Friday, March 28, 2014

Rainy day redux, vol. two: who pays thousands for lifelike RealDolls?

From 2006 through 2009, I was a regular pop culture columnist for the now defunct Cleveland Free Times. The following "Rainy Day Woman" column ran on May 30, 2007. 

Guys and Dolls

RealDoll is one part sex, one part Madame Tussaud attraction, and one part Barbie, a life-size, anatomically correct silicone doll that weighs between 85 and 115 pounds. She is manufactured by Abyss Creations, which ships about 400 units per year, mostly within the US. The privilege of her company costs $6,500 to $10,000, with customizations going as high as $50,000.

Owners of the eerily realistic dolls are the butt of jokes and the subjects of unsolicited psychological analysis and feminist soapboxes worldwide. Nonetheless, RealDoll fascinated me and I smoldered with curiosity about those who admire her.

Abyss is fiercely protective of its client list, but referred me to an online doll forum, wherein over 19,000 members talk all doll, all the time. I opened an account, introduced myself as an interested writer and began asking questions. The exchange that ensued was jaw-dropping.

Rules of conduct are prominently posted on the home page. The first forbids pedophilic discussions. Derogatory statements about other members and those demeaning women are also not allowed. The rules are adjacent to ads that feature photos of phalluses, dolls, lubricants, etc. The synthetic vaginas, either on dolls or amputated torsos, bothered the hell out of me. I don't know why. Perhaps because they were so symmetrical and colorless and well-behaved.

Things started off well enough. Men told me they love the beauty of the dolls. They dress, pose and photograph them and pretend they are real. Some enjoy the feeling of sleeping next to someone. Most agreed that the sex is not as good as the real thing. Members are married and divorced. Some are virgins, at least with real women. Many have difficulties with relationships.

Then things got ugly. I was labeled a troll, there to bash and vilify doll owners like so many other writers had done in the past — if I was a writer at all. I posted links to my home page and published articles. They were promptly ridiculed. Then a member asked me some questions.

"Do you want to have sex with a doll? How would you feel if your husband bought a doll so much more beautiful and sexually attractive than you could ever be and began having sex with it on a regular basis, leaving you to look in the mirror at your middle-aged body with stretch marks, menopause rushing in on you." The barrage went on and on. Then I garnered a few hang-up calls as the online badgering continued. Enough was enough. I excused myself from the exchange. "Aloha!" cheered one member.

Then I discovered that the troubling questions had come from a woman who owns a female doll. The revelation stunned me. And research proved previous journalists had indeed been one-sided and unprofessional. When other members deplored the treatment I'd gotten and urged me to tough it out, I did, concealing my emotions with varying degrees of success.

Logging on each day filled me with trepidation over what new post or private messages awaited me. I learned only to expect surprises. One came from a member who loved painting portraits but no model was patient enough for him. "A lifelike doll seemed the ideal solution. However, when she arrived, I was so taken with her realism that I automatically became fond of her." As I sighed for Pygmalion and his lovely Galatea, another member yanked away the fuzzy-blanket moment. "I do not sleep, cuddle or talk to [my dolls] and consider them more as prostitutes or willing photographic models and lastly as an interactive sculpture, no more."

Then there was this: "I love my dolls and I talk to them all the time. Every one I know or talk to knows about my dolls. Even my 5-year-old wants to have a tea party with them."

The lengthy thread was peppered with comments that infuriated me. "They keep their legs closed unless you want them open, which typically is not a trait of women after the first year of a relationship." I read this as the graphic at the top of the page offered up yet another spread-eagle torso, conveniently crafted to sit atop any table. "Real girls get old, gray, fat, full of wrinkles," added another member as a pocket vagina ad flashed at me. "They never talk back," quipped another member about the dolls. "I can find my credit cards. My checking account stays balanced. They never ask to drive my truck. They don't eat much." This was punctuated by a laughing emoticon.


A few mirthless snorts later, I read this: "You do everything for [the dolls]. You must protect them from damage, repair any damage, bathe, clothe, and move them everywhere they need to go. Imagine a wife that has become a quadraplegic. Would it be right not to love her?"

The doll owners endeared me most when they talked shop on threads other than mine:

"Please, can you tell me what to use to make a mold of boob and what type of material to use to make boob realistic?"

"If I had to do it again I would have gotten a B7. You don't hear me complaining about B6, not at all. Her body is great, and her boobs are too. But I like a little bit more chest, something a B7 provides."

"Mix batch of silicone repair kit — enough to fill vagina half way or more (add pink color if you like pink inside). Insert mold to get a depth reading. Mark at labia or just below. Remove mold and coat entirely with release agent "

Hold that thought, boys, while I get another beer.

"Feeling this way about an inanimate object concerned me and I consulted a therapist who finally convinced me that there was nothing wrong with me, it's just something that society doesn't understand."

"I'm still a virgin with real girls. Soon, I'll be visiting a high-class escort girl to lose that title."

"I am the guy that all he ever wanted was a wife, kids, dog, cat, little house in the 'burbs and a station wagon. But after I passed 40, I was older than I ever wanted to be to start a family."

"Some [of us] were hurt in war and can't get a real girl."

The most stunning admission came from a member who was unable to engage in something humans have been doing ever since they figured out how.

"In the end I couldn't get over my hand. It just seemed dumb. I tried everything to make it work." He was unable to masturbate for 40 years. Forty years! He discovered the dolls. They appealed to him and he bought one. It worked. "The ability to engage in a natural human pastime has freed me I'm in a great space to date." But now he is terrified that potential girlfriends will find out about his secret. "I wish I could meet someone cool because I have so much to offer. I'm into monogamy, but someone has to realize that for me to give up the dolls is a huge sacrifice."

I went away hoping desperately that he would find his fair lady.

* * *


twinklysparkles said...

I had not read this column until now--I think I missed your blog and Rainy Day Women column for the most part back in the day.

You are fearless, Erin. Thank you, but glad I never delved into that world--and I mean that from an observational standpoint. Even reading your article about it was almost too much for me. Letting it go...

Anonymous said...


But I still want the stilts guy.