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5 Reasons Why You Should Read “I Take You” by Eliza Kennedy

May 5, 2015

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Have you met Lily Wilder? You should. She’s the seriously funny, seriously sex-driven, and seriously flawed protagonist of the novel I Take You by Eliza Kennedy, which is on sale starting today. Here are five reasons why you should pick up a copy right now…

1. I Take You is a straightforward look at female promiscuity, and the way that women can sleep around just like men. And while the book doesn’t gloss over the protagonist’s flaws, it never judges her for these flaws as a woman. Simply as a person.

2. It’s the smartest, sexiest, funniest (like, hilarious) beach read on the shelves right now.

3. It’ll give you a lot to talk about on your next ladies’ night: What it means to settle, what it means to be monogamous, what it means to be married. Oh, yeah, and whether or not you should sleep with your boss.

4. The protagonist Lily Wilder is no damsel in distress, nor is she a bubbly, slightly ditzy magazine editor, a la Bridget Jones. Instead, our heroine is a kick-ass corporate attorney.

5. The sex scenes are steamy, and, unlike with Fifty Shades of Grey, you don’t have to suffer through cringe-inducing cliches, cartwheeling inner Goddesses, and implausible plot twists to get to them.

I Take You by Eliza Kennedy is on sale now  |  Find out more at LilyWilder.com

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30th Anniversary of One of the Most Romantic Movies Ever Made

April 22, 2015

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This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Merchant-Ivory production, A Room with a View, which won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay in 1985 (along with best art direction and costume design) and introduced many of us to the possibility that mainstream movies could, in fact, have full frontal male nudity. Based on the 1908 novel by E.M Forster, it follows Lucy Honeychurch (a young Helena Bonham Carter) as she travels abroad to Italy and back home to England, as she denies her heart and resists the unorthodox advances of free thinker George Emerson (played by Julian Sands before he ruined everything with Boxing Helena) — perhaps not a ringing endorsement for taking women at their word about their own desires and preferences. But when taken in the context of the time it was written, along with the full confidence that we know Lucy’s true inclinations (even if she’s not yet permitted in uptight British society to admit them to herself), A Room with a View actually promotes the idea of women having the freedom to think their own thoughts and follow their own hearts, tradition and good manners be damned. We dare you to (re)watch it and not swoon a little.

Below are some of the best — and most romantic — moments in the film in chronological order, collated from IMDB and this copy of the screenplay:

Mr. Beebee (local English reverend): May I say something – rather daring?
Lucy: Oh, Mr. Beebee: you sound like Miss Lavish. Don’t say you are writing a novel, too.
Mr. Beebee: If I were, you should be my heroine and I would write: “If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting – both for us and for her.”

Mr. Emerson (George’s fathter): I don’t require you to fall in love with my boy, but try and understand him. My poor young lady, I think you’re muddled, too — you’ve let other people muddle you.
Lucy: Is that what’s happened to him? Has he let other people -
Mr. Emerson: No, in his case he’s done it himself – with all this brooding on the things of the Universe. I don’t believe in this world sorrow. Do you?
Lucy: No. Oh no. I don’t, Mr. Emerson. Not at all.
Mr. Emerson: Well there you are! Then make my boy realize that by the side of the everlasting Why there is a yes! And a Yes and a Yes!

After witnessing a murder in a piazza together and George catching Lucy in a faint:
Lucy: How quickly these accidents do happen and then one returns to the old life.
George: I don’t. I mean, something’s happened to me… and to you.

Miss Lavish: …I have a theory that there is something in the Italian landscape which inclines even the most stolid nature to romance.

From the screenplay:
COACHMAN stops to pick some violets and presents them to LUCY. She takes them with real pleasure. They walk on. The view is forming — LUCY sees the river, the golden plain, other hills.
Coachman: Eccolo!
Lucy gives a cry — the ground has given way and she falls on to a little terrace, covered with violets from end to end. It is like a sea of violets, foaming down the hillside.
Standing on the brink of this sea, like a swimmer about to five, is Geoge.
Georg contemplates Lucy – who appears to have fallen out of heaven into this sea of violets which beats against her dress in blue waves.
The Coachman watches them from behind the bushes, a violet between his teeth.
George steps forward quickly and kisses Lucy (on the cheek).
[In the movie, there are no violets, the coachman is silent, he simply points to where she’ll find George contemplating the landscape, she approaches, doesn’t fall, George notices her, and briskly walks up to her, grabs her face with one hand, wraps the other arm around her and plants one long kiss squarely on her lips. Still, the screenplay description is quite beautiful to imagine.]

 

Mr. Beebee: Does it seem reasonable to you that she should play so wonderfully — play Beethoven with such passion — and yet live so quietly? … I suspect that the day will come when music and life will mingle, and then she will be wonderful in both.

Freddy Honeychurch (Lucy’s brother): How d’ye do? Come and have a bathe.
George Emerson: I’d like that.
Reverend Beebe: [laughs] That’s the best conversational opening I’ve ever heard. “How do you do? Come and have a bathe.”

