By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
LONDON (CNN) — The bestselling erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” may have done more than spice up readers’ love lives.
Firefighters in London say it could be to blame for a rise in the emergency calls from people stuck in all kinds of awkward situations — some involving handcuffs.
The wildly-popular trilogy details the S&M-flavored love story of a recent college grad and a billionaire CEO. It’s also credited with boosting sales of sex toys, driving women to hook-up sites and fueling a craze over sexual domination.
So, it’s not surprising there would be a downside.
In the past three years, London’s fire crews have been called to 79 incidents involving people trapped in handcuffs.
“I don’t know whether it’s the Fifty Shades effect, but the number of incidents involving items like handcuffs seems to have gone up,” said Third Officer Dave Brown.
“I’m sure most people will be Fifty Shades of red by the time our crews arrive to free them.”
Such red-faced moments are among more than 1,300 calls involving people being trapped “often in everyday household items” since 2010, the fire service said.
Such calls are not just awkward; they end up costing the taxpayer. London Fire Brigade puts the cost of these 1,300 calls at £377,000 ($580,000.)
But it’s not just London where E L James’ erotic fiction has been making an impact.
Virginia Representative Jim Moran said the trilogy is a hit in a camp housing high-value detainees within the Guantanamo Bay prison complex.
“Rather than the Quran, the book that is requested most by the (high-value detainees) is Fifty Shades of Grey. They’ve read the entire series in English, but we were willing to translate it,” he said in an interview with The Huffington Post.
The insight into the prisoners’ reading habits was provided by military officials showing a congressional delegation around Camp Seven, the Democrat said.
“I guess there’s not much going on, these guys are going nowhere, so what the hell,” he is quoted as saying.
The trilogy has sold more than 32 million copies in the United States alone since the first installment was published in 2011. With a film version due for release next year, London’s firefighters may have to respond to many more calls.
So, the fire brigade has a word of advice to offer: Use a little common sense.
And if you try handcuffs, always keep the keys handy.