Hungry for Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of GreyErotic fiction has long been the butt of jokes and insults slung by the literati and pornographers, both. So imagine author E.L. James’ surprise when her erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey raced up the bestseller list. The author, known to her husband of 20 years as Erika Leonard, claims to have had no inkling that what started as a BDSM-infused piece of Twilight fanfiction would soon become so popular she’d decide to change the names Bella Swan and Edward Cullen to Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, move into print-on-demand publishing, and be courting offers from Hollywood bigwigs intent on making the Fifty Shades trilogy, which also includes Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, the biggest thing since Twilight and The Hunger Games blew away box office records.

Describing herself as a shy mother of two who started writing what would evolve into the Fifty Shades Trilogy during something of a midlife crisis, James has apparently done what nobody expected would ever happen: she brought BDSM fiction into the mainstream. Telling the story of a recent college graduate (Steele) and her evolving relationship with a billionaire Seattle industrialist (Grey), Fifty Shades has some feminists all in a tizzy over its apparent willingness to place a naive, “innocent” of “independent spirit” (according to the author’s site) in the stranglehold of a domineering, manipulative, and downright abusive alpha male figure. Others apparently couldn’t care less about the sexual politics of the tale and are just along for the allegedly quite thrilling ride, a ride that involves repeated BDSM sessions in Grey’s “Red Room of Pain.” Twilight fans will surely notice some lasting similarities between the gazillion-selling vampire series, right down to the physical damage the male characters “love” inflicts on his victim… sorry, his “partner”. Whether or not Fifty Shades will attract the same degree of controversy as the novels on which it was originally based remains to be seen. So too does the question of whether the novels will turn a new audience into rabid erotic fiction devotees and bring them closer to the erotic artistry with which so many pornographers make their living. After all, it’s all sex (or something similar), isn’t it?

When the trilogy reaches your local cineplex, possibly starring Alexander Skarsgard or Ian Somerhalder who’ve both expressed interest in playing Grey, will you be standing in line waiting to see how the Red Room of Pain translates to the big screen?

Australia: A Porn-Hating Paradise

Australian Sex PartyPorn-loving Australians and those intended to visit the Land Down Under with a handy stash of porn – to be used only if they can’t score some private time with an Aussie beach bunny, of course – better check themselves before they wriggity-wreck themselves, ’cause the allegedly easy-going, no-worries-having capital of the world has its sights on pornography and is setting its lasers to “obliterate.”

The Australian Sex Party, try as it might, just can’t seem to convince Australian Customs that prying into the private viewing habits of adults ain’t none of their damn business. Customs officials have, since 2010, asked visitors and returning citizens to declare any pornographic material in their possession when entering the country. Issuing an announcement this Thursday, the Sex Party said “Customs officers now routinely intercept every shipment of X18+ and Category 1 and 2 restricted magazines that come into Australia. One in every 10 people are either searched or questioned regarding the question that is asked on the Incoming Passenger Cards about ‘pornography’.” And, somewhat surprisingly, this searching isn’t limited to plain-view items stowed in baggage or one one’s person, but, according to senior Customs officials, also to digital content held on “laptops, thumb drives, and iPhones, putting every non-luddite traveler on the potential hit list, even though explicit non-violent pornography is legal in most of the nation’s states and territories. Australian Sex Party Public Officer, Robbie Swan, spoke of the resources wasted on such trivial censorship, which has Customs officers spending more time searching for legal pornography than illegal firearms.

The Sex Party has called on Australia’s Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, to adhere to the recommendations offered by a recent Australia Law Reform Commission report on the country’s censorship laws, which gave details on how and where cuts could be made and attention could be refocused to free up large amounts of police and Customs time to focus on issues of greater importance; you know, like making sure women have a harder time getting raped at gunpoint. I’m no legal expert, but to me that makes perfect sense. Whaddya think?