In the 2008 movie "Lars and the Real Girl" Ryan Gosling plays a man who introduces a life sized doll as his girlfriend and takes her everywhere, eventually gaining the town's acceptance.
A year before that movie put so-called "real dolls" on the periphery, the BBC produced a documentary called "Guys and Dolls." It chronicles the industry and the men who buy them. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube.
A California company called Realdoll began making realistic,
lifesized dolls back in 1996. Since then, they've sold thousands of them
for upwards of $10,000 each.
The men interviewed in the documentary talk about how the dolls
influence their lives. While they sometimes feel isolated from real
life, they say the companionship they feel with the dolls is worth it.
Davecat met his future wife, Sidore Kuroneko at a goth club in 2000,
so the story goes. The less romantic but perhaps more true version is
that he saved up for a year and a half to buy her online. She cost about
Sidore is a RealDoll, manufactured by Abyss Creations in the shape of
a human woman. She is covered in artificial skin made of silicone, so
she’s soft. These high-end, anatomically correct—even equipped with fake
tongues—love dolls (or capital-D Dolls) are ostensibly made for sex.
But 40-year-old Davecat (a nickname acquired from videogames that he now
prefers to go by) and others who call themselves iDollators see their
dolls as life partners, not sex toys. Davecat and Sidore (or, as he
sometimes calls her, Shi-chan) obviously aren’t legally married,
but they do have matching wedding bands that say “Synthetik [sic] love
lasts forever,” and he says they’re considering some sort of ceremony
for their 15th anniversary.
Davecat considers himself an activist for synthetic love, and the
rights of synthetic humans, such as Shi-chan. He’s active online, with
an iDollator blog, “Shouting to hear the echoes,” that he updates
regularly, and has appeared on TLC’s show My Strange Addiction, as well as in a BBC documentary called Guys and Dolls.
According to the backstory of Davecat’s relationships, his Doll
mistress (and Sidore’s girlfriend), Elena Vostrikova, saw Davecat and
Sidore in Guys and Dolls and moved from Russia to be with them.
Davecat purchased Elena, or Lenka, in 2012, and the three of them now
share a one-bedroom apartment in southeastern Michigan.
When and why did you purchase your first Doll? Were you thinking of companionship at the time, or was it just for sex?
I bought Shi-chan back in 2000. Admittedly, my reasons for purchasing
her were 70 percent sex, 30 percent companionship. I've always been
attracted to artificial women such as mannequins, and especially
Gynoids, which are robots made in the likeness of human females. In late
1998 one of my best friends, showed me the RealDoll website, as she
knew I was keen on artificial women. I thought they were gorgeous
creations, and having one would not only dispel loneliness, but be
excellent for sex as well. And I was right!
When did you start feeling like Sidore was not just a sex toy but someone/something you were in a relationship with?
It actually didn't take me too long to regard Shi-chan as a synthetic
person, and not simply a thing; it occurred pretty much when I opened
her crate for the first time. I was immediately stunned by her lifelike
beauty, and after I mentally collected myself, extracted her from her
crate, and sat her down on the couch, I just held her in my arms for a
while. It felt so right and natural, if you'll pardon the pun. It seemed
perfectly normal for me to treat something that resembles an organic
woman the same way I'd treat an actual organic woman.
There was never a moment when Shi-chan—or any Doll, for that matter—was merely an object to me.
of the (sexual) appeal of synthetics is how much they look like their
organic counterparts. If you have a robot shaped like a refrigerator,
that won't have as much draw as a robot in the shape of a human; people
will be more willing to interact with the human-shaped one. Further
still, if that humanoid robot has artificial skin and sounds like a
human, most people dealing with it are more than likely to even have a
moment where they forget it's a robot. With Sidore, her draw was
instantaneous. There was never a moment when Shi-chan—or any Doll, for
that matter—was merely an object to me.
Have you always been interested in dolls, and if so, was it always in a sexual way?
I've always been fascinated by the idea of artificial people,
specifically artificial women. Before I knew Dolls existed, I'd long
identified as being a technosexual, even before I knew there was a word
for it. A technosexual is someone who is attracted to robots. Like any
subculture, there's many shades within the term. Some technosexuals
prefer their organic partners to dress as robots; others are attracted
to robots who don't necessarily have a humanoid appearance, such as
R2-D2. My preference is for humanoid robots that are covered in
artificial flesh, so they look organic upon first glance; both
Geminoid-F and the Actroid series of Gynoids by Hiroshi Ishiguro are excellent examples.
