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Blushing grey

The secret devotees of ‘Fifty Shades’

The New York Times reports mommy porn sensation ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’s first devotees were Orthodox Jews

Renee Ghert-Zand is a reporter and feature writer for The Times of Israel.

'Fifty Shades of Grey'
'Fifty Shades of Grey'

No one really knows what goes on between other people’s covers, be they on beds or on books.

'Fifty Shades of Grey' cover art. (photo credit: Courtesy)
‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ cover art.                (photo credit: Courtesy)

David Sax in “The One-Page Magazine” in Sunday’s The New York Times says that the first devotees of the mommy porn sensation “Fifty Shades of Grey” were none other than Orthodox Jews. So claimed Paul Bogaards, a spokesman for Vintage Books, the trilogy’s publisher.

Sax told The Times of Israel that he noticed that the search history on the book going back to March showed it was largely in New York, New Jersey, and South Florida — areas with large observant Jewish populations. This, together with the fact that the publisher told him many of the book’s first customers were also buying Shocken titles on Talmud, was very telling.

Photographer Gillian Laub made public the frenzy over British author E.L. James’s work among privileged middle-aged New York area Jewish women with her video “Fifth Shades Frenzy” for TIME. The short film opens with one woman telling how she first found out about the book. “It was word of mouth, a passing of a whisper,” she recounts. Then she says that when her friend asked her whether she had read the book and she said, no, her friend told her, “You need to read it, and you need to read it now, and you need to wear a panty liner.”

It is unlikely that such statements would have been shared publicly among religiously observant women, but evidently, similar things must have been said in private. How else would “Fifty Shades of Grey” have first taken off among religious Jews?

Sax quotes a guy named Gavriel, who says he isn’t surprised at all by the Orthodox community’s response to the book. “It is truly interesting,” he said, “how wrong the perception is that religious people —  just because they tend to be more outwardly conservative — are less likely to be into all kinds of crazy stuff!” He should know. He’s the owner of koshersextoys.net —“the original and only kosher sex toy super store on earth.”

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