| Art |

Jean-Francois Bouchard Brings Portraits of Sex Toys to Sleepless Night

​"There's a whole subculture of people that live with their sex dolls," says Gary Farmer, cultural affairs program manager for the City of Miami Beach. "(But) I couldn't present pictures of these sex dolls on public property because that would be too controversial."

With names like Britney and Gabrielle, he explains, the dolls belong to men who swear their silicone companions have distinct personalities and voices and, in several cases, their own Twitter accounts. Some of the owners even marry their dolls and take them on honeymoons.

Jean-François Bouchard's, striking portraits of these dolls will be on display at the Shore Club in an exhibit titled "Still Life," this Saturday as part of Sleepless Night Miami Beach.

Cultist reached Bouchard in Montreal where he talked about some of the doll's owners preferring them to "organic" women and how these sex toys---costing up to $6,500---are even given real pubic hair to enhance their authenticity.

New Times: How did you discover the subculture of men who live with these dolls?
Jean-Francois Bouchard: I travel a lot to discover all sorts of subcultures and immerse myself in their communities. In this specific case I discovered the dolls in a porn convention and realized that some buyers of the dolls were fans and that their relationship with the dolls went beyond mere sex toys. I later found forums and vibrant communities online dedicated to the dolls and their roles in the lives of their owners.

How long have you been working on this series and do you photograph the dolls in your studio or in the owner's homes?
I set-up a studio at the company manufacturing plant in California for a few days. I met with the craftsmen who create the dolls. They are all extremely talented professionals, albeit very specialized!

Do these men describe having serious "relationships" with these dolls? Do they name them and invent personalities for them, shop for their clothes?
Not all owners of dolls have emotional relationships with them. But, to the men who do, the dolls fill the role of a spouse. They give them names, they eat with them, buy them clothes, etc. Some owners have multiple dolls and create everyday life "scenes" with them.

What's the oddest thing you have discovered during this project?
Some men have chosen to have a "relationship" with a doll because they have been hurt or unsuccessful in their real life relationships with women. Here is an authentic quote that summarizes this: "Fuck real women. All they do is play head games and manipulate us for what they can get out of us".

Are these dolls anatomically correct and do they have functional sex organs?
Yes and no. They are perfectly crafted and truly look like humans but have utopian features such as very large breasts combined with an unrealistically slim waist. They weigh approximately 80 pounds.

Do the men tell you if they are involved sexually with the dolls?
It was not the focus of my research. But I am convinced they almost all do.

Do they mention if they prefer the dolls to real women?
Some do. Others state clearly that they would prefer "organic" (actual terminology that they use) women if they could get them.

I understand you are going to exhibit the dolls along with quotes from the owners. Can you share some of these with our audience?
One man told me "I ordered new pubic hair from Sweden. Real pubic hair, the Swedes seem not to mind selling their pubic hair." Another one says, "Dolls will dress however you like them. Dolls will not divorce you. You will not get AIDS from a Doll. Dolls will not cheat on you. You will never have to pay child support to a doll."

Have you discovered if there are any women who own male versions of these dolls or is this strictly a man's lifestyle thing?
The company manufactures male dolls as well and I saw a few in production. But I did not research the users of male dolls.

The Sleepless Night Miami Beach marathon will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday and run until 6 a.m. Sunday. It will boast 150 free events, performances, and exhibitions scattered at 80 venues citywide. They run the gamut from full-length plays, concerts, and operas to groundbreaking dance pieces, film screenings, street spectacles, experimental sound works, and unexpected installations.

"Still Life" on view at the Shore Club (1901 Collins Ave., Miami Beach) beginning at 8 p.m. this Saturday during Sleepless Night Miami Beach.

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