Fifty Shades of Grey & Other Kinky Stories

It’s here! The most-talked-about erotic novel of our time has hit the shelves at Good Vibrations: E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey.

You haven’t been hiding in a Himalayan cave recently, have you? Because that might be the only place you’d have missed the media buzz about this book (and its two companion volumes, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed), a kinky romance about a mysterious and twisted-yet-sensitive zillionaire, Christian Grey, and his swept-away (and tied-down, and spanked, and butt-plugged, and… you get the picture) paramour, co-ed Anastasia Steele.


The Grey series has such buzz partly because it’s an Internet-age success story; partly because it’s a fan-fic riff on the  already-insanely-popular but not-explicitly-sexy-enough Twilight series; partly because the media has decided it’s “mommy porn” and fed the flames of its notoriety; and partly because the erotica-reading world was good and ready for a new kinky trilogy. So go ahead and dig in — we’ve got the next two books on order. But make no mistake — this is NOT the first kinky trilogy to take the world by storm! That happened in the 1980s, when A.N. Roquelaure (a.k.a. Anne Rice) penned the Beauty Trilogy: The Claiming of Sleeping BeautyBeauty’s Punishmentand Beauty’s Releasea BDSM-inflected riff on the Sleeping Beauty tale.

Nor is it the first woman-written kinky hardcore novel — in fact, the literary feeding frenzy we’re seeing about the Grey trilogy has nothing on the public’s response to Pauline Réage’s The Story of O.

Let’s have some respect for our literary history, people! In the 1950s, when O was published, it was loudly proclaimed that a book that sexual and perverse could never have been written by a woman. In fact, decades later the writer Dominique Aury disclosed that Pauline Réage had been her pen name, and that she had written O as a kind of Scheherazade story to hold the attention of her lover, French literary lion Jean Paulhan, who had offhandedly said that a woman could never write an erotic novel. (Aury was also a pseudonym; her given name was Anne Desclos).


Want more kinky romance? You can’t do better than the fabulous Carrie’s Story: An Erotic S/M Novel, and its sequel, Safe Word, by Molly Weatherfield. Predating Christian and Anastasia by years, this is the original — and wildly entertaining — story of a college graduate exploring the world of BDSM with a sexy older mentor.

Keep your eye out for Laura Antoniou’s Marketplace series, too — it builds an intricate secret world full of dominance and submission, with a central character with whom readers fall in love. And I wrote The Leather Daddy and the Femme partly in tribute to the amazing, fiercely intelligent, hard-edged and insightful writing of Pat (now Patrick) Califia and to Mr. Benson, the gay S/M classic by the late, great John Preston.

If you don’t have time for a whole trilogy, you’ll be glad to know there are many anthologies out there. Here are two to get you started: Best Bondage Erotica, edited by Alison Tyler, and Best Bondage Erotica 2012, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel.

 Carol Queen's Exhibitionism for the  Shy

Finally, erotic reading appeals to our love of fantasy, and not everyone wants kinky scenarios to leap off the page and into our bedrooms. But if you are looking for more adventures in roleplay, BDSM, and more, you might want to check out my book Exhibitionism for the Shy,  Violet Blue’s Ultimate Guide to Sexual FantasyA Little Bit Kinky: A Couple’s Guide to Rediscovering the Thrill of Sex, by Dr. Natasha Janina Valdez, or Tristan Taormino’s The Ultimate Guide to Kink.

And if you start to explore and find you need more toys, info, and inspiration, look no further.

Dr. Carol Queen

Carol Queen has a PhD in sexology; she calls herself a "cultural sexologist" because her earlier academic degree is in sociology: while she addresses individual issues and couple's sexual concerns, her overarching interest is in cultural issues (gender, shame, access to education, etc.). Queen has worked at Good Vibrations, the woman-founded sexuality company based in San Francisco that turned 35 years old in 2012, since 1990. Her current position is Staff Sexologist and Good Vibrations Historian; her roles include representing the company to the press and the public; overseeing educational programming for staff and others; and scripting/hosting a line of sex education videos, the Pleasure-Ed series, for GV’s sister company Good Releasing. She also curates the company's Antique Vibrator Museum. She is also the founding director of the Center for Sex & Culture, a non-profit sex ed and arts center San Francisco, and is a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities, and community-based organizations. Her dozen books include a Lambda Literary Award winner, PoMoSexuals, and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, which are used as texts in some college classes. She blogs at the Good Vibes Magazine and at SFGate's City Brights bloggers page and contributes to the Boston Dig. For more about her at carolqueen.com.

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