“Mr. Grey will see you now.”
That’s not what the publicist said, but that’s what I heard when it was my time to interview Christian Grey, well, Jamie Dornan, the Irish actor who plays the kinky billionaire in the Fifty Shades franchise. Like many Black women, I had joined the millions of fans who read the books and went to the movies. And the final movie, Fifty Shades Freed, shows why we gave the franchise some attention in the first place: adventure, sexual exploration and drama all on a billionaire’s budget.
Black women are America’s most entrepreneurial and educated group. So the idea of a sexy man who has created an international empire and wants to worship at our feet (and ok, tie you up too) makes for an interesting fantasy for many of us. After a long day, a helicopter ride or penthouse suite with some pleasure can be appealing. I interviewed Dornan in the Place de l'Opéra in Paris, one of the many stops on the multi-city honeymoon Christian Grey takes his wife on aboard their private jet. #yesplease.
“Frivolous sex,” the film’s leading man said, in his Irish accent, as we talked about the franchise. I interrupted him to let him know sex was not frivolous with a laugh. Yet, in our overworked culture, a lot of us can end up undersexed creating space for erotica to fill the void.
Now in her 50s, Phyllis-Serene Rawley first tried the BDSM lifestyle in her 30s and now is an erotic coach for other women. “No matter what your fantasies are, when a woman owns her sexual desires she is more confident in herself,” Rawley shared. “There are so many men contacting Black women in the lifestyle just to kneel and kiss our feet.”
For those of us not ready to jump into the next level of kink, a sexy movie with the girls leads to juicy ideas and even better conversation. And love to the many Black women writers and readers in erotica and romance, and to the icon Zane for offering sensual stories featuring Black women for years and also opening the door for other writers of color with her own imprint.
The finale of Fifty Shades arrives as women continue to wake up to our power and push back on the patriarchy. One of my favorite dialogues in the film is when Christian Grey shows up at his new wife’s office to discuss her changing her name now that they're married. The days when we automatically gave up our identities after “I do” are done – even if we do allow you to tie us up later.
Let us know what you think of the last movie and uplevel your own love life with our Star in Your Own Love Story challenge.
And Mr. Grey? It was a pleasure.
Charreah K. Jackson is ESSENCE Senior Editor, Lifestyle and Relationships and the author of Boss Bride: The Powerful Woman’s Playbook for Love and Success.