Obviously, I’m sexually attracted to synthetic humans, such as
Gynoids and Dolls, but the much larger part of their appeal is that
they're humans, but they don't possess any of the unpleasant qualities
that organic, flesh and blood humans have. A synthetic will never lie to
you, cheat on you, criticize you, or be otherwise disagreeable. It’s
rare enough to find organics who don't have something going on with
them, and being able to make a partner of one is rarer still.
In your episode of My Strange Addiction, you talk
about how you're perfectly aware she's a doll, and you're not trying to
pretend she's a person. Yet you consider yourself married to Sidore, a
marriage/relationship being something that is inherently two-sided. How
do you reconcile those two things in your head at once?
Both Sidore and Elena have two backstories. One in which Sidore is
the daughter of a Japanese father and an English mother, and was born in
Japan and raised in Manchester, England. Elena's is similar; she grew
up in Vladivostok, Russia. The other backstory they have is that they're
Dolls. Self-aware Dolls, but Dolls nonetheless. In one backstory they
have favorite foods; in the other, they don't eat, becaus they don't
have digestive tracts... because they're Dolls. You get the idea.
I've had that dichotomy for as long as I've had Shi-chan and Lenka,
and it doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. As I write their
characters, they each express themselves through the Internet; they both
have their own Twitter feeds, and Shi-chan has a Tumblr.
Playing up the Doll aspect allows me to get comedy from the situation,
such as when Sidore wonders why I don't just remove my sinuses when my
allergies flare up, but writing detailed histories for them exercises my
creative writing skills, and makes them more 'human'. Like I said, the
dichotomy probably won't be solved any time soon.
Have you ever been in a relationship with a human woman, and
would you want to in the future? Do you find yourself attracted to human
I'd been in relationships with organic women prior to, and after,
having Shi-chan enter my life. When I say “relationships,” I really mean
“affairs where I was the other man;” I've never been in a situation
where I was with an organic woman who didn't already have a boyfriend.
I don't consider myself to be a very persuasive person; when I was
growing up, my father was always pushing me into doing things that I
didn't want to do, and as a consequence, I didn't ever want to be That
Guy Who's Being Aggressively Persuasive. So instead of asking whatever
lass I was with to consider me as a boyfriend, I simply wouldn't force
I'm still quite attracted to organic women, at least visually. But
just because someone's attractive doesn't mean they have a mindset or a
personality that’s compatible with my own. I figure that instead of
chasing after an ideal person who either doesn't exist in the first
place, or is already with someone else, why not buy a Doll? I don't
gamble, and I'm not keen on taking emotional chances. We've all seen
relationships where things start out fantastically, and then just end up
falling apart. A friend of mine just got divorced after 17 years of
marriage. That's an enormous investment of time, money, and emotion, and
I'm not interested in having someone in my life who may bail at any
time, or who transforms into someone unpleasant. Ultimately, getting
romantically involved with an organic woman doesn't seem worth it to me.
In December 2012, you purchased a second Doll. How come? Did you feel like your marriage was getting stale?
Back in the early 2000s, my goal was to purchase at least one Doll
from every company that's out there. One of the objectives of my blog
is to introduce people who aren't iDollators or technosexuals to the
idea of synthetic partners, and having multiple Dolls from various
companies would enable me to compare and contrast them, so that people
could learn what makes them different, and choose the one that's right
for them. Also, I always thought it would be cool to have photoshoots
featuring multiple Dolls interacting with each other; doing so would
further make them less seem like 'things', and more like people. As it
is, however, there are around 20 different companies across six or so
countries, and unfortunately, I don't have that kind of money. So now my
goal is about five. Short of acquiring a two-bedroom flat, I won't have
the space for more than five, either.
In a more fictitious context, I thought it would be nice to get a
silicone companion for Sidore, so she isn't lonely or bored whenever I'm
away from home. As they're both bisexual, they get to enjoy each other
on multiple levels. If anything, adding Elena to our partnership has
only improved it, as we all appreciate what each other has to offer.
Besides, if and when I manage to get additional Dolls, Sidore will
always remain my wife; I've no intention of marrying any of the other
Dolls we'll have.
My marriage to Sidore is open in the context of she allows me to do
anything I want, as long as it's only with a synthetic woman.
