real dolls

jessica drake and Asa Akira, two of the biggest names in porn, talk about their Real Dolls.

This article contains sexually explicit content and language.

As one of the most famous porn stars of all time, Jessica Drake has had a number of sex dolls made in her own image. The first, she says, was the Jessica Drake Talking Love Doll, which emitted recordings of her voice every time the doll was penetrated.

“It was a very inexpensive item that didn’t have a lot of realism to it,” drake, a sex educator and the creator of the best-selling series jessica drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex (she prefers having her name spelled in lowercase), told me over the phone last month. “Over my career, I’ve really held off on doing anything like that because I’ve wanted something higher quality.”

Then in 2010, the production company Wicked Pictures partnered with the sex doll company RealDoll (NSFW) to make a doll in Drake’s image. When she came face-to-face with her Real Doll for the first time at the AVN Awards, the annual awards ceremony for the porn industry, she was stunned.

“When I met her at at the 2010 AVNs and it was me and her nose-to-nose, me in hair and makeup and her looking the same way, it was odd, but odd in a good way,” Drake recalled. “I thought, ‘That’s an exact replica of me.’” The doll had all of drake’s trademark features, from the lifeline on her palm to the dimples on her butt.

Mrs. Ardo/RealDoll

Stacy Leigh/RealDoll

Jessica Drake at the 2015 AVN Awards red carpet.

Jessica Drake at the 2015 AVN Awards red carpet.

Allen Corona

The RealDoll company markets itself as the “home of the world’s finest love doll,” selling ultra-realistic, high-end silicone sex dolls for thousands of dollars. Although RealDolls first entered the public consciousness back in 2007, when Ryan Gosling played a lovable eccentric with a silicone girlfriend in his breakout film Lars and the Real Girl, the brand recently made a resurgence in a recent Vanity Fair article, when Jonathan Becker profiled RealDoll entrepreneur Matt McMullen, as well as the men (and women) who love his creations.

In his piece, Becker mentioned that adult film stars like Drake had had McMullen craft silicone versions of themselves. “Jessica Drake, who co-starred with RealDolls in the futuristic porn 2040, has been known to call Abyss customers who have bought her likeness, and has even sent outfits for the dolls,” Becker wrote. “Most recently, Matt worked with Asa Akira, who came in to get her hands, feet, nipples, genitals, and everything else molded.”

In an era of lagging DVD sales and porn piracy, the RealDoll is one of a handful of porn star products that the public can’t download or make at home. 

But what Becker doesn’t point out is that some porn superstars who’ve had RealDolls modeled after them actually become involved in friendly relationships with their customers, sending them clothes and calling them up to thank them for spending their cash on their doppelgängers. Drake, for instance, communicates with fans who’ve bought the doll on doll forums. She even regularly drops off her own tank tops and yoga pants at the Abyss Creation offices, where the RealDolls are made, so her fans can dress their RealDolls up in her very own clothing.

“Recently, Buzzfeed ran an article on RealDolls and one of the cover pictures was a guy with my doll and it had my shirt. It was wearing one of my real-life shirts!” Drake gleefully told me. “I got a big kick out of that.”

That’s not just because the dolls are enormously lucrative, selling for at least $7000 a pop (although OK, it might have something to do with it). It’s also because RealDolls are a huge marketing opportunity for porn superstars like Drake and Akira. In an era of lagging DVD sales and porn piracy, the RealDoll is one of a handful of porn star products that the public can’t download or make at home. It’s a tangible product in a world of porn ephemera, and owning one is the mark of a true porn fan.

Drake says that before she was contracted to make a RealDoll, she didn’t know much about them. She’d seen Lars and the Real Girl and loved it, but she didn’t know anything about doll culture itself. So she decided to immerse herself in the RealDoll community by visiting the RealDoll headquarters in San Diego, to see every step of the doll creation process. 

I wanted to understand what it was like to have an inanimate, ever-willing doppelgänger of yourself out in the real world. Did women like Drake and Akira actually feel a connection to their Real Dolls, and to the people who buy them? I spoke with both of them to find out what it was like to have an almost-living replica of yourself, and how they feel about the men who love them.