 

George Emerson (to Lucy): He’s the sort who can’t know anyone intimately, least of all a woman. He doesn’t know what a woman is. He wants you for a possession, something to look at, like a painting or an ivory box. Something to own and to display. He doesn’t want you to be real, and to think and to live. He doesn’t love you. But I love you. I want you to have your own thoughts and ideas and feelings, even when I hold you in my arms.

 

Mr. Emerson: You love George. You love the boy body and soul, as he loves you.
Lucy Honeychurch: [crying] But of course I do. What did you all think?

 

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Sexing Up National Poetry Month

April 21, 2015

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April is National Poetry Month, which means that children across the nation will be forced to pen odes to the color grey, or to their pet, or to some other assuredly G-rated subject. Here at EMandLO.com, we prefer to steam up the windows a bit during National Poetry Month. Sure, poetry can rhyme, it can be couplet-ed, it can be beautiful, it can be impressive, it can be obtuse. But it can also get you hot under the collar, it can make you swoon, it can make you want to march for a cause, and it can make you long for something, or someone. Here is some of our favorite poetry we’ve published on our site:

photo via flickr



R.I.P. GĂĽnter Grass: A (Sexy) Excerpt from “The Tin Drum”

April 14, 2015

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photo via Wikimedia Commons

The German novelist and Nobel Prize winner GĂĽnter Grass died yesterday at the age of 87. According to the New York Times, “He was a pre-eminent public intellectual who had pushed Germans to confront the ugly aspects of their history. … Many called [him] his country’s moral conscience but [he] stunned Europe when he revealed in 2006 that he had been a member of the Waffen-SS during World War II.” He was also know for his poem “criticizing Israel for its hostile language toward Iran over its nuclear program.” And when awarding Grass the Nobel Prize in 1999, the Swedish Academy praised him for embracing “the enormous task of reviewing contemporary history by recalling the disavowed and the forgotten: the victims, losers and lies that people wanted to forget because they had once believed in them.” Oh yeah, and he happens to write a pretty decent sex scene, too. (If only Em had realized this back in school when she was a German major!) No surprise, that’s how we’d like to remember him here on EMandLO.com today.

Grass’s 1959 novel The Tin Drum features a severed horse’s head swarming with hungry eels; a criminal hiding beneath a peasant woman’s layered skirts; and a child who shatters windows with his high-pitched voice. The Nobel Prize peeps called it “one of the enduring literary works of the 20th century.” We chose the excerpt below because it’s a favorite of our old pal Jack Murnighan, of Jack’s Naughty Bits fame. Of this Grass passage, Jack wrote: “The excerpt is Oskar’s first brush with sexuality (told in both first and third person), but even more it is his flash recognition of what normally takes years to realize: that mingled in every moment of sweetest joy is an ashy tinge of finitude.”

From The Tin Drum by GĂĽnter Grass

translated by Ralph Manheim

It was quite beyond me why Maria . . . should whistle while removing her shoes, two high notes, two low notes, and while stripping off her socks. Whistling like the driver of a brewery truck she took off the flowery dress, whistling she hung up her petticoat over her dress, dropped her brassiere, and still without finding a tune, whistled frantically while pulling her panties, which were really gym shorts, down to her knees, letting them slip to the floor, climbing out of the rolled-up pants legs, and kicking the shorts into the corner with one foot.

Maria frightened Oskar with her hairy triangle . . . Rage, shame, indignation, disappointment, and a nascent half-comical, half-painful stiffening of my watering can beneath my bathing suit made me forget drum and drumsticks for . . . the new stick I had developed.

Oskar jumped up and flung himself on Maria. She caught him with her hair. He buried his face in it. It grew between his lips. Maria laughed and tried to pull him away. I drew more and more of her into me, looking for the source of her vanilla smell. Maria was still laughing. She even left me to her vanilla, it seemed to amuse her, for she didn’t stop laughing. Only when my feet slipped and I hurt her — for I didn’t let go the hair or perhaps it was the hair that didn’t let me go — only when the vanilla brought tears to my eyes, only when I began to taste mushrooms or some acrid spice, in any case, something that was not vanilla, only when this earthy smell that Maria concealed behind the vanilla brought me back to the smell of the earth where Jan Brodski lay moldering and contaminated me for all time with the taste of perishability — only then did I let go.

You can buy The Tin Drum on Amazon.com

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New Book: “Come As You Are”

April 10, 2015

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Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., speaks our kind of language. We read the first few pages of her new book, “Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life,” and we were sold. It tackles the tricky task of explaining women’s complex sexuality (which, hello, is different from men’s) so people can reconceptualize and recontextualize sex to unlock their pleasure potential. Why aren’t you having that much fun in bed? This book will give you the answers. Below is an excerpt from the introduction to give you an idea of Nagoski’s overall approach, which combines sound science with female empowerment to help promote positive sex education. It’s like looking in a mirror…except we don’t have the Ph.D. — so if you won’t listen to us, listen to her!
 

THE TRUE STORY OF SEX

From the introduction to “Come As You Are

After all the books that have been written about sex, all the blogs and TV shows and radio Q&As, how can it be that we all still have so many questions?

