Real Doll
by Michael Lane
June 15, 1999


San Diego, CA

he's tall. She's buxom. She has a perfectly shaped body. And, Jesus, she's heavy!!

Welcome to the wacky world of the Real Doll, Matt McMullen's quest to create a mannequin shapely, sexy and real enough for real dudes to diddle.

To get a picture on what drives Matthew McMullen, take a look at your standard sex doll. They are usually plastic blow-up affairs that might make for something to kick around on the beach, but not something to cuddle up with on the couch.

Matt sought to remedy that. A mannequin builder by trade, he started experimenting with various substances until he hit upon the idea of silicone injections (how Dow Chemical). From there, various other experiments led to Nina, and from there to Stacey, the very first Real Doll sold to the public. The response has been beautiful.

While we found the doll a little oily (the silicone emits a kind of sweat), there is no denying she is infinitely superior to anything you can currently buy in a store. Evidently, guys and dolls agree. Abyss Creations sells three hundred real dolls a year, mostly through their web site, At $5,000 a doll that's enough to keep Matt and seven others fully employed.

We wouldn't have even visited real doll headquarters were it not for the persistence of our West Coast photographer, Aaron Lauer, whose dream to photograph the silicone wonder has been going on for three years. As you can see from the accompanying photos, Aaron greatly relished working with these young subjects, giving you enough imagery to inspire your own voyage with the Real Doll, virtually, or in "the flesh."

Real Doll creator, Matt McMullen, fills us in on the secrets of his trade, as he escorts around his San Marcos doll factory.

MONK: How did you get into this? What started your interest in creating a Real Doll?

MCMULLEN: Well, I started sculpting on a small scale. I would build clay sculptures of women under a foot tall. At one point they grew to about two feet tall. It was then that I decided to sculpt life-size, but I didn't want to have a rigid sculpture. I wanted it to be articulated like a real person, so that it could be endlessly re-sculpted in a way that you could change positions. So when I started this new project I realized these sculptures would make a great mannequin. People could use them as in-store displays because they're not limited to one pose. I had a small web site showing my work and started getting a lot of e-mail. People were saying, "this is incredible, can you have sex with it?" Even my wife had suggested I should make a love doll. I said, "nobody would pay as much as it would cost to make."

MONK: Can you have sex with them?

MCMULLEN: Of course. They're very functional. That's the whole point. When I had made the conscious decision to make it a love doll there were numerous issues that I had to tackle. If this was going to be a love doll the boobs had to be soft. They had to jiggle and feel real. So at that point it went beyond just looking real. I wanted it to feel real. I tried a number of different approaches and what we've ended up with is equivalent to a breast implant. It's a pocket of silicone, almost like Jell-O inside. Then I had to figure out sexual functions. I had to sit down and decide how to make the insides feel and function like a real person. Basically I was just mimicking nature, trying to duplicate it with rubber.

MONK: Did you take an anatomy class?

MCMULLEN: No, I'm mostly self-taught. I took a lot of art classes, a lot of drawing, and basic clay and molding. It initially took a year to get the doll to that point where it was functional. There was a lot of trial and error. At the time I was working for a Halloween mask company, so I had access to a lot of materials. I was able to rule out ninety percent of what was not going to work. It was then that I realized silicone was the way to go. Due to costs I had to be careful with what I tried.

MONK: Who was testing the dolls?

MCMULLEN: I did all of the initial testing just to make sure it was a pleasurable sensation, that it wasn't going to hurt anyone. Whenever I got it to a point where it seemed to work then I would incorporate it into the design.

MONK: Who was the first Real Doll?

MCMULLEN: The first Real Doll was actually Nina, which was in 1996. She was a learning process. We came to realize certain things that wouldn't work.

MONK: Like what didn't work?

MCMULLEN: For one thing, the skeleton had to be extremely strong. Initially we had ball and socket joints made out of a nylon type plastic. It just wouldn't hold up under the weight and conditions. So then I went to aluminum ball and sockets, but it was kind of loose. Now we're using tempered steel for all the joint parts, and that retains the shape. From there we came up with a basic body and head mold. After Nina we made Stacey, which was basically just another head type. By the time Stacey was finished I started taking orders.

