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50 Shades of Grey: The BDSM Frugality Audit


Have you guys heard of the out-of-the-blue bestselling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey?

Well, I've spent the last week reading this book (for research purposes obviously) (seriously, I'm recording a podcast about it later this week) and, like everything else in my life, I was struck by the lack of frugality in this book. (I was also struck by the jaw-droppingly terrible writing, but a zillion people have already written about that. A great one was the review from Forever Young Adult, if you're interested).

The Plot = Twilight - vampires + butt plugs

Clumsy 21-year-old virgin Anastasia meets dashing 27-year-old CEO Christian Grey and there is an instant attraction between them. He offers her the opportunity to be his sex slave submissive, and, one extremely long (like, pages and pages long) sex contract later, they're getting it on. Kinda. You can read some excerpts from the book at the excellent (and hilarious) 50shadesofsuck.tumblr.com, to get a taste of what the whole thing is all about.

Note: not the cover of 50 Shades of Gray.
But also the least NSFW image I could find when searching for images for this post.

The Story Behind The Story

EL James, the author, wrote the first version of 50 Shades of Grey as Twilight fanfiction (clumsy inexperience girl meets worldly guy who is obsessed by her smell? Oh, hai). So, it was published for free. It became popular and so, a few changes of names (and removal of vampirism) later, the book was published by a small Australian publisher called The Writer's Coffeehouse. I think this may be a vanity press type thing, where she paid them to print it for her.

Then, through word of mouth, it became super popular. Like, insanely popular. Like, even the author is like "You guys, it's not that good, calm down." But it's an unstoppable badly-written quasi-kinky bestseller! #1 New York Times bestseller! $5 million movie deal! What the heck just happened?


Seriously, it made the cover of Entertainment Weekly.

Frugality Audit

Christian Grey is a multibillionaire publishing mogul and possessor of The Red Room Of Pain, where he hangs out with his submissives. He's clearly paid a lot of money, not only to furnish this room, but for lots of sex toys as well as things like carabiners (to hang people up by ropes) and other addendums. I'm sure, to him, this was a frugal expenditure, since these are all re-usable things he can continue to use.

Sensibly, they also practice safe sex (I mean, as safe as you can be, considering what they get up to). Christian is forever whipping foil condom packets out of his pocket. They later switch things up (since they were going through an awful lot of condoms) as Anastasia first goes on the mini-pill, then Depo-Provera shots. Interestingly, they even  made her use of the mini-pill (which is the one where you absolutely must take it at the same time every day) into a control submissive/dominant sex thing where he has to remind her to take it all the time. But seriously, they should have read my frugal audit of birth control options before making this decision [Spoiler! She totally gets knocked up in the third book!]

- vegkat.blogspot.ca

It's a trilogy, and it's based on the Twilight books, so there may be some spoilers here. But honestly, people aren't reading this for the plot. Christian is a multibillionaire, but he clearly didn't get that way through frugality. He buys Anastasia a car! He buys Anastasia a whole new wardrobe! He flies Anastasia around in his private helicopter! Oh, but he's also a philanthropist (spending lots of money on charity, etc.)

To buy the book can be quite frugal as well. There are currently a limited amount of copies of the print book (because the little publisher is super-overwhelmed) but it's readily available as an eBook from most of the usual eBook selling suspects. You can also borrow it from your library, as a book, audiobook, or eBook. Apparently, part of the success of these books is that you can read it on your Kindle or whatever and nobody has to know you're totally reading erotica. It's the first book driven to popularity in large part due to the anonymity of eReading.

Have you read this yet? Can you explain to me how it went from a tiny fanfiction story to a worldwide bestseller?

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