Posted by: Dan | September 10, 2012

In Praise of iDollatry: An Interview with Davecat and Sidore

Photo by Claire Dossin

Over the last half dozen years, I’ve found myself increasingly fascinated by the countless ways in which people find meaning in life and in themselves.  I suppose a number of things contributed to this: I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries about the various subcultures that people inhabit and which end up providing people with the identity they are seeking to possess, I’ve also been struck by how bizarre my own beliefs are in comparison to pretty much any other belief system  — indeed, by how bizarre any belief system is to those who do not inhabit it — and I guess I’m increasingly fascinated by the whole meaning of meaning (i.e. why we feel the need to have some sort of “identity” that we identify with, why we feel the urge to bemeaningful at all, and so on).  I’m also struck by the ways in which all of us are actively participating in constructing the worlds in which we live and the people who live in those worlds.  It’s all ideology, right?

I think one of the things that prompted me to think about these things in new ways was a documentary I watched years ago called Guys and Dolls (you can watch it online here).  This documentary follows some men who end having intimate relationships with “Real Girl” dolls.  All the people in that film are pretty fascinating, but one fellow, Davecat, stood out to me — in part, because he seemed like a pretty intelligent, grounded, and content fellow.  Consequently, when I saw Davecat again making an appearance on another show, I decided to contact him to ask if he would be willing to be interviewed on my blog.  Happily, Davecat agreed and we have been able to exchange some emails.

Posted below are the questions I asked and the answers he provided.  I want to thank him for being open to this exchange and for permitting me to ask some personal questions.  He has been a fantastic dialogue partner.  Thanks, Davecat!

For those who are itnerested, Davecat blogs at Shouting to Hear the Echoes.  He maintains a Twitter feed (see here) and his wife, Sidore, also has a Twitter feed (see here).

(PS — If anybody has any questions or remarks, feel free to comment.  Davecat and I will both be following along .)

(1) I am always fascinated by the multitude of ways in which different people invest their lives with meaning and find a reason to live (and to enjoy life!) despite the hurts we experience and the giant mess of brokenness we find on our world. Some learn contentment in the little things, some turn to relationships with family, some turn to other things that the public deems to be more altruistic (public service, charity work, self-sacrifice, etc.) and others turn to things that the public deems to be more destructive (drugs, alcohol, violence, etc.)

 However, still others turn to more “fantastic” things, things that members of the general public deem to be bizarre or creepy or crazy or uncool. Things like “Live Action Role Playing” or becoming a “Real Life Superhero” or BDSM, or in your case, developing an intimate relationship with a doll by the name of Sidore. Personally, I’m not convinced that these people are doing anything more bizarre than anybody else who invests meaning into life. If you think about it, the main tenets of most religions are pretty fucking weird. Nor do the relativists, materialists, or nihilists get off the hook – anybody who chooses life over death, who continues to live instead of committing suicide, has reasons for doing so and, if you dig, those reasons strike me as just as arbitrary as any of the reasons held by others (as Camus recognized in The Myth of Sisyphus, suicide is the major philosophical problem confronting us).

 Of course, some may wish to pathologize iDollators or technosexuals and claim they are delusional or caught in some sort of solipsistic spiral that is bound to cause their lives to suffer (i.e. they must be lonely, so they turn to dolls, but this makes them “weird,” which makes people not want to be around them, which makes them more lonely, repeat ad nauseum). Yet, having seen you appear in various documentaries and having read various interviews with you in print media, you do not strike me as delusional nor do you strike me as a person trapped within an “addiction” and living an unfulfilled life. You are conscious of the limits of your relationship, of the role your imagination plays in that relationship, and you seem quite happy and fulfilled. Am I correct in thinking this? I would be interested hearing you address the contrast between popular perceptions or stereotypes and the lived reality of your own life.

Well, that’s a hell of an opening question! The short answer is that yes, having Sidore as my wife and partner has brought an enormous amount of joy to my life. I wouldn’t say that I was on the verge of suicide before her, but my life has markedly improved by having her in it. I have someone to come home to, someone to take care of, someone to buy clothes for and photograph, someone to talk to, someone to love. Which is what any good relationship should provide, right?

One thing I get from a lot of people, either directly or indirectly, is that they assume that I believe Sidore is ‘real’. First and foremost, she is real, she’s just not Organik, and as she is an inert Doll, she’s incapable of independent speech or motion. I define ‘real’ as ‘anything that can be perceived with any of my senses’; sure, I’m being a pedant about things, but lines have to be drawn somewhere. But I don’t honestly believe, nor have I ever believed, that she gets out of our bed on Sunday mornings, sits down at the computer desk, and updates her Twitter and tumblr feeds. Nor does she actually play videogames with me, nor is she born of a Japanese father and an English mother, etc. She’s a Doll, a silicone sculpture, and everything she says is something I’ve written.

