March 1, 2021

when sex became a bestseller


The book that stars Christian Gray was downloaded more than a million times in the e-book version. The erotic discourse of "50 shades of Gray" that mixes pain and pleasure surpassed the success since its publication in 2011. In its printed version, and only in the United Kingdom, 397,889 copies were sold a week. According to «Forbes», an average of 20 novels per second. And its adaptation to the cinema accounted for an average of 2.75 million tickets sold worldwide. Needless to say, therefore, that sex sells. But this success is not new, but the uncovered and unfiltered language of the erotic also attracted thousands of people in 1969 with "Naked Came the Stranger" ("Naked came the stranger"). But, to understand this story, you have to start at the beginning.

Mike McGrady was disenchanted with his time. Rather, with the cultural audience of that time. He was a journalist in the newsroom, a newspaper that is spread mainly in New York, and did not know how to express his nonconformity with the reception that literature had in those years in the United States. He argued that everything was worth to be a best-seller. Anything, any story and speech, regardless of its plot and style. He wanted this idea to be proven and, therefore, "Naked came the stranger" was born: an erotic book and written in a terrible way. So bad that even the journalist got rid of some chapters for being too well written. The novel was signed by Penelope Asher (pseudonym) and recounts the adventures of Gillian Blake, a housewife who, upon learning that her husband is unfaithful, begins a more active sex life and without making any distinction: between conquests These chapters tell are those of a rabbi, a professional fighter, an executive, a homosexual and a gangster.

Tribute to the morbid

Married woman, housewife, who escapes from a monotonous life to challenge her husband by being unfaithful to all the men who wanted to. And, all this, with all the luxury of details that pay homage to the interest in morbidity. In other words, a story that calls for success. Such was the case that more than 40,000 copies were sold and remained on the charts of sales successes for 13 consecutive weeks. McGrady was right. And he managed to prove it thanks to the help of his co-workers: the 244 pages of the book were not written by him, but together with 25 reporters – two of them women – who accepted the invitation to participate in the project. In the statement detailing the aspects of the book, the journalist made it very clear: "There will be a constant emphasis on sex."

But the figures soared when the public realized that there was no Penelope Ashe behind those lines, but a group of journalists who had been participants in the world's greatest literary deception and among which, in addition, were the Pulitzer Robert Awards W. Greene and Gene Goltz. It was this kind of feat with words like weapons that encouraged many curious people to go to bookstores for this novel, as well as to read in detail the explosion that two naked people are capable of doing. «Fingers on the skin, teeth on the skin, then shivers of total communication and explosions of control. I had forgotten that in life there were more things to mow the lawn, ”says one of the lines of this bestseller that later became a film under the direction of Radley Metzger.

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