Sunday, December 17, 2006

Oh Everard

Did anyone see a Channel 5 documentary called Guys and Dolls which appeared a few months ago. It was about men who own real dolls, expensive silicon sex-dolls. They were mostly American, but one was British, a chap called Everard, who lives in Dorset and owns 4 dolls. Like many of the people on the documentary, Everard lived alone and seemed to have difficulty relating to real women. He had had a close relationship with his mother for a long time until she had died, and it wasn't only model women he was interested in - he's also into model planes. He also does hang gliding. In the documentary, he went hang gliding while one of his real dolls sat in the car, waiting patiently for him.

I was in a coffee shop in Cardiff yesterday, and happened to read a magazine article about him. The article had him with his dolls, all gussied up for Christmas festivity. Everard was a good sport about it, despite the fact that he was clearly a bit uncomfortable with it all. At doll forum he says "The photographers decorated my room and my dolls while I was being interviewed by Rebecca in the kitchen (a different Rebecca -- a live one...). I had misgivings about the whole thing, mainly because I do not celebrate Xmas at all."

His website is here. Scroll to the bottom and there are black and white pictures of Everard's real dolls, dressed in clothing circa World War 2.

Everard's biography, also linked from his site, contains excerpts from his as yet unpublished novel. This is my favourite piece "In the fall of 1995, I went to see Apollo 13 with one of my hang gliding friends at a cinema in Bournemouth. Clips from the movie apeared on television when I watched it in my mother's room at the nursing home. I assured her that the full movie would be shown on telly soon, maybe as early as the following spring. She could see it then."

There is no follow up to this.

When I saw Guys and Dolls, I my initial reaction was to sneer at Everard. By the end of the programme, I felt sorry for him - the documentary seemed to "explain" his liking for real dolls, hinting that somewhere along the way, his sexual development had been arrested - hence the model aeroplanes and the "Mother" references. Everard was positioned as a benign Norman Bates, with real dolls rather than corpses populating his home.

After I'd read the magazine article, I found him fascinating rather than sad. And after looking at his website and comments on various real doll forums, I think he's very brave.

Sure it's easy to sneer, call him sad, feel sorry for him etc. But gays were sneered at in similar ways only a few decades ago. And importantly Everard isn't hurting anyone at all. His sexual behaviour might seem peculiar (we could say "queer" if we wanted to use the right academic parlance), but when you think about it - isn't most people's? And in allowing himself to be filmed, he clearly isn't bothered about what other people think of him. As he notes at the dollforum "Boy, I wish I got commission on every Realdoll sold as a result of people seeing photos of my dolls. At the same time I kind of feel guilty because Realdolls are not compatible with everyone. I fear that some people are going to chase a dream that turns out to be an expensive mistake. It has happened."

I don't think I'll be saving up to buy Charlie, the only male real doll. But I do have respect for Everard. And I won't be sneering again.


matty said...

Wow. ...I want to see that documentary!

It does seem quite sad, but on the other hand he doesn't seem sad. Seems like he is found a place in the world. That is what counts, I guess.

These dolls really creep me out, tho.

I suspect that they can come to life. ...a true valley of the dolls.

Reluctant Nomad said...

I was appalled and fascinated by that program. Especially by some of the Americans featured.

You're right about Everard not hurting anyone so one shouldn't sneer but, unlike 'normal' gay people, he obviously has intimacy issues (apologies for using that term!) so I don't think you can compare the 'doll's syndrome' with the way gays were in the closet in the past. His condition is sad and pitiable in my opinion.

But there's no doubt about his bravery in being so open about it.

digital_jay said...

Although I haven't seen the programme, I am aware of this phenomena, it is like the documentary claimed, in many ways his sexual development & sexual identity has been stunted at some point in his development.

He latches on to the dolls as a security and prevention from becoming hurt by the rejection or hurt that he could recieve from a real woman, it won't stop him interacting with people, he just won't be able to express his sexual desires.

I know of the male version of the doll for a while around the net and I mean a few years ago now, there were pictures of him in various states of undress, in water / bubbles and all sorts it was pretty sad.

What an interesting post & documentary by the sounds of things.

matty said...

You know, I was just dressing Tobe, my male doll, and my real life boyfriend, B, told me that he did not want me to keep him in the shower anymore. I'm not sure that is faire, but I've sat him in the dining room. Seems odd to have a cop in the dining room. Seems the best place would be in the shower. Or, maybe I should just break out the latex santa suit now.

It's not easy...