Dr. J and the ‘women’
A Davis artist is the pre-eminent repairman for the world’s most lifelike, and creepy, love dolls
Dr. Jackson’s surgical tools are simple but effective. Using a large pair of shears, he cuts the arm off a patient who is dangling from the ceiling above the shower and holds it up with a grin.
“How cool is that?” he says. The patient, bereft of her arm, continues to gaze stupidly into the far distance, her mouth slightly agape.
Dr. Jackson doesn’t actually have a medical degree, but around the Web, he’s known as the Real Doll Doctor, and in his line of work, that counts as credential enough. Jackson, a Davis man in his 40s, has attained superstar status among devotees of high-end sex dolls for his careful repairs of Real Dolls, the world’s most lifelike sex toys.
He pokes around in the severed arm, exposing the metal and plastic “bone” and muses out loud that he might as well turn the doll into a full amputee since many of her joints are twisted out of place. There undoubtedly will be more than one person vying to buy such a doll; in fact, an earlier amputee named Helena had several requests for purchase. Helena was eventually purchased by a man from Reno who, when he came to pick her up, brought with him 1950s-era lace-on prosthetics.
Jackson, who insisted that his real name not be used, can fix almost any destruction visited on a Real Doll and is able to sell reconstructed dolls for much less than the San Marcos factory where they’re made. “I have a great reputation,” Jackson says.
Comparing Real Dolls to blow-up dolls is like comparing a Harley-Davidson to a tricycle. Real Dolls are molded around a metal frame from silicone rubber.
With 11 body types available, the company offers customers a choice of, among others, a short, busty sex doll; an athletic, small-breasted doll; and a “fantasy-type” doll that fills the cups of a double-F bra.
Customers also have a range of face-type, skin-tone, hair-color and makeup choices to make. Although the factory can’t make a custom face from a photograph, with a little effort and the right choices, a doll can be made to look very much like a specific person. A rainbow of hermaphroditic choices are also available.
The vaginal, anal and oral cavities as well as the breasts are made from a softer, more pliable silicone, and pubic hair, if a customer wants it, is hand-placed, strand by strand. Eyes can be placed staring straight ahead or demurely averted. Either way, walking around a doll and ending up in her line of vision, as it were, is disconcerting, almost as if beneath the nearly real-looking skin and the too-perfect body is a breath of soul.
Each doll weighs about 100 pounds, can withstand 400 pounds of pressure and 400 degrees of heat and has no problems taking a dip in the bath or pool. Abyss Creations, Real Doll’s manufacturer, has received requests for a Real Dog and Real Children, but the company very firmly turns those customers away.
Compared with Abyss’ price of $6,499 apiece, not to mention the $500 to ship a Real Doll and the five-month wait while the factory constructs a doll to specifications, Doctor Real Doll, who from his home in Davis buys and sells used dolls as well as refurbishing factory rejects, offers a cheaper alternative.
Dr. Bernard Apfelbaum, a Berkeley sex therapist who has proposed a theory of autosexuality, said people who prefer to have sex with themselves are probably the primary purchasers of Real Dolls, and a doll wouldn’t necessarily get in the way of a “healthy” relationship.
“Many of these men are loners, or at least very shy people who are not going to have a relationship with anyone anyway,” Apfelbaum said. “It’s an especially useful example of the gender gap, maybe chasm, which might make women think twice about their growing inclination to take men as their sexual role models.”
The Real Doll Doctor, however, refrains from questioning his customers’ reasons for purchase.
A slight man with a bad limp, Jackson has close-cropped, dark hair and a face he keeps expressionless, much like his dolls’. When he’s talking about something that interests him—such as Real Doll repair—his whole body takes on expression, his voice rises exuberantly, and his eyes goggle slightly from his head.
But most of the time, the doctor maintains a mix of Georgia charm (from his birthplace) cut with California ease. Most customers, however, don’t stick around long enough to meet that side of the Real Doll Doctor. Although he doesn’t question his customers’ sexual needs, Jackson said his refurbished dolls are preferable because they’re usually cheaper than the factory’s and require less wait time.[page]
Recently, a man drove from Idaho to pick up his new doll. “He wasn’t here for 30 minutes,” Jackson said. “Does he save money? Sure, man.”
