« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

San Jose Mercury News, Published July 22 2012

British hotel replaces Gideon Bibles with ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Ah, the Lake District of England. You can go ambling through the scenic countryside, explore the places that inspired the tales of Beatrix Potter, tour the historic castles and Roman ruins.

If you’re not too tied up in your hotel room, that is.

Innkeeper Jonathan Denby has replaced the Gideon Bible (“which no one reads,” he says) in all 40 guest rooms of the Damson Dene Hotel with that saucy soft-porn chart-topper, “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

“I’m told it’s a ripping good yarn,” Denby writes in his blog, http:/// www.slow-life.co.uk, which heretofore had been heavy on Thoreau and Milton quotations and musings on art, gardens and literature.

In an email exchange, Denby said he’d been pondering a Scriptures substitution for some time. Besides the matter of low readership, he says, the Bibles “give out the image of an old-fashioned stuffy place, which we aren’t.”

His first thought for a replacement was Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” but then he heard about “Fifty Shades.”

“It’s being read by women of all ages and types and although it’s been called ‘Mummy porn’ by some (mainly male) journalists, I think that’s rather patronizing to the women who are reading it,” said Denby, who is married with three daughters.

He says the response has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

“Most people have treated the story as a bit of fun (which is what it is intended to be) and the TV here did a very funny piece about it,” Denby said. “One or two religious groups have protested, but there haven’t been any pickets, or anything serious.

“Interestingly, we’ve had a lot of emails from the States, quoting Scripture at us, presumably from the Bible Belt.”

Guests who prefer bedside reading with more inspiration and less domination need not worry: The Bible hasn’t been banned from the premises of the Damson Dene Hotel. Travelers may request a copy from the front desk.

What’s next for the hotel, now that it’s stepped out of the tranquil countryside and into the Internet and telly limelight?

“Once ‘Fifty Shades’ has had its day, we’ll replace it with something else,” Denby said, “maybe even ‘Atlas Shrugged.’ ”