TIMES SQUARE — A Times Square sex shop has opened a "Grey Area" inspired by the bondage-heavy "Fifty Shades of Grey" novels.
Gotham City at 687 Eighth Ave. is now packed with items used in the books, including rope, handcuffs and whips. The porn store — which carries all three novels along with its more hardcore offerings — has picked up an audience of "Fifty Shades"-loving female clients interested in the fetishistic sex of the books.
The store has also hired its only female staff member to help its new customers navigate the world of BDSM, which stands for bondage/discipline, dominance/submission and sadism/masochism.
The bestselling "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James, along with its sequels "Fifty Shades Darker" and "Fifty Shades Freed," show the romantic and sexual relationship between Anastasia Steele and businessman Christian Grey.
The novels' explicit portrayals of BDSM have become a massive hit, particularly among female audiences.
"We joke that it turns soccer moms into sluts," said the female employee, who asked that her name not be used. Management also does not allow pictures to be taken inside the store because of concerns about customer privacy.
The store's owners are hoping "Fifty Shades" draws in new customers — a storefront display shows off all three novels and invites fans of the books inside.
The "Grey Area" has light playthings, like "pleasure tape" used to tie someone up, gags, muzzles and even straightjackets.
Further up the BDSM chain are "shock therapy nipple clamps" and authentic police handcuffs.
Reading all three novels in the saucy trilogy doesn't make you a BDSM sexpert, she said — the store had to stop selling leather floggers because of housewives who hit their husbands too hard. They've switched to rubber ones for the time being.
"People read the book and think they're experts, but they can hurt themselves," she said. "Rubber, it makes more of a sting than a snap."
The employee, who said she hasn't read the books herself, said the female clientele, typically older women, were previously afraid of entering the Times Square sex shop, with its huge posters of half-naked porn stars.
But since the books were released, more women have come looking for toys and tips.
One particular favorite is a Wartenberg Wheel, a pizza slicer-like device that rolls a metal pinwheel across the skin, deliver a tingling sensation to a blindfolded submissive.
The store has also picked up high-end sex toys by Swedish designer Lelo, which has modern, curved branding designed to appeal to women.
Customers were hesitant to speak on the record about the shop, though one man did say he noticed more women customers recently — there had rarely been any before this year, he said.
But the female employee said she knew she was doing good work when a "very attractive" older woman came back to the shop after a purchase, thanking her for the toys.
"She said she bagged a young guy because of them and they had a fantastic relationship," the employee said.
"In my own kind of way, I'm letting women enjoy what they have."