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

February 18, 2015


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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.


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

February 12, 2015


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!¬†


I Dropped My Ben-Wa Balls on Date Night

February 12, 2015


by Alex Alexander for YourTango ¬†| ¬†photo of Lelo’s Luna Beads Noir

I think we can all blame¬†Fifty Shades of Grey¬†for our knowledge and misconceptions about Ben-Wa balls ‚ÄĒ or at least I can. I’ve known about the existence of them for a long time ‚ÄĒ and it’s why I always giggled when¬†Ben Wallace¬†took the court during an NBA game ‚ÄĒ but I never imagined myself actually putting them into play (sports pun!) In case you’re not familiar, Ben-Wa balls go by a dozen different names: Kegel exercisers, pleasure balls, vaginal exercise balls, duotone balls,¬†vaginal¬†beads,¬†orgasm¬†balls and¬†love¬†balls to name a few. They’ve been around since a Japanese courtesan called Rino-Tama discovered their pleasurable benefit and have since had both a medical and naughty use, but it wasn’t until¬†Christian Grey¬†gave Anastasia a set in the first ’50 Shades’ book that their popularity really took off.

Medically, they’re used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, as you have to keep your vagina clenched to keep them in. There are also versions that are connected by string (usually silicone) and as you tug on the string you use your Kegel muscles to keep them in. It’s basically like tug-of-war with your vagina. (Not sure what your Kegel muscles are? Imagine someone told you to stop peeing mid-stream. Those are them.) They can also help with urinary incontinence as well as tightening up the ol’ girl after childbirth, since your Kegel muscles are also the muscles that get all riled up during an orgasm. Basically, strong Kegels = strong climax.

Still with me? Good.

In addition to medical use, rumor is when you use Ben-Wa balls during everyday activity, the friction and motion they cause from within, combined with a clenching of your muscles, can bring about orgasm, or at least teasing pleasure. Naturally, I had to see for myself.

My first reaction was, “Whoa, these are heavy for such little balls!” but I remained steadfast to use them to their full potential. I washed them well and inserted them one at a time. It was tricky to get them up to what felt high enough in my vagina, but I figured in was in, right? Wrong. As soon as I took one step to the side, they slid out onto the floor. Undeterred, I tried to insert them lying down. I hiked my hips up into the the air and gave them a good solid shimmy ‚ÄĒ hopefully moving them higher, so they wouldn’t fall out.¬†I stood up, making sure to keep my muscles contracted. (After all, that was part of the challenge wasn’t it?) After about a minute of serious – and I mean serious – clenching, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to walk, much less make it through an entire night with my vagina clenched that tight ‚ÄĒ in fact, she was beginning to go numb. I eased up ever so slightly, waiting for them to slip out. Surprisingly, they didn’t. SUCCESS! After a few minutes passed, I felt like I might be in the clear, so I proceeded to get dressed for my date that night with my husband.

Shortly after, my husband joined me in the bathroom to finish up a few things himself and that’s when it happened.

I went to step around him when one ball popped loose. I must have not felt it slide down! (To be fair, my Kegel muscles were still recovering from a lack of oxygen.) It fell to our stone tile floor with a ‘THUD’ before I could even register what was happening. My husband and I locked eyes, as my cheeks turned not¬†50 Shades Of Grey¬†but…50 Shades of Red. “Uh, did that just fall out of your…?” my husband asked. And as soon as he did, that’s when I felt the other little guy break free, landing on the ground and rolling to its final resting place at my husband’s foot.

Ever been standing in the bathroom with your lover as two steel balls fall out of your skirt? No? Just me?

That was the beginning and the end of the pleasure balls. I accepted that the combination of the ball’s weight and small size with my birthed-two-children vagina was a coupling never meant to be – until two¬†weeks later when I went out and bought bonus-sized silicone balls that promised to do their job with more efficiency and less, you know, droppage.