Well. The frustrating reality is we ’ve been lied to—not deliberately, it ’s no one ’s fault, but still. We were told the wrong story.

For a long, long time in Western science and medicine, women’s sexuality was viewed as Men’s Sexuality Lite—basically the same but not quite as good.

For instance, it was just sort of assumed that since men have orgasms during penis-in-vagina sex (intercourse), women should have orgasms with intercourse too, and if they don’t, it ’s because they’re broken.

In reality, about 30 percent of women orgasm reliably with intercourse. The other 70 percent sometimes, rarely, or never orgasm with intercourse, and they’re all healthy and normal. A woman might orgasm

lots of other ways—manual sex, oral sex, vibrators, breast stimulation, toe sucking, pretty much any way you can imagine—and still not orgasm during intercourse. That ’s normal.

It was just assumed, too, that because a man’s genitals typically be- have the way his mind is behaving—if his penis is erect, he ’s feeling turned on—a woman’s genitals should also match her emotional experience.

And again, some women’s do, many don’t. A woman can be perfectly normal and healthy and experience “arousal nonconcordance,”  where the behavior of her genitals (being wet or dry) may not match her mental experience (feeling turned on or not).

And it was also assumed that because men experience spontaneous, out-of-the-blue  desire for sex, women should also want sex spontaneously.

Again it turns out that ’s  true sometimes,  but not necessarily.  A woman can be perfectly normal and healthy and never experience spontaneous sexual desire. Instead, she may experience “responsive” desire, in which her desire emerges only in a highly erotic context.

In reality, women and men are different.

But wait. Women and men both experience orgasm, desire, and arousal, and men, too, can experience responsive desire, arousal nonconcordance, and lack of orgasm with penetration. Women and men both can fall in love, fantasize, masturbate, feel puzzled about sex, and experience ecstatic pleasure. They both can ooze fluids, travel forbidden paths of sexual imagination, encounter the unexpected and startling ways that sex shows up in every domain of life—and confront the unexpected and star- tling ways that sex sometimes declines, politely or otherwise, to show up.

So . . . are women and men really that different?

The problem here is that we ’ve been taught to think about sex in terms of behavior, rather than in terms of the biological, psychological, and social processes underlying the behavior. We think about our physiological behavior—blood   flow and genital secretions and heart rate. We think about our social behavior—what we do in bed, whom we do it with, and how often. A lot of books about sex focus on those things; they tell you how many times per week the average couple has sex or they offer instructions on how to have an orgasm, and they can be helpful.

But if you really want to understand human sexuality, behavior alone won’t get you there. Trying to understand sex by looking at behavior is like trying to understand love by looking at a couple ’s wedding portrait . . . and their divorce papers. Being able to describe what happened— two people got married and then got divorced—doesn’t get us very far. What we want to know is why and how it came to be. Did our couple fall out of love after they got married, and that ’s why they divorced? Or were they never in love but were forced to marry, and finally became free when they divorced? Without better evidence, we ’re mostly guessing.

Until very recently, that ’s how it ’s been for sex—mostly guessing. But we ’re at a pivotal moment in sex science because, after decades of research describing what happens in human sexual response, we ’re finally figuring out the why  and how—the process underlying the behavior.

In the last decade of the twentieth century, researchers Erick Janssen

and John Bancroft at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction  developed a model of human sexual response  that provides an organizing principle for understanding the true story of sex. According to their “dual control model,” the sexual response mechanism in our brains consists of a pair of universal components—a  sexual accelerator and sexual brakes—and  those components respond to broad categories of sexual stimuli—including genital sensations, visual stimulation, and emotional context. And the sensitivity of each component varies from person to person.

The result is that sexual  arousal, desire, and orgasm are nearly universal experiences, but when and how we experience them depends largely on the sensitivities of our “brakes” and “accelerator” and on the kind of stimulation they’re given.

This is the mechanism underlying the behavior—the why and the how. And it ’s the rule that governs the story I’ll be telling in this book:

We ’re all made of the same parts, but in each of us, those parts are organized in a unique way that changes over our life span.

No organization is better or worse than any other, and no phase in our life span is better or worse than any other; they’re just different. An apple tree can be healthy no matter what variety of apple it is—though one variety may need constant direct sunlight and another might enjoy some shade. And an apple tree can be healthy when it ’s a seed, when it ’s a seedling, as it ’s growing,  and as it fades at the end of the season, as well as when, in late summer, it is laden with fruit. But it has different needs at each of those phases in its life.

You, too, are healthy and normal at the start of your sexual development, as you grow, and as you bear the fruits of living with confidence and joy inside your body. You are healthy when you need lots of sun, and you’re healthy when you enjoy some shade. That ’s the true story. We are all the same. We are all different. We are all normal.

From the book “Come As You Are” available on Amazon
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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An Open Marriage Can’t Fix Something That’s Already Broken

March 26, 2015

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A new memoir called The Wild Oats Project: One Woman’s Midlife Quest for Passion At Any Cost is giving a lot of committed monogamists the chance to say “I told you so!” about open marriage.