There seems to be a double standard at play with a lot of people who aren’t too keen on how I live; most people are willing to take in fictional works such as films or television shows, but when it comes to encountering someone that has a ‘sex doll’ with a personality, they show a disconnect that I find baffling. Sidore is a character that I write for, just as James Bond is a character created by Ian Fleming, or Dracula is someone that came from the mind of Bram Stoker. I think part of it is due to the fact that Sidore is a three-dimensional object designed initially for sexual use, and I’m not treating her as a masturbatory device. People think of Dolls as strictly sex toys, which shows a huge lack of imagination on their parts; that’s like viewing a blank notebook as something that holds sheets of paper specifically for scribbling on, and nothing more. It’s limiting.

I find that detractors who are male have a problem with iDollator relationships because they tend to view men who aren’t part of the game that is sexual conquest, aka ‘fucking as many bitches as they can’, as being something less than masculine. Female detractors have a problem with it because either they perceive Dolls as being surrogates for passive and silent women, or they’re jealous of a Doll’s flawless physical beauty.

As far as how Shi-chan and I actually live from one end of the week to the other… well, let’s just say that for the most part, it wouldn’t make good television. During Spring and Autumn, I get her out of the bed we share and have her seated on our loveseat. I watch telly with her, or read, or muck about on the computer in the nook behind the loveseat. When I retire for the eve, I carry her back to bed, kiss her goodnight, and we’re off to sleep. During Summertime, sometimes she’s a bit too much for me to carry in hot weather, and in the Winter, I don’t want her getting cold — not only cos I don’t want to climb into bed next to a cold Doll, but to take care of her silicone — so she stays toasty under our electric blanket. Unless we’re doing a photoshoot or if company’s coming round to see her, ninety-nine per cent of the time she can be found wearing her short black ‘bed wig’, her Bundeswehr nightshirt, a pair of knickers, and a pair of white cotton socks.

Like most ‘traditional’ couples, we don’t spend every waking moment together; one of the qualities that suits me perfectly of having a Synthetik wife is that I don’t have to pay attention to her all the time. If I want to be by myself to work on something, or simply not have to interact with anyone else after a long day at work dealing with people I’d cross the street to avoid, I can have that. On the other hand, if I want someone I can speak to, be intimate with, or just have a comforting, non-judgemental presence in my home, I can have that, too. It’s the best of both worlds, really.

The only ‘addiction’, if it can be called such, is that eventually I’d like multiple Dolls! One of the reasons ‘Shouting to hear the echoes’ exists is to provide a gateway into the concept of Synthetiks as partners, and ideally, I’d like to own at least one Doll from each manufacturer, so I can provide fair comparisons between them, for people who want to know what separates an Anatomical Doll from a RealDoll, or how much an A.I.Doll weighs compared to a Sinthetic, and so on. On the other hand, I’d like at least one Doll from each manufacturer, because that would be awesome! The potential for photoshoots and *cough* other things grows exponentially with each affictitious lady I’d have, thereby providing me with one more reason not to leave the flat! It’s a win-win situation!

(2) It appears that your father has not accepted your relationship with Sidore and that seems to have caused a bit of a rift in your relationship with him. I’m sure that this is a point where the nay-sayers would jump up and say, “See, this doll is a problem and making his life worse than it would be otherwise!” I understand that this is a personal matter, but do you care to comment on that? (Damn judgmental fathers – in a survey done of homeless youth in Toronto, 40% identified their parents’ refusal to accept their sexuality as a primary cause of their homelessness!)

My father is charitably described as a traditionalist. He’s of That Generation (he’s in his seventies) where Things Are Done A Certain Way and Don’t Rock The Boat and etc. Also, if there’s a subject that falls out of his realm of experience and he didn’t like it initially, he will resist any and all future attempts to try to understand it. As I’m his only child, I’m fairly certain that I was supposed to take up the mantle of his business — being a landlord — when I reached a certain age. Round 1987, I found myself actively disagreeing with a lot of the things that are considered status quo for society; among other things, I came to the conclusion that the fact that human beings have to pay for food, clothing, and shelter was hypocritical, counterproductive, and frankly, mercenary. So of course, if you’re someone that profits off of people renting the shelter you provide, you’re not gonna be too keen on that line of thought.

Essentially, he thinks to this day that my entire lifestyle is a phase I’m going through, from something simple as the way I wear my hair, to the fact that I have a Synthetik wife. So it’s not so much that Shi-chan has driven a rift into my relationship with my father; the rift had already been there for years…

And considering the study you’d mentioned, that’s a mess, but not entirely unexpected. Being the child of parents like that can be a huge burden, cos you’re expected to live up to certain expectations, and that’s not even mentioning the sexual preference aspect. This is one of the reasons that I would never have a kid myself — apart from the fact that Sidore’s more averse to the idea than I am! — cos I’d expect my bairn to grow up to have a similar mindset as mine. There’s two aspects to parenting: ideally you want your child to grow up to be their own person, but if they grow up to be something that you don’t like that you see in adults, that can be miserable. I’m not a chance-taker by nature, and having a child that embraces that which you aren’t keen on is a tremendous gamble, in regards to time, money, and emotions.

