Written by Tamar Fox. For more pieces by Tamar, check out Behind Closed Doors with Men and Women of the Bible.
When you read Fifty Shades of Grey did you think to yourself: I like this, but I wish it were Jewish? Why does the male lead have to be named Christian?
Well, Karen Exkorn thought that, and decided to do something about. She wrote a Jewish parody of Fifty Shades. How Jewish is it? Well, the male protagonist is named Jew Ishman. So: pretty Jewish. We got a chance to talk to Karen about the book, and she’s generously allowing us to reprint an excerpt from it. You can buy 52 Shades of Blu-ish here.
What got you into writing erotica?
I started reading erotica in college as part of a feminist literature course at Brown University. I loved reading it but felt intimidated to try to write it. But when “Fifty Shades of Grey” came along, I felt inspired to write my own erotica.
Other than Fifty Shades of Grey, what’s some erotica you enjoy?
Anaïs Nin is my favorite writer of female erotica. I remember reading “Little Birds” and “Delta of Venus” when I was in my early twenties. Do you know that Nin started writing porn for a dollar a page because she was broke? She’d never originally intended for her writings to become books. Her books were written in the 1940’s and still hold up today as some of the most sensual and creative erotica in existence.
What made you decide to do a Jewish knock-off of Fifty Shades?
I was sitting around the pool at my parents’ condo in Palm Beach, and I noticed that almost every woman, young and not-so-young, was reading the same book — Fifty Shades of Grey. They were all shouting to each other from their lounge chairs: “Can you believe Christian did that to her?” and “I’m so happy she left Christian!” and all I kept hearing was “Christian” this and “Christian” that. All of these Jewish women are kvetching about Christian! That’s when it hit me. Why not write a Jewish spoof? Instead of having Christian as the main character, why not have Jew?
Jew Ishman is clearly a parody of Nice Jewish Boy. What do you look for in an NJB?
Hmmm. Well, I’m pretty sure that the character Jew Ishman blurs the lines between naughty and nice. But I think that’s why I fell in love with him! I think a NJB should have a big heart, a big soul, and a big…