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"The ‘Fifty Shades’ effect: How a kinky novel boosted the sex industry"

on Friday, 18 January 2013. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Yahoo! News

It takes a lot to stop traffic on the floor of the Adult Entertainment Expo, the porn industry’s premier convention. But shortly after noon on Thursday, near dozens of scantily clad adult-film stars and tables of sex toys that would probably make even the most enterprising of lovers blush, a crowd gathered, riveted.

A woman, dressed in a hot pink corset and matching lace underpants, had decided to try out one of the more buzzed-about products that debuted at the expo: the Orbit Bed. Featuring a frame in the shape of a cradle, it allows its occupants to rock back and forth. Priced at $3,600 for the queen size, the bed also features red satin ties that allow partners to tie each other up.

As the woman rocked and forth, dozens of people stopped dead in their tracks to stare—including a man and a woman who quickly moved to inquire about the bed.

“Soft bondage is really hot right now,” explained Rick Lockett, a vice president of Liberator, an Atlanta-based company that created the bed and markets what it calls “bedroom adventure gear.”

Despite the still-shaky economy, Lockett said business has been booming—a rise he credited, in part, to the popularity of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the New York Times' kinky best-seller about a young woman’s submissive relationship with a sexually adventurous businessman. The erotic novel and its sequels have sold tens of millions of copies worldwide, thanks to its popularity among female readers—many of whom have been inspired to be more daring in their own bedrooms as a result.

Virtually everyone at the expo this week spoke fondly of the “Fifty Shades" effect on the adult entertainment industry. Amid concerns about declining profits—partly because of the overabundance of free porn on the Internet and a market flooded by cheap sex toys—the book prompted a new surge of interest in adult products by people suddenly eager to embrace different sides of their sexuality.

“People, as we evolve, are becoming more sexually open and more socially acceptable of sex,” said James Deen, one of the industry’s most popular male performers. ...

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