However, my pride still hasn’t allowed me to try them. And the sound of steel balls dropping onto stone rings forever in my ears.

More from YourTango:

Fifty Shades of Luxury: How to Shop for Toys Like Christian Grey

February 11, 2015


LELO’s 20-karat gold Luna Beads Luxe | Sponsored Post

One of our theories about why the¬†Fifty Shades of Grey¬†trilogy sold so well (despite terrible writing and a thin, derivative plot) is that it’s dripping with wealth. The private jets and the fancy gifts and the luxurious home are like a spoonful of sugar that help the kink go down. It’s the same with sex toys, we’ve found: If a sex toy is a cheap plastic thing costing five bucks, it seems tawdry and dirty. On the other hand, if a vibrator is Swarovski-encrusted and costs a week’s — or a month’s! — wages, then it automatically seems more sophisticated.

But the sex toy snobs are actually onto something, because in the world of vibrators and dildos, you get what you pay for. Sure, those Swarovski crystals aren’t exactly necessary, but if you spend a little extra for a quality sex toy, you’ll be rewarded with something that is (a) good for your body (and not dripping with carcinogens), (b) good for the environment, ¬†(c) pleasant to hold and behold, and (d) actually gets the job done.

So while E.L. James doesn’t name-drop when it comes to sex accoutrements in the book (funny, because she brand-name-drops on every other page!), we’re fairly sure that Christian Grey would go high-end with some of LELO’s fancy-schmancy toys. Here are a few toys we think he’d like, all part of¬†LELO’s Luxe Collection:


Luna Beads Luxe

These are a high-end version of their bestselling Luna Beads, which in turn are¬†LELO’s modern version of the Ben Wa balls¬†that Christian Grey uses on Anastasia Steele. Worn one or two at a time,¬†Luna Beads Luxe are offered in either stainless steel or 20-karat gold, and their price points are pure Christian Grey (stainless steel retails for $2090;¬†gold for $3090). Which makes them (a) the most exclusive pleasure beads in the world and (b) most likely out of your price range! But, hey, every vagina likes to splurge every now and then.

Like LELO’s original Luna Beads ($47) — and their stylish counterpart, Luna Beads Noir ($34, and also very Fifty) — these golden kegel balls (seriously, isn’t it worth the investment just to say you own a pair of golden kegel balls?!) respond to a woman’s movements while she wears them, subtly vibrating internally. And if they’re worn regularly over time, they lead to longer and stronger orgasms. (Hello? Priceless!)

Christian Grey famously told Anastasia that he would like to dictate her gym schedule, in order to keep her in shape for marathon kinky sex sessions. We’re pretty sure he¬†would have assigned her a kegel workout with Luna Beads Luxe, too, had they been available at the time. Possible plot twist for the movie, perhaps? Also, can we all please now agree to show up to the cinema for the Fifty Shades of Grey movie actually wearing our kegel balls? That way we’re guaranteed some pleasure from the experience, no matter how bad the dialogue turns out to be. Not to mention, you get the brag value of being able to drop the following line into casual conversation:¬†I have a vagina of steel.



This is the high-end version of LELO’s classic, silky smooth, pebble-like vibrator the Lily (still one of our favorites!). It comes in stainless steel or 24K gold plate and has a deep and resonant vibe. And the metal surface offers additional sensual benefits against bare skin, for people who like playing around with hot and cold. The Yva is small, discreet, and quiet (just like Ana, ha ha). As LELO says, “Bring her as a discreet guest to the most exclusive gatherings.” It comes in a gorgeous wooden storage box, in case you’re planning on gifting the Ana in your life.



The Olga is LELO’s luxe G-spot pleasure object. ¬†Again, it is crafted in either stainless steel or 24K gold plate, and the metal offers those sensual hot or cold elements against naked bodies. One end is designed to reach and stimulate the G-spot area, while the other end is more old school. Also comes in a wooden box for fancy-pants gift giving.



