While the Japanese have taken this fetish a step further, it is by no means an eastern fixation. Agalmatophilia refers to those who are aroused or have a fetish involving statues or mannequins. History, religious in particular, is well-documented with groups who worshipped and adored statues - both figuratively and literally.
More recently, however, we hear stories in the news, such as that of 39-year-oldRonald Dotson of Detroit, Michigan. He was sentenced to 18 months on charges of breaking and entering and being a habitual criminal. Some of the incidents involved mannequins, including one dressed as a French maid and in another incident he was found with three clad in lingerie in an alley behind a shop.
However, not all people with this fetish go to such lengths for a fix. Since 1996, companies such asReal Doll have been producing what they claim is the most realistic and technologically-advanced love doll in the world. In the near future, there are hopes that these models will be taken one step further as they become animatronic.
Priced in excess of $6000, each doll is crafted to customer specification and every effort is made to ensure it's realism - with such a high level of detail, they are eerily lifelike.
Customer Jean from Quebec writes in a testimonial: " Received my doll today and I don't find my words to describe her beauty. She's just wonderful !!!!! I love her so much!"
However, these dolls serve a purpose much greater than realism - one must not forget their true calling: gratification. Sexual needs are accommodated with snug vaginal, anal and oral entry points. With a softer silicon used in these areas, the company claim that it is 'very lifelike'.
The dolls are designed in such a way that, when penetrated, a powerful suction effect occurs. The company claim that some users have reported intense orgasms due to this specific feature, particularly when entering the oral cavity.
While the user is provided with easy access to sexual thrills and pleasure, I suspect that the recent rise in the 'real doll's' popularity is about much more than sex or a fetish. After watching a 'real doll' documentary on Channel 5 several months ago, my ex-husband joked that he'd be saving up for a doll very soon as they are 'perfect'.
Customer Jean expands on excitement his doll has brought. He continues: "I get an instant erection every time I touch her, that's amazing, there's no stress to have with her. It's so relaxing and exciting me, that's a great way to calm down after a day of work and a hour of car driving in the traffic."
Surely in these impersonal days of computerised everything, when it comes to love, the human touch is essential. Has our alienation from our fellow man as a result of computers caused us to seek out our primal urges with a piece of moulded latex? Or, perhaps the 'love doll' has become the 21st century mail order bride? Always smiling, always submissive and always ready to please, she only needs a microwave and hoover attachment and she really would be the perfect wife. I, for one, will be watching theReal Doll site for those options when the new animatronic models are released!