Since the 1980s, Stockroom has built its reputation not just on whips, restraints and fetish clothing but also on education and community building. The Stockroom University series of workshops and lectures covers such topics as Bondage 101, Flogging, or Electrical Play.

According to Midori, a sex educator who teaches Stockroom University classes, many newcomers turn to the Internet for instruction, but "there's such a glut, including some terrible information." To spot the bad advice, Midori lists the basic things to watch for: "Does it seem like practical, reality-based information for people who lead actual lives in the real world? If it seems too absolute or too rigid, or lacks compassion, then it's probably garbage. And always remember that this is about pleasure and play, and everybody must respect everybody's humanity."

Stockroom also fulfills its commitment to education and community building via contributions to assorted organizations and causes, and its stewardship of Daedalus Publishing, which specializes primarily in non-fiction books by authors who address the philosophies, ethics and how-to aspects of alternative sexuality.

Stockroom founder Joel Tucker started the company in 1988 as a 21-year-old college student.

“Regardless of the taboos,” Tucker says, “I knew that an otherwise normal, sane person could be attracted to this form of eroticism, because I had these interests myself. I found a small community of people in Los Angeles who pursued these interests in safe, healthy ways. I saw a need for a company that could provide quality, affordable gear with intelligence and discretion, and so I created it.” ...

"A BDSM blacklist"

on Monday, 04 June 2012. Hits 1457

A Facebook-like site for kinksters stops users from naming alleged abusers, sparking debate over justice and safety

Salon

The accusations range from “he told me I didn’t need a safe word” to “[they] inserted a knife into my vagina without getting my permission.” In recent months, allegations of sexual abuse in the BDSM community have popped up on Fetlife, which is basically Facebook for the kinky community. But site administrators have begun to remove message board posts that actually name names, igniting a debate over whether it’s right to publicly reveal the identity of alleged abusers and about how to best deal with BDSM crimes that many survivors are resistant to take to police.

Earlier this year, I reported on recent attempts to raise awareness about what some say is widespread abuse within the BDSM community and a tendency to either ignore it or cover it up. As I said at the time, “We’re talking about real abuse here, not the ‘consensual non-consent’ that the scene is built around.” That means safe words being maligned or ignored, and boundaries being crossed. In the months since, the conversation has only gotten louder; and following the social networking site’s removal of posts that identify alleged abusers — most often by their Fetlife moniker only — a petition was started to remove a clause from the site’s Terms of Use requiring users to pledge to not “make criminal accusations against another member in a public forum.” Currently, the proposal has 864 “spanks” (the site’s equivalent of “yes” votes).

When I asked John Baku, the founder of Fetlife, for the reasoning behind deleting accusations, he let out a heavy sigh and said, “It’s definitely a tough situation. We see both sides.” Later, he adds, “There’s many reasons. We don’t really allow people to attack other people on the site.” Asked whether there are legal concerns behind it, as many in the community have speculated, he says, “There definitely probably is.” (In Canada, where Fetlife is based, laws are “much more friendly to plaintiffs” than in the U.S., where online publishers are protected from being held responsible for user posts, says Kurt Opsahl, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.) Baku, who rarely gives interviews, continued, “but our focus really is on trying to get people to speak to the proper authorities so that the people who have committed these horrible crimes get put away.”

When I asked whether the company is trying to protect users against false accusations, Baku spins a yarn: “Let’s say you and I — you do have a beautiful voice — I come to San Francisco and we go on a date. Hypothetically, I’m submissive, you’re dominant, and I ask you to tie me up,” he says. “You think we have a wonderful night, I think we have a wonderful night, and all of a sudden tomorrow I go online and say, ‘You raped me,’ and email your editors at Salon and say you raped me and go onto Twitter and say you raped me.” Falling for his role-play scenario and flattery, I offered that I’d want to talk to him to figure out whether I had unknowingly violated his consent.

Sure, that’s all good and great, he said, but what about the potential consequences? “The community’s very small, right? So you might lose all your friends,” he says. “You might lose your job.” Baku adds, “We live in a society where you’re innocent until proven guilty. ‘Proven’ is very important.”

Kitty Stryker, an activist and dominant who is campaigning to raise awareness about abuse in BDSM, doesn’t buy the argument that people’s lives might be ruined by being labeled as an abuser on Fetlife, particularly because real names are rarely used. “The debate is constantly about whether or not we should name screen names. It’s not like these are actually people’s legal names. Hell, on Fetlife you don’t even have to have a photo of your face. It’s really your own fault if you make yourself traceable.” So, in general, we’re not talking about a rape accusation that’s Google-able by a future employer. Within the BDSM community, though, these screen names are important: “It’s great for establishing some sort of accountability” — and for helping people avoid dangerous encounters. ...

"Adult stores see sales rise from '50 Shades' popularity"

on Friday, 01 June 2012. Hits 1855

AZ Central

Jennifer Quinn had spent about a year working at a Fascinations adult store surrounded by toys, fashions and accoutrements, but it was the best-selling romance "50 Shades of Grey" that inspired her to buy a riding crop.

It wasn't the Chandler mother's first purchase from an adult store for her and her husband. But the crop was a bold move toward the kind of BDSM play (bondage, domination, sadism, masochism) that takes place between the book's main characters, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele.

"I started reading the books a couple of weeks ago, and now I'm re-reading them. Once I picked those books up, I couldn't stop. Like, I stopped doing laundry," Quinn said with a laugh. "When (Christian) spanks her while she's using the Kegel balls, I have those and I never would have thought of that. Amazing."

Across the country, sex shops are seeing a spike in sales of the kinds of toys and accessories mentioned in the New York Times best-selling trilogy by E L James, a London TV executive, wife and mother of two. The sex is between two consenting adults, with an explicit contract and much discussion of "safe words," but the books are filled with spanking, flogging and gagging, and the use of restraints, masks and Kegel balls, which are used during exercises to strengthen vaginal walls and the pelvic floor.

From national online retailer AdamEve.com to Tempe-based Castle Megastore, displays are going up in shops, banner ads are being added to websites and sales staff are being encouraged to read the books, which have been selling out in stores for about two months. ...

Latest Reader Comments

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