Friday, June 08, 2007

Will the last Teddy Babe in the dollhouse turn out the lights, please?

One of the many things I didn't have space to cover in the Guys and Dolls piece was the plush doll phenomenon. Teddy Babes are big stuffed dolls with velour-like skin. I think they're adorable. If I was single and some guy shyly admitted that he sleeps with a big stuffed girl doll to keep him company, I'd think it was cute as hell.

Since I wrote the article and associated blog entry, it came to my attention that the Salon article I reference was actually mangled version of Meghan Laslocky's longer and more even-handed piece that ran in Salt Magazine. I was completely stunned at how Laslocky was edited in Salon. If you're out there Meghan, I'd love to hear from you, so would my readers.

Thanks to Josh Williams for his letter to the editor. To the others that wrote, many thanks. Those letters may still run and I shall link them if they do.

The doll owners had many things to say about the article. And I fielded these comments from "Davecat" (who pointed me to the unedited Laslocky article) as well:

"I had your article pointed out to me by a friend who's a member of the Doll Forum. When he mentioned it, frankly, I expected the worst: the members would see you as yet another invasive opportunist troll, which would result in yet another biased and judgmental article. But thankfully, that wasn't the case. Your piece was rather well-balanced, and it pretty much speaks for itself. Plus, the fact that you've left it open-ended is a refreshing change from the undercurrent of 'so that just goes to show you - doll owners are freaks' that a few of these sorts of pieces have.

I'm an iDollator myself; My RealDoll Sidore Kuroneko and I have been partners for about seven years; all my mates know about her and she's an incredibly important part of my life, with a status that goes far beyond 'sex toy.' I recognize the fact that she is a Doll; however, by virtue of the personality and history that I've given her, she goes from being simply a beautiful work of art, to being a lover and companion that's always there for me. And when you have a fascination with (read: lust for) female androids, combined with a history of either being in horrible relationships or none at all, a RealDoll certainly makes life less miserable. You can't put a price on that, really...

As I'm sure you've learned, iDollators run the gamut - there's a few archetypes, but there's no such thing as a bog-standard doll owner. There are owners that have their doll for purely sexual reasons, and there's owners that are 'married' to their artificial companions. There are owners that don't even give their dolls a name, and there are owners who don't even have sex with their dolls. Naturally that means there's many points in between. A rather varied spectrum, just like humanity in general."

And this came from another reader, "That was interesting this week, but I kind of felt like taking a long shower using a whole bar of soap afterward. Why is it grosser than, say an article on sex abusers? I guess because one of these guys could be my dentist, and someone could blow the whistle on him, and he'd still have his practice. (If I had one of those Stepford Wives, I'd show them who her man was). Stick to the funny stuff, please." He titled the email, "gross with a capital g that rhymes with p that stands for puke."

I'll be taking a break from dolls for a while, but I must admit that I'm thinking of buying a pair of Boobie Balls for "stress relief."

Teddy Babe photo courtesy of AVAV, which offers the following reference link.


EBEZP said...

I'm with you on the booby balls and what about those glow cocks?!
Whole new world, dolls isn't it?

Dean said...

One of the letter writers said: "Why is it grosser than, say an article on sex abusers? I guess because one of these guys could be my dentist, and someone could blow the whistle on him, and he'd still have his practice."

This is completely (and I mean completely) inexplicable to me. If somebody 'blows the whistle' on a dentist who has a sex doll, the dentist should lose his practice? Really?

I mean, really?

Doug said...

I'm reasonably sure I wouldn't lose my practice over a sex doll. Although, perhaps people are more discriminating about the folks who clean their teeth (rather than their ears).

As for the boobie balls -- what do I do with them? Do I suck them, do I squeeze them? I'm so confused!

Anyway. I want these for Father's Day.

Doug said...

And those partial torsos are going to give me nightmares. Marketed to the amputee fetishist, no doubt. They're so expensive, the full-scale dolls must be astronomical.

The Fool said...

Well, these posts were an eye-opener. What stands out to me most is how you dare any topic, Erin, and you keep such an unjudgmental perspective. And you make exploration such a fun. Way to go!

Ms Baroque said...

Hmm, yes, I have to say the "p for uke" letter was as much an eye-opener as the Doll Forum. Dear Lord.

Erin O'Brien said...

EBEZP: Glow cocks. Booby Balls. Dolls. Takes all kinds. This is my favorite.

Dean and Doug and Ms. Baroque: As far as the letter is concerned, it was the only one of its kind that I fielded. People were very strange when I talked about the story or dolls. They looked down or away. They knitted their brow as if they were mystified over the whole thing. These are people who consider themselves open-minded and liberal. And they are, as long as you're acting and living and believing just like they do. They pooh-poohed anyone that would own a doll.