Here’s the book in a nutshell: San Francisco-based magazine editor Robin Rinaldi felt like her marriage was in a rut, and convinced her husband to open their marriage for a year in an effort to save it. He said okay, and she went on to sleep with eight men and two women in a year, while he had a lengthy affair with just one woman. Then, soon after she returned to him, they decided to divorce. It turned out she’d fallen in love with one of those eight men, and she’s now married to him. It’s like a morality tale for the Nerve.com generation!

Except that what Robin and her husband were going through was a little more intense than a rut. Here’s Rinaldi writing in the New York Post:

Stuck in a rut — our once-a-week sex life was loving, but lacked spontaneity and passion — I was craving seduction and sexual abandon. I was having a midlife crisis and chasing this profound, deeply rooted experience of being female.

Before then, starting a family had felt like one route to this elusive state of feminine fulfillment. But Scott had made it absolutely clear he never wanted a baby, and even had a vasectomy.

I broke the news to Scott that I wanted an open marriage in early 2008, a few months after his vasectomy. “I won’t go to my grave with no children and four lovers,” I told him repeatedly. “I refuse.” [She'd had only three partners before marrying at 26.]

In other words, “once-a-week sex [that] was loving, but lacked spontaneity and passion” wasn’t even close to being the whole story. The inspiration for opening their marriage sprung more from a kind of deeply emotional and fraught tit-for-tat: If you won’t give me children, then you have to give me more sexual freedom. We’re not saying that this is a bad reason to want to open your marriage, — her reasoning actually makes complete sense to us — but the fact that Robin Rinaldi’s experiment failed to save her troubled marriage shouldn’t be considered a failure of open marriages in general.

Open marriages may very well be able to get you out of a rut — if that’s all you’re experiencing. Of course, as The Wild Oats Project demonstrates all too clearly, the risk you take when opening your marriage is that one of you will fall in love with one of the pinch hitters. (Rinaldi limited herself to three dates per partner, to keep things light and casual, but who hasn’t fallen in love within three dates before?!)

But what open marriage can’t fix is a marriage that is broken because one partner wanted children and the other didn’t. It’s the reason that most people discuss this subject before getting married, after all. Here’s Rinaldi talking about her experiment on British TV:

I got into my early 40s and my husband got a vasectomy and I knew the discussion of having a baby was over, which kick-started this experience. I looked forward to my death bed and thought, What will I have? I won’t have children and grandchildren. Will I at least have lived fully? If I couldn’t have one I wanted the other. Like a lot of women at that age I was hitting my confidence and sexual peak and suddenly realized very dramatically that I wasn’t going to have children. It was the perfect storm.

So, sure, maybe Rinaldi’s marriage wouldn’t have ended if she hadn’t opened her marriage — but then she would have been trapped in a marriage that had a lot more wrong with it than lackluster sex once a week. And you can’t blame the swingers for that!

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Top 10 Reasons Why “Secretary” Is Better Than “Fifty Shades”

February 18, 2015

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Okay, so yes, the Fifty Shades movie was better than the Fifty Shades book. But, like we said, the bar wasn’t exactly set high for that. And yes, the movie may help to make BDSM even more mainstream, just as the book did. (Now everyone and their grandmother knows what a safe word is!) It will also likely increase sex toy sales, and hopefully improve the sex lives of at least a handful of long-married couples who could use a little more kink in their lives. And lovers all over the world may now find themselves associating the smell of buttered popcorn with handcuffs and paddles. On the other hand, the movie may also create tension in relationships… a woman finds herself suddenly annoyed that her man doesn’t own his own helicopter… or a man is suddenly annoyed that his woman doesn’t bite her lip and say “sir.”

But none of this means that the Fifty Shades movie is even close to the best cinematic depiction of a BDSM relationship out there. In fact, the 2002 indie film Secretary, a Sundance favorite, blows Fifty out of the water, if you ask us.  Here’s why:

10.
Grey was here first. E. Edward Grey is the name of the dominant boss played by James Spader in Secretary. Almost ten years later, E.L. James names her dominant lover Christian Grey — and three years after that, Jamie Dornan gets the worst haircut ever to play Christian Grey on screen. Perhaps it was an homage.

9.
It’s actually good. The Fifty Shades books may be a record breaker (it’s the fastest-selling paperback of all time) and a crazy money maker (E.L. James’s net worth is apparently a cool $80 mil), but they’re never going to win any literary awards — and, likewise, while the movie broke all sorts of records for advance ticket sales and drunken women renting limos for screenings, we don’t see any Oscars in its future. Secretary was nominated for a Golden Globe (best actress in a musical or comedy) and three Chlotrudis Awards (best actor, actress and adapted screenplay), among others; and it won an Independent Spirit Award (best first screenplay) and a Gotham Award (breakthrough performance, Maggie Gyllenhaal), among others. Sorry, Jamie and Dakota, don’t start working on any awards speeches… unless it’s for the Razzies.

8.
More likable protagonist. Yes, Dakota Johnson is about a hundred times more likable than Ana-Steele-on-paper, with all her Oh my!s and the countless Holy shit!s and that irritating inner goddess. But Dakota Johnson’s Ana is nevertheless a bit of a lip-biting blank space who submits a little too easily to the whims of her controlling stalker boyfriend. (She doesn’t even ask him how he managed to break into her apartment!) The flaws of Secretary‘s Lee Holloway, on the other hand, are not only believable, but relatable (to a certain extent), and make her a sympathetic, grownup character.

