Wired for Sex
by Paulina Borsook
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Elena Dorfman

"I've been photographing Real Dolls and their owners for three years now. The first place I saw the dolls was in a newspaper. They were photographed hanging from chains, in various states of undress. Some had heads and some didn't, and they were hanging in a really obscene way which was actually how they were made. They had to be molded and then hung to set, and these were pictures of the dolls still in the factory in Southern California.

"A writer and I decided to do a magazine story for French Marie Claire about people who lived with these dolls. It took about five months for us to find anybody. We looked in every sex magazine, every sex shop. Finally we walked into the Lusty Lady in San Francisco, and one of the guys who collected money at the door sent us to a store in the Haight where there was a book that referred to someone who owned a doll, and, while he couldn't help us personally, he said he'd put us in touch with a couple in St. Louis.

"Their names were Jerry and Adrianna, and it took a long time for them to agree to let us visit. But we were completely open to them, and eventually we arrived at this suburban house with an American flag flying out front, where we were greeted by a husband and wife, both overweight, not the kind of people we expected to live with sex dolls. We spent the whole weekend, and it worked out because we had a good time together in our own little game of show and tell. They wanted to let us in on what they couldn't let the people in their neighborhood see. They had a secret closet built into the wall, that looked like a bookshelf from the outside, and in the closet there were three dolls, with their high-heel shoes all lined up beneath them. The room had special lighting and was climate-controlled: everything that would make the dolls comfortable.

"Silicone is very delicate. People buy these dolls thinking that, because the bodies weigh 125 pounds, they're going to be really durable, so most people screw the hell out of them. Jerry and Adrianna weren't like that. I'd gone to their house thinking, "How will I ever photograph people having sex with a doll?" But when we arrived, they told us they actually didn't use the dolls that way. They had the dolls as companions, as part of the family. It turned out to be much more interesting because of that. Because there wasn't sexual tension, we could be playful: We helped dress the dolls, and put on their wigs for them.

"Most owners have a really deep fear of people finding out that they live with and/or sleep with dolls, but the doll community is incredibly cohesive. So when I decided to continue pursuing sex dolls as a subject on my own after the magazine article was published, Jerry and Adrianna were able to introduce me to people in Detroit and Atlanta and London and the deep woods of Virginia. As I traveled around, I found people who totally believed their dolls to be real -- to be their soul-mates with whom they could communicate on every level -- and people who said they just had sex with them. They all gave their dolls names, though, and backgrounds. They gave their dolls life in a way.

"My favorite image right now is a picture of Jerry who's picking up a doll and bringing her to the bed, and to me he looks like this big bear of a guy rescuing a helpless woman, and you don't quite know what's going on. Here's this big, fat, average American carrying this extraordinary piece of work, and you think he shouldn't be with this woman. It doesn't make sense, yet there he is, in his bedroom, and she's totally giving herself over to him.
Sometimes I forget that the dolls are dolls. At first I was just playing along, out of respect for the owners, but ultimately it 's become almost like the dolls are alive, and I apologize to them if I step on their feet. I think that's why this work is not about people having sex with their dolls. It's about their emotional lives. These are domestic scenes, where some who make up the picture are human, and others are silicone."

Elena Dorfman most recently exhibited selections from her "Still Lovers" series at Modernism Gallery in San Francisco.

Outline of Contents

Viagra Chapter:
Sidebar: The ED Big Three
Sidebar: The ED Big Three Index
Sidebar: Animal Brothers
Sidebar: Science is Mankind’s Brother
Sidebar: Uprima
Sidebar: Cialis
Sidebar: 6000 Names

First Persons:
Dennis Waskul
Craig Newmark
Elena Dorfman
Natacha Merritt
Paul Festa
Eric Janssen

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