Monday, July 16, 2012

50 Shades of Grey Hair

July 15 update: I wrote this post last May, and I'm moving it to the top of the blog now because I'm about to be interviewed about the effect of  Fifty Shades of Grey on our age group. Has this book had an effect on our age group? Please leave a comment here or email me directly if you're over 50, have read the book (or are reading it now), and have an opinion. Thank you!

If you've been awake on this planet, you've heard of the success of Fifty Shades of GreyIt's the Number 1 best seller on Amazon, where it sports 3,639 reader reviews at this moment.*

The big deal about this book is that it's erotica, BDSM erotica at that, and it's being read by a mainstream female audience -- everyone from teens through their moms and, yes, grandmoms of our age, too. Many start reading it because everyone else seems to reading it, and we like to be shocked.

I didn't read the whole book, but I did read quite a bit during a very long airport wait at JFK, where I found a mile-high display of all three Shades of Grey books. How did the author, E L James, come out with three books so fast? From the quality of the writing, I'd say she wrote them quickly, didn't rewrite, and didn't have an editor. Otherwise, how could she repeat herself all these ways, as an Amazon reviewer points out:


Ana bites her lip 35 times, Christian's lips "quirk up" 16 times, Christian "cocks his head to one side" 17 times, characters "purse" their lips 15 times, and characters raise their eyebrows a whopping 50 times. Add to that 80 references to Ana's anthropomorphic "subconscious" (which also rolls its eyes and purses its lips, by the way), 58 references to Ana's "inner goddess," and 92 repetitions of Ana saying some form of "oh crap" (which, depending on the severity of the circumstances, can be intensified to "holy crap," "double crap," or the ultimate "triple crap")...Characters "murmur" 199 times and "whisper" 195 times (doesn't anyone just talk?), "clamber" on/in/out of things 21 times, and "smirk" 34 times. Finally, in a remarkable bit of symmetry, our hero and heroine exchange 124 "grins" and 124 "frowns"... which, by the way, seems an awful lot of frowning for a woman who experiences "intense," "body-shattering," "delicious," "violent," "all-consuming," "turbulent," "agonizing" and "exhausting" orgasms on just about every page.

Readers recognize the bad writing -- more than 1,000 reader reviews are only 1-star -- but what the heck, it is sexy (of course "sexy" is in the eyes of the beholder). Anastasia gets lots of orgasms, and isn't it a fantasy of women at any age to have an extraordinarily handsome, insanely rich lover who gives us endless orgasms -- and, by the way, has inner turmoil that we're convinced only we can fix by offering him our special brand of devotion?

Our age group is reading this book, too, and not just women. I enjoyed the reader review from "a male senior citizen, a semi-retired gynecologist," whose "arthritis flared up just reading about Ana's sexual gymnastics." He had to take Viagra to stiffen his resolve to keep reading.

If you're interested in BDSM erotica, there are plenty of well-written books you can read, with the sex you're looking for plus skillful, non-repetetive writing and unpredictable characters and plots. For example, try the Sleeping Beauty Novels, a trilogy by Anne Rice writing as A.N. Roquelaure, or check out the many BDSM erotica anthologies from Cleis Press. If it isn't specifically BDSM but simply well-written erotica you're looking for, both Cleis and Seal Press do a great job. Starting with an anthology can introduce you to writers whom you particularly enjoy, and from there you can explore what else these writers have written.

What would Fifty Shades of Grey look like if it featured a woman our age, instead of a college student? We could title it Fifty Shades of Grey Hair, and our heroine would be a woman of, say, 68, who has left a long, boring marriage and goes to San Francisco or New York City to discover her hitherto hidden sexual kinks. She hooks up with a dom who is maybe 72 and in the best of health and vigor, who uses plenty of lube while he introduces her to his special brands of toys, fingers, tongue, and penis, to bring her to the ultimate heights every few pages. I say "every few pages" instead of "every page," because we need longer foreplay these days.

Or maybe she doesn't find a dom -- maybe she's the domme, exploring her personal power in ways she has only fantasized.

You see how much fun this could be? Fifty Shades of Grey Hair wouldn't suffer in any way by being about senior sex. In fact, by featuring savvy, sexy seniors, we wouldn't need any of the lip chewing and we could be more inventive with our reactions than "oh, crap." What do you think?