LELO calls Earl “the most distinguished gentleman’s plug in the world.” Who wouldn’t agree that Christian Grey could use one of those?! It is elegantly sculpted out of stainless steel or 24K gold plate. Because Christian Grey wouldn’t put just anything where the sun don’t shine. The metal is incredibly hygienic and can also be hot or cold against the skin. This luxe plug is designed to offer deep internal stimulation, including male G-spot massage. ¬†LELO says, “Use EARL as you wish, whether it be with a partner for added enjoyment or as a secret companion, worn discreetly.” Oh, and here’s an incentive to gift the Mr. Grey in your life: It comes in an elegant wooden box, and is accessorized with matching cufflinks! The grey tie you’ll have to buy yourself.



The $15,000¬†Inez¬†(the gold version)¬†is the¬†most exclusive vibrator ever made. Guaranteed to make your other sex toys feel shabby and insignificant!¬†Both the stainless steel and 24K gold-plate¬†versions feature an energetic buzz, and, like all the other luxe toys, the metal offers bonus hot and cold sensations against bare skin. Five pre-programmed stimulation modes and a virtually silent vibrator engine guarantee “discreet yet reassuring company,” to use LELO’s oh-so-classy description.



How to See the “Fifty Shades of Grey” Movie in Style

February 10, 2015


In case you couldn’t tell from the onslaught of Fifty Shades posts on our site in the past week, we’re a teensy little bit excited about the¬†Fifty Shades of Grey movie that opens this Friday. It’s not because we loved E.L. James’ book. (We didn’t. Too many inner goddesses doing cartwheels and too much cliched writing.) It’s not because we expect the two stars to have any chemistry on screen. (They clearly don’t.) It’s not even because HOLY MOTHER EFFING SPARKLY VAMPIRES IS JAMIE DORNAN HOT. (He absolutely is, but the filmmakers inexplicably ruined it all by giving him a bad haircut in the movie. Who knew it was even possible to make him look unappealing?) And it’s certainly not because we expect to get any decent sex tips from the movie. (That’s what our book is for, duh.)

No, the reason we’re excited is this: What better excuse can you think of to get your drink on with a bunch of lady friends and go giggle at the big screen? And that’s exactly what we plan to do. It will be a much needed respite from the rather bleak selection of Oscar movies this year:¬†Nightcrawler is brilliant but cheerless. Mr. Turner is simply cheerless. The Theory of Everything seems kind of uplifting until you Wikipedia Stephen Hawking and realize how soon he is likely to be suffering from locked-in syndrome. American Sniper is a great movie that made us feel bad about America.¬†Still Alice made us weep.¬†Foxcatcher made us feel funny inside. ¬†(Bad touch! Bad touch!) And so on.

So tell us this: Which of the above movies would be appropriate to see drunk on champagne? Only Fifty Shades of Grey! Which of the above movies would be appropriate to car-pool to in a cheesy white stretch limo that is more commonly hired for local proms? Only Fifty Shades of Grey! Which of the above movies warrants you getting dressed up and teasing your hair big like you’re actually attending one of those local proms? Yep, you got it: Fifty Shades of Grey.

And this is exactly what we plan on doing this Friday, February 13th. Yes, we’re serious about the stretch. Our husbands think we’re nuts, but they just don’t understand. Sure, this could be a painful viewing experience, but as the inimitable E.L. James wrote: “There’s a very fine line between pleasure and pain. They are two sides of the same coin, one not existing without the other.”

So get your tickets in advance (they’re selling out), rent the limo, and get your girlie drink on without shame!


Fifty Shades of Shopping

February 9, 2015


Everything to make your ladies’ night screening of the movie or your 50-Shades-themed Valentine’s Day weekend even sillier (and maybe, in a few cases, sexier…maybe).  

