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Everard's biography, also linked from his site, contains excerpts from his as yet unpublished novel.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.