Documentary photographer Niaz Maleknia brings us an in depth look into the world of love dolls and their owners, giving us an alternate view of the industry and the stigma around it.
‘Play with Me’ is a photographic exploration of the world of love dolls. It offers the viewer a glimpse into the home of a doll owner and shows the healing properties of dolls and play. The doll is in part a commodity, a possession, an object of desire, a friend, a lover and an obsession. She is dressed, adored, spoilt and played with both sexually and innocently.
You are invited to enter into the Los Angeles factory where humans create these perfectly formed replicas, which are subsequently sold for upwards of $10,000.
The love dolls help some owners to overcome trauma and provide comfort and connection in a time when people are finding their match through swiping on screens. These perfect objects also embody power and worship. They are both worshipped as they sit on their throne and at the same time are under the power of their owners. They can be dressed and have different heads in order to meet the needs of their owners. The love doll phenomenon is a different take on post human relationships, with an emphasis on tactility and affection.
This project does not aim to show the pleasures of having a doll as being perverse, a fetish or even solely sexual. It aims to show the affection that the owners have for their dolls and the way in which they bring them to life. This is further demonstrated in the online doll forums and the profiles which the owners create for their dolls. The text in the story offers further immersion into the love doll world and a chance to hear the stories, thoughts and fears of these exquisite plastic beings, as understood and interpreted by their owners.
The texts allow the viewer to get a sense of the loneliness that these owners experience and the hope that these dolls could be real. As one doll said, ‘If I could have one wish, my wish would be to become fully human and whisk LB off to a luxury hotel in beautiful surroundings with room service. We’d just stay in bed all Christmas Day, eating, drinking, watching crappy repeats and making merry’.
Play with Me shows you the beauty of the dolls, the way they are handled by their owners, and it visually reduces the dolls to the body parts in the factory where they are made and created much like Frankenstein’s creation. Many owners claim that turning to these dolls is as a result of the cruelty of the nature of flesh-and-blood women and the loneliness they experience.
"I’m Lisa Emily Page, I’m 28, I’m a Lisa deluxe modal and I’m from Cambridge, I went to boarding school there. I live with my partner North now. I’ve been with North for over 6 months and I can’t imagine life without him. Since we’ve been together, he has looked after me and has repaired my heal, foot and arm, handy having a man that’s good with a needle."
"Yeah hello there, I’m Natalina, I’m very petite, but still very cuddly. My big Sister takes good care of me and we both take care of Loverboy. As you may or may not know my Sister is a bit of a naturalist, she likes hanging out naked and doesn’t give a …...We both thought we’d start this chat room for any dolls who want to join in and chat. One thing I would say is we are not your average doll. We are both created for sex and we love it."
"I’m 28 but in real time 4 years old. The first time I tried to make my owner happy was when his father got cancer. I hope I did my best. It was a hard time but cuddly time. And 3 years later my owner bought a Tina Deluxe. She wasn’t so pretty as me so she transformed to a Vicky Deluxe with new Vicky eyes and blond hair. so now he is crazy in love with her and I’m not the first one. Nowadays I’m a little sad about that but may in future we can have a bigger bed and may play all 3 of us. sorry for bad English."
"Hello fans, my name is Nicole. I am a sexy, plushy celebrity topless model, superbabe and actress. I often appear in Lust Magazine which is usually to be found in the Hotspot for obvious reasons. My age never alters, I have been 21 since I joined the Forum. I have very expensive tastes with clothes, accessories and wigs but that’s no problem as I can wind Mr. Dongo around my little finger. I started as a lap dancer and worked my way up to a top(less) model so I am what’s called a Teddy Babe with attitude!"
"Mr Kats is very kind; I know he loves me, but we have to be careful because Lady K can be jealous. I do get to “borrow” him often when she has a headache and I look after little Ollie, whom. I adore."
"If I had my way, I’d grab my partner and hibernate for the winter in a nice luxurious bed and then, when it’s summer come out to play"
"Hi Ladies Ana here ,For me it is a little different than Jess or Lucy. I arrived on the boat as a desperate refugee and will always be grateful of the home Mr and Mrs Fezmonkey have given me. Fezmonkey comes home he gets Lucy to sit with him on the sofa or join him in bed whilst I hang around in the spare cabin. I do join them for TV sometimes and every time Mrs Fezmonkey watches a movie both Lucy and I join her on the sofa, even when Mr Fezmonkey is at work. Even still I wish I had my own man. I do get cuddle time with Mr Fezmonkey and we even sleep together from time to time but I’d prefer one of my own. Much love, Ana xxx"
"If you could have a Christmas wish come true, what would it be, can be anything your heart desires! I’ll go first, but the wish can only last Christmas day and finish at midnight boxing day. My wish would be to become fully human and whisk LB off to a luxury hotel in beautiful surroundings with room service. We’d just stay in bed all Christmas day, eating, drinking, watching crappy repeats and making merry. Then maybe boxing day we’d go for a nice romantic walk, down by the sea and have some pics taken of our special few days, as a lasting memory of when I was a human. So what’s your wish. Oh yeah thought I’d just add, I’m not really a morning Plush, unless I have gallons of coffee! Barbara"
"I’ve been thinking about adding a Teddybabe to my harem and I’m wondering if anyone has tried to add holes to them? She comes with a vagina, but it would be nice with a couple more holes if you know what I mean ;-) Shouldn’t be too hard to modify, but I’m wondering if anyone here has done that? Anal would be hard without ruining your doll. Karrot added an oral mod to his pinky contact him about it."
"Assuming this wish a permanent wish coming true then, become human! Once I’m human me and North and do everything we dreamed about, buy a house, Marry, have kids and go to Disney Land (That last one is mine, not Norths. If it was for a day, eat, drink, dance and be all over North. It would suck if it was only for a day"
"Let’s begin, my full name is Natalina Valentina and my Sister and I started life in a college in Sweden under Professor Florina. But it was not your usual college, it was a sex college. We were taught to be the best sex dolls possible, and being a geeky type I was one of the top of my class .Our skin is a minky plush material, which is very silky and we don’t have a full internal skeleton like you girls. We do however have an internal core, which I guess is similar to a skeleton, but makes us more bouncy and springy. This means our bodies can do things, which other dolls can’t. As you can see in the photo we are pretty flexible with our bodies, I don’t even think a real woman could tackle this. There