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Wealth Porn

Updated: Aug 30



Edge Play

By Jane Boon


2020 (Regan Arts)


Everything is about sex.

Except sex.

Sex is all about power.

-- Oscar Wilde


On a superficial level, Edge Play can be read as a response to EL James´ 50 Shades of Grey. Jane Boon´s debut novel is certainly written with stronger prose, more compelling characters, and a more nuanced portrait of a segment of the BDSM community in New York City.


Still, in both novels, readers are left with one undeniable fact: billionaires are fucking weird.


When entering Boon´s story, however, imagine entering a theater instead of a novel: these characters resemble real life, but are heightened, and they are performing within the dramaturgy of kink.


Edge Play unfolds during the financial crisis of 2008, a time which is eerie to revisit given the current experience of our ongoing global health crisis due to covid-19 (at least one economist recently stated that some industries, such as food service, are only just beginning to recover financially, 13 years later). Amy Lefevre is a hardworking woman on Wall Street striving to keep her integrity amidst a world of toxic masculinity (is that redundant?) who care little for the consequences of their greed and corruption. A Cassandra-like figure Ignored by her boss--who plays an important roles towards the novel's conclusion, Amy ends up terminated and with little money to pay her student loan debts or her current bills. The Big Swinging Dicks, of course, not only stay employed, but make a killing while the rest of us suffer.


Enter Erika, a college friend who curates a gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan. Or….so Amy thought.


In reality, Erika is a high-end dominatrix, providing specialized scenes for wealthy men (the "Big Swinging Dicks", looking for someone to “sub” (as in substitute) for her while she goes to Switzerland for a couple of month with a specialized individual client. As the pressure of bills continue to mount in Amy´s life, and no one is returning her phone calls with a job interview, Amy reluctantly steps into a new pair of stiletto heels and assumes the role.




Edge Play is fantasy, so of course some aspects of Boon´s fictional narrative may be frustrating to real-life members of the kink or BDSM community. As drama and character, however, the men and women populating the novel are far more compelling and nuanced than most popular novels within the genre (including James´ series).


One dimension that Boon captures effectively is the link between sex and power, not just in BDSM but in all relationships. Amy´s “role plays” at the George Hotel early on, for example, provide a kind of foreshadowing of the kinds of psychological tools she´ll need to utilize in her role as a dominatrix.


Also, refreshingly, Boon does not portray Amy as immediately skilled in her new role. Far from it. She is reluctant, curious, naive. She has a difficult learning curve, and she ultimately offers a sigh of relief towards the end of the story when she accepts a new opportunity in her career within banking and the financial sector. This imbues the story with more verisimilitude that this protagonist, like each of us, is far from perfect. She maintained Erika´s dungeon for a time (with help from a number of key players), but ultimately discovered that continued to walk along this wild side is not for her.


Another dimension I appreciated in Boon´s novel is her understanding of a phenomenon endemic to many New Yorkers, and perhaps most especially people who work in the financial sector. I call it wealth porn. So many of the characters in Edge Play are obsessed with not only money and power, but status--the roles we are able to inhabit (or appear to exist within) because we live at this address on 5th Avenue, or fly our own private Gulfstream. Perhaps another way to read her novel is as a satire of money, and the spiritual emptiness most of the characters in Edge Play experience despite their material possessions?


Ultimately, Boon´s novel is definitely an enjoyable read, stimulating thought and provoking at least a reframing of how we experience relationships. Whether our proclivities tend towards kink or not, what is the interplay between power in our intimate relationships? And do we have spaces to safely explore these, flip these scripts? Edge Play is a fun, sexy drama, cloaked in a fresh leather corset stuffed with hundred dollar bills.


This book review was recommended by Dish Stanley in The Crush Letter No. 15.

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