"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 23 May 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Over the Hump



Is my neighbor living with a sex



It's a question that everyone

must wonder about from time to

time. While these pink, pliant

inflate-a-dates seem to pop up

with far greater frequency in

Helmut Newton pictorials than

they do in real life, they're

nonetheless available in porn

stores everywhere, in models

that accommodate a variety of



For the budget-minded connoisseur

of bald, plastic pulchritude,

there's the "Linda Deep Throat

Doll (no hair)" for only

US$31.25. For those seeking male

companionship, there are a

variety of he-mannequins with

"realistic vibrating" penises.

(Aren't those two adjectives

mutually exclusive?) And until

Scotland's sheep duplicators

perfect their complex art, the

Nina Hartley Fantasy Doll, with

"realistic molded vagina and

anus of Nina," lets the

enterprising porn star

efficiently extend her

one-do-one marketing techniques

to their most visceral



That so many companies are making

and selling sex dolls can only

mean one thing, of course:

Someone is buying them, too.

Certainly, the bachelor-party

gag gift market accounts for a

large portion of low-end

purchases, but it seems highly

unlikely that anyone's spending

$680 on the Electric Latex Lady

("holds over 300 pounds") merely

to induce Porky's-style laffs

before the evening's more

animated entertainment arrives.


Unfortunately, a search for exact

numbers yields nothing

substantive. As it turns out,

porn-store clerks and sex-doll

distributors are remarkably

taciturn regarding sales figures -

who would have guessed that

people who make their living

selling fake slackjawed

fellators would be so

tight-lipped? After the ninth or

tenth "We don't reveal that

information," we began to

suspect that perhaps some giant

coverup was in effect: Maybe

there are hundreds of thousands

of sex dolls out there. Maybe

there are millions.


It's a mind-boggling prospect;

right now, perhaps in the house

next door, perhaps in the

apartment upstairs, there's a

man arranging the flexile limbs

of the Huntress Love Doll to

give her just that right look of

volatile, fuck-me defiance, then

adjusting the hem of her "savage

attire," then switching on her

vibrating "love entrances" and

mounting her. It seems

impossible that the rudimentary

tactility or even the postmodern

kink of the act might outweigh

the attendant feelings of

loneliness and embarrassment,

but who knows? This is the age

of egalitarian paraphilia: To

each his own.



(And here we do mean "his"; sex

dolls are overwhelmingly

marketed to diehard male

romantics. Women, on the other

hand, seem to recognize that

there's no real reason to

replicate an entire body when

creating a sex toy.)



If you're beginning to think this

article is pretty much the

equivalent of a bachelor-party

gag gift itself, you're right.

(That, and a calculated instance

of click-pandering.) But it does

have one pretense toward higher

purpose, and here it is: Sex

dolls are important, because sex

dolls vividly embody the single

quality that has informed all of

the 20th century's most popular

innovations, even if they

haven't quite penetrated the

mass-market yet (or vice versa).

In eliminating the necessity of

human interaction, they make

life more convenient for the

individual; the same goes for

the telephone, and the

automobile, and television, and

VCRs, and ATMs, and fast-food

restaurants, and self-service

gas stations. A hundred years

ago, loners and misanthropes had

to resign themselves to lives of

Kaczynskian austerity. Now,

thanks, to technology, the loner

can lead a life as rich and

rewarding as anyone.



And while everyone desires a

different level of isolated

convenience, we all long for it

to some extent - and take

advantage of our various

human-eliminating technologies

to achieve it. In this respect,

the focus on community and

interaction on the Web can

explain why this medium has been

a commercial failure so far. A

bulletin board is convenient in

that it lets you talk to people

without really talking to them,

but it doesn't give you any

opportunity to control their

responses. Chat is more

commercially viable because its

fast pace makes it easier to

ignore your conversational

partners. The attention that a

bulletin board's relative stasis

encourages is a value-subtract:

Not only can you not control the

responses of others, but the

post/response infrastructure of

most boards actually forces you

to consider their opinions, no

matter how contrary they might

be. Are such exercises in

frustration really something

millions of people are eager to

pay for?


Ultimately, this focus on

community is a misstep the Web

will recover from; in all other

realms of technology, the

empowerment of the individual

through convenience remains the

primary governing influence.

Indeed, even the sex-doll

industry is making rapid

advances. Consider the Real Doll

Project, which is the work of

Matt, a Southern

California-based sculptor who,

like Michelangelo before him,

prefers to go by his first name



Working in silicone rather than

marble, Matt's most recent

creation is Nina, a

golden-tressed, 5-foot-4,

120-pound, 36-23-34 sex doll.

Creating Nina and the other

models in the Real Doll product

line is a painstaking process;

beneath all that custom-tinted,

carefully molded and trimmed

silicone, there's an

anatomically accurate skeletal

system made of plastic rods and

ball joints. Additional details

and options include real hair, a

moveable jaw, and an articulated

tongue, customizable eye and

hair color, customizable

hairstyles (both cranial and

pubic), variable fingernail

length, and even makeup style



The result is a doll of such

creepy verisimilitude that it

instantly brings to mind every


dummy horror movie you've ever

seen. On the Anderson Reality

Index, Nina scores well right of

center: far more lifelike than

Loni, only slightly less so than

Pamela. Future animatronic

enhancements will likely close

that gap; Matt is already

discussing the possibilities

with robotics experts whom he

hopes will help him implement

eye movements, facial

expressions, speech, hip

gyration, and more.



Some might find Nina's

open-mouthed, Valium-dazed mien

so unsettling they'd be afraid

to share a room alone with her.

However, there are plenty of men

with the requisite courage:

Three have already purchased the

$3500 doll, and Matt has a

backlog of additional orders to

fill. In the history of the sex

doll, Nina represents a

technological watershed: With

her aesthetic properties

attaining such a high level of

acceptability, her convenience

factor becomes truly compelling.

As Matt explains it, "You can

satisfy your desires for your

ideal woman without risking your

heart, your wallet, or any



Decry the sexism and alienation

inherent in that statement all

you like, but it won't change

the fact that Matt is likely to

become a very rich man in the

next few years, especially if

he's able to economically

implement those animatronic

enhancements. The empowerment of

the individual is what sells

now, and that's what Nina, in

all her silicone servility,

delivers. While the demand for

electric minds has proved modest

so far, the demand for electric

bodies seems unlimited.

courtesy of St. Huck

Fish Image
The Fish

[Netscape Inbox Direct]

Barrel Image

The Barrel
[Predictions by Suck]

Gun Image
The Gun

net.moguls Link
Other Work By
St. Huck
Fresh Fish