Fifty Shades Wine (White & Red 2-Pack), $32

Fifty Shades Vermont Teddy Bear, $99


Fifty Shades of Grey – The Classical Album, $5 (mp3, instant) $9 (cd, Prime)


Original Fifty Shades Original Movie Soundtrack, $12 (mp3, instant; cd, Prime)


Fifty Shades Inspired Blush (get it?), $70


Sterling Silver Handcuff Necklace, $34


Official Fifty Shades of Grey Tie Necklace, $195 (Prime)


50 Shades-Themed 3-Candle Set, $25 (Prime)


Fifty Shades Inspired 6-pc Nail Polish Set, $30


Fifty Shades Shot Glass, $10


Happy Ending Fortune Cookies – 50 Shades Edition, $12


Fifty Shades of Hay Nightshirt, $29


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

February 9, 2015


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.


Watch the Entire “Fifty Shades” Movie Online Right Now!

February 6, 2015


Okay, it’s not exactly the entire movie. But from these five sneak-peak clips that ran on the Today Show this past week, you basically get a complete picture (lots of awkward pauses, dubious chemistry, lame Christian Grey hair). Are we still gonna see it? Hells yes! But now, you don’t have to. Here they are, in what we’re guessing is chronological movie-scene order:

“We offer an excellent internship program.”

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

“Ok… rope, tape, cable ties. You’re the complete serial killer.”

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

“You’re energetic this morning.”
“I’m making pancakes!”

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

“I don’t do romance.”

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

“This is my playroom.”
“Like your Xbox and stuff?”

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Catch up on all our “Fifty Shades” posts in this Special Issue:

The 17 Most Annoying Aspects of the “Fifty Shades” Story

February 5, 2015


By Lindsey Kupfer for YourTango.com

Here’s a refresher course on how messed up Fifty Shades really is.

The¬†Fifty Shades Of Grey¬†movie hype is growing as the movie’s release date (February 13) gets closer, which means a barrage of media attention is once more on the mommy porn flick. And¬†that¬†means I get to hear endless apologies and explanations for how what may be the most sexist, poorly written piece of literature since Tucker Max thought he was relevant.

Listen, if¬†Fifty Shades Of Grey¬†turns you on, that is your business. You do you. I’m not here to judge anyone for their bedroom behaviors, be it vanilla¬†sex¬†or BDSM. As long as you’re all consenting adults, have at it. But there are parts of¬†Fifty Shades Of Greyand its sequels (Fifty Shades Darker¬†and¬†Fifty Shades Freed) that are much more painful than being spanked with a riding crop, and I’m not talking about the painfully, secondhand embarrassingly bad dialogue (which is bad enough).

It’s the relationship between Ana Steele and¬†Christian Grey¬†that’s really disturbing, and at times flat-out abusive. Also unsettling? The relationship between Ana Steele and herself. And between Ana Steele’s brain and, I’m guessing, huffing glue. Here are the creepiest, most disturbing moments in¬†Fifty Shades Of Grey¬†(and its sequels). Keep these in mind when deciding whether or not to order advance tickets to the movie, okay?

1. Ana Steele doesn’t have an email address.

Listen, I can forgive and understand someone not having a computer (you can use labs at school) or a Smartphone (they’re not for everyone). But 21-year-old Ana Steele not having a f*cking email address? Seriously? No one graduates or even enters college without an email address.¬†Your college will give you one if you don’t have one already. And if you don’t have one already, you’re either Amish, elderly, or don’t exist.

2. Ana Steele has no self-esteem.

To be fair, Ana Steele goes beyond basic and into “remedial” territory, but she should still have a modicum of respect for herself if only for being a living, breathing human being. Instead, she spends her time wondering if she’s good enough for a man who compares her to his “crackwhore” mom and controls her every move. How empowering.

3. Ana Steele has never had an orgasm.

Let’s be clear: This has nothing to do with being a virgin. You don’t need a partner to have an orgasm.