Fool: Thanks. That's why I do these stories, to show a different viewpoint.

Here is how you play with the silicone boobs on a doll, Doug. My guess is the Booby Balls are pretty similar. As far as amputee fetishists, here is a quote directly from Abyss media literature (Abyss manufactures the dolls and the torsos):

"We do not do dolls without limbs or with partially “amputated” limbs (cut off at the knee, for example), but the torso products are something completely different. They are in the same category as dildos or pocket pussy toys found in all sex shops. The difference being that we will not do scarification or deformed body parts. There are many people who ask us for a torso model which would include the head, breasts, buttocks, vagina and hips. In other words, the entire doll except arms and legs. Even if we do a product of this nature the difference is in the presentation. Again, the limbs do not appear to have been cut off or severed with realistic scars. This is a line that we draw and will not cross. There is no way to confuse just the buttocks and vagina in the case of our half torso, or just the breasts and vagina with no back such as our flat back torsos as being a person with amputated limbs. "

Full size dolls start at $6,500 and can go to $10,000 with customizations. Highly customized dolls (made to look like a deceased wife for instance) can go up to $50,000.

Wow. This has been a freaky ride.

Denny Shane said...

I need to buy a set of those boobies... for ymmmm for medical purposes.

Erin O'Brien said...

Denny, don't they sort of remind you of cupcakes?

Dollguy said...

Wait. You mean the booby balls are cute? Not "amputated boobs"? Not some manifestation of sadistic misogyny?

Well, of course. Duh. They're cute! Nothing more.

And a torso doll is for someone who can't afford a whole doll. This is a financial 'compromise', not an expression of depravity.

Watch what you project onto other people's hobby.

Yes there are people out there who want such outrages. I've never met them in the Forum, or elsewhere. But they are out there whether a doll manufacturer produces 'partial' dolls or not. They can hack Barbies all they want...and we don't have to try to equate Barbie with hackers.

Erin, you have done a very good job with this. Your readers are also very good with the topic...and trust me, I have experience seeing reader comments on articles about dolls.

It is certainly interesting to see what darkness is inside some individuals when you run them up against the wall of their own limitations by mentioning the unmentionable.

But let me ask a question that may break many more taboos that this. Can an amputee or a mastectomy survivor be sexy? Erotic? Can they express the 'wholeness' and beauty of their own eroticism to us through pictures? I'm not specifically attracted to amputees, but this discussion makes me wonder if my inner fears about injury or loss keep me from allowing those individuals to try to claim back some of their eroticism thru photographic expression.

Would we turn away in disgust? From a fellow human being?

Sorry to go off topic. But our taboos sure do put the lie to our self-professed "openmindedness" sometimes, don't they.

Thanks for allowing me.

Erin O'Brien said...

I sure caught a lot of shit for disliking photos of synthetic vaginas.

The funny thing about it was I developed the dislike. When I first logged on to the Doll Forum, I didn't care about them, but the more I was forced to look at them, the more I came to abhor them. And remember, the forum was the only way I could interact with doll owners. Hence, viewing the pix was not optional for me if I wanted to do the story.

I didn't condemn anyone for liking or using them, yet still, that comment raised ire.

Sorry, but I still don't like them.

And if a guy is sexy, he's sexy, whether or not he's lost a limb.

Norm said...

You know, "voodoo glow cocks" would be a great name for a band.

dollguy said...

Hi Erin,

If you go on an Art Forum and develop a dislike for Monet...and express it, as a newcomer, you're gonna get shit from *SOMEWHERE* pretty quick. Big deal.

Remember, the doll forum has been badly burned by several journalists. They earned for you the treatment you got. You can't help it. You can only help yourself and any journalist who might follow you to the forum.

Doll owners are not required to be nice to you and you are free to report that they weren't.

You had no way of knowing, when you first showed up, that others had really fucked things up for you. But you were on thin ice the minute you showed up. And to put a finer point on it; others have fucked it up so badly, that the onus is on you to prove yourself worthy.

There's plenty on the doll forum to not like or prefer. It's true for me. But I allow everyone their space to be into their thing. Because they allow me the same. A haven. A place to be myself about one particular topic. The arrival of a journalist is now seen as an unfriendly invasion. Again, I'm sorry it has to be that way. Especially since you are somewhat approachable. Somewhat.

But your readers here ought to understand how we've been through the "stung once, shame on you. Stung twice, shame on me" wash and rinse cycle more than a few times.

And it's okay if you don't like fake vaginas. Really. Who cares? I don't like a lot of shit.

and finally....

Sexy whether he's lost a limb? Really? You see many folks without limbs in TV commercials? Series? Movies? Models? Showgirls missing a breast? hmmmm???? Sexy to you, yes. Sexy to me, yes. but....remember the other 3 people out there who get to vote? lol

Doug said...

