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.
The real dolls are ordered from a company in California. They weigh more than 100 pounds and are totally customizable.
This is Davecat. He lives with his parents and his doll Shishan. Because his father doesn’t accept her, they spend most of their time in his room.
Shishan has a removable tongue and a two faces—one for opened eyes and one for closed ones.
Davecat was obsessed with store mannequins as a child. He tells the filmmakers Shishan has been his partner for about six years.
Davecat has to send Shishan away for the first time ever. Her limbs are loose so he’s sending her for repairs. He dreads the three week separation.
This is Everand, who owns several dolls. He last lived with his mother, who died years before after a long illness.
This is his favorite doll, Virginia. He regularly changes her faces so she can be awake or asleep.
Everand often takes his dolls on daily excursions and is seen here preparing Virginia for a day of hang-gliding.
Everand says that beautiful women in real life aren’t interested in him, so he pretends with his dolls.
He even sets them up for elaborate photo shoots, which he compares to family portraits, and hangs the photos around his house.
At the factory in California, the silicon bodies for the dolls hang from the ceiling. They ship out about 7 per week.
A customer can choose from 17 different faces and can choose eye, lip, skin and hair color.
This is Matt, who makes the dolls. He says he feels honored that his dolls are realistic enough to take as life partners.
Every detail of the dolls is meticulously molded to be lifelike. Here a technician puts teeth in a doll.
This is Gordon, who lives in rural Virginia. He bought two dolls several years ago because he was discouraged by dating.
Gordon dresses his dolls modestly because he doesn’t want them to look like a woman “who’s been had by hundreds of men.”
Next we meet Mike, from Texas. He has eight dolls and often shops for wigs and clothing for them.
Mike also dates so he hides his dolls all over the house, mostly under beds and furniture.
But he has a new girlfriend and decides he’s going to show her the dolls on his birthday. This is his favorite one, Lexi.
She is taken aback to see the dinner guests, which include Lexi and one other doll. He confesses his addiction and that he actually has eight of them.