Although Jackson does buy and sell used dolls, he prefers to take the dolls the factory won’t sell: those that came out of the mold damaged or disfigured.
With a little time and silicone, the doctor can fix almost anything. If he can’t, he turns it into something close to art.
After a recent trip to the San Carlos factory, his house looked like the set of a bad slasher film, between the doll hanging in the shower, a closet full of heads in another room and a neat row of vaginal lips laid out on a nearby table.
In Jackson’s workshop, a doll’s upper body hung from the ceiling, with its lower half laid out on the floor. The doll had a broken back joint, and without the support, its inch-thick skin tore raggedly, leaving her in two pieces.
But a broken doll isn’t a problem. Plenty of people, Jackson said, just want a doll’s torso. “I told people I’d sell her ass and legs for $1,200,” Jackson said.
The Real Doll manufacturer also sells torsos, and, according to the Web site, at www.realdoll.com, the backlog is sizable.
Jackson, who also works some Fridays at Wild Bill’s Tattoo in Roseville, had been working on Real Dolls for several years before he finally got around to having sex with one himself.
“For years, it was about art,” he said. “Sexually, for me, this was nowhere.” But one night, the dolls he’d previously seen as art, as rips to be fixed or twisted arms to be righted, started to look erotic. “I looked at this thing, and I thought, ‘There’s breasts there! That’s a vagina!’”
“I’ve had sex with a couple of dolls,” he said. “I called everybody, my friends, my mom: ‘I fucked a doll!’ It was great. Are you kidding? It was a blast.”
But Jackson is a businessman with an expensive product, and, as such, he doesn’t test dolls for sale. “I do sell this product. I don’t want to sell a used doll,” he said. Jackson’s initial interest in Real Dolls had nothing to do with sex, but with clothing and a way to display it, he said.
“Clothes for women are bad-ass,” he said. “When a man and a woman go to an event, he’s in black, white. She can be in orange; she can be in yellow; she can be in stars if she wants to.”
Jackson heard about Real Dolls, and about six years ago, he ordered his first from eBay. “I was amazed they existed,” he said.
But the doll that arrived in a crate was a mess, Jackson said. With proper care and storage, a Real Doll can last for years, but just a couple of months under a bed or in a crate can cause permanent damage.
So, Jackson got to work repairing it, posting step-by-step pictures on the Internet. After that, everything fell into place. Dolls started arriving in the mail for his meticulous repairs—some with lumpy but loving silicone touch-ups, others frighteningly mangled, and others just neglected.
Soon, the Real Doll company was giving Jackson its castoffs, the dolls that came out of the mold wrong or broke in the factory. Jackson’s repairs and sales only strengthened the company’s reputation for quality, and he was invited to design Charlie, the only male Real Doll. “[Jackson] is a wonderful friend to Abyss,” said one factory representative.
On the Real Doll Web site, Charlie can be seen in some pictures sitting with a glass of beer. In others, he’s reclined on a couch without a shirt, a remote control resting on his bare, well-muscled chest. In every picture, he looks kind of stupid, a side effect of his mouth cavity giving him the look of a mouth-breather. His beer and remote-control props don’t help much, either. Although men are the primary purchasers of Charlie, women took to him just fine on an episode of HBO’s Real Sex, Jackson said.
“They got three porn queens to fuck that guy,” Jackson said. “They were definitely on that guy.”
For his work on Charlie, Jackson said, he was given a blue Real Doll, one of only two in existence. The other is owned by Matt McMullen, Real Doll’s creator. Jackson’s blue doll—a body-type 4, the smallest the company makes—is strictly for display.
With a blond wig and elf ears, the blue doll is dressed in a blue rubber dress with a full skirt and high neck, crisscrossed in zippers. Black gloves and a spiked arm band complete the look. “She’s a blue doll,” Jackson murmured with some reverence. “They’re awesome, man. They’re incredible critters.”