Incidentally, those are the exact same conditions under which I'll allow
her to do anything extracurricular. Very straightforward, yet simple!
But you say you've been in relationships with organic women
"prior to and after having Shi-chan enter my life." Is there a story
there? Did a relationship/affair you were having with an organic woman
cause problems with your relationship with Sidore or vice versa?
I was seeing an organic lass—a coworker, from several jobs ago—who
knew that I had Shi-chan. This was back when I was of the mindset that
Sidore would remain my wife, but I'd still look now and again for an
organic lass to be friends with benefits with. Our relationship started
out alright, but several months into it, whenever I’d attempt to get
together after work with her, she'd always have something come up. I was
beating myself up over it when I realized: Why am I wasting my time
trying to get her to hang out and be romantically involved with me, when
I have a Doll who is in love with me at home? Plus, it was a bit of a
contest with said coworker, as she was interested in two other blokes
while she was seeing me. As I'm not competitive, either, I decided that
pursuing her was a wasted effort, especially in light of Sidore not
requiring any of that silliness.
Then there was the lass I bought a house with back in 2003. I was
attempting to help her out of a bad relationship. She claimed to be one
of my best friends. She wasn't the least bit romantically interested in
me, but I thought that if I helped her and she and I lived under the
same roof, eventually she'd view me more favorably. Turns out that
didn't happen, as I later discovered that she was a pathological liar
with a coke addiction, and I moved out of the house after living there
for only four months. That really drove home to me that I guess I'm too
trusting with some organics. Some of them can be far too unpredictable.
Synthetics have a consistency that I'm thankful for.
What is a typical week like for you? Do you spend most of
your time at home with Sidore and Elena, or do you go out with friends?
When you do go out, do you ever bring either of them with you? I imagine
people in public would react strangely—does that keep you from doing
coupley stuff like going to movies?
Contrary to what most of the TV shows we appear in would have you
believe, I actually go out quite a bit! Well, enough, I'd say. I'm not a
“people person,” and although I love my friends, it's better for an
introvert like myself to spend more time alone. Having said that,
though, I always have a fantastic time whenever I'm with mates.
I don't take Shi-chan or Lenka with me when I
go out. People have a long and sordid history of being violent toward
that which they don't understand.
During the week, I'm usually
at work—I do data entry and other bits and bobs at a machine shop—then I
come home and either catch up on the Internet, or interact with Sidore
and Elena. My job has me come in early, so I usually go to bed early
Friday evenings, after meeting my friends online for whatever videogame
has caught our fancy, or physically hanging out with them. Saturday
evenings have me getting together with friends as well, and Sunday, I
usually spend time with my rubber troublemakers, taking photos, watching
a film or a telly program, writing or doing research for “Shouting to
hear the echoes,” or getting up to other things.
Also contrary to what most people believe, I don't take Shi-chan or
Lenka with me when I go out. For one, they're heavy (78 lbs and 57 lbs,
respectively), and for another, I'm not so deluded as to think that
taking them out and about with me wouldn't raise more than a few
eyebrows. Also, I wouldn't want to put either myself or whichever
synthetic lass I'd have with me in danger. I don't trust random people
enough to think we wouldn't be verbally or physically attacked. People
have a long and sordid history of being violent toward that which they
don't understand. Or so I'm told.
What do your family and friends think of your relationship?
The way my friends view my relationship ranges from “Well, that's
just what Davecat gets up to, I suppose,” to “Be sure to tell your girls
I said ‘Hi!'” Most of them are cool with it; pretty much all of my
friends are into quirky things, so they can empathize. I wouldn't be
surprised if there are a few among them who would rather see me with an
organic lass, but overall, they think Sidore and Elena are rather neat.
Curiously enough, more of my female friends like them than my male ones.
A couple of female friends have picked out articles of clothing for
Shi-chan and Lenka on a few occasions!
Of my Mum and Dad, Mum was more open-minded of the two—years ago,
when I was in my eyeliner phase, she taught me how to apply it
properly—so although she probably would've liked to be a grandmother at
some point, she was okay with my unconventional partnership. Dad, on the
other hand, to this day categorically refuses to talk about Sidore,
Dolls, Gynoids, etc. He's never come out and said it, but he wishes that
I were more conventional and acted like everyone else. I wouldn't say
that me being an iDollator has driven a wedge into our relationship, as
the wedge was already there long before Sidore entered my life. I once
told him, half-jokingly, that his attitude is no way to treat his
daughter-in-law, but as the man has no sense of humor, he didn't think
much of that statement.