7.
More believable love interest. A 27-year-old gazillionaire with impossible abs and a million obsequious employees who has time to get a pilot’s license and shop for his own hardware supplies? Who deflowers a virgin and wins her over with extravagant gifts like rare books, a new computer, and a new car? (Who does he think he is, Oprah?!) Yeah right. Much more realistic is the socially awkward, emotionally sensitive Lee and her creepy-seeming and ultimately conflicted love interest — both of whom are pretty normal looking. Plus, this Grey actually does sit-ups. And he has way better hair than Jamie Dornan in the movie.

6.
We actually see Grey working in Secretary. Over the course of the entire film, you see Christian Grey take a single “urgent” business phone call, and when he talks into his phone he sounds like a little kid impersonating his working father. Or like a trust fund baby who is allowed to pretend that he runs a business, while the real grownups actually get the work done. (Sure, we see Ana working in the hardware store, but it’s just a setting for her to blush and stammer.) Admittedly, it’s been a while since we saw SECRETARY, but we’re pretty sure some actual work takes place there, along with all the kinky dictation.

5.
More honorable origins. Secretary was based on a short story by literary power house Mary Gaitskill. Fifty Shades, on the other hand, was based on the cliche-ridden book of the same name, which in turn was originally online fan fiction, based on the Y.A. Twilight series by Stephanie Meyers.  Yup.

4.
A sense of humor. Erotica and romance, almost by definition, have to take themselves extremely seriously. The sex is earnest to keep up the fantasy, and the Fifty Shades books are as earnest and unfunny as it gets. As an indie film, Secretary didn’t have those restraints, and therefore could wade into the waters of black comedy. Can you imagine a scene in Fifty Shades where Jamie Dornan covers his desk in hay and has Dakota Johnson kneel upon it on all fours with a carrot in her mouth and saddle on her back? Didn’t think so. But that’s the kind of scene that made Secretary awesome — and funny. There are a smattering of funny moments in the Fifty Shades movie, but most of the humor is unintentional.  Sadly, we have a feeling that director Sam Taylor-Johnson would have included a lot more humor, if it wasn’t for the heavy hand of “consultant” and earnest erotica peddler E.L. James.

3.
Better writing. Actually, there is something kind of funny about the Fifty Shades books — the writing! The repetition of phrases, the cultural anachronisms, the offensive overuse of adverbs, the misuse of the word “subconscious.” If you didn’t laugh you’d cry, because you’d be so sad about the fact that you couldn’t put down something so poorly written. And while, happily, most of those adverbs didn’t make it into the Fifty Shades screenplay, a lot of the bad dialogue did. You can almost see Jamie Dornan cringe when he has to utter the line, “I’m fifty shades of fucked up.” Secretary, on the other hand? It won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.

2.
BDSM is freeing, not the other way around. In Fifty Shades of Grey, both the book and the movie, Grey beats the shit out of women because he had a literal “crack whore” for a mom who didn’t love him enough — it’s an obsession that haunts him and that he feels great shame about (okay, so in the movie he calls her a “crack addict”… but still). In Secretary, Lee is a troubled self-cutter, but it’s the BDSM relationship that frees her. Production designer Amy Danger said of the story: “With this S&M material, we could go into a dark place… Steve [Shainberg, the director] and I wanted the total opposite: that the nature of this relationship freed [the characters] to be their natural selves.”

1.
Secretary didn’t need wealth to make the kink acceptable. One of the reasons, in our opinion, that so many millions of readers and, now, viewers find the Fifty Shades kink acceptable is that Christian Grey is a billionaire. It’s the same with luxury high-end sex toys encrusted with diamonds: for some people, the more they spend on a sex toy, the less dirty it feels. Sure, it’s okay for Christian to spank Ana and ask her to do unspeakable things, so long as he also takes her out in a glider and buys her a new car. Secretary, on the other hand, manages to make the BDSM totally relatable — romantic, even! — without a single helipad in sight.

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How the “Fifty Shades” Movie Is Better Than the Book

February 16, 2015

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Yes, the movie was better than the book. Of course, if you’ve read the book, then you know that’s not saying much. The bar was pretty low to begin with. And one would hope that with a 40 mil production budget and a feminist director, that bar would inevitably be raised pretty high. Of course, as it’s been widely reported, the author E.L. James did everything she could to keep that bar right where it was, for the sake of her die-hard fans. So the movie was an improvement, but not a miracle.his

Rotten Tomatoes gives it a rating of 26%. Ouch. We guess that’s understandable if you’re judging it as a stand-alone movie. But we would argue that you can’t take it out of its context as Twilight fan-fiction turned historically successful — and historically acceptable — “mommy porn.” If you judge the movie by comparing it to its literary (and we use that term loosely) origin, then it’s smarter, funnier, and more believable. It’s also shot beautifully and delivers in the sexy department (though the book will still surely be better wank material for most women).

