Men in love with sex dolls: Subculture of & # 39; iDollators & # 39; unveiled in new documentary Silicone Soul

The staff at John & Tony & # 39; s Steakhouse in West Chicago knows the couple well: there is the 54-year-old John – a genius man with a big, partially toothless smile who works in truck delivery – and his wife, Jackie, a petite, dark- beauty in a wheelchair whose favorite dish is bacon-packed dates.

The inseparable couple are staples at John & Tony & # 39; s, and it is their annual dinner place for celebrating Valentine's Day – but the waiting staff are used to making other reservation calls, even from people who just want to sit with them to the loving to observe John's love.

Because Jackie is not a normal woman in the suburbs; she does not walk, talk, laugh, or even eat her beloved dates. Instead she is a life-size doll that John years ago & # 39; on the Jerry Springer show & # 39; married, but he treats her as if she were a human princess, and looks admiringly at his silent bride (strangers look horrified).

John and Jackie are the stars of the new documentary Silicone Soul, which describes the lives of men who have fallen in love with dolls – as well as other pop lovers who have interests and motivations apart from sex or romance, such as a female artist who uses dolls for photography and friendship.

In addition to John – who bought Jackie for $ 7,000 – the film follows a man named & # 39; Davecat & # 39; in Detroit, who is married to pop Sidore and the other has, Elena, whom he has to deal with (they are polyamorous, he says). There is also a New Jersey man who goes under the pseudonym of & # 39; Ben & # 39; who keeps different dolls in the cellar as surrogates for his seriously ill wife. And they are far from the only people who choose such a lifestyle, according to director Melody Gilbert, who was completely unknown to the phenomenon before he started this project – although it immediately fascinated her.

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New documentary Silicone Soul with the Chicago-man John, who lives in a trailer in a retirement community, and his & # 39; woman & # 39 ;, Jackie – a sex doll he married on the Jerry Springer show

The Detroit-man & # 39; Davecat & # 39; says that he is married to one of his dolls, Sidore, but that they are involved in a polyamorous relationship with another silicone doll, Elena; he believes he is a pioneer in & # 39; synthetic & # 39; love and believe that he shoots himself & # 39; in the foot & # 39; by & # 39; Organic & # 39; to date women

Abyss Creations in California has been selling anatomically correct silicone sex dolls for years and the company is also behind RealBotix, which develops robotic companions

The life-size dolls can be adjusted and sent to customers in solid wooden boxes; they sell for thousands of dollars and thousands more have to be capsized to replace models with wear

I'm really interested in subcultures & # 39 ;, says Gilbert to & # 39; I am interested in subcultures to learn more about how we are the same than how we are different. I think it is easy to sensate this story; I am not interested in that. That is simple. It is much harder to dig deeper, spend time and find out what really drives these people.

& # 39; And what I saw – and this takes time to explain, it takes time, even when you watch the movie – I developed a lot of compassion and understanding of why people do this, especially in this time and day in our society. & # 39;

Gilbert was approached a few years ago by Long Island professor and psychoanalyst Danielle Knafo, who had discovered the subculture when a patient told her about his own unorthodox living arrangement.

& # 39; At first I did not know & # 39 ;, she says about the patient. Initially this patient told me about this wonderful relationship in which he was wrong; he had had two failed marriages and now he found the love of his life – and, as he described it, it was a little too perfect, in my eyes.

"Then, eventually, as in the fourth session, he revealed that it was a doll. I was suprised; I have tried to … stay cool, & # 39; she tells

She adds: & # 39; You know how men women & # 39; dolls & # 39; call – initially he used that and I thought, "Okay, she's a doll for him" – and then I realized it. I looked at him and I said, "You mean a real doll?" And he says, "Yes, yes."

& # 39; I had to go through many mixed feelings. You know, I'm a feminist and suddenly this man told me that his best relationship with a woman was with a doll – and all these thoughts about objectifying women and blabla, blah, blah went through my head. But little by little I got to know him and his own story, the pain in his relationships … I developed sympathy and started to understand the attraction of these kinds of relationships. & # 39;

She went looking for similar case studies to further inform herself about the existence of iDollators, or people attracted by dolls.

While jokes and shouts about bloated dolls reign supreme in popular culture, such a female stand was for years the only available alternatives. However, modern technological advances have spread to sexual surrogates, with companies such as Abyss Creations from California, who make custom-made, anatomically correct, lifelike female dolls.

There is a waiting list at the Abyss factory in California; maker Matt McMullan describes the process in the film of making the mold, the skeleton and more adapted parts of the companions to be sent across the country.

& # 39; They have online forums for these people who live with dolls, and I placed a request when someone was open to talk to me – and reacted quite a bit and actually wanted their stories to be heard & # 39 ;, says dr. Knafo & # 39; I think … some of them wanted to hear a bit from me, are they normal, are they abnormal?

