Mommy Porn Revolution? More Women Seek Erotica, Romance

PHOTO: E.L. James book "Fifty Shades of Grey."
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Alicia is a 46-year-old former paralegal turned stay-at-home mom who loves to read erotic novels and watch porn. And she is far from alone.

Call it a "mommy porn revolution," a wave of steamy, sexy -- some would say raunchy -- romance novels and films sweeping through suburbia, many of them actually made by women, for women.

Angie Rowntree is the creator and owner of sssh.com, a New England-based website specializing in steamy featurettes and other forms of erotica, and she said the demand keeps growing. About one in three woman now admit that they watch porn.

"What our audience wants is to see a passionate love scene that is filled with chemistry and sensuality, like that beach novel that comes to life where the hero comes and whisks off the heroine, makes wild passionate love to her," Rowntree said. "They want a storyline... like the romance novel come to life."

That means there's more dialogue than veteran porn star Jeanie is used to in the erotic film "Ellington," in which she stars.

"I really appreciate that they incorporate love and sexuality, kind of fuse them as one," she said. "I like shooting movies where women are the target audience because I feel like it hits home."

The finished project is a kind of X-rated, modern Cinderella story. It feels like a cross between a date movie and the kinds of tapes teenage boys hide in their closets. About 40 minutes of romantic plotting, and a 10-minute scene of fairly hard-core porn.

But is what they are doing really liberating women, or is it just degrading them like, well, porn?

"I believe porn can be degrading, yes," Jeanie said. "But I make sure to work with companies that stride on the other side of the spectrum. They're trying to do the different thing. We're trying to set those trends for performers to lean against that."

"We treat the people that we work with respect," Rowntree said. "It's about romance and it's about love. There's nothing degrading about that. I think it's very respectful to women. It puts women in a position of power."

Brandy, who didn't want her last name to be used, wrote the script for the film. She said, "Different people have different interpretations of what's degrading."

"I don't think sex is degrading, I think sex is fun," she said. "I do think there are limits. And I think there can be some shoots that the titillation comes from elements that Angie and I wouldn't choose. Let's just put it like that."

The question of what women want is something even Hollywood couldn't figure out in the 2000 movie, "What Women Want," starring Mel Gibson. Television shows like "Sex and the City" and "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" (Kandi, the series' star, launched her own line of sex toys for women), have all tried to tap into that question.

The latest craze has been the New York Times best-selling erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey," which has sold more than 100,000 copies so far, with movie rights worth a reported $5 million. The book is filled with taboo subjects like bondage, dominance and submission, and it has launched a buying frenzy among mothers searching for the sex toys described in "Shades."

Kristen Tibby, the creative director for the Pleasure Chest in Los Angeles, said that in addition to the women she had seen come into the shop since the "Shades" craze began, husbands have become customers.

"I had this man come in the other day, and he was like, "I've been with my wife for 20 years. I had sex three times this week, and I have not done that in a very long time," she said. "So he came in to buy all the products for 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'"

Editor's note: When "Nightline" on April 20, 2012, it said "Fifty Shades of Grey" was "self-published." The original publisher is The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House in Australia. The U.S. publisher is Vintage, a division of Random House.

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