(If you love the idea of senior erotica, I'm editing an anthology right now titled Still Naked: Erotica for Seniors, with Seal Press. I'll let you know when it's published!)


*I can't help comparing: my Naked at Our Age has  20 Amazon reviews--all raves except for one that found it offensive because too much of it is "about how to give yourself an orgasm." Here I thought that would be a useful part of a senior sex self-help sex guide....

Monday, July 09, 2012

Seniors Dating: Why so hard to find chemistry?

"Chemistry," he said. "I searched through Naked at Our Age and I didn't find that you discussed it at all. What are your thoughts?"

We were on a second date. Interesting question. What is chemistry, and how does it affect our choices of dating, pursuing a relationship, having sex?

I found myself discussing the importance and wonder of attraction /chemistry in generalities at first. We agreed that although attraction can grow through friendship, usually it's either there or it's not right from the beginning. We can think, this is an interesting, accomplished, fabulous person, and I really should feel attracted to him/her, but I'm not!

Then I went for complete candor: "For example," I told him, "You're an amazing person. But I just don't feel any chemistry here."

To my relief, he responded, "I feel the same way."

Whew! We continued our conversation with gusto and interest, and agreed to see each other once in a while -- as friends.

What determines whether there's chemistry for us as seniors, specifically? I would guess that during childbearing years it serves a biological purpose -- our biology is matching us with some people and not with others.But if we're not looking for a mate to propagate the species but for other reasons entirely, why isn't it easier to find that elusive chemistry? What purpose does the "no chemistry" warning serve at our age?

We discussed how you tell someone that the chemistry isn't there. I think my friend's approach (intentional or not) was excellent -- ask the question first: "What is chemistry to you? Tell me your thoughts." From there, it's an easy transition to the admission that there isn't chemistry between you.

What are your thoughts about chemistry, what purpose it serves at our age, and how you tell someone in a kind way that it isn't there for you?

(I started this topic on my Naked at Our Age Facebook page, where we discuss all sorts of news and views about senior sex -- I hope you'll read and "like" that page and comment there on topics of interest to you.)

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Don't "Play the Game": movie review

Update 7/3/12: I'm sorry that Andy Griffith died, and I worry that his death will create interest in Play the Game, an awful movie. I'm moving my review from August 2009 to the top today, hoping to steer you away from spending your valuable time seeing this film. No, it doesn't empower seniors or teach about senior sex -- quite the opposite. -- Joan Price


You'd think that a lively movie about elders dating and having sex (or wanting to) would be just the kind of film I'd applaud. I did applaud the idea of Play the Game when I first heard about it -- until I actually viewed it. Maybe I'm just too sensitive about senior sex, but I found this film neither funny nor instructive. In fact, I found it cringe-worthy for these reasons:

1. The whole premise of the movie is that widowed Grandpa Joe(Andy Griffith), living in a retirement community, is lonely but doesn't know how to play dating games, while surrounded by women, one of whom (Doris Roberts) he'd like to date, and another (Liz Sheridan) who wants to seduce him. Grandson David (Paul Campbell) takes the old man under his wing and teaches him to manipulate women.

We're led to think that Grandpa will end up reversing roles and educating Grandson about how to stop playing games and communicate honestly, respect women, and create meaningful relationships -- something Grandson has been unable to do in his own life. But (spoiler alert:) the opposite happens. We learn that the object of Grandson's affections (Marla Sokoloff) has been manipulating him more than he's been manipulating her, and has taught her grandmother (Roberts) to do the same. There, I've ruined the ending for you and you don't have to go see it.

The characters all deserve each other.

2. One of the so-called hilarious incidents is Liz Sheridan as an elder seductress crushing Viagra into a glass, adding wine, and giving it to her seductee without telling him what's in the glass. This is such a horrible, dangerous idea that I couldn't suspend my reality check long enough to laugh at the predictible results.

"It's a miracle!" exclaims our re-energized and rising hero. It wouldn't have been a miracle if he had been on heart medicine -- it would have been a death scene. How funny is that? (This scene used to be online, but seems to have disappeared.)

If you must see this (and I don't recommend it, unless you want to see if you agree with me), please take a teenager with you and plan a long talk afterwards to debunk everything you saw. Otherwise, your teen might see it on his/her own and believe the dating advice aimed at both young folks and seniors.

My verdict: Ick, skip it. Here's the trailer, but it doesn't show how bad it is or how insulting to seniors.