What’s kink? It’s the opposite of plain, old vanilla sex, and until "Fifty Shades of Grey" burst onto the scene in 2011, it was something many people assumed belonged to some leather-bound sexual subculture. But if the "Fifty Shades" inspired interest in bondage, sex toys and other sex-enhancing accessories tells us anything, it’s that kink has a much wider appeal than anyone might have imagined. After all, don't we all long to spice things up from time to time?

We recently talked to Em & Lo, two top sex bloggers known as the "Emily Posts of the modern bedroom." This duo have penned seven books together on the topics of sex and love, the most recent of which is "150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink." It’s sort of a companion piece to "Fifty Shades of Grey," except with actual advice about how to cuff your partner to the bed, where to find a kinky costume and what to say during dirty talk. It also provides a cheeky, voyeuristic view of some of the kinkiest practices out there.

Whether you’ve read "Fifty Shades" or not, chances are you’re at least a teeny bit curious about what getting kinky really entails. Here, Em & Lo dish on what kink’s all about - and where "Fifty Shades" got it all wrong.

Kinkly: When people think bondage, dungeons, whips and leather tend to come to mind. What is it really all about?

Em & Lo: Well, for some people, bondage does involve dungeons, whips and leather. But it doesn't have to, and that's one of the most important things we wanted to convey in this book - that you don't necessarily have to bring out the gimp to get kinky. Bondage, is, basically, restraining someone - or being restrained - in an erotic context. This can mean anything from a pair of fuzzy handcuffs to the full body Saint Andrew's Cross that Christian Grey had in his Red Room of Pain in "Fifty Shades". Or it can even be as simple as a kind of verbal bondage, where you tell your partner not to move an inch unless they want all oral attention to cease immediately. (Read more about bondage in Why Bondage Can Be So Much Fun.)

Kinkly: Some of that stuff seems dangerous. How can couples restrain each other in a way that provides a taste of danger while still being safe?

Em & Lo: First of all, stay away from police-issue handcuffs! They're not exactly designed for comfort and safety. And avoid cuffing someone with scarves or neckties as well, as those knots can tighten under pressure, cutting off circulation. Newbies should go for custom-made cuffs sold at sex toy shops instead - LELO makes a really classy version in silk, suede and chain-link, for example. We like Velcro cuffs, too - they hold really well, they won't tighten under pressure, and they're easy to remove quickly if need be - no key to lose! Also, you should always leave a finger's width between skin and the ties that bind, and between body parts (e.g. wrist to wrist) when tying two body parts together.

We have a bunch more safety tips in our book, "150 Shades of Play," that are specific to different kinds of bondage. For example, rope bondage is a lot more complicated than a pair of fuzzy handcuffs, and therefore requires more safety instructions, but it can be incredibly satisfying, too (plus it has a great aesthetic appeal).


Kinkly: "Fifty Shades of Grey" apparently did a lot to boost interest in bondage - and bondage toys. Your book says that E.L. James missed important safety information. What do "Fifty" fans need to unlearn?

Em & Lo: Definitely definitely never use cable ties as a restraining device. In "Fifty Shades," Christian buys cable ties at the hardware store where Ana works, the implication being that he has naughty things in mind, but these ties can tighten under pressure, cutting into the skin or cutting off circulation. In other words, they could do serious nerve damage.

In terms of other things the book gets wrong ... well, first of all, "Fifty Shades" implies that anyone who's into kink has some serious childhood baggage. But just because you like, say, bondage and discipline in the bedroom, doesn't mean your mom was a prostitute who used you as a human ashtray (as was the case with Christian). The other thing is that it is actually possible to play around with power in the bedroom without playing those roles outside the bedroom. In "Fifty Shades" Christian is incredibly controlling and possessive and stalker-like - all the time. That's more abusive than BDSM, but people can certainly have full-time dominant/submissive) relationships when done consensually and responsibly; we'd just encourage "Fifty" fans - and other newbies - to think of bondage as merely a little part-time hobby.

Kinkly: What are your top tips for people who might be interested in incorporating a little kink into their sex lives?

Em & Lo:
Remember that being kinky is a relative concept, so don't worry about what your neighbors or your parents or your sibling or your therapist might consider kinky. Define your own kink. Maybe that just means a pair of fuzzy handcuffs, or maybe it means learning how to spank each other a la Christian Grey, or learning rope bondage (we cover both in our book). Kink can be especially great for long-term relationships, where you can play with power roles, share fantasies, pretend to be someone else for each other, and learn to trust each other in a whole new way. The more you trust each other, the more you can explore together, and the hotter things can get. (Learn some other new tricks in 5 Extraordinary Sex Tips Women Can Learn from "Fifty Shades of Grey."

Kinkly: What toys and accessories are best for beginners?

Em & Lo: We really love the entire line of products that LELO sells (and not just because they're one of our sponsors!) - they're beautiful, well-designed, high-quality accessories. Even the packaging is awesome! They sell great cuffs, beginner suede whips, vibrating couples' love rings, and more. They also sell kits, which are a great way for beginners to start. Overall, their aesthetic is incredibly non-intimidating for beginners. It's a great way to explore kink in a sensual way. Plus, you'll never have to face all the whips and chains and leather and nudity that you might find in more niche BDSM retailers!

Kinkly: You say in your book that you believe that everyone’s sex life should include something they would never share over brunch or beers. Why
?

Em & Lo: Well, first of all, we should say that we happen to think it's great to be able to talk about your sex life with friends. It can be a great way to learn new things (e.g. "You should try a love ring!"), and also to feel reassured (e.g. It's totally normal not to be able to orgasm through intercourse). That said, we think there's something incredibly hot about having secrets with your partner - doing things behind closed doors that nobody else knows about. We're no yogis, and we don't tend to talk about sex as being "sacred," but we do think there's something to be said for keeping a few things off limits when it comes to sharing. Plus, your best friend will probably appreciate not having the image in her head of you and your boyfriend doing it while dressed up in dog collars and nipple clamps.

Thanks to Em & Lo for the interview. For more on why - and details on how - to use kink to spice up your sex life, check out "150 Shades of Play."

Em & Lo, the Emily Posts of the modern bedroom, have penned seven books together on the topics of sex and love, including their latest, "150 SHADES OF PLAY: A Beginner's Guide to Kink" - a sort of companion piece to "Fifty Shades of Grey" (except with actual how-to advice, decent writing, illustrations, a sense of humor and at least one gimp suit). Their last book, "Sex: How to Do Everything", was named by the Guardian as one of the 10 best sex guides of all time, alongside "The Kama Sutra" and "Ovid’s Art of Love." Em & Lo have written features for numerous magazines, including Glamour, Details and Marie Claire; and have penned columns for New York Magazine, the Guardian, Men’s Journal and Metro. They hosted a 10-episode television series called “SEX: How to Do Everything,” which premiered in the U.K. in 2009. And they dish about sex, love, and everything in between on their daily advice blog, EMandLO.com.