& # 39; But I have developed relationships with a good number of these men and they have opened up to their relationships. At first I thought that most of the men were antisocial, socially handicapped individuals, had problems with relationships – but what I discovered over the years: some of these men are married, some have a relationship. They have a pop relationship in addition to a human relationship. So it is not easy to link them as one thing. & # 39;

Matt McMullan, of Abyss Creations and RealBotix, describes the process of making puppets in the documentary, carefully tailoring the shapes, skeleton and parts

John & # 39; s & # 39; Women & # 39 ;, Jackie, sits outside their small home on the porch; he is proud to dress her and often takes her on a trip to the zoo or the couple's favorite restaurant

The reactions of friends, relatives and strangers vary; the film shows John and Jackie with a very accepting neighbor, while other people approach John during a trip to the zoo – pushing Jackie in a wheelchair – asking questions about the doll and questioning his sincerity

While sex dolls have evolved from the more primitive blow-up dolls often referred to in popular culture to anatomically correct, life-size silicone models, the industry continues to advance and companies such as RealBotix are fine-tuning technology and artificial intelligence to make dolls still more realistic

In the case of John he had been married before – and had even been warned by his stepson for the existence of such dolls. The marriage fell apart, however, and John ordered Jackie; the anatomically correct silicone doll cost him $ 7,000 brand new, and Jackie occasionally requires replacement of the body due to wear that costs thousands more.

I've worked my a ** out to pay for it, to pay her & # 39 ;, he says in the movie. & # 39; She was something that I wanted; she was someone I wanted. She was everything I wanted. & # 39;

He says: & # 39; I was married to a person of flesh and blood for eight years and I did not succeed … Now I'm with Jackie, and we're happy – and it's weird, but it's weird. Weird does not necessarily mean bad. & # 39;

He is proud of Jackie, although his nervous niece, who desperately tries to incorporate the unusual couple into family life and even invited them to an uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner, complains that he & # 39; s kind of my grandmother & # 39; wear. He takes her for walks outside his trailer in the modest retirement district where he lives and on trips to the zoo and to their favorite restaurant.

& # 39; Real dolls do not fake, & # 39; he says in the film. & # 39; They do not lie. They do not steal … She keeps me honest. She keeps me happy. [I’m] try to learn the zen of her. She is just so calm and so collected and so much more mature than I am.

We are married like any other couple, & # 39; he adds, while he admits that such a marriage is not considered legal.

& # 39; We communicate more or less; she has her own body, but we share the same brain, "he says in the film. & # 39; She has her own private spaces here. She knows everything about me; I do not know everything about her. She has places in my head that she develops independently and that is unconscious to me … so that way she can surprise me. & # 39;

The reactions to Jackie run the range, to say the least. In footage of one of John & # 39; s outings with his & # 39; woman & # 39; To the zoo, old employees are very enthusiastic about his friendly attitude, while strangers yawn and ask questions. Ambivalent or supportive responses often come from perhaps unlikely places; a boss at John & Tony, for example, speaks highly about his unconventional regulars.

"I grew up on the east side of Detroit, and I was the only white person in the neighborhood", says the restaurateur in the film. & # 39; So I know what it's like to be different … [It] does not make you bad, just different. He is a gentle person; he does not bother anyone. & # 39;

That's a point that Davecat, the eloquent Detroit & # 39; man & # 39; from Sidore, whose dolls have active online presences that he is an engineer, found a hammered home.

I would essentially describe myself as a synthetic activist and a person who wants to make people realize that dolls … are not something to be afraid of, but something sacred, "he says in the film. He has been with Sidore for almost 20 years; For their tenth birthday, he bought matching wedding rings that say: "Synthetic love lasts forever."

While Sidore is his wife, he says, the couple is involved in & # 39; another hierarchical polyamory & # 39; with another doll, Elena: "Actually, that means we're all in love with each other," he says in the movie. & # 39; It's all the same, but Sidore will always be my wife. & # 39;

Despite all his protests, however, Davecat is clearly aware that his lovers are dolls; he takes them apart and explains the mechanics in the film, as well as the eyebrows that raise questions about the cleaning of Sidore and Elena.

"There are special tools, say, that have to do with them," he says, trying to gloss over the problem in an uncomfortable exchange with Gilbert, although he explains that he will put a sheet on the floor. resign before working to & # 39; clean that area & # 39; with, in fact, a lamp with a spray & # 39 ;.

He says in the film: & # 39; A large part of it is self-deception. It's like: "Okay, okay, she can not really love me because she is not really a she, she is." On the other hand she loves me because I have created a personality for her – and that gives her her own kind of mind, ideas … fun, not fun, etc. & # 39;

For some iDollators, says Dr. Knafo, the physical aspect of the relationship increasingly falls away as the men have a different kind of bond with the dolls.

& # 39; In the end, some stop sex with the dolls, just like in a wedding, she says.

However, across the board these men realize that their companions are not capable of mutual feelings, according to Dr. Knafo.

