We Spoke To People Who Bought Sex Dolls During COVID

Sex doll owners reveal why a global pandemic pushed them to purchase a doll for the first time.

COVID-19 has essentially fucked the global economy. Businesses are closing down, supply chains are being disrupted… you know all this. You also know that while some industries have been sucker-punched in the gut by coronavirus, others have experienced a nice little surge in business. Anyone who's tried to buy any home gym equipment will be well across that.

Another industry that's experienced a healthy uptick in sales is the sex doll industry. "Since COVID, we have noticed a considerable increase in sales of our sex dolls," Matt from online sex store Cherry Banana, told Vice recently. "We've doubled our Cherry Doll sales since March, and now we sell four to five a week – or 20 to 25 a month."

"It's true," added Andrew from Sex Doll Australia. "Since the hard lockdown stages of COVID-19 in Australia we've experienced an increase in sales of about 30 to 40 percent. It started in about May and has continued since then."

Of course, this isn't just happening in Australia. News stories reporting spikes in sex doll and sex toy sales have been reported in the US, Italy, China, Germany… the list goes on. These stories all feature quotes from sex doll manufacturers, shopkeepers, and online retailers – all of which provide some interesting insight – but what about the people who actually made such purchases? We wanted to hear from them, so MTV Australia reached out to a few sex doll owners who bought a doll during lockdown to talk about their recent purchase, modern love, public misconceptions, and all things sex dolls.

Brandon*, 36, sex doll owner

MTV Australia: Hey Brandon, when did you buy your doll?

Brandon: I purchased my doll at the end of June, about three months into lockdown. I named her Heather – no special reason, I just like the name. 

Why did you buy a sex doll?

I had a bad marriage that ended seven years ago. Since then I've had a mixed bag of dating experiences. I used to go into relationships with the intent that I was going to marry this one and this time I mean it dammit. Then a few months in, it would all crash and burn. After that, I learned to go into relationships with no expectations, and they don't seem to have any staying power either. Casual dating can be fun, but a new girlfriend every year can also get exhausting. I was considering starting again right before the lockdown, but I wasn't really trying all that hard… The lockdown was more of a last straw situation for me.

How much did Heather cost?

I paid about $2500 for her. I then spent about $400 more on essentials like cleaning supplies (spray bottle, baby powder, baby oil, Vaseline, microfiber towels) and make-up and clothes. One could get by with fewer outfits, but part of the experience for me is dressing her up before I go to work so I have a cute girl greeting me when I get home.

That's become one of the unexpected upsides – I can empathise with women in regards to clothes, make-up, etc. I see my doll as something like a physical manifestation of my feminine side, if that makes any sense. I fuss over her hair, dress her in a different outfit every day. Get her makeup just right. And I do it all for me, not to impress the guys online. When I do post pictures it's not just to get the guys all horny, it's to show off how good of a job I did making my doll look good.

I finally understand when women say they don't dress to impress men, but to feel good about themselves and show off to other women. I look at pictures of other dolls online not just because they look sexy, but I appreciate the work that went into making it look that way. It's even started to bleed over into real life too. I find myself checking out women's hair and wanting to try out a new style of braid or seeing a dress or blouse and wondering if it would look good on my doll.

What's the worst part about having a doll?

A lot of guys complain about the weight, but that hasn't really been a problem for me. I'm a nursing assistant in a hospital so moving bodies around is a big part of my job. The real downside for me is getting clothes and make-up just right and finding clothes that fit.

Cleaning is kind of a pain. Lint sticks like crazy. I actually have come to enjoy putting on new makeup though. Just put on some music and get to work. It's kind of like painting I guess. You have to use powder eyeliner for all the places you want to colour and that involves mixing colours and blending. Especially the pussy. Gotta mix like four different colours to get it to look realistic.

Do you keep Heather hidden from people in your life?

That's not really a problem for me. I live alone and I don't have people over – I'm the one that goes out. I guess I would probably stash her in my storage room if I had someone over.

What are the biggest misconceptions the general public have when it comes to sex dolls and sex doll owners?

I think the general idea is that doll owners are "unfuckable". You know, basement dwelling neckbeards or misogynistic perverts. I'm really just a regular person. I may be more interested in sex than the average person – or not, who really even knows? – but getting sex from real people wasn't much of a problem. As for the dolls themselves, the big misconception is that they are strictly a sex toy. I was guilty of thinking that myself until I got involved in the online community. The dolls are a comfort item for most of us. I snuggle up to mine at night or when I'm watching a movie. It's kind of like a big teddy bear in that regard.

'Heather', Image Supplied

Rachel*, 49, sex doll owner

Hey Rachel, when did you buy your doll?

