GUY AND DOLLS

These sex dolls in China are family companions more than toys

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Zhenguo Yu is a businessman from a small town in Southwest China. He is divorced and lives with his teenage son and their 11 sex dolls.

“Whenever I order custom-made dresses for them, the tailors would think I’m joking because the measurements are far from the normal size of a human,” Yu told Quartz, as he showed dozens of outfits he bought for his bevy of sex dolls, in a room painted with images from video games. “Nobody has such big boobs and a small waist.”

These dolls are not cheap. Made to look ultra-realistic, they usually cost around $2,000 each. In China, partly because of the one-child policy, there are now 34 million more men than there are women, according to the latest census. More and more men are turning to sex dolls for companionship. Taobao, China’s largest online shopping platform, estimates that 1,500 sex dolls are sold on the site every day.

There’s no official number on how many people in China own these luxury dolls. But Yu estimates the number is at least in six digits. Yu has built an online following among a growing community of luxury sex doll owners in China, who praise and comment on the photos he posts of his dolls posed on excursions or at photo shoots he sets up.

He even has an online nickname, “Uncle Li,” and some have asked Yu to “adopt” their dolls when they get married so they know that their dolls will be in good hands. That’s part of why Yu ended up with so many dolls.

He has even started making accessories for these sex dolls and selling them online. Drawing on his experience running a company that fixes TV and sound boxes, he makes adaptors that allow customers to mix and match the heads and bodies of sex dolls made by different manufacturers.

Years have passed since his last breakup with an actual woman, and Yu says he hasn’t had much success with romantic relationships. Now, he says, he feels content with the companionship of the dolls.

“If dolls can speak and move just like humans, I bet all men would prefer to spend their life with dolls,” says Yu. And indeed, AI-powered robotic sex dolls are in development.

Watch the video above to hear learn more about Yu’s story.