I really have no wish to criticize anyone for their harmless and lawful pleasures, but it still has to be said that Fifty Shades of Grey is a terrible novel, badly written and devoid of point or plot. I’d like to be able to go on to say that it’s also an unmitigatedly terrible movie, but that would be unfair to many of the actors and cinematographers who brought their professional skills to the project. But one thing everyone failed with was the disappointing spanking scene with its very poor positioning:
When a girl’s OTK to be spanked, her feet shouldn’t be on the ground, never mind her knees!
But what’s most unappealing about Fifty Shades of Grey, in both book and movie form, is that, like most dreadful porn, and like most inept fan fiction, it’s so utterly humorless. But looking on the bright side, anything taking itself that seriously is ripe for spoofing, and parody sometimes, just sometimes, will get it right.
It all began in 2012, the year after the novel was published, which saw the launch of not one but two Fifty Shades take-offs. The first was Fifty Shades!: The Musical Parody, which opened at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. Mere weeks later, on 3 October, Springfield, Massachusetts, saw the premiere of Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody.
The two shows each took a different approach. Fifty Shades! is based around a women’s book club that’s having difficulty choosing the next novel to read, until someone proposes E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey – whereupon the members begin a fantasy reenactment of the story. In contrast, Spank! starts with a lady called E. B. Janet. Here she is in the original production, played by Anne Marie Scheffler:
She sets about writing a story while her husband and children are away for the weekend – only to find her two characters coming to life, wanting to debate with her what should happen.
Both shows have been successful worldwide, especially with ‘hen party’ audiences. Here’s a moment from the French production of Fifty Shades!
And there’s a notable Polish production of Spank! – retitled Klaps!, of course:
Here are some pictures from the Polish publicity shoot:
But let’s face it. What’s emerging from this material is that, despite the title of one of them, neither show features very much spanking in the strictest sense of the term. Though if you care for comedy paddling, perhaps this trailer for the German production, 49½ Shades!, may keep you briefly amused:
Audience members have also been known to be spanked in the promotional photobooth:
This lucky lady is bending over for a member of the cast:
And this lucky cast member, Danielle Trzcinski, is bending over for a member of the audience:
Such was the success of Spank! that the following year it span off into a sequel entitled, perhaps inevitably…
But if it’s proper spanking you want, a better place to start is the other parody that opened in 2013, entitled Cuff Me!
This one takes us back to readership and reenactment: two middle-aged ladies meet in a nail salon, and it emerges that one of them has never heard of Fifty Shades of Grey – so her friend tells her all about it, while key scenes from the book come to life around them. Including, you’ll be glad to know:
In the 2013 production, the role of spanked Anastasia was played by Laurie Elizabeth Gardner:
When it was revived in 2015, Kate Alden took over.
She explained to the press:
‘I’m never actually spanked. It’s like stage combat. And none of us are ever nude; it’s not that kind of show. The most risque aspect is you’ll see me in fairly modest lingerie.’
Both productions used the same idea for the publicity shot, involving a novel use for the novel:
The tone was very different when Fifty Shades of Grey was spoofed on the German stage. Contrary to popular belief, Germans do have a sense of humor, but they also have peculiar tastes in theater. The odd show in question was performed in Bochum during the summer of 2014. On arrival, the first thing the audience were told was that, by entering the auditorium, they had also entered into a sado-masochistic contract with the theater, rather like the one Grey imposes on Anastasia in the story: they were completely at the mercy of the actors. The particular act of sadism they had to endure was Fifty Shades of Grey: A Reading, in which actress Nermina Kukic sat at a desk and read passages from the book to them.
Luckily this was another show where the book comes to life: Thomas Kaschel, clad entirely in black from head to foot, helped Nermina to act out some of the scenes, including…
But for the very best spanking scene in a Fifty Shades spoof, we turn now from stage to screen. January 2016 saw the release of Marlon Wayans’ movie Fifty Shades of Black, in which he is the Christian Grey character, while ‘Hannah Steale’ is played by Kali Hawk:
She’s expertly made up to look like a black Dakota Johnson, and indeed the film sticks stiflingly close to the original, almost scene for scene and line for line, putting a wacky spin on everything it touches. But the poster shows it’s not afraid to reference other sources too:
And that means that the spanking scene manages to be an absolutely exponential improvement on the Fifty Shades movie:
Instead of taking the shot directly from Sam Taylor-Johnson, the cinematography here seems indebted to an earlier black movie, the 2013 comedy Peeples, in which Kerry Washington, best known as the Washington fixer Olivia Pope in the TV drama Scandal, dresses up in school uniform and gets spanked:
Rumor has it that there was an alternative take in which Kerry had her skirt lifted. And in Fifty Shades of Black, we’re in luck:
Here’s the trailer:
Of course, you have to remember that this is a spoof, which means that things don’t go entirely according to plan: his attempt to spank her succeeds only in hurting his hand while she lies there casually doing the crossword, and upping the ante to implements results in a lot of breakages. She hasn’t felt anything back there since she had her ‘butt implants’, she explains!
The movie’s humor is hit-and-miss, probably with more miss than hit, but I’ll happily take this spanking scene over the dismal one with Dakota Johnson any day. At the end of the earliest of the parodies, Fifty Shades!, the imaginary Anastasia gravely points out that everything happening in the story is real life – her life. Because if it were a book, she says, ‘it would be terrible’. How true, how acute. And thank goodness it’s terrible enough to be worth all those parodies!