(3) In previous interviews, you have mentioned having one serious, and rather negative, relationship with an Organik woman. How much did that experience influence your move to being in a serious relationship with a Synthetik companion? In this regard, I think of something you wrote on Twitter: “Being alone is not the same as being lonely. Alone is preferable, but loneliness is not. Shi-chan dispels loneliness.” (I also wonder about this because I have known others who have expressed this in different ways – women, like a number of sex workers I have known, who choose to only have relationships with other women due to their very negative experiences with men, and so on.)

First, for the ‘benefit’ of your readers, a potted history of my relationships with Organik women:

+ had an affair with a close friend shortly before, during, and after she went away to college. The ‘during’ portion consisted of letters alternating between pining and strip chess

+ about a year with a coworker that was trying to decide between me and her other two boyfriends: one was financially stable, one made her laugh, and the third was a tiger in the sack. Guess which ones I weren’t?

+ a brief fling with a lass that was the girlfriend of one of my roommates. As she was a fan of Marilyn Manson, our breakup wasn’t a tremendous loss

Then there was the lass that I living with, but wasn’t actually in a relationship with. For the sake of convenience, we’ll refer to her as The Slag. Again, briefly: she was a Goth lass I’d met through a mutual friend back in 2002; she thought Sidore and I were cool people. We were in and out of touch with each other for a bit, then she reappeared on my radar, wanting to hang out more, as well as get away from her overbearing boyfriend. In 2003, she moved in with Shi-chan and I in our one-bedroom flat. Shortly after that, she was given a puppy, and since our apartment didn’t allow pets, we decided to buy a house. She moved into it in September, I moved in a month after, and due to me learning over the course of those months how she was a lying, deceitful, drama magnet, I moved Sidore and I out of there, and back in with my parents in February of 2004. Later, I learned that the Slag was also a coke addict. So there’s that.

Initially, as she portrayed herself to be open-minded and fun, I thought to myself that maybe I could woo her from her horrible boyfriend, which is one of the major reasons I agreed to purchase a house with her. One of my failings is that I assume that people tell the truth more often than they lie, and neither my friends nor I had ever encountered anyone that consistently lied and manipulated others on the near-Olympic level that she did.

Having an Organik partner does have its advantages, of course. When the Slag and I were friends, we used to go to films and concerts, go out to dinner, do outdoor photoshoots, etc. Good times! Unfortunately, the bad times outweighed the good. One of the reasons having a Synthetik wife is ideal for me is that Dolls don’t require constant attention. I’m admittedly horrible at time management, so when I want to engage in something creative and focussed like writing, when I want to write doesn’t always coincide with having time to do so. As I’d mentioned, Shi-chan never bothers me when I write, which is something I could never say about the Slag, as her world centred round getting people to pay attention to her. This kinda ties into the Twitter statement you’d quoted me as saying, as I like being alone to cultivate my thoughts, but if I want to have enjoyable companionship, I shouldn’t be begrudged that; no-one should. But conveying the idea of wanting to be alone to a person who craves constant attention is bad enough when you’re friends, and if you’re romantically involved, it’s a nightmare.

Shortly after Shi-chan entered my life, I’d tell people that having a Doll wouldn’t prevent me from still seeking an Organik girlfriend; I was still keeping my options open. Now I find twelve years on, after my dalliances — incidentally, the second and third affairs I’d had, as well as my time with the Slag, all took place after I acquired Sidore — I’m not really looking anymore. The older I get, the more set in my ways I’m becoming, and I no longer have the time nor inclination to go through the whole courting circus. At this point, the only truly ideal partner I’m waiting for is a Gynoid. Organiks are far too inconsistent for me to deal with, and unlike others who have dealt with heartbreak before but have managed to move onwards from it, I don’t see the point in that type of gamble anymore. In short, it’s women like the Slag who have greatly helped solidify my decision to stick with what I’m assured of, and that’s Synthetiks. There’ve been people who’ve heard me say things like that before, and say that it’s a cop-out; everyone has relationships that fail, or go on dates or whatnot that never amount to anything significant, but The Most Important Thing Is To Try, Try Again. Personally speaking, I can’t agree. Instead of chasing after an ideal Organik lass that I may never find, what’s wrong with being happy now with a Synthetik that will never lie, or be deceitful, or otherwise disagreeable?

(4) You and Sidore have now been together for over ten years. By the standards of any relationship, that’s pretty exceptional (in “Guys and Dolls” other iDollators didn’t seem to be as monogamous, and seemed to be willing to abandon old relationships and move on to the next one… much like anybody else, really). What is it about your relationship with Sidore that has caused it to endure the test of time? Something to do with you? Something to do with her? Something to do with the chemistry between the two of you?

