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Louisa May Alcott, Vacation Packages, and More Shameless ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Ripoffs (PHOTOS)

From allegedly real-life Anastasia Steeles to erotic vacations to a ‘Shades’ Kama Sutra, see nine attempts to rip off the bestseller.

Cashing in on 50 Shades

By Lizzie Crocker
Profit-minded people are rushing to capitalize on the erotic trilogy’s huge success. From a hilarious @50ShedsofGrey Twitter feed to Fifty Shades vacations, see some attempts to rip off the global phenomenon.

'Eighty Days Yellow'

Fifty Shades of Grey fans may be pleasantly surprised when they pick up Eighty Days Yellow and find the steamy romance is more sophisticated than E.L. James’s mega-selling BDSM books. An instant bestseller in the UK, Eighty Days Yellow was written by Vina Jackson—a pseudonym for two authors—long before Fifty Shades replaced Bibles in hotel rooms. And while it’s clearly being marketed to fit the Fifty Shades niche (one would think its publisher could have come up with a more singular title), Eighty Days Yellow takes erotica to the next level with its smart prose and page-turning plot about a passionate musician’s addictive love affair with her music professor. Naturally, he likes to play up his power in the bedroom, and his fiery little pupil can’t help but submit to his charms. What’s erotica these days without a little S&M? Open Road Media released the e-book yesterday, and a paperback version will hit shelves in the U.S. on Sept. 25

50 Shades of Tweets

Writers are even finding ways to spoof the book in 140 characters or less. The latest to go viral is @50ShedsofGrey, an anonymous Twitter feed of “Erotica for the not-too-modern male,” or for the man whose enthusiasm for BDSM merges with his passion for gardening and other house-husband activities. In two months, @50ShedsofGrey has amassed nearly 80,000 fathers with naughty tales and musings from the tool shed: “She knelt before me on the shed floor and tugged gently then harder until finally it came. I moaned with pleasure, ‘Now for the other boot’”; “’I'm so wet,’ she purred, squirming, ‘You know what to do . .’ I certainly did—I went straight to B&Q and got a dehumidifier for the shed.” Come October, all tweets from the shed will be published in a book by St. Martin’s Press—just what you need to liven up your bathroom bookshelf or coffee table.

Weiss, Sabrina

The Classical Album

“The singing starts again ... building and building, and he rains down blows on me ... and I groan and writhe ... Lost in him, lost in the astral seraphic voices ... I am completely at the mercy of his expert touch...” Here’s our BDSM-loving heroine, Anastasia Steele, recounting some sort of out-of-body experience: being whipped and dominated by Christian Grey while the “seraphic voices” from Thomas Tallis’s Spem in Alium resound throughout her Dominant’s Red Room of Pain. “It was ... overwhelming,” she says of the 40-part motet by the 16th-century court composer, which is actually a devotional choral piece about man’s faith in the Lord.

In mid-July, thanks to its role in E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey, Spem in Alium topped U.K. classical-music charts. Now, EMI Classics is releasing an entire album of classical tunes designed to be “the perfect accompaniment to the Fifty Shades reading experience, setting a mysterious and alluring atmosphere with just the slightest hint of danger.” Naturally, all 15 tracks were curated by E.L. James herself, including the aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2, and Pachabel’s Canon in D. Anyone who has read the books knows classical music is high on the list of Christian’s esoteric interests, and his talent for tinkling the ivories comes in handy when he works his magic fingers on Anastasia. Frankly, just thinking about this masterpiece’s digital release on Aug. 21 has us all hot and bothered.

Real-Life Anastasia Steeles

Wouldn’t it be fun to be Anastasia Steele, if only just for one steamy night with Christian Grey, complete with a blindfold and feather tickler, and perhaps a cocktail cruise on his yacht? Writers and publishers are capitalizing on this ultimate fantasy by introducing us to the “real-life Anastasia Steele.” As it turns out, there apparently are dozens of such people eager to share their stories, and if we were smart, we would buy every single one of them because they’re so tantalizingly real. There’s Sophie Morgan’s Diary of a Submissive: A Modern True Tale of Sexual Awakening in which the author, a 30-something British journalist who writes under a pseudonym, recounts her own BDSM exploits and evolution from “girl-next-door in upper-middle-class Britain to woman-happily-tied-the-bedpost in her boyfriends’ flats.” In Stripping Down, Sheila Hageman writes about how discovering her father’s porn collection inspired her to become a stripper when she was 18 (this “real-life Anastasia” is a bit of a stretch, but publishers bought it, so you probably will too). There’s even a co-memoir, Laura Meets Jeffrey, which tells the real-life master-slave love story “from both sides of the whip.”