4. Christian Grey wanted to take advantage of a drunk Ana Steele.

When Ana Steele drunk dials Christian Grey, he shows up at the bar, is a dick to her pal, and scolds her for acting like any young 20-something. Then he tells her that he wants to have sex with her. While she’s too wasted to give consent. Yeah, nothing sketchy about that (if you’re Bill Cosby).

5. Christian Grey is basically a stalker.

In only the¬†second chapter¬†of¬†Fifty Shades Of Grey¬†(EL James wastes¬†notime),¬†Christian Grey shows up at Ana Steele’s job even though there are plenty of hardware stores in the world that he can access at any time. He continues popping up and refusing to leave her alone throughout the story, despite her insistence. That’s not romantic. That’s psychotic.

6. Ana Steele doesn’t have a lawyer look over the BDSM contract.

Considering Ana Steele didn’t have a second set of eyes reading her BDSM contract with Christian Grey, she basically went in blind and a with a real handicap. Also, to reiterate, she’s a college graduate without an email address. I’m willing to bet she didn’t quite understand all of the stipulations and risks involved with this.

7. Ana Steele loves Christian Grey’s super-creepy gifts.

Sure, there’s nothing inherently creepy about a Blackberry or a laptop, but there’s a lot wrong with someone giving you a Blackberry and a laptop for the sole purposes of controlling, tracking and manipulating you (and showing up at your house if you don’t text him back fast enough). Also, that book,¬†Tess Of The D’Urbervilles? It’s basically about a woman being raped repeatedly. How romantic! You know, if you’re Ted Bundy.

8. Christian Grey tries controlling Ana Steele’s diet.

Remember when Christian Grey tells Ana Steele she needs to eat three meals a day? Because there was no other way for her to know nor find that information other than from his mouth? Or when they’re at the restaurant and he makes her order steak? First of all, he shouldn’t have to force her into eating steak. Steak is f*cking wonderful. But he also shouldn’t, you know, force her into anything. What if she were vegan? (Just kidding, she wouldn’t be vegan or have any other sort of distinction in her diet nor her character, because she doesn’t have a personality.)

9. Christian Grey is attracted to his mother.

Okay, technically to women who¬†look¬†like his mother. The same mother to whom he affectionately refers as a “crackwhore.” That’s about as flattering as being told, “You look fat today,” only¬†about a million times worse.

10. Christian Grey’s own mom thought he was gay.

Dude, come on. If that isn’t a red (or rainbow) flag, I don’t know what is. Also, while we’re at it, remember when Ana Steele’s buddy Kate Kavanaugh is shocked that Steele is “fascinated by a man?” Why wasn’t anyone asking if Ana was the gay one here?

11. Christian Grey buys the company where Ana Steele works.

It’s remarkable that someone as basic and useless as Ana Steele was able to find and keep a job at a publishing house, and it was a good sign of her growing independence and confidence. So Christian Grey takes that away from her and essentially becomes her boss in yet another arena without her knowledge. Hot.

12. Christian Grey arrives uninvited at Ana Steele’s mom’s place.

No normal man wants to spend extra time with his mother-in-law. Not even yours. Not matter how great your mom is. Know that.

13. Ana Steele gets pregnant by accident.

When taken correctly, birth control pills work. Ana Steele had a Blackberry. Why couldn’t she set an alarm? I’ve seen¬†Maury. I don’t buy it.

14. No one says “jeez” that much.

Seriously. No one. Ever. Toddlers have a more sophisticated vocabulary than this.


15. Ana Steele’s “inner goddess” is about 11 years old.

Oh, need proof? Here, direct quotes:¬†”My inner goddess jumps up and down with cheer-leading pom-poms shouting yes at me.” Also, “My inner goddess looks like someone snatched her ice cream.” Basically, Christian Grey may be an accidental pedophile if we’re going by mental age.