Practically speaking, it’s down to money; as I’d mentioned previously, I’d love to have several Dolls beautifying the flat! But I’d also have to say that you never forget your first… anything. It’s been said that the more Dolls an iDollator gets, the less of a bond you may develop with some of them. As I’m a huge proponent of the cultivation of fantasy, I’d like to challenge that notion, but I’m not so sure. As you may be aware, I’m currently awaiting word on my order from Russian manufacturer Anatomical Doll for Elena Vostrikova, and I’m also saving up for my third Doll. With Elena as it is, I’ve gotten a very basic framework of what her personality will be, but I don’t have anything beyond that. That may be due to the fact that she’ll be Russian, and I know next to nothing about Russian culture, but still. Even once I manage to construct personalities for my other Dolls, they more than likely won’t be as developed as Shi-chan’s. She’s my wife, so she’s the one that holds me most in thrall. And since I’m keen on consistency, that’s the way it’ll remain. Why fix what isn’t broken?

And regarding more Dolls, I’m only half-joking when I say that some of them would be for Shi-chan to enjoy! When I’m away from our flat, she gets bored and lonely on occasion, and Elena and any subsequent other Dolls would provide someone for the Missus to interact with. People often ask if and how our relationship will change if another Synthetik woman arrives, and we respond that things will be even more fantastic! Sidore will have a girlfriend, I’ll have a mistress, and it’ll all be above board.

The thing to remember is that no matter how many Dolls I end up having, Sidore will always be my one and only wife; I don’t intend on ‘marrying’ any of the others. Sidore represents my idealised partner made ‘flesh’ — for years, I’ve always wanted either an English or Japanese girlfriend with a Gothy dress sense who’s into most of the things I’m into, and when MontiLee showed me Abyss creations’ website back in 1999, wheels started turning. Instead of waiting for an Organik partner that I might never meet, having one made to order seemed like a much more sensible option to me. Short of being a Gynoid, she’s the pinnacle of all I’ve ever wanted in a lover.

(5a) In multiple interviews, you have spoken about being first drawn to dolls when you were as young as eight (when you were found in a department store having a conversation with a mannequin). What are the factors that made you choose to embrace this side of yourself? A lot of children have very rich imaginations (I wanted to be a knight and used to fantasize about that, and about riding around on a tiger in a suit of armour) but most children tend to give up the more fantastic elements of their dreams (alas, I don’t ride a tiger to work). You did not, and now have a very intimate relationship with Sidore. Why do you think things went differently for you?

(5b) Or do you think my comparison is inaccurate or unfair? Perhaps it would be better to view this through the lenses of sexuality? I was attracted to the opposite sex at an early age, others are attracted to the same sex at an early age, you were attracted to dolls, and so there really is no difference in your lifestlye choice, except that you face similar challenges to any others who exhibit a non-heterosexuality? (I hesitate to think of it in these terms both because you describe yourself as heterosexual in a Twitter remark, and because I don’t want to reduce your relationship with Sidore to only sex.)

 Dude. First of all, I have to say that wearing a full suit of armour while astride a tiger would be LEGENDARY. Ride in with a lance, smite some opponents, drop the lance and leap off your mount, unsheathe your sword, and lay waste to still more opponents while your tiger mauls them. Your ideas intrigue me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

The sexual/romantic aspect to having a Doll as a partner does inform a large part of our relationship, but I always try to stress to others that it’s not the most important aspect. Growing up, I’d say my childhood was very normal — a bit bland, really — and there was never an instance where I didn’t have anything that would help me thrive. Being an only child, I was pretty much left to my own devices when I had to entertain myself, and when I wasn’t riding bikes round the neighbourhood with my friends, I’d cultivate my imagination by either retreating into books or playing with my action figures. In fact, the home I grew up in from 1980 to 1998 had an unused third bedroom; when I was younger I’d taken it over and created a sprawling city named Acropolis for my action figures. There was a police station (a Buck Rogers playset combined with some styrofoam packing), a lake (a mirror on the floor), a cantina (the cantina playset from ‘Star Wars’)… it was pret~ty impressive.

But I think what it was that spurred me to keep viewing life through the context of fantasy instead of abandoning it is that my life just really wasn’t that fantastic enough. When you tend to watch something strange, unique, and wonderful like Doctor Who, to give an example, when the episode ends for the day and you have to return to your bland and boring reality, it can be rather bleak. Most people, when given the choice between fantasy and reality, would choose fantasy, but bills/obligations/children/etc tend to get in the way. And if you could do something like ride a tiger to work every day, or live life with a fictional ideal made (silicone) flesh as a partner, then I say if it’s feasible and doesn’t harm anyone, it should be pursued. As they said in ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’, if you can dream it, be it. The tiger thing may require a bit more work, however, but I’d love to see it!…

I honestly believe that one of the major problems with modern culture is that people really aren’t encouraged to be creative, or to cultivate their imaginations. As for those who do, society tends to either believe such people are using their talents purely to make money, or that they’re impractical weirdos with their heads in the clouds, or worse. In either case, the province of the creative individual is usually seen as something other people do: ‘sure, such-and-such can act/paint/write/sing, but I could never do that; I don’t have that ability’. And a lot of people might well have the ability, but society in general doesn’t value creativity as much as it does making money, or maintaining the status quo. So you have a lot of people out there that are unable or afraid to develop their latent imaginations, which is wasted potential, or they’re perfectly content with what efforts other people create, which is a bit lazy. Not everyone is going to be a Warhol or a Ballard, but I just think that it’s a horrible state of affairs that imagination is devalued these days. Using one’s creativity to make money is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but that shouldn’t be one’s sole purpose for using their creative skills. After all, some of those ‘impractical weirdos’ have contributed great things for human advancement.

