Books & Review | Cole Garner Hill
Updated: Aug 30, 2012 10:30 AM EDT

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A woman is wrapped from head-to-toe in plastic by two collegues wearing leather outifts and gas-mask.
(Photo : Reuters)

It's official: "Fifty Shades of Grey" has permeated every conceivable crack of human existence. But, then, you don't sell 32 million copies of a book without some sort of cultural shift happening. The books - "Fifty Shades of Grey," "Fifty Shades Darker," and "Fifty Shades Freed" - have been on the New York Times bestseller list for 30 weeks. And now we have even more stats to prove the book's influence.

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According to statistics released by adult entertainment website YouPorn, searches for BDSM-related porn on the site are up worldwide, likely due to the swelling popularity of E.L. James' erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey."

New York, never to be outdone when it comes to cultural trends, is leading the way.  New York has experienced the largest spike for searching that specific genre of porn, at an 89.7 percent increase from April to June of 2012, compared to a worldwide increase of 67 percent, according to YouPorn.

"New Yorkers spanked the competition," YouPorn said of the statistics. (Groan)

A spokesman for the site said they were able to compile the data using analytic software that could tell which geographic area searches came from.

The news doesn't come as a surprise to people who are embedded in New York's kinky community.

"There has been an uptick on the scene, but you are seeing way more people doing it from home," Bo Blaze, who has been active in New York's BDSM scene for more than 20 years, told Metro. "I would attribute it mostly to New York being an awesome, kinky town, and people here are curious."

New Yorkers are searching for the terms "sex slave" and "master" more than ever, with a 109.2 percent increase and 113.82 percent increase, respectively. The rest of the world is searching for that type of porn, but only at a 78.96 percent and 71.91 percent increase.

The "master-slave" relationship takes a front seat in "Fifty Shades" - portrayed in the kinky games played between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey -- which could easily explain the recent surge of interest in all things BDSM.

Guy Sanders, a spokesman for the Eulenspiegel Society - New York's oldest BDSM group, which promotes sexual liberation for adults - agrees. Sanders says the city has historically served as a pioneer when it comes to sexuality.

"The gay pride movement really took force in New York," Sanders said. "New Yorkers are progressive sexually and open sexually and have a tendency to lead the way."

Other terms that porn viewers in New York are searching for at a higher increase compared to the rest of the world include "domination" and "sadism."

BDSM enthusiasts told Metro the increase in kinky porn searches could translate into more New Yorkers wanting to experiment with those kinds of sexual exploits in real life. Still, they predict the majority of people who enjoy BDSM porn will keep it at a viewing level, rather than a participation level.

"It's definitely going to trickle down, but it will take a while," Blaze said. "It's going to take telling people that there are safe, sane, consensual places where you can learn and you don't even have to do anything."

"I think that some will [eventually participate]," Sanders said. "But you always find that people watch things that they would never do. People like watching gang bangs, but they never really think about doing it themselves."

Susan Wright, a spokesperson for the advocacy group National Coalition for Sexual Freedom says, "I've been tracking media for the past 17 years for NCSF and there has never been any kind of reaction like this before. Look at what a brilliant stonewall this is: Twilight fan fiction to open the conversation."

And it's a conversation that needed to be brought to the masses, Wright says. According to a 2008 study conducted by NCSF, 37.5 percent of respondents in the BDSM community had experienced discrimination, harassment, or violence. Fifty Shades' frankness, says Wright, has helped open up audiences to the civility of the fetish and to the accessibility of erotic novels. "The best thing about the book is that it shows the discussion," she says. "Women who have never really thought about [BDSM] can go, 'Wow that does sound kind of appealing' and realize that these sex games are available to anyone."

"This book is a catalyst," Guy Sanders (better known as Sir Guy), board member and media representative for the nation's largest and longest-running BDSM support and education group, The Eulenspiegel Society, says. "Now maybe it will be more open and there won't be as much prejudice against it and we may have an opportunity to make better strides as far as the understanding of the people in these practices. The opportunity for us to educate people."

But not everyone is so thrilled with the popularity of "Fifty Shades of Grey" -- especially professional romance and erotica writers.

"I read all of them and while I found the love story touching, I found all the books poorly written and often incorrect as far as the BDSM is concerned," says Desiree Holt, who recently penned an erotic retelling of "Northanger Abbey." "The thing is ... authors like Joey Hill have done the same story much, much better and with much more intensity. You have to really understand BDSM to write about and it's obvious that E.L. James didn't do her research."

"Writing is a discipline," Holt says. "I guess that's another reason why some authors are a little ticked off about Fifty Shades of Grey, because this came out of nowhere and its fan fiction, which is not a disciplined environment. There are lots of wonderful erotic romance writers out there who make the New York Times bestseller list who have worked very hard at their craft and have not achieved that kind of celebrity."

Still, some authors in the genre are able to put aside Fifty Shades of Grey's literary shortcomings to praise James for helping expand the genre - whether that's erotica or romance. "The Fifty Shades phenomenon is a natural outgrowth of what is almost 35 years of tremendous growth in romance fiction and a tremendous growth in women's fiction," says Amazon best-selling author Cerise DeLand (Rope Me In, At Her Service). "I think that the reason it is doing so well is attributed to a marvelous publicity campaign that got the word out in a big way. And the packaging was subtle, those who bought the book in print format [felt] as though they were able to do so and take it to the doctor's office and read it with impunity, which has always been a huge challenge for women reading romance."

What do you think? Does this mean we're on the precipice of a new sexual revolution? Does this mean everyone's experimenting more? Does James need to read up on grammar -- BDSM-related and otherwise? 

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