“I started being more familiar with people who were in the doll culture and then meeting people who bought my doll, and it just took off from there,” Drake said.

Considering the cost of a RealDoll, it’s not that surprising that men would form such deep attachments to them. 

Drake also began visiting the Doll Forum (NSFW), a site for those who own and admire real dolls, including her own. What started as a brief foray into the subculture quickly evolved into hours and hours of surfing the message boards. 

“In my time in the industry I’ve seen and heard a lot of things,” Drake said about embedding herself in the online doll community. “My first [question] was ‘Why?’ What are the motivations behind people seeking doll companionship?”

Over time, Drake learned that the answer to that question was more complicated than she’d initially thought. People who buy RealDolls don’t just “make the sweet love” (Drake’s term) with their companions. Some people buy them just so they can feel like they have someone around the house; others buy them for photo shoots. A few use them as girlfriends and dress them up, take them on trips.  

A quick trip to the Doll Forum backs this up: There are just as many posts discussing how to have sex with a RealDoll as there are posts in which users show off pictures of their Drake dolls, dressing her in elaborate costumes and referring to it (her?) as a “goddess.” Often, these men imbue their dolls with distinct personalities and post elaborate photosets with the dolls in one of the many online doll forums. The dolls give these men the chance to interact not just with the dolls themselves but with a wider community of doll owners.

“What people don’t understand [about sex doll owners] is, it’s not just about a man with a doll,” Matt Krivicke, the owner of RealDoll competitor Sinthetics, told the Kernel magazine in April 2014. “It’s about a man with a doll in a community with a lot of other guys and girls with dolls… What happens is a man goes looking for a doll and in this community he ends up finding himself.”

Considering the cost of a RealDoll, it’s not that surprising that men would form such deep attachments to them. A Jessica Drake Real Doll costs $7000—and that’s not even counting extras, such as realistic hands, feet, or a transgender converter phallus. Customers can even purchase different vaginal inserts at approximately $100 each, so that those who buy them can have sex with Jessica’s body and, say, porn star Stormy Daniels’ vagina at the same time.  

At heart, Drake understands that her RealDoll isn’t just a toy that her male fans can have sex with. She understands its appeal as a collector’s item. “With a price tag like that it goes beyond a hobby, and RealDoll has made a quality product,” she said. “These things will last for years. I am preserved at this moment in time forever.” 

But Drake also knows that some Jessica Drake doll owners may not want to meet her. While she’s an advocate for not shaming people for their sexual desires, she understands the stigma of owning a RealDoll, and she understands why some people would want to play in private. She even sounds a little sad when she agrees that some fans might not want to meet Jessica Drake the person, only have the fantasy of Jessica Drake the porn star. Although Drake interacts with members of the RealDoll community on a regular basis, she hasn’t yet been to a meetup of Jessica Drake doll owners. When I ask her if she’d ever be interested in attending a gathering of men who’ve had sex with a plastic version of her dozens, if not hundreds, of times, she seems cool with the idea: “Why not?” she said.  

“These things will last for years. I am preserved at this moment in time forever.”

“Maybe they have a different construct.”


Unlike Drake, who’s had her RealDoll on the market for years, Asa Akira is just getting used to hers: Her RealDoll only debuted last January, just in time for the 2015 AVN Awards. But like Drake, she says she was heavily involved in the RealDoll development process, from the very beginning, when she subjected herself to the required full-length 3D scan. Unlike modeling for, say, Fleshlight, which only requires you to take a mold of your vagina, the RealDoll modeling process involves an intensive series of scans not unlike something you’d see in a sci-fi movie about androids.

“They put you in this 360 degree head camera and tell you no matter what you do, don’t follow the light,” she told me in between takes during a film shoot last month. “I followed the light, so it caught me all cross-eyed. It’s so bad.”

Asa Akira

Asa Akira

Allen Corona

The Jessica Drake, Asa Akira, and Stormy Daniels (l-r) RealDolls on display at the 2015 AVN Expo.