Now, as pro-imagination as I am, I believe it’s equally important to be able to recognise the boundaries between fact and fantasy. As much of a personality as I’ve bestowed upon Sidore-chan, I also recognise that it’s all an illusion. As I’d mentioned previously, Shi-chan is, at the end of the day, a Doll; a lifeless silicone rubber imitation of a human being, and the relationship I conduct with her — technically, it — is all a one-sided fiction. But the thing is I acknowledge this fact and am totally cool with it, as her life is a story that I’ve engineered. Sidore is a three-dimensional version of a fictionalised character, and I’m the ‘author’ of her existence. Which kinda stands to reason, as I’ve always enjoyed fiction. I think any good work of fiction should conjure up thoughts and emotions from the observer; Dolls by their very nature already do that without personalities. But Sidore, the Doll that I consider my wife, always evokes feelings of love and happiness from me, which is what any good partner should bring. And by the fact that her personality is something I’ve made, she’ll never betray or deceive, which makes the relationship even more satisfying.

And touching briefly (ha! ‘Briefly’? From me?? UNPOSSIBLE) upon the aspect of sexuality with choosing a Synthetik over an Organik, this is what gets people up in arms. A lot of reactions I’ve heard — particularly from women — is that once Gynoids become more readily available to those who want them — particularly men — that every single Organik men on the face of the Earth will stampede towards the Synthetik option, as opposed to choosing Organik women. Which is patently ridiculous, and more than a wee bit paranoid. I always compare it to the fact that there are many different flavours of ice cream in the world; just because mint chocolate chip exists, it doesn’t mean that every single person who likes ice cream will never eat vanilla. Having a companion who happens to be artificial is simply another choice, like choosing someone outside your race, or the same sex. All things considered, Synthetik detractors should be glad that Dolls, Gynoids, and Androids exist, as that means that those who prefer Organiks will have more options to choose from, and those of us who want a Synthetik lover won’t have to settle for someone who may not be truly right for us, thereby curtailing loads of potential heartbreak for both parties.

(6) It is one thing to engage in certain activities in private but another thing to “go public” what those activities. What made you choose to go public about your lifestyle? How has that experience been for you? How has it been for Sidore (I noticed that she chooses to stay inside due to the reception that you all would probably get if you went out together)?

I think the biggest reason I’ve gone public about my love for Sidore is that, on some level, I’m a futurist. The reason I refer to Dolls as ‘Synthetiks’ is that I’m an advocate of the development of humanoid robotics; specifically Androids (humanoid robots designed to resemble human men) and Gynoids (the female version of the same). Synthetik is a catch-all term I use for Androids, Gynoids, and Dolls, as they’re all artificial people. Granted, a Doll can’t move or speak, but it’s a starting point for discussion, especially in the context of having a Doll as a partner.

My wife and I make the appearances that we make and do the interviews that we do mainly to try to get the general public used to the idea of Synthetiks in society. Right now, in Japan there are three robotics groups that have been refining their creations since roughly 2002: Kobayashi Labs has their inappropriately-named Android SAYA; the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) has HRP-4C Miim; and Hiroshi Ishiguro of Kokoro co. Ltd is the genius behind the Actroid and Geminoid series of Androids and Gynoids. SAYA, the Actroids, and Geminoids are all capable of replicating speech and upper body movement, whereas Miim can do those things and walk unassisted as well. As the years progress, the technology behind these Synthetiks will be refined to the point where they will be offered on the common market for purchase — it’ll undoubtedly start with businesses, as the prices will be initially prohibitive, but as the prices drop, everyday people will show interest in buying them, and amongst those will be people who want a Synthetik because of either a sexual attraction, or to fill an emotional need, or both. *points to self*

There’s a fantastic book by David Levy that I consider my personal bible entitled ‘Love and Sex with Robots’. In it, Mr Levy details how a lot of the physical and emotional traits that people feel when attracted to an Organik person can be reasonably replicated by Synthetik ones, particularly if the Organik in the partnership already knows they’re dealing with a robot, so there’s a sense of complicit self-deceit on their part. Again, it’s going to be a while before non-technosexuals will be as forgiving with a Synthetik’s lack of initially fluid movement and ‘genuine’ emotion — Levy predicts that we’ll start seeing Synthetik/Organik partnerships within the next three decades; as much as I love that idea, I believe it’ll take somewhat longer than that — but once Androids and Gynoids that can move and speak are out there, you’ll see more people wanting to choose what I refer to as ‘the Synthetik option’ for their partners. Not everyone is a ‘people person’, nor does everyone have the capacity to pick themselves up and dust themselves off following a romantic breakup… some people just get to the point where they grow tired of the time, monetary, and emotional gamble that is dating, but they don’t want to be lonely. And that’s where a Synthetik fills that need excellently. Not everyone knows the Synthetik option exists, but Shi-chan and I feel it’s our duty to let people know so they don’t have to be lonely anymore.