16. Ana Steele’s brain literally doesn’t function properly.

Early in the book when Christian Grey first visits Ana Steele at Clayton’s, she muses, “And from a very tiny, under-used part of my brain‚ÄĒ probably located at the base of my medulla oblongata where my subconscious dwells‚ÄĒcomes the thought: He’s here to see you.” That is not what your medulla oblongata does. Your medulla oblongata handles boring stuff like¬†breathing, body temperature regulation and your heartbeat. Your “subconscious” doesn’t “dwell” there, and if it does, well, it explains why you think this is quality writing.

17. Ana Steele is taken aback by really mundane things.

From the multiple uses of baby oil to not realizing coffee shops also serve tea, Ana Steele’s epiphanies prove natural selection is a load of bullshit, because she’s almost too stupid to live.

Erotic Deathmatch: Fifty Shades of Grey vs. 150 Shades of Play

February 5, 2015


This is the face the other Jamie makes when judging our book better than the one his movie is based on

Jamie Maclean is the founder and editor of the¬†Erotic Review Magazine,¬†an intelligent and artsy London-based website dedicated to sex (and NOT the US-based Yelp for escorts of a similar name). So how could we all¬†not get on?! And then he called us “New York‚Äôs coolest sex therapists” and said that our book, 150 Shades of Play, “makes Christian Grey‚Äôs¬†Red Room of Pain look like a stationery cupboard, and Ana‚Äôs Inner Goddess like a virginal mouse.” Our inner goddesses are doing cartwheels!

We chatted with Jamie for an Erotic Review podcast, which you can listen to here¬†– we talk about, amongst other things, why Fifty Shades is so successful, and whether or not we feel guilty for jumping on E.L. James’ bandwagon while simultaneously poking fun at her writing (plot spoiler: we don’t!). Here are two brief excerpts:

Jamie Maclean:¬†Fifty Shades of Grey¬†has had such an unprecedented sales record that it‚Äôs hard to believe that its success stems merely from an introduction to (and a subsequent fascination with) BDSM. But if this¬†wasn‚Äôt¬†the only reason for its triumph, what other — or others — do you attribute it to?¬†

Em: Well, for starters there‚Äôs the fact that Fifty Shades begin its life as Twilight fan-fiction — and if there was ever a story that was beginning for raunchy fan fiction, it was Twilight! So E.L. James didn‚Äôt exactly come out of nowhere — she had a pretty big fanbase in that world.

We also think that all the money-related escapism in Fifty Shades helps readers feel more comfortable with BDSM in particular and sex and raunch in general. You see the same thing in the world of sex toys — buying a five-pound dildo in a sleazy sex shop frequented by men in raincoats feels dirty, but paying 400 pounds for a platinum-plated one in a fancy boutiue is just being naughty.

Lo: This also explains why BDSM is increasingly mainstream — it‚Äôs increasingly expensive, well-designed, and nicely packaged! (Judith Krantz and Danielle Steele figured this out a long time ago, by the way, as did many many romance novelists).

The¬†Shades of Grey¬†heroine, Ana, is more than a little seduced by Christian‚Äôs obscene wealth ‚Äď a while ago she might have been the heroine of what was then called a ‚Äėshopping¬† & fucking‚Äô novel. And perhaps part of that book‚Äôs appeal hard-worked housewives is the altogether delightful fantasy of a young woman‚Äôs untrammelled consumerism. And now there‚Äôs a scramble to accessorise¬†Shades of Grey¬†sex. Is your book just another part of the ‚Äď unofficial ‚ÄstShades of Grey¬†franchise?¬†

Em: Ha ha we hope so! We’d love to get stinking rich off this.

Seriously, though, we take a sunnier view of all this consumerism: If it’s making women more comfortable and open about reading erotica, buying sex toys, and getting kinky in the bedroom, can it be such a bad thing?

Lo: Personally, we love the idea that so-called porn for moms has taking the publishing industry by storm. Bring it on!

You can listen to the entire podcast here at the Erotic Review website. And you can get your own copy of our book, 150 Shades of Play, here.