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Literature / Exit to Eden

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Exit to Eden is a 1985 novel by Anne Rice (originally written under the pen name Anne Rampling before being subsequently published under Rice's own name), about a BDSM resort, The Club.

Elliott is a masochistic man who goes to The Club in search of sexual fulfillment. Lisa is a sadist and one of the managers of The Club. Lisa falls for Elliott's sardonic humor and abandons her responsibilities to pursue a romance. They travel around the American south and reflect on each other, BDSM, and the future.

In 1994 it was adapted into a movie by Garry Marshall.

Elliot Slater (Paul Mercurio) is an Australian photographer who has never managed to sustain a relationship on account of his masochistic proclivities. To come to terms with his sexuality, he signs up to go to the resort, here called Eden. Once there, he falls in love with the owner/head dominatrix Lisa Emerson (Dana Delany)...

Unfortunately, at the airport, Elliot inadvertently took photographs of wanted international diamond smuggler Omar (Stuart Wilson), who heads off to the resort himself to retrieve the diamonds. This forces cops Sheila Kingston (Rosie O'Donnell) and Fred Lavery (Dan Aykroyd) to go undercover at the resort to arrest him...

This book and film provide examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The diamond-smuggler subplot.
  • Adaptational Modesty: In the book, the submissives are naked. In the film, they're just wearing skimpy outfits.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • In the book, the male lead's name is Elliott. In the film, he's down a T, to Elliot.
    • In the book, the name of the BDSM resort is The Club, with the title's Eden only metaphorical. In the film, The Club is changed to Eden to make the title more literal.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: In the book, both Elliott and Lisa are bi. In the film, Elliot is totally straight and Lisa's bisexuality is toned down to subtext.
  • Alliterative List: The movie's "Safe, Sane and Submissive"
  • Barely-There Swimwear: Even though they're not swimsuits in the traditional sense, the thong bikinis that Mistress Lisa has the male and female guests wear count.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Unusually done with a man harassing a woman. In the movie, Tommy tries to have sex with Sheila despite her saying no and backing away. It's played for comedy because Tommy's into BDSM and is supposed to be funny as a pervert.
  • Briefs Boasting: The thong bikinis that Mistress Lisa has the male guests wear.
  • Buddy Cop Comedy: In a bizarre adaptational decision, the Film of the Book superimposes a buddy-cop comedy on top of what was originally a straightforward kinky romance.
  • But Not Too Bi: In the book, Everyone Is Bi, and Lisa interacts sexually with her submissive Diana. In the film, Lisa is still her dominant, but their relationship appears far more platonic than her relationship with Elliot.
  • Casual Kink
  • Costume-Test Montage: Shiela trying on her fetish outfit.
  • Credits Gag: In the opening credits, "As usual, Héctor Elizondo", lampshading his Once an Episode appearances in Garry Marshall's movies.
  • Eating the Eye Candy Lisa is shown checking out the male Citizens' butts during the Welcoming Ceremony. It's revealed that Lisa has a butt fetish which is revealed when she spanks Paul
  • Everyone Is Bi: In the book, this seems to be true. For the members of The Club, at least.
  • Fetish: Mistress Lisa's butt fetish.
  • Film of the Book
  • Genre Mashup: Thanks to invokedExecutive Meddling, the film took the novel's story—an erotic BDSM love story—and added a comic Buddy Cop Show with Aykroyd and O'Donnell. This was cited as one of the main reasons the film was such a mega-bomb.
  • Gratuitous Rape: The book has a scene with Lisa making Elliott have a rape fight with another man, where he wins by raping the guy for her.
  • Kinky Spanking: Lisa and Elliot.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Fred comes in to see Sheila and Nina struggling in a way that looks like they're having sex. This was not a reference to Rosie O'Donnell being a lesbian, as she didn't come out until eight years after the film was made.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Dana Delany spends roughly 80% of the movie in gold-and-black lingerie.
  • Parental Abandonment: In the film, Lisa's mother is dead and her father is emotionally distant.
  • Parental Neglect: In the film, Lisa's father is a cold, distant man.
  • Property of Love: Elliott starts off chosen as Lisa's sexual slave on a whim, but assumes the role willingly as their relationship deepens.
  • Safe, Sane, and Consensual: The general principle of BDSM play that the story is based around. The movie, however, chose to alter the phrase to "Safe, Sane and Submissive."
  • Safe Word: Mentioned briefly in the movie with the alternate phrase "control word", but it's not really explained.
  • Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: Fred Lavery's problem.
  • Sex Tourism: More played up in the film, where it seems that anyone can vacation on the island if they can afford the privilege. In the novel, it's more exclusive and invitation-only to maintain secrecy. In either case it's a destination people visit solely to indulge in exotic sex.
  • Shirtless Scene: In the film, it's not so much a scene, since there are shirtless men wandering continuously in the background. In the film all the slaves are simply naked 24/7 unless their role requires a costume...which itself rarely involves being fully covered.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slave Collar: Part of the submissive uniform.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: In the movie, Lisa had a relationship with her graduate school English professor.

Alternative Title(s): Exit To Eden