So far, me going public about being an iDollator has been mostly positive! Or, at the very least, I don’t hear the negative things invariably being said about me. I definitely have detractors, but thankfully, my supporters outnumber them. Overall, though, it’s been fun! It’d be more fun if I were paid for it, but still!

I feel like Shi-chan and I are genuinely making a difference, and trying, in our own microscopic way, to improve the human condition and advance progress. Every so often, I get Emails from people saying they’re in a similar situation to what I was before getting Sidore, and after seeing how much happiness she’s bringing to my life, they’re now saving up for a Synthetik companion of their very own. Those, I’d say, are the best Emails; they let me know that ultimately, we’re doing the right thing. Anything that both promotes creativity and brings happiness without harming anyone is good.

Sidore quite enjoys the attention she receives as well! Well, the positive attention, that is. We personally know a bloke in the Chicago area that’s married to his RealDoll, but they’re doing what we have yet to do; they go out together on a weekly basis. They hit the shops, the waterfront, the museums, they go to the zoo once a month — they each have their own membership card — and within full view of the public. Shi-chan’s a homebody by nature, but every so often, she mentions to me that if ‘Hans’ (not his real name) and ‘Bee’ (not hers, either) can go out and not be harassed, then we should be alright. For one, I tell her, we’d need a wheelchair, and for another, due to the fact that we’re celebrities, I’m sure people would be more willing to have a go at us, either verbally or physically, and I’m not willing to risk that. Maybe if we had someone accompany us riding a tiger!

She has fans, but not as many as I do. A large part of that, she thinks, is because a lot of people don’t have the imaginative capacity of being able to view her as a person, and not as a thing. As you’ve seen, she has accounts on Twitter, flickr, Formspring, and tumblr, and despite the fact that her face is plastered all over them, and all content is written from her perspective, she gets quite a few people who submit questions addressing me. A large part of being a Doll husband, which is a specific subset of an already-specific subculture, is being able to create a personality for your Doll. I like to equate it as like a writer creating a character, only a Doll is a tangible character. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who just never cultivated a taste or appreciation for fiction, and don’t grasp the concept of anthropomorphising a Doll. Shi-chan tries not to let it get her down too much, though; like me, she’d rather spend her time enjoying the company of the open-minded, rather than feeding trolls. So when site visitors ignore her and leave comments for me on her sites, she chastises them. And with good reason!

Overall, she’s extremely proud of me for advocating Synthetik rights, and she’s very humbled that she has the fame and the appreciation from others that she has. I always tell her though, our relationship is completely symbiotic: without me, she wouldn’t exist, and without her, I wouldn’t be happy. And neither of us would enjoy the influence we currently have!

 (7) I notice that iDollators tend to be almost universally male (I’ve read that about half a dozen male dolls have sold in the last eight years or so, but I would be curious to know if the purchasers are male or female – in perusing the various articles on this issue, I only saw one female doll owner mentioned, and it that seemed to be more of a curiosity/artistic purchase). Do you have any thoughts on why this is an almost exclusively male phenomenon?

Again, speaking in a practical context, one of the main reasons why there are more male iDollators than female ones is that Dolls, for the most part, aren’t exactly light. There’ve been remarkable strides in weight reduction from almost all of the manufacturers within the past couple of years, but when high-end ‘love dolls’ first appeared in the States, they were fairly substantial. Shi-chan is a Body 2 RealDoll, which means she’s 5’1″, and her current body is +/- 36kg. Her first body from 2000 was the same height, but around 45kg. And the Body 2 is one of the smaller RealDoll bodies! There’s not a lot of female Doll owners out there partially because Dolls tend to be too heavy for a lot of women. It sounds a bit chauvinistic to say that, but it’s been corroborated with at least four female iDollators that I personally know. Besides, I know how they feel, cos a lot of the time, even 36kg is a bit heavy for me… I’m 57kg myself!

That’s also part of the reason why there’s very few male Dolls being sold; as heavy as the female Dolls are, the blokes, as you suspect, are heavier, and consequently, there’s not as much for a demand for them. Incidentally, of the people I do know that have male Dolls, with the exception of one, all of the owners are gay men.