Before the movie came out, we had a list of ten ways we hoped the movie would improve upon the book. Let’s see how it faired below. Then we’ll cover our pleasant surprises and less expected disappointments.

1. No cable ties: FAIL

In the first book, when Christian visits Ana at the hardware store and picks up some DIY bondage supplies, it’s implied — intentionally or not — that he’s hoping to use cable ties as wrist restraints on his next guest in his Red Room of Pain. Big mistake. HUGE! If used in such a way, cable ties could cause cuts, poor circulation, and a little thing called nerve damage. The only thing they should be used for in BDSM play is organizing all the cords of your various plug-in vibrators. The movie doubles down on the idea of cable ties by having Christian actually explain they are items, in addition to rope and cuffs, that he could use to restrain her. Bush league!

2.  No explosive orgasms from Ben Wa balls: SUCCESS

In the book, Christian pops them in, spanks away and then it’s Orgasm City. Very unrealistic, at least for the majority of women. They don’t even make a cameo in the movie, which we’re sure disappointed fans (there was no tampon removal either — damn, MPAA!). But at least by omitting the balls, the movie did away with another ridiculous sexual expectation most women can’t meet.

3. Give Ana some sexual experience: FAIL

Just a smidge? Nope, not in the book or the movie. We’re supposed to believe an adult woman who’s not a member of the FLDS can graduate college with absolutely no sexual interest, no experience with men, and no attempts at masturbation ever? It perpetuates the myth that women aren’t sexual creatures until the right man comes along. Please. She’s the virgin and he’s the stud, and they save each other — gross. And even if we were to believe that such a mythical woman could actually exist, it would be totally irresponsible — reprehensible even — to dunk her over her head into the world of BDSM (even with a single introductory vanilla cherry popping’ sesh). At least in the movie, Christian seems as surprised to hear about her sexual status as we were.

4. Full disclosure on the slave contracts: SEMI-FAIL

Christian doesn’t ever clearly articulate to Ana that slave contracts are not actually legally binding — you know, thanks to Abraham Lincoln and that whole abolitionist movement. Here’s a kid, for all intents and purposes, who is not what you would call worldly or business savvy or lawyered up. Not cool for a romantic interest who’s supposedly falling in love. But we will say this: if this is one of those suspension-of-disbelief things Hollywood requires for the fantasy, then at least they didn’t push it too hard in the movie. And major points scored for making the contract negotiation scene a meeting of the minds, in a boardroom, head to head, with witty repartee and humor and Ana ultimately holding all the control (rather than Christian wining and dining and pressuring her to just sign the damn thing, as it goes down in the book).

5. Easy on the controlling, abusive, stalker-ish behavior: SEMI-SUCCESS

In the book, Christian spies on her and tries to control who she can see, where she works, what she eats, how she works out — and she is not down with it. She’s afraid he’s going to hurt her; he causes her physical and emotional pain she doesn’t want — that’s not a D/s relationship, that’s abuse. And where’s the aftercare? The movie does make him less of a criminal. It eases way off on him obsessing over her food intake and workout routine, which helps make him much less creepy.  Meanwhile, Ana seems to have a much stronger sense of herself, a greater ability to assert her desires, and a better sense of humor. She basically tells him to cut the shit and open the door when he’s hesitating outside his playroom. However, he still breaks into her apartment and she never says, “How the fuck did you get in here?!?”

6. More well-adjusted kinky characters: N/A

We thought it would be nice if the movie could add a character or two who’s into kink who isn’t royally fucked up. In the book, it’s Christian the controlling abusive boyfriend, his crazy gun-wielding ex sub, and his statutory rapist from when he was a kid. Not exactly the best advertisement for the kink community, the majority of whom are uber-responsible, law-abiding, stable citizens. The first movie in the series focuses solely on Christian, with his ex-dom, “Mrs. Robinson,” just a mysterious off-screen character.

7. Drop Ana’s issues with eating:  SUCCESS

With Ana forgetting to eat all the time, not being hungry and being forced to eat by Christian, it’s like she’s got an eating disorder. Maybe EL James was just playing around with a woman’s ultimate fantasy of never being hungry, but it’s a distracting issue — let the girl have a healthy appetite. Fortunately, in the movie, she enjoys making — and actually eats — food.

8. Have Ana enjoy the kink more: SEMI-SUCCESS

She can be conflicted about it, sure, but she should ultimately love it, embrace it and not be so afraid of it. In the movie, we’re spared Ana’s original wishy-washiness: visually, she seems to be thoroughly enjoying every kinky sexual experience, at least up until the walloping climax. A truly novel ending would have had Ana, through tears of pain, grinning in ecstasy, in spite of herself.

9. Make the sole minority character less date rape-y:  SUCCESS

Jose, basically the one minority in the book, is on a clear path to sexual assault as he tries to take advantage of Ana when she’s super drunk outside the bar. In the book, he tries to kiss her even though she keeps saying no and trying to push him away. He continues to hold her in a bear hug and is about to commit a crime before Grey breaks it up. Criminal tendencies aren’t a great quality in a “really good friend.” Fortunately, in the movie, they softened this scene by making it clear Jose and Ana are both drunk and by having Jose basically go in for a single kiss that’s more “I’ve been in love with you for a long time and am so pathetic I can only admit it when we’re both wasted” rather than “I’ve wanted to fuck you for a long time and now I’m going to take advantage of your inebriation to get what I want.”