I became interested in buying one about four months ago, but it took three different companies trying to rip me off before I found a vendor who was honest, worked with me, and I finally was able to get the doll I wanted. He arrived last Tuesday.

Have you named him?

I have. His name is Xiel.

Have you experienced any unexpected benefits since Xiel's been around?

There are a lot of things I was not expecting when I purchased this doll, who I might add I have not had sex with yet. First off, these dolls provide a presence that for those who live alone is really comforting. I mean I have pets but the space these dolls take up is tangible, if that makes sense.

After the last few of relationships I've been in, it's a wonderful thing having someone who you don't have to worry is going to leave you, cheat on you, bring home an STD, clear out your bank account, scream or cuss you out, dirty up the house and expect you to clean up after them, or beat the crap out of you, that is a big plus in my book.

The most surprising thing for me is I already feel very connected to my doll. I am also planning on purchasing another, that is a bit smaller but just as handsome. The cool thing is I don't have to worry my first doll will be jealous of my second doll! 

That's handy. Any unexpected downsides of being a doll owner?

So my doll weighs 50kg of dead weight and I weigh 79kg. Fortunately I'm pretty strong and had the forethought to be prepared by having or building what I need to move my heavy ass doll around. Mainly he just sits on my couch next to me.

His first bath yesterday was a bit of a chore. I ended up taking him out on the back deck to wash him – there was no way I was going to get him in and out of the bathtub without one or both of us getting injured. Fortunately, I had planned ahead and built a standing frame that I attached to a furniture dolly so I was able to get him outside pretty easy.

But, you know, I found the ritual of bathing him and caring for him not only soothing, but moving. I know that sounds weird, but it was fulfilling to clean and care for him. It's hard to explain but I talked to other doll owners and many said they had the same experience the first time they bathed their doll.

How do you feel about how sex dolls are viewed by the general public?

I think the general populace thinks only lonely perverts living in their mother's basement own sex dolls. This is totally not true, since deciding to get a doll and researching, I found the thread on Reddit and The Doll Forum. On there I have talked to people, male and female, single, married, and couples from all walks of life. The people on there are, to be honest, some of the most intelligent, kind, creative people I have ever had the fortune to speak with. I myself have a master's degree, a long-term career, family and friends. The reason people have for getting their dolls are as varied as the people themselves.

Also, I think people view these dolls as glorified sex toys, and though that is one of the main reason people purchase these dolls, more often than not the doll becomes more of a companion or a way for couples to explore their relationship. On The Doll Forum, I have read some enlightening posts people have written on how their dolls made their lives so much better by just fulfilling a need many of us did not even know we had.

Does anyone in your life know about Xiel?

Yes, my best friend of 28 years knows, and she thinks he is very handsome. I told my daughter, who is grown, married and on her own. Her response was a shrug of her shoulders – she said, "If that makes you happy mum, that makes me happy." I am very fortunate that I have loving and understanding people in my life.

Reddit name: Lostcumsoul, age: "between 18-55", sex doll owner

Hey there… Lostcumsoul, so when did you buy your doll?

I bought my doll at the end of April on the 28th, before the surge of sales. She cost over $2000.

Does she have a name?

No, sadly she still does not have an official name, after four months I still can't decide.

What made you interested in buying a doll in the first place?

I became interested in acquiring a doll about 2007 after watching the show Real Sex, in which they talk about different sexual things. The episode had displayed and explained the company RealDoll and how they manufacture sex dolls. It's been approximately 13 years since the time I became interested in buying a doll and actually doing it. If I have one regret about getting a sex doll, it's that is I wish I had gotten one sooner.

13 years is a long time, why'd you wait so long to buy your doll?

The opinion of my friends and family. It was their opinions that kept me from getting the doll long ago, but as of now... my feelings on their opinions have changed, real family will support you in personal endeavours that do not harm yourself or others, and real friends should be the same. I don't keep my doll a secret from the family I live with, I have however kept it from my family that I don't live with and most of my friends. 

Where I'm from most of the public assumes people that get sex dolls can't get sexual interaction from other living persons and treat such people who consider getting them as something akin to a loser or any degrading social term for a person who is uncool or not popular. It's irritating, I myself get sexual intimacy from my partner often, just not as much as I want.

What were the unexpected upsides and downsides of getting your doll?

It was not really unexpected or a downside, but the closest thing to a downside I can say is now I want five others, and the initial cost is kind of high.

As for the unexpected upside, I developed the same feelings for the doll that one might get for a dream car they just got, or a job that you actually enjoy and want to go to work every day for. 

Interviews have been edited for brevity and clarity. Some details including names have been altered to ensure interviewees' privacy.

Written by David Allegretti, a Melbourne-based writer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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