A more practical consideration: wear and tear. In the Guys and Dolls documentary,
there's a scene where you send Sidore off to a special RealDoll
repairman to get fixed. I don't know if you plan on spending the rest of
your life with Sidore, but that is the typical connotation of "married"
(divorce rates notwithstanding). What would you do if she ever just
became broken beyond repair?
That sort of thing has already happened, after a fashion: Sidore's
had three bodies since 2000. Her first body lasted from 2000 to 2003,
her next went from 2003 to 2010, and she's still enjoying her third
body. As are Elena and I! But seriously, if her body becomes too
irreparable, I simply save up some money and buy her a new one. She's
looked exactly the same from 2000 to now, excepting the fact that her
current body looks more like how I wanted her to look to begin with;
namely, she's extraordinarily pale. I'd be lying if I didn't say that
when her body comes close to falling apart through entropy, I'm pretty
cut up about it, as anyone would be when facing the mortality of a loved
Up until about 2006, most of the Doll manufacturers used tin-based
silicone. Which is lovely and soft, but was prone to tearing. Now,
pretty much all of the various companies use a platinum-based silicone,
which is much more durable. Part of the issue with Sidore’s previous two
bodies was that she did develop tears, which, depending on how severe
they are, can be repaired. When Shi-chan got her surgeries in 2006, she
also went to have her joints tightened, which is something that every
Doll needs sometimes, no matter who makes them.
Sidore hasn't had a single tear with her current body, and her joints
are just now starting to loosen. But purchasing a new body for her
every couple of years when she needs it ensures a kind of immortality,
and ensures she'll be around as long as I'm around.
Looking to the future, I know you're interested in androids
and robotics and the idea of, for lack of a better word, sexbots. As
this technology continues to develop, isn't it all just moving towards
getting dolls to be more like humans? And if your preference is for
dolls, isn't that counterintuitive?
Well, yes and no. For me, Dolls trump organics, but Gynoids—which is a
much less limiting term than “sexbots”—trump Dolls. A Doll's only
failing is that she can't move or speak of her own accord, whereas a
Gynoid would be able to, dependenton advances in technology, of course.
Referring to a Doll as a "sex toy" is demeaning and unimaginative.
ideal version of Sidore would be a Gynoid who greatly resembles an
organic, but upon closer inspection, she'd have silicone skin and
slightly stilted movement. Now the important thing to remember is that
Gynoids and androids are like organic humans, but they would lack the
qualities that make organics difficult to deal with. They would be
pleasant, agreeable, non-judgmental, aesthetically and mentally
pleasing, and more. In day-to-day existence, most people have to deal
with at least one person whom they'd rather avoid at all costs. The way I
see things, your spouse should be easygoing and a joy to come home to,
in order to counteract having to deal with all manner of undesirables
when you're out and about. I think the best way to reach that goal is
through humanoid robots. It's like having your cake, and eating it too.
You consider yourself an advocate for synthetic love, is that right? And on your My Strange Addiction episode,
you say "I think it's a matter of time before more people are choosing
the synthetic option." Why is that? What kind of person do you think
this sort of relationship is right for?
I don't just consider myself an advocate for synthetic love, but for
treating synthetic humans with as much respect, if not more, than
organic humans. Referring to a synthetic as a “thing,” or a Doll as a
“sex toy,” is demeaning and unimaginative. For one, it's entirely
dismissive toward the artistry that goes into creating synthetic humans.
Nearly everyone who sees a Doll in person has to admit that the level
of work that goes into them is incredible, and the technology involved
in Gynoids and androids who are capable of speech and movement is
astounding without question. If animals have rights, and rightly so, why
shouldn't we treat something that looks and acts like a human with
similar rights and respect?
Regarding the sort of person a synthetic partner would be perfect
for: when people are in failed organic relationships, they're invariably
urged to dust themselves off and try again. But what most people don't
realize is that not everyone is suited for the “try, try again” mindset,
and with each defeat, they're less inclined to make another attempt,
which leads to more loneliness, which makes them even more depressed,
etc. Being in a relationship with a synthetic means that the organic is
taking a stand against loneliness on terms which harm no one. Instead of
being miserable, they're doing something about it, without having to
waste time, money, and emotion playing silly games to win the fleeting
affections of someone who might be wrong for them in the first place.