10. No Ana narration: SUCCESS

Thank the Inner Goddess, the movie dispenses with Ana’s insipid internal dialogue. There are no voiceovers about the “ghost of a smile” on Christian’s face or her rather communicative Subconscious. There’s just a single, quiet, understated “Holy cow” uttered after she leaves his office — it’s manageable, just barely.

 

THE PLEASANT SURPRISES

1. Ana has pubic hair! 

We were pleasantly surprised to see some real bush (or even just merkin) in the movie — in ANY movie. In an interview, the director Sam Taylor-Johnson says Ana’s pubic hair goes on a journey with Ana throughout the movie; if that means Ana doesn’t have any pubes by the end — implying Grey’s insistence in the book on down-there-hairlessness — we didn’t notice.

2. No “crackwhore.”

Fortunately Christian doesn’t call his mother a crackwhore — instead, he refers to her as a crack addict and a prostitute. A small but still significant victory.

3. More funny jokes.  

There were some nice, unexpected moments when the movie had the audience laughing intentionally.

4. Dakota Johnson wasn’t half bad.

We were braced for a cringe-inducing performance (akin to that of Drew Barrymore in “Mad Love”), but Johnson (aided by Taylor-Johnson’s attempt at giving Ana more control and agency) actually made Ana bearable, likable even.

 

THE DISAPPOINTMENTS

1. Too many terrible lines from the book. 

With all the control given to the author over the movie, we knew a lot of the worst writing would have to be included, but we still hoped for heavier editing. There were quite a few times when the cheesiest lines from the book elicited loud laughs from the movie-going audience.  And when Dornan has to say “I’m fifty shades of fucked up,” he turns away from the camera and lowers his head — we have a feeling the shame he was emoting was NOT acting.

2. Wet-noodle flogging scene. 

The scene with the rope and the flogger in the Red Room of Pain was pretty mild, and didn’t do much to convey how pleasure and pain can mix erotically.

3. Jamie Dornan was pretty flat. 

After his great performance in the BBC series “The Fall,” in which he plays a serial killer, we had high hopes for what he could do with Christian. But sadly, he’s more charismatic, sexier, more soulful even as a soulless murderer.

4. Not enough male nudity. 

Hello? Women are the ones going to this movie. We want to admire Christian Grey’s body! While we appreciate the realism and subtlety with which Dakota Johnson’s nude form was shot, we really would have appreciated a heavier female gaze when it came to Dornan’s bod. We’re not even asking for full frontal. How about a quick side shot? Hey, if Ben Affleck can do it…

5. That hairpie! 

Oh, how can you make Jamie Dornan not hot? Somehow, the stylists managed to give him a hairdo that conveyed more “dork” than “dreamboat.” And the occasional mussiness resulting from t-shirt removal was not enough to fix it.

 

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Top 10 Things We Hope the “Fifty Shades” Movie Does Better Than the Book

February 12, 2015

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OMG IT’S TONIGHT OMG IT’S TONIGHT OMG IT’S TONIGHT! The film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, the first book in the mega-selling erotic trilogy by E.L. James, finally opens tonight! Well, officially it opens tomorrow, but a bunch of theaters are holding screenings tonight. Ladies, we hope your limos are booked (ours is… seriously). With the casting of Jamie Dornan (The Fall) as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson (The Social Network) as Anastasia Steele, many diehard fans have been crying foul, saying that the filmmakers got it wrong. They certainly get Jamie Dornan’s hairstyle wrong in the movie, of that much we’re sure. Then again, we’re not sure any casting would have been universally warmly received (short of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart), but we do think the film has a chance to definitely get some other things right. Behold, our top 10 improvements on the book we hope to see in the movie tonight:

1. No cable ties: In the first book, when Christian visits Ana at the hardware store and picks up some DIY bondage supplies, it’s implied — intentionally or not — that he’s hoping to use cable ties as wrist restraints on his next guest in his Red Room of Pain. Big mistake. HUGE! If used in such a way, cable ties could cause cuts, poor circulation, and a little thing called nerve damage. The only thing they should be used for in BDSM play is organizing all the cords of your various plug-in vibrators.

2.  No explosive orgasms from Ben Wa balls. It’s just not realistic, at least not for the majority of women. Giving them the same power as, say, a vibrator just sets women up for yet another sexual expectation most can’t meet. Balls (like LELO’s Luna Beads) are better suited for working out your pelvic floor muscles and thus improving pelvic health, which can lead to better sexual sensations. But as little balls full of cosmic orgasm potential? Uh uh.

3. Give Ana some sexual experience. Just a smidge. We’re supposed to believe an adult woman who’s not a member of the FLDS can graduate college with absolutely no sexual interest, no experience with men, and no attempts at masturbation ever? It perpetuates the myth that women aren’t sexual creatures until the right man comes along. Please. She’s the virgin and he’s the stud, and they save each other — gross. And even if we were to believe that such a mythical woman could actually exist, it would be totally irresponsible — reprehensible even — to dunk her over her head into the world of BDSM.