‘Fifty Shames of Earl Grey’

Along with the slew of nonfiction books inspired by the Fifty Shades phenom, publishers have rolled out an onslaught of parodies. At first glance, some of us might be dumb enough to think Fifty Shames of Earl Grey is just another clone of the original successful series and buy it for that reason alone. Others will howl at the witty ploys Fifty Shames evokes to poke fun at E.L. James’s series. Under the pseudonym of Fanny Merkin, Andrew Shaffer writes about Anna Steal’s obsession with Earl Grey and his “long shapely fingers.” Like Christian, Grey has a few ghosts in his closet: he has a thing for Tom Cruise; he loves the fine Italian cuisine at the Olive Garden; he’s really into BDSM, i.e. “Bards, Dragons, Sorcery, and Magick.” Need we say more? 

‘A Coupla Shades of Taupe’

In the same vein as Fifty Shames is Court Burback’s A Coupla Shades of Taupe, “a romantic, tender tale of blossoming emotions and hardcore shtupping,” according to the book jacket. In an interview with The Indie Spotlight, the female author says her book has been dubbed “Fifty Shades of Grey for dudes” and admits her humor “tends to be male-oriented (i.e., raunchy).” Pagan Taupe, the richest man in Arkansas, falls for the slightly annoying Alexandra Aluminum and persuades her to be his sex slave and “the two embark on a sexual journey that would make Gloria Steinem put a loaded gun to her temple,” as the press release puts it.  

‘Fifty Shades’-Themed Vacation Packages

As if reading Fifty Shades of Grey on vacation weren’t enough of a silly indulgence, hotels now offer Fifty Shades–themed vacation packages for an altogether more immersive experience. The Hotel Max in Seattle offers a two-night stay that includes a four-hour skippered sunset cruise on the Puget Sound (much like the romantic sail Anastasia and Christian took aboard his yacht), complete with gourmet on-board dining and a bottle of Bollinger Grande Annee Rose 1999 champagne, one of Grey’s favorite vintage bubblies. Portland’s Heathman Hotel, where Anastasia and Grey had that hot elevator make-out session, offers the $2,750, cleverly titled “Charlie Tango No Limits” package. Patrons are treated to a helicopter ride over Portland (just like a ride in Grey’s private helicopter, Charlie Tango), fancy hors d’oeuvres, drinks, dinner, roses, and limo transfers. The Red Room of Pain—or any room, for that matter—is not included.  

‘Fifty Ways to Play’

It was only a matter of time before the trilogy inspired a sort of Fifty Shades Kama Sutra. Enter Fifty Ways to Play: BDSM For Nice People, a How-to-Kinkify-Your-Sex-Life with tips from husband-and-wife authors, Debra and Don Macleod. Apparently well versed in their subject matter, the couple wrote previous books, including Lube Jobs: A Woman’s Guide to Great Maintenance Sex and Lip Service: a His and Hers Guide to the Art of Oral Sex and Seduction.  

Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Memoir’

Alhough you wouldn’t have guessed it, a manuscript recovered from Harvard University’s Peabody Museum and dated in the late 1800s reveals that Louisa May Alcott, the beloved 19th-century American author of Little Women, actually was quite the little harlot. Adventures with a “Wooden Friend” and more lusty ambitions are laid bare in Fifty Shades of Louisa MayA Memoir of Transcendental Sex. Perhaps the most clever spinoff of E.L. James’s erotica novel, Louisa May’s “memoir,” published under a pseudonym, imagines the feminist writer indulging her every prurient whimsy. She boasts that she’s “well acquainted with the workings of a man’s nether regions,” and recounts adroitly undressing one of her paramours: “I ripped back his black cape, pulled at his thick belt, and lowered his black pants and silk undergarments to reveal the most perfect of tapers, pink and well-knobbed at the end, reminiscent of the Wooden Friend in length and width. Except this friend was decidedly alive, though hard as a taproot.” Needless to say, Louisa May is also more adroit with words than Anastasia Steele. Thankfully, she doesn’t have an inner goddess. If she had some sort of rough equivalent, she certainly would give it a more interesting name and would take care not to refer to it on every other page.  

‘Beautiful Disaster’

There is nothing sexually explicit about Beautiful Disaster, and yet the originally self-published young-adult book has been marketed as a Fifty Shades clone by Atria Books, which bought the rights to author Jamie McGuire’s novel in June. Such are the ploys that we’ve grown accustomed to from a publishing industry reworking the Fifty Shades beat in any and every remotely plausible form. Where Beautiful Disaster lacks hard-core sex, the Twilight-y romance makes up for it with sexual tension. “A lot of reviewers are looking around after the Grey trilogy and saying, ‘I love this one,’” Atria publisher Judith Curr said of Beautiful Disaster in a phone interview with The Daily Beast. Though Atria isn’t releasing the book until Aug. 14, Warner Bros. and CBS Films are already fighting for movie rights to the novel, according to The Hollywood Reporter.