The Jessica Drake, Asa Akira, and Stormy Daniels (l-r) RealDolls on display at the 2015 AVN Expo.

Allen Corona

Akira was also concerned about the authenticity of the doll, especially when it came to her fake eyelashes. So when the doll was being made, Akira insisted on sending her lashes to Abyss to be used for the dolls. But one thing she won’t do is dress the doll in her own clothes, because unlike Jessica Drake, she says, she has absolutely no fashion sense. 

“They won’t ever let me wear my own clothes on set,” she said.

Because Akira’s doll is so new, it doesn’t completely look like her yet. It was rushed to be ready for the AVN Awards, so the face needs a little more tweaking before it’s completely Asa, although the doll does feature her signature eyebrows, which are shaped into a steep arch high above her eyes. She tells me that other people find them a turn-off, saying that they look weird, even though they’re one of her most defining features.

“People hate my fucking eyebrows,” she groaned. “For every Instagram photo I post there’s someone saying ‘your eyebrows are out of control.'” 

Her attitude is that if people are going to make fun of her doll’s brows, let them. Akira is very confident, which I imagine is important when you’re having sex on film or there are handmade plastic reproductions of you being distributed nationwide. She tells me that she’s planning on “filming something special with the doll soon,” but she can’t tell me what it is.

“Can I guess?” I asked. “Blink once for yes, two for no.”

“OK,” she said, laughing, “but I’m not fucking her, if that’s what you think.” 

While it’s unclear what else a porn star would be doing on camera with a fuckable version of herself, she leaves it at that. But when I asked her outright if she’d be open to having sex with her own RealDoll, she seemed game.

“What is that, masturbation?” Akira said. “Would I fuck my RealDoll? Hell, yeah.”

“Would I f*** my Real Doll? Hell, yeah.”

That said, Akira isn’t planning to buy a RealDoll of her own anytime soon—mostly because she says she wouldn’t know where to put it. “Oh my god, they’re life-size,” she said. “She’s a little bit smaller than me so, what, like 75 pounds? Well, a lot less. But they’re heavy for a doll.” 

If she were male, however, she says she’d buy one right now. “But I’m scared she’s better than me?,” Akira said with some hesitation. “What if her pussy’s tighter than mine?”

There’s a substantial difference between Akira’s attitude toward her RealDoll and Drake’s feelings about hers. While Drake considers her RealDoll a slice of immortality, a way to preserve her image at the height of her career forever, Akira seems concerned that hers might actually surpass the real-life version of herself. After all, unlike a human being, the doll’s parts never lose elasticity, and if they do, they’re completely modular, meaning that a replacement is easy. While Akira’s comment is meant in jest, the subtext is clear: What if one day, the Asa Akira RealDoll ends up being better than Asa Akira could ever be?

“You can even put a dick on her!” Akira exclaimed. “I can’t do that! I can wear a strap-on but that’s not really the same.” It’s a solid point.

Like Drake, Akira is familiar with doll culture. She’s seen documentaries about RealDolls, as well as Lars and the Real Girl. She thinks the whole thing is “in-te-re-sting,” she said, sounding out each syllable.

“I’m an only child and I have a teddy bear,” she said. “For me, growing up, my stuffed animals were my friends. I definitely connect with it on that level and I’m also a really horny, horny person, but as a girl I’m not sure I could connect to a doll sexually and it’s not the same thing, because it’s not like that doll would be moving and fucking me. Whereas if I were a guy, I could totally imagine myself laying down a doll and fucking if and kind of feeling something realistic. For me, as a female, that’s a not realistic choice.”


But how realistic a choice is a RealDoll for the people who buy them? Unlike real women, the RealDolls are never unwilling and can’t say no to a sexual encounter, which raises the inevitable question of whether RealDolls are inherently objectifying to women.