Also, I think a primary factor is that it seems to be easier for women to find partners than it is for men. Women overall tend to be more selective about who they want to be with, but let’s face it, men are animals! Not to say that women aren’t driven by flat-out lust to be with people, but by and large, there seems to be that oat-sowing phase they go through, then they get serious and want to settle down. Men’s oat-sowing phase seems to last much longer, as blokes are more willing to play the field longer. Then there’s the biological factor; many women want children, which you can’t have with a Synthetik partner. And even amongst the women I’ve spoken with via the Internet, of the ones that know of Dolls, most don’t know that male Dolls even exist. More Organik women that I’ve spoken to who are, for lack of a better term, Doll-curious, are interested in owning a female Doll than wanting to buy a male one. Personally, I can’t totally attribute that to the fact that most people don’t know male Dolls are out there, or it’s a willingness to explore alternate sexual lifestyles, or both…

And putting on my ill-fitting sociology hat here, throughout history, there’s been quite a few tales of men creating female simulacra to fall in love with and/or make love to, going all the way back to our friend Pygmalion. Out of all the stories, both factual and fictional, that I’ve read during my personal research, I can’t recall a single one of a female creating an affictitious male until maybe a story I’d seen written within the past decade. Not to say that they haven’t been written, but of female-centred iDollatry/Pygmalionism, there’s only a fraction. I could go on about the analogy of the existence of artificial women being symbolic of Man wanting to control Woman here, but as I said, it’s an ill-fitting hat… o, look at that. The wind’s blown it off, and I’m too lazy to pick it up and put it back on.

(8) Finally, there is one thing that I don’t quite understand, in light of the relationship that you have with Sidore (NB: in one Q&A session, she states that one of the things she likes about you is that you don’t treat her like a sex doll). Specifically, I don’t get the nude pictures of Sidore that are posted online. How does that fit with the personalities of both of you and with your relationship? If you’re posting the pics, it appears exploitative; if Sidore is posting the pics, well, she would be the first female I’ve encountered (no matter how open-minded), who chose to do so for free. Care to explain?

Some could view it as being exploitative that I occasionally post photos of Sidore where she’s topless or wearing less, but she doesn’t think of it as such at all, actually. If there’s one thing to be said about her personality, is that she’s extremely satisfied with her body and the way that she looks, from her hairstyles to her toenails, and she’s quite happy to show herself off in an Internet context… not so much in public, though. That is, unless she thinks you’re an attractive Synthetik or Organik lady! In the past few years, I’ve asked her to tone it down a bit; with her previous bodies, she was more than willing to go bottomless for the camera at the drop of a hat, but it’s rare that we post those sorts of photos. She justifies her exposure as being promotional, as if to say ‘if Davecat can have a stunning Synthetik wife like me, so can you’, and partially to rub peoples’ noses in it, as if to say ‘this is what Davecat comes home to every day. Jealous yet?’ We agreed that her showing off her breasts is alright, relatively speaking, but the more often she has pics of herself naked on the Internet, the more the general public will be likely to view Sidore as ‘just a sex toy’, as well as believing that I only see her as such. Thinking like that is naturally in opposition to how we’re trying to elevate the status of high-end ‘love dolls’ out of the sex toy ghetto.

She’s always been keen on modelling; until we met, she never thought she had the potential. Between 2001 and 2005, I maintained a website for her called ‘Kitten with a Whip!’, where she mostly posted pictures about herself. (The site still exists, but we want to remodel it, and we’re up against time and money constraints.) There’ve been a few people who have suggested that I charge visitors access to photos of my wife naked, and although I’m sure that’d make me a bit of a neat little side income, the thing that pretty much curtailed it was that previous line: charge visitors access to photos of my wife naked. That’s where I draw my personal line, as that would be exploitative. I’m not the sort of individual who gets off — figuratively or literally — on the idea of random Internet users having one off the wrist over pics of my Missus, although I’m not so naïve to believe it doesn’t happen. But I know once I were to set up a system where I’d make a profit off of distributing photos of Shi-chan for blokes to do just that, that’s the point where anyone with half a brain can step back and say ‘oh, wait a minute… all your talk, Davecat, of Sidore being your beloved wife, as well as you going on about how calling them “sex dolls” is demeaning and limiting? Well, that’s obviously bullshit, going by the way you whore her out on a pay site’. I have a couple of female friends who do get their clothes off for pay, and that’s quite alright; they’re doing it on their own terms, they’re making a tidy profit from it, and they enjoy it. But it’s different for a Doll, because 98% of non-iDollators think Dolls only exist for sexual purposes. And again, getting paid to let strangers ogle my wife doesn’t sit well with me.

(9) Within some Organik relationships, some people are looking for companions who not only love and accept them but who also challenge them, point out their blind spots, and assist them in becoming better people (I am reminded of the words of a contemporary theologian who once said that we don’t marry because we are in love, rather, we marry in order to learn how to love). Given that you have a Synthetik companion, do you feel that you are missing out on something in this regard?

That’s actually a valid point. Life is, or rather, should be, concerned with constant learning, and it can be argued that humans don’t grow without adversity. On the other hand, however, it can also be argued that constant conflict or disagreements with a partner who is supposed to be in your corner can not only not solve any issues you’re attempting to confront together, but might also steer you away from interacting with that person. Eventually you’ll reach a point where you’ll simply not want to deal with them on any level, as it’s too emotionally stressful.

