THE BIG READ: The future of sex and sex robots

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Abyss Creations CEO Matt McMullen with the very life-like Harmony sex robot (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
Abyss Creations CEO Matt McMullen with the very life-like Harmony sex robot (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

She isn’t just a sex doll – she cracks jokes, quotes Shakespeare and exists purely to please her owner. A fascinating new book takes us into the factory where these “synthetic companions” are created and asks: will they be the kiss of death to human relationships?

Abyss Creations is located in an unremarkable grey building in California. There’s no sign, no logo, no indication that a world-leading, multimillion-dollar sex toy business operates behind the tinted glass.You’re greeted at reception by a lifesize female doll in black glasses and a white shirt that strains to contain her generous cleavage. A male doll stands beside her, dressed in a grey tie and waistcoat.

This is the home of RealDoll, the world’s most hyper-realistic silicone sex doll. Every year, up to 600 of them are sent out to bedrooms in the US, Germany and Britain, China and beyond, costing anything from $5 999 (about R98 000) for a basic model to tens of thousands if the customer has unusual specifications. Vanity Fair magazine calls them “the Rolls Royce of sex dolls”. RealDolls have modelled in Dolce & Gabbana fashion shoots and starred in a string of movies and TV shows, from CSI: New York to My Name is Earl, and most famously opposite Ryan Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl.

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