The sexting craze: Toronto businesses capitalize on popularity of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’
Sexy bestseller ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ has inspired some couples to spice up their text messages
Recently, at a boutique investment firm, an analyst complained to co-workers that he was scared to go home because his wife was reading Fifty Shades of Grey, the best-selling erotic novel about the relationship between a college graduate and a young business magnate, notable for its sexy scenes. Though this investment analyst’s colleagues were envious of his booming sex life, his wife, he explained, had started to attack him as soon as he walked in the door. For the first time in his eight-year marriage, he was having too much sex and he was tired out.
All across Toronto, Fifty Shades of Grey has changed the way women speak to each other. For example, at a recent school function at an all-girls private school, a mother came up to me asking if I had read the book.
“You have to read it,” she gushed. “I was just on vacation with my daughter, and my mother-in-law and I couldn’t put it down. But I also thought, ‘This is so very wrong for me to read this right now.’ ”
I learned at one of my daughter’s activities at Bathurst and Eglinton that there was a woman known to a few of the mothers in the area who wrote erotica for a small but loyal Forest Hill customer base. It took me two days to track her down. She only recently moved from writing for friends to give their husbands as “gifts” to starting a website called sextprose.com.
“I started writing erotica for my husband 10 years ago,” she explains, when I get her on the phone. She will only say that she has more than one child, has been married for 15 years, and lives in the Spadina and St. Clair area. She describes herself as a hockey mom.
“I had bought a card for our anniversary,” she explains. “I started writing the usual stuff, but then I started writing a somewhat sexy short story. I couldn’t stop. He loved it.”
Then she took a trip with some girlfriends to Chicago for a weekend where one of her friends was worried that her husband was giving her guilt for leaving him at home with their children.
“I told her, ‘Don’t fight with him. Be nice to him because it’s contagious.’ She asked what she should say to be nice, and I said, ‘Give me your phone. Let me write something.’ ”
She wrote a little kinky message, and her friend said, ‘He’s never going to believe it’s me.’ But that was it. He did believe it was from her, but I had her phone for the rest of the trip. He ate it up. He loved it.”
From that trip, news spread through the tony parts of Toronto, and although she began doing it just for friends, it has evolved into a paying gig. “People are inhibited,” she says. “They need someone else to tell them it’s OK to talk or write things their partners can read. There’s a level of comfort when you hear that others are doing it or knowing that someone else is doing what you’re thinking. You’re no longer a freak.”
The husbands can’t get enough of it. “I always have clients who are, like, ‘More please. More please!’ ”
She says most of her clients are family-oriented, and she writes with that in mind. For example, her stories include scenes with the construction workers next door and begin at places, such as Starbucks or gyms, that her customer base can relate to.
She describes her customer base as “people you wouldn’t think twice about when you see them. They are plain-Jane women in Talbot’s shoes. You’d never guess they’d be excited by what I do or this kind of writing, but they are, and it’s really helped their sex lives and marriages.”
She finds that most of her customers have been married a long time and need an “exciting spin” in their lives. She’ll get the husband’s e-mail and write on behalf of the wife or send the wife a short story, which they can then pass off as their own work.
She explains that her “sexting” is more explicit and is quicker to the punch and her short stories are more drawn out. “I ask women what their comfort level is and what their husbands are into.”
The husbands, she says, can’t get enough of it. “I always have clients who are, like, ‘More please. More please!’” Then, usually, they eventually take off on their own with their own writing. “I just jump-start the process for them."
Sarah Forbes-Roberts is a co-owner at Come as You Are, an erotic boutique on Queen West. Here, customers can browse through a large selection of erotica or sign up for a do-it-yourself workshop.
“We always recommend erotica writing, which is huge,” she says. “It’s a matter of trying new things and a source of inspiration for a diverse fantasy world.”
As for our Forest Hill erotica expert, she also shyly admits that not only are a number of women now comfortable talking about what they like, but also, thanks to some of her work, “I have been known to start small baby booms in certain areas of the city.”
Post City Magazines’ columnist Rebecca Eckler is the author of Knocked Up, Wiped! and her latest books, How to Raise a Boyfriend and The Lucky Sperm Club.