In a piece for Jezebel, Laura Beck discussed a balloon knot attachment sold for RealDolls—a $15 removable accessory that provides both a realistic looking anus and “prevent[s] gape” after stretching—as an example of how the real dolls will always be objects that create the ideal woman, one who doesn’t talk and is always ready for sex:

“Or maybe the non-functional “balloon knot, exemplifies why sex dolls like the ‘Real Doll’ are so creepy to many — it’s just there to make the sex doll appear more like the perfect human woman. The dolls aren’t simply a sexual aide, or fun toy — they are often stand-ins for an idealized type of docile, compliant woman. Except that you have to literally remove a part of her to have sex.”

A trip to the doll forum, about which Drake has only positive things to say, confirms that some of these concerns about RealDolls objectifying women are actually pretty valid. A post on the forum, for instance, asks about how to best fuck a RealDoll while she’s on her stomach, so as to get the most pleasure without hurting the doll’s parts or silicone skin. Responders encouraged the removal of the doll’s mask and putting soft pillows under her to reduce scratching of the skin. Even on the official RealDoll site, a page is devoted to remind customers that the real dolls are sturdy but not meant to “sustain extremely violent abuse”—although if they do, the poster is quick to add, replacement parts can be bought easily.

On the official RealDoll site, a page is devoted to remind customers that the real dolls are sturdy, but not meant to “sustain extremely violent abuse”— although if they do, the poster is quick to add, replacement parts can be bought easily.

With posts like this, it’s hard not to see the dolls as surrogate love objects for men who struggle with connecting to a real, flesh-and-blood woman. But is that really so bad? After all, even if the RealDoll “objectifies” women, is there any substantial difference between that and another masturbation tool, such as a wad of tissues or a Kleenex? 

These are difficult questions to answer, but one thing is clear: While there are a handful of male RealDolls available on the market for women, female buyers are few and far between. In a sense, Akira is correct: The market for RealDolls is overwhelmingly male.

I asked Akira if she thinks women would be interested in buying an Asa Akira Real Doll, or any other type of RealDoll, for that matter. “I actually asked the creator, Matt [McMullen], and he said that they do, but not for sex or even companionship,” she said. “It’s for a photo shoot or a purpose outside of sex.”

It’s this phrase—”purpose outside of sex”—that truly fascinates me about the relationship between RealDolls, the men who love them, and the real-life women on whom they’re based. There seems to be this tension between what we think people do with RealDolls, and what they actually do with them in the privacy of their own homes. While it’s easy to think of them as masturbation aids, talking to Drake and Akira in person makes me a little uneasy about the fact that right now someone could be beating the shit out of their likeness, or acting out a rape fantasy, or doing something else that neither of these women would potentially consent to in real life.

Somewhere, men (and possibly, a handful of women) are loving RealDolls, or making the sweet love to them, as Drake put it. But they’re also using these dolls as objects. That’s their intended use, of course, but considering how warm and open and inviting Drake and Akira are IRL—not just to me, but to the entire RealDoll community—it makes me uncomfortable to think of them being boiled down to silent, non-consenting sexual objects. Even though many of us recognize that porn can be empowering for women, it’s hard to think of how someone beating the shit out of a Jessica Drake RealDoll can be construed as anything but profoundly unfeminist.

That’s why in our final moments together, I wanted to end the interview on a positive note. Maybe not for Akira and Drake—they can obviously take care of themselves—but for me. I wanted to know that people aren’t thinking than a $7,000 price tag entitles them to treat Drake or Akira badly, even if they are inanimate and made of plastic. I wanted to know more about the positive side of the RealDoll community—that RealDolls can save lives, both physically and metaphorically.

“One last question,” I said as Akira was called back to the set. We were walking out of the bedroom now and climbing down a steep staircase. “The Department of Defense is buying RealDolls for war games. Did you ever think that your likeness would be used to help people to treat wounds? Or to possibly teach firefighters how to save people from burning buildings?”

“I’d be honored,” Akira said. Then ran back on set to shoot the last few lines of dialogue before her sex scene. 

Photo via Mark Shrayber

IRL
Porn Star Asa Akira takes us inside her new book, ‘Insatiable’
In her new book, Insatiable, Asa Akira recounts her rise from exhibitionist NYC private schoolgirl to world-famous porn star. 
From Our VICE Partners