4. Full disclosure on the slave contracts. Christian doesn’t ever clearly articulate to Ana that slave contracts are not actually legally binding — you know, thanks to Abraham Lincoln and that whole abolitionist movement. Here’s a kid, for all intents and purposes, who is not what you would call worldly or business savvy or lawyered up. Not cool for a romantic interest who’s supposedly falling in love.

5. Easy on the controlling, abusive, stalker-ish behavior. Christian spies on her and tries to control who she can see, where she works, what she eats — and she is not down with it. She’s afraid he’s going to hurt her; he causes her physical and emotional pain she doesn’t want — that’s not a D/s relationship, that’s abuse. And where’s the aftercare? Christian is a terrible top. The movie should make him a better one.

6. More well-adjusted kinky characters. It would be nice if the movie could add a character or two who’s into kink who isn’t royally fucked up. In the book, it’s Christian the controlling abusive boyfriend, his crazy gun-wielding ex sub, and his statutory rapist from when he was a kid. Not exactly the best advertisement for the kink community, the majority of whom are uber-responsible, law-abiding, stable citizens.

7. Drop Ana’s issues with eating.  With Ana forgetting to eat all the time, not being hungry and being forced to eat by Christian, it’s like she’s got an eating disorder. Maybe EL James was just playing around with a woman’s ultimate fantasy of never being hungry, but it’s a distracting issue — let the girl have a healthy appetite.

8. Have Ana enjoy the kink more. She can be conflicted about it, sure, but she should ultimately love it, embrace it and not be so afraid of it.

9. Make the sole minority character less date rape-y. Jose, basically the one minority in the book, is on a clear path to sexual assault as he tries to take advantage of Ana when she’s super drunk outside the bar. He tries to kiss her even though she keeps saying no and trying to push him away. He continues to hold her in a bear hug and is about to commit a crime before Grey breaks it up. Criminal tendencies aren’t a great quality in a “really good friend.”

10. No Ana narration. We hope and pray the movie dispenses with Ana’s insipid internal dialogue. Please no voiceovers about the “ghost of a smile” on Christian’s face or her cartwheeling Inner Goddess.

For an awesome book about kink that should be made into a documentary movie, check out our award-winning “150 SHADES OF PLAY: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink” – now available as a Kindle E-book! 

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The Best Last Minute Valentine’s Day Present This Year!

February 9, 2015

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Here are the top 10 reasons why our book 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink — now also available in a discreet Kindle edition! – makes the best Valentine’s Day present this year:

  1. It gives you the great excuse to try something new in the bedroom — perfect for longterm couples on Valentine’s Day.
  2. It also has staying power. The perspectives it can give you on kinky sex can inspire your sex lives for years to come. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
  3. It’s timely and relevant. We’re pretty sure even Kurdish fighters know that the Fifty Shades movie is opening this weekend. Our book helps put such a huge cultural phenomenon into perspective, in a way that’s fun and flirty (and actually well written).
  4. It helps round out a nice gift basket of treats for Valentine’s Day: chocolates for your sweetie’s sweet tooth, tickets to the Fifty Shades movie for some eye candy, roses for romance, and 150 Shades of Play for playtime! (Way better than some ill-fitting lingerie they’ll never wear.)
  5. Even if your partner doesn’t love it, you can pass it off as a gag gift that makes a great bathroom book. Just turn to the entry on  pony-play!
  6. The lighthearted tone of 150 Shades of Play takes some of the pressure off of you two to perform (unlike the gift of, say, a strap-on dildo).
  7. It’s a great way to give your partner hints about what you’d like to try…just happen to leave a bookmark or post-it next to a section that catches your interest, then leave the book on their pillow/night-stand. Or just get the book for yourself, read up on some tips and techniques before Valentine’s Day, and then wow your luvva with your amazing new moves!
  8. Not only can it improve your sex life, it can improve your social life! You can enliven future cocktail parties with some of the trivia you’ll learn from 150 Shades of Play: Did you know that we get the term “masochist” from Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch, the author of the 1870 novel Venus in Furs? Both he and his main character got off on being degraded by dominant women wearing fur. And that’s one to grow on!
  9. It’s affordable!  Especially on Kindle! You get so much — 230 pages of well-researched history, fascinating cultural information, good sexual advice, precise technical instruction, cool illustrations, and side-splitting humor (basically everything that wasn’t in Fifty Shades) — for so little: dollars less, in fact, than what 8 measly pieces of Godiva chocolates costs! Less even than a single movie ticket in most of this country!
  10. Not only will you be giving your partner/friend/friend-with-benefits a great gift, you’ll be giving us a gift too: By buying our book, you will literally help keep this site up and running. So won’t you please be our Valentine?

150 Shades of Play is available on Amazon.com, in either a gorgeous glossy paperback or a discreet Kindle edition. Visit 150ShadesOfPlay.com for more information about our book, including excerpts and praise from actual celebrities.

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