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Many New Yorkers want to submit to "Fifty Shades of Grey" this Valentine's Day weekend

A scene from

A scene from "Fifty Shades of Grey." Photo Credit: Fifty Shades of Grey via YouTube

A lot of New Yorkers are all tied up for Valentine's Day.

New York women are expected to dominate the attendance for "Fifty Shades of Grey" -- the steamy, bondage-drenched movie adaptation about a college graduate's complicated sexual relationship with a billionaire -- in its opening weekend this Friday.

"I got the tickets, and after I got them, I told [my boyfriend] I'd gotten them so there would be no discussion," said Lisa Lee, 24, a public relations associate in Union Square.

Lee tipped her hat to the movie's marketers for opening the movie on a weekend when many New York couples welcomed an alternative to prix fixe dinners at inflated holiday prices. "They have really great timing," she said.

"Fifty" has been the fastest selling R-Rated movie ever, and The Regal Union Square Stadium 14 theater was the first nationally to sell out for a Thursday night showing, according to Fandango.

Valentine's Day itself "will probably be our biggest ticketing day," a Fandango spokesman predicted.

Single women are flocking to ogle the dominating Christian Grey -- played by Jamie Dornan opposite Dakota Johnson's Anastasia Steele -- in groups.

One Twitter user joked that his plan for Valentine's night was to loiter around cinemas waiting for single women to emerge from the movie, who would presumably be left in a receptive romantic mood.  

The trio of "Grey" books, which detail a dominant-submissive relationship, have sold more than 100 million copies and whipped up a marketing frenzy that continues with the film, beyond the obvious "Fifty" themed bedroom equipment.

The cosmetics company Make Up Forever recently released "50 Shades" make up and Vermont Teddy Bear is peddling a plush stuffed animal with handcuffs and bondage mask. Even Target joined the cross-promotion marketing with "The Official Pleasure Collection" themed to the flick.

While many men have a vibe that the movie will be cheesy, their partners' excitement has prompted them to surrender.

Rahmel Jackson, 23, of Harlem, a temp worker, finds the fetishization of Grey's wealth offensive ("80%" of the "archetypal characters" who win women in romance books are rich guys, he notes). He prefers artier films by Ingmar Bergman and Woody Allen, but "if she feels it, I'll feel it," he said bravely. Jackson is being taken to the movie by his girlfriend, Ashley Johnson, 20, a student who lives in Washington Heights, who enthused, "I'm really hyped up about this. We're going to have a lot of fun."

The "Fifty Shades of Grey" franchise has helped to eliminate the stigma attached to bondage and fetishes , explained Johnson, who is hoping for a sexy -- but not raunchy -- treatment of the subject matter.

"As a guy, you're obligated to go," if your Valentine wants to see it, sighed Orlando Easterling, 24, an electrical engineering student from Pelham Bay. While Easterling prefers comedic movies, he is willing to oblige "for her and her benefit," though he expects razzing from his male friends.

"He knew it was coming. Every girl in America has read the series," laughed Easterling's girlfriend, Chantal Thomson, a Harlem actress. "What doors are being opened by this movie in our culture is a terrifying thought," Thomson said. 

Lisa Brateman, a midtown psychotherapist and relationship specialist said the film could help couples battle staleness in their physical relationships. She also applauded single women attending on the most couple-centric day of the year. "I endorse not hiding yourself," Brateman said of singles in the city, adding, "I had a conversation last week with a client trying to get a group together -- at last count she had four definites and one 'maybe.'"

The movie is also useful as a talking point for  couples interested in the practices depicted in the film but who “don’t know how to explore” them, said Financial District sex therapist Rachel Klechevsky. The movie “plants a seed,” she said. “Fifty Shades of Grey makes people feel okay about getting a little kinky,” Klechevsky continued, but she advised viewers to have a conversation about the practices that excite them rather than plunging in with no warning.

One group of people who should probably ditch the movie for blander fare are those on first dates, observed Brateman. "The first conversation you have after dinner and a movie should not be, 'how do you feel about whips?'" Brateman said.


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