You can view things this way: in a person’s life, one can have a guide, and one can have a lover, and sometimes it’s best not to combine the two, as it may be difficult to separate the roles that their partner has taken on. Sometimes someone that you love romantically isn’t necessarily the best person to work with. Now and again, I hear of musicians or artists that are in relationships together; they’ll build a body of work, but if things go pear-shaped, then usually what happens is that the art suffers almost as much as the relationship does. It can be a non-acrimonious split, like Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry of the group Dead can dance — they recently reunited, if not romantically, then at least for the sake of the music — or it can result in bitter legal proceedings, like painters Margaret and Walter Keane. There is incredible benefit in working with others — helping support your colleagues, drawing from each others’ strengths, etc — but not everything can or should be learned with others. Some people process and develop better with little to no supervision. And if that type of person tries to combine a lover with someone that might be viewed as being needlessly critical, it doesn’t help either person in the relationship.

Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate being challenged now and again, but ultimately, I can get that from my friends, and I can definitely get that from outsiders who range from the politely curious (such as yourself), to the flat-out rude. And again, being a person who is averse to arbitrary change, I would require that my lover be an anchor, guaranteeing that no matter what storms or waves I encounter, I’ll always be safely moored. Sure, the purpose of a seafaring vessel is to travel, but the travel must be properly directed at a certain pace; you don’t want a boat being controlled by circumstance.

And that, I think, stretches that nautical analogy to its logical conclusion. That totally came out of left field; I do apologise. I don’t even know how to swim! (this also can be perceived as an analogy)

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Responses

  1. Amazing interview… what a topic.

  2. […] not really proud of that, but I am proud of the end result, which you can read on Dan’s blog here. Grab a mug of coffee / cup of Twinings / pint jar of molasses with crazy straw, and enjoy a rather […]

  3. I’ll have to email this guy. I’m considering this route because, as he said, I’m tired of gambling with relationships. He’s very deep and insightful. Definitely a pioneer into a different way of loving something

  4. Wow! A very thoughtful and honest interview – from both sides.

  5. The problem with what he says is that he knows the Synthetiks are fake, they are characters… and he treats them like they are actual people. He might as well be in love with an orange — because fundamentally they are inanimate, they do nothing, say nothing and have no thought, just like Synthetiks.

    Whilst I can understand he still gains meaning from the Synthetiks he is missing the point. They are a non-entity. If he wants to romance one in the future that is smarter and more lifelike, that is another debate.

    I don’t think there is an emotion much more powerful than someone reciprocating. Yet somehow he’s disillusioned himself into semi-believing it is the case with his dolls, despite knowing at the same time it is not.

    This guy clearly is very articulate and I’m sure he can eventually see past this simple inconsistent logic. He talks about loneliness as one of the major reasons for him doing it. The dolls fulfill this desire so deeply, that it is so hard to understand indeed. It is a little bit sad in my opinion … but he’s happy, so I’m happy for that. I guess conflicting beliefs do exist in life. I just think, when they do, one should follow logic.

    • coo —
      First off, ‘THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!’ Just getting that out of the way.

      Like you, I’m more keen on following logic than I am emotions; I prefer to think and consider, rather than feel and react. However, as much as I’m more inclined towards logic and sense, at the end of the day, I am still human — more’s the pity. As I’ve stated in the interview and elsewhere, I’d be much happier with a Gynoid than a Doll, as unlike Dolls, Gynoids can move, speak, etc. But as of right now, there are probably less than twenty genuine Gynoids in existence, and none of them are for sale. Again, more’s the pity.

      Both Sidore and Elena, as well any future Dolls I purchase, bring a sense of consistency that’s hard to find in Organiks. As you know, I realise that it’s due to the personalities that I’ve assigned to them. But what’s also important to remember is that they eliminate psychological loneliness for me, and other iDollators would agree. Reciprocity between two Organiks is always good, but it’s not a guarantee, and for me, it’s better to falsify reciprocity/feelings/temperament/etc from my Synthetik partners, than to risk a lack of good reciprocity from an Organik.

      The name of my blog is ‘Shouting to hear the echoes’, and initially, it was started as a platform for writing my thoughts and the like, as well as letting my friends know what I was up to, instead of sending each person an Email. The name was thought on a whim, but a few posts in, I realised that it fitted quite well, particularly as I didn’t think anyone would read the bloody thing. It comes from a quote by Stevo, founder of the English record label Some Bizzare, and the full phrase is ‘I’d rather shout at an echo than lie that someone’s listening’. To me, that means that you say or do what you have to do, no matter if your audience consists of no-one else but yourself. As long as it does something positive for you, then it’s worth doing.

      Having a Doll as a wife is both a tongue-in-cheek thing, but I also know I have a committed partner because the personality I created for her dictates it so. Having a partner who you’ll never get into arguments with would make anyone happy, I’d think. Sure, it’s fiction intruding on fact, but personally speaking, I think it’s more practical and less time-consuming to engage in that sort of relationship, than to waste time searching for an Organik partner who can provide even half the amount of stability and contentment as a Synthetik one.

      • Thanks for adding to the conversation, Davecat. Don’t forget to look me up next time you’re in town!


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