Apart from technosexuals and childfree people, one group of
individuals who would be well-suited for synthetic partners are
introverts. This is why I always stress the difference between
loneliness and being alone; many of us introverts actually prefer to be
alone, as the noise and agitation of being around others can be
incredibly draining. But being lonely—that is, the state of not having a
special someone who you can occasionally be alone with—is something no
one should have to endure. Having a synthetic in your life means that
you can interact with them whenever you want to, and when you want to do
something that requires solitude, you can have that as well, without
being made to feel guilty about it.
The movie Guys and Dolls says that most people who purchase RealDolls are men buying female dolls. Why do you think that is?
For one, Dolls aren't exactly light. Abyss Creations has made great
strides in weight reduction and all of the other companies have followed
suit, but when high-end ‘love dolls’ first appeared in the U.S., they
were pretty substantial. Shi-chan is 5’1″, and her current body is about
78 lbs. Her first body from 2000 was the same height, but around 100
lbs. One reason why there’s not a lot of female iDollators out there is
because Dolls tend to be too heavy for a lot of women, which sounds a
bit chauvinistic to say, but it’s been corroborated with at least four
female iDollators that I personally know. Incidentally, of the people I
do know that have male Dolls, with the exception of one, all the owners
are gay men.
Furthermore, it seems easier for women to find an organic male
partner than it is for men to find an organic female partner. Women, by
and large, are more selective than men are, and don't seem to have as
much of a need to purchase a Doll as a single, open-minded bloke would.
Also, if more men do start "choosing the synthetic option,"
as you say, and begin having relationships with objects that are shaped
like women, do you think that will encourage the objectification of real
The belief that the existence of synthetics encourages the
objectification of organic women is baseless. If anything, those of us
who are iDollators or technosexuals find that it's more a case of
personifying objects. But then, 98 percent of the iDollators and
technosexuals I know treat their Dolls like goddesses. I can't really
speak for those who don't, and it would be safe to assume that those who
would objectify an organic woman would've been practicing that behavior
long before knowing about synthetics.
A lot of men are lonely because they're misogynist pricks, true, but a
lot of other men are lonely because they don't meet women's
expectations. The latter group may be entirely nice individuals, and
would treat their girlfriends extraordinarily well, but they're shy, or
unappealing on some level, or what have you. (I should note that it goes
both ways, gender-wise; there are loads of organic women that remain
single due to rejection.) But again, with the synthetic option,
individuals who've been romantically passed over for whatever reason
don't have to remain lonely. And to detractors who say that once Gynoids
are more readily available, men will choose them in droves over organic
women, that's rubbish as well. Having a synthetic partner is a
preference. What’s more, those of us who desire a synthetic companion
leave a larger selection for those people who are only interested in
organic partners. We're doing you lot a favor!
Also, I have to ask—do you really feel fulfilled? Does it
ever get lonely, is there anything that Sidore and Elena can't offer
that you wish you had?
At this stage in the game, I'd have to say that I'm about 99 percent
fulfilled. Every time I return home, there are two gorgeous synthetic
women waiting for me, who both act as creative muses, photo models, and
romantic partners. They make my flat less empty, and I never have to
worry about them becoming disagreeable. Because of my status as an
iDollator, I've met people across several countries and forged solid
friendships. I've seen things I would never have seen were I not an
iDollator. I've been interviewed for various television programs and
websites, and asked to speak in front of a room full of psychology
students about the benefits of synthetic partners. I've collaborated
with performance artists and sociology teachers. To this day, I still
get people contacting me online, saying that they saw how happy I am
with Sidore, and they're saving up for a Doll of their own, to pull them
out of their own loneliness. It's true that Sidore and Elena wouldn't
exist without me, but without them, I'd be a much more reduced
individual, so I owe them quite a lot.
However, that 1 percent of unfulfillment? That's only there because
neither Sidore nor Elena are Gynoids. Once that technology becomes
affordable, I'll have one made in my wife's likeness, and that'll be the
final piece of the puzzle. She'd be able to hug me back whenever I
embrace her, we'd be able to attend films and concerts together, and do
all manner of things besides. There would be genuine interaction. The
foundation for the technology is already there, so I'm convinced it'll
happen; it's just a matter of waiting.
"She is simply a very expensive cumbucket. Let’s be honest – we’ve all had girlfriends like that."