Cornrow fractals

Realdolls, and the men who love them

You may have heard of the Realdoll corporation — makers of the highest-quality, full-sized, photorealistic artificial love companions on the planet. If you haven’t, do not click on that link if you’re at work, comrade. Suffice to say that Realdolls are very expensive ($6,000), highly customizable, available with a stiff internal skeleton rendering them “posable”, and thus, in summary, creepy as all get out. For years I’d snickered about Realdolls and assumed they were a toy for people who actually preferred the landscape at the inky bottom of the Uncanny Valley.

But photographer Ellen Dorfman took a different view of it. She called up dozens of Realdoll owners and convinced them to let her take intimate pictures of them to illustrate their relationships with the dolls. Dorfman ran the photos as an exhibit, published them in a book, and has a web site devoted to the project: “Still Lovers”. (The photos on her site are mostly safe for work, but a few aren’t, so be careful what you click.) As she writes:

My introduction to this world began on a suburban, tree-lined, mid-western street, but ultimately took me throughout the U.S. and the U.K. Jerry and Adriana had not one doll — but five — and at that time they kept them hidden from their children and visitors in a secret closet built into a wall. This closet was cushioned and climate controlled, with the girls’ shoes lined up neatly beneath their dangling feet. Adriana was the collector of the dolls, not her husband. She was convinced that each girl represented a different part of herself: lover, child, friend, toy and intellectual partner.

Man, Carlo Collodi is spinning in his grave.

(Thanks to Chris Foley for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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