& # 39; On one level they know that they are not real; they show you the mechanics, how they work, their heads, whatever, & # 39; tells But on a different level, when they talk about the dolls, you get the impression that they really believe that these dolls are real people, real people.

& # 39; They live in this space between fantasy and reality – the reality that the dolls are objects, and the fantasy that they are women who care about them and have personalities and histories. & # 39;

She adds: "These guys, some of them spend nearly all their waking hours in this way with these dolls – whether they're dressed or making stories for them or making blogs. Many of them have blogs and twitter accounts – so they talk through these dolls as ventriloquists. They are like their alter egos & # 39; s. & # 39;

John says in the movie: "I was married to a person of flesh and blood for eight years and I did not succeed … Now I'm with Jackie, and we're happy – and it's weird, but it's okay, weird. Weird does not necessarily mean bad & # 39;

Silicone Soul profiles John, Davecat and other iDollators – like a New Jersey husband whose sick wife agreed to let him use a silicone substitute – and their life with their dolls

Director Melody Gilbert, left, was approached for making the documentary by Long Island professor and psychoanalyst Danielle Knafo, just, who became acquainted with the subculture when one of her patients revealed that he had a relationship with a silicone doll.

Perhaps the most interesting in the film is & # 39; Ben & # 39 ;, which continues to engage in a relationship with his living, breathing woman while enjoying the company of his puppets Marina and Tasha. His cancer patient wife can no longer participate in physical intimacy, while Ben is a very sexual & # 39; person remains, says Dr. Knafo – so the couple came up with real dolls as a solution.

"People are judgmental, and unless you are a bit in our shoes, I think it's hard to understand," & # 39; says Ben & # 39; s wife in the movie. & # 39; But you know, here I have a man who stays faithful, and I do not have to worry about having safe sex or, you know, going out and looking for someone else and then coming back to me. 39;

She adds: "That's why I say it's a win-win, as long as he's happy and safe. He does nothing wrong. I'm okay with it. I am real. & # 39;

She asked her to take a moment to meet the dolls & # 39 ;, but in the end she started helping her husband to dress it and style it. Especially Marina proved particularly helpful due to their personal struggles.

& # 39; My wife was very sick; we almost lost her, "he says in the film. & # 39; She was very bad about it … Marina connected me. I just held her at night and talked to her, and we passed that whole thing together.

& # 39; That's how she became very special … that's how she got so deeply into me. & # 39;

But for others like Davecat, the allure of dolls has totally weakened the need for human women.

I can introduce myself with an organic woman, it is … I would almost shoot myself in the foot, & # 39; says Davecat in the film. & # 39; There are so many expectations that she should uphold. & # 39;

He adds: & # 39; At any time in the relationship, she could just be like: "Yes, you are weird, get away from me." Of course she has the right to do so, but if that was an option, then it is clear that I would not want an intimate relationship.

"The car can get stuck, so I'm not going to get in the car:" That's how I think about it nowadays. "

According to Dr. Knafo is Davecat & # 39; very much in love with this doll; he considers himself a pioneer in this kind of relationship – and that this is just the beginning. The way we think about taste – someone who prefers blondes or redheads – will then prefer an inanimate object. & # 39;

Abyss Creation & # 39; s McMullan is also behind RealBotix, which has designed more robotic products with programmable memory and personality and call capabilities.

The interesting thing is … they stop AI in these dolls, making them in fact robots – but some [of the men] Does not want that, "says Dr. Knafo about emerging technology. & # 39; They do not want a doll that speaks; they want that silent woman who does not respond and who can control them. & # 39;

She adds that technology and humanity are evolving to the point where many people in artificial intelligence predict that we will marry robots within 40 years. & # 39;

In the meantime, the varying motives and the existence of iDollators challenged the assumptions and the world view of director Gilbert to a certain extent. She spent a lot of time with her case studies and worked hard to win the trust of a subculture that, understandably, is suspicious of openly telling their stories.

& # 39; It's a film about camaraderie and relationships and love and acceptance and secrets, and all that sort of thing – that's what I was trying to do & # 39 ;, she tells & # 39; Because you know what? It is easy to make a film about sex dolls. Many people do that right now. That is not what I do … I love the balance between the different people in the film. & # 39;

She adds: & # 39; You can hardly imagine that a documentary about sex dolls is about creating empathy. & # 39;

After researching her subjects and spending time with the I, she says: "What I realized is that everyone has a need or desire to love or be loved – and I think this is true where this is goes over, and it has taken some time to see that and spent time with people, because you hear about it for the first time, it's a bit shocking. And … John, with his wife Jackie, I mean, it's so clear to me that he has so much love to give. & # 39;

She points out that he is far from alone, because there is a waiting list for dolls from a Californian factory, a company she spends in Japan – where there is even a dollhouse – and a similar branch has recently opened in Paris.

I do not argue here; this is not an advocacy film, "she tells I am not saying that this is the way to go, this is right or wrong, or not; I only show that this exists in the world. Not only that, it is growing, and we will have to deal with that. & # 39;