MONK: Is it a machine process or do you have to hand make all of them?

MCMULLEN: Everything is hand made. It takes about eighty hours. This is a very special process. That's why we're so different from your average doll-making company. Your typical love doll fits into a small box and sells for five hundred bucks. They don't care about the quality because they know a guy's not going to return it. It's a sex device. He can't take it back. The Real Doll is an art piece. I do every last step personally to make sure it's perfect. That's why it's around $5,000 for a basic model. If you want all three sexual entries, it's an extra $250, and that's because it's tricky to get everything working down there. Everything has to fit in a certain space and that takes time to install.

MONK: What was the response of your first few customers?

MCMULLEN: They were just incredibly overwhelmed. Even when I created the first couple of dolls, I was just in awe. It was shocking to see how realistic it really was, and customers had the same reaction.

MONK: Howard Stern is quoted as saying it's "the best sex" he's ever had.

MCMULLEN: Well, that's probably exaggerated. Some people might have a fetish for having sex with an inanimate doll and it may in fact for them be a superior experience to having sex with a woman. I tested the actual physical parts of these dolls and if you were to close your eyes, the sensations that you get from the silicone are actually better than the real thing. The physical feeling of it. I mean it's just a whole different thing. When you put something into this silicone entry it forms a vacuum seal so it's got this suction that a real woman couldn't have. And that is more intense than the real thing. Others may like the Real Doll because it's totally silent and basically submissive. It does whatever you want it to do. Some guys really get off on that, the fact that they can tell this doll to get in a position and hear no complaints. The other thing to consider is that these dolls are physically beautiful and how many guys out there really get to be with a women who looks that good. Not many. The doll makes things possible that otherwise wouldn't be.

MONK: Do you think the doll helps men with their sexuality and their ability to relate with real women?

MCMULLEN: I think it depends on the person. I know for a fact that a lot of people that have ordered dolls might have sexual performance issues where they pre-ejaculate or whatever. They get too exited when they're with a woman and then it's all over before it starts. I've had men write to say the doll helped them overcome that anxiety and start dating. I think it's a good thing if it's used in the right way.

MONK: What is the future of the doll? I mean are we getting into extremely realistic talking dolls and interactive dolls?

MCMULLEN: Yeah, we are. Basically I want to bring computers and the dolls together. We do have numerous things in development that will enable that to happen. There will be very sensitive touch sensors in different parts of dolls bodies and when you stimulate those areas there will be an appropriate audio response based on where you're touching and what you're doing. There's literally going to be thousands of responses and they will randomly mix together to form almost limitless combinations.

MONK: You mean conversation?

MCMULLEN: Not conversation but audio sexual response based on what area of the body you're in contact with.

MONK: Like for example?

MCMULLEN: Like for example if you were squeezing her breasts she will respond with audio based on the breasts. It's going to be very interactive to the point where there is an intelligence there.

MONK: The natural extension of what you're doing is to create the literal bionic woman?

MCMULLEN: Well, the dolls have taken on a life of their own. The purpose of the dolls is companionship and having a sex partner. Given that information, you don't need a bionic woman. What you do need is a doll that can learn from your preferences. What we will have at some point is the ability to pick a personality to go with your doll. We're starting first with the audio response. Then there will be motion response. With those two things working on the same system you can not only custom build the appearance of your doll but how she will respond sexually.

MONK: Some might argue that the Real Doll reinforces the perception of women as nothing more than a physical object.

MCMULLEN: I don't think that's necessarily the case. These dolls will never be a replacement for the real thing. I take great pride in my work, but it is still a rubber doll. There beautiful and they're great and in some ways, yeah, they can be better than the real thing. But I think by and large, there are so many things about a real woman. I think men like the fact that women argue with them and they like the fact that sometimes they don't want to have sex because that gives the relationship interest. So I don't think that these dolls are a replacement for the real thing. They are an alternative.

MONK: Is there a spirit in the doll?

MCMULLEN: No. It's just a doll.

photos by Aaron Lauer