It is certainly interesting to see what darkness is inside some individuals when you run them up against the wall of their own limitations by mentioning the unmentionable.

I suspect that means me . . .

My limitations have a lot to do with my profession. Anything that reminds me of real problems tends to disturb me. For example, I don't mind most horror movie monsters, but if the monster looks like a dysmorphic baby or child, I can't watch. I've seen (professionally) kids with extreme craniofacial anomalies and it disturbs me to no end when such things get exploited by Hollywood.

When I saw the torso model, I flashed on Cronenberg's Crash (1996). I love most of the man's movies but I have a real love-hate relationship with Crash. On the one hand, that's some real intense eroticism. On the other hand, the paraphilia in question . . . See, it's the same thing. I've seen way too much motor vehicle trauma to find that sort of thing erotic.

Erin, based on your quote from Abyss Media regarding amputation, it seems that I'm not the only one with those kinds of reservations.


Can an amputee or a mastectomy survivor be sexy? Erotic? Can they express the 'wholeness' and beauty of their own eroticism to us through pictures?

Well, of course. Sexy's in the mind and personality, not the body. I don't think that's the least bit controversial.

I'm more disturbed by the idea of someone looking at a torso and thinking, "Mmmm, TORSO!" Sorry, but the torsos still bother me.

Erin O'Brien said...

To me being sexy and attractive comes from within. I've seen gorgeous people turn ugly because of who they are. And I've seen beauty bloom in the most surprising places.

Showgirls, ads, flyboys ... who cares? Sexy comes from a mile deep.

Regarding the torsos, I too found them profoundly offensive. In fact, I did not address them for that very reason. I always believe there is a sympathetic viewpoint, but I could not move beyond my own revulsion towards the torsos to even begin to address them in an even-handed way.

That might seem unfair to those who own them, but sorry, I'll leave that story up to another writer.

Erin O'Brien said...

Hey, Norm? We need a bass player for Voodoo Glow Cocks. You up for it?

dollguy said...

Hi Doug,

I understand your feelings. No problem with what you said at all.

What I do not like are *assumptions* that a torso doll means amputee-fetish. Now, I get that there are people out there who want a doll that maybe looks dead or injured because they have some kind of necrophelia thing going on. That grosses me out, and I'm glad Abyss won't cater to them. But others might, and so what anyway?

So what? You and I both know that all kinds of weird shit goes on everywhere. My wife works in the jail systems. You know how popular incest STILL is??? To this very day? And wife beating. Oh, man. It's big....huge. You don't hear about it. Not PC. Or the guys making news cuz they rape and kill children. The one guy in Florida even did it in a mobile home with others living there who KNEW, but wouldn't talk.

Having a fetish for a doll with a missing limb is kinda not on the radar screen, when you think of the real shit going on every day.

But as I said would be a huge error to assume that a torso doll (less expensive to make, more affordable for customers), is somehow indicative of depraved underlying psychologies. If you cannot afford the convertible, you may have to settle for the coupe...or a different car. Many doll makers manufacture torsos as well as full dolls. Prices range low to very high.

Imagine if I went bananas because I think every woman (or just some women) with a dildo has a severed penis depravity.

And honestly.....a doll intentionally manufactured with the arms and legs ending in nice neat flat rings of featureless skin tone silicone is only barely suggestive of real trauma. And you save a ton on bracelets.

That being said. Again, I get your distaste for them. Some people absolutely are disturbed by clown dolls. There's no arguing with them. And I would not dare to argue with you about your feelings. Just don't add things that aren't there or project things onto potential buyers of a certain product.

Regarding sexy amputees. Yes of course there is controversy. You don't see them on TV, Playboy, or movies hardly anywhere. If you think they can be sexy too, and I do, and Erin does....why don't entertainment executives think so? They think they aren't. So we have a controversy here. What's up wit dat? (we all know.....being open minded about how beautiful and lovely the theory is, is not the same as marrying an amputee, or putting one in the sex-babe role of the truck commercial. Reality crashes against Happy Crappy talk sometimes).

Thank you for the engaged discussion on this. I enjoy your thoughts.

I wish Erin would write a piece on this amputee/masectomy sexuality thingie. Erin? Is that a good topic for an article???

R2K said...

: )

Doug said...

Dollguy: Well, you're absolutely right, I DID jump to the conclusion that those torsos would only appeal to amputee fetishists. Sorry. I think my mistake derived from my own emotional reaction to the torsos -- "Ew!" -- and I couldn't understand who would not have the same reaction, save for a fetishist. Again, my mistake, my prejudice.

Anonymous said...

Erin, I can understand your being a female and not liking silicone vaginas. I'm a male, and I don't like or care to look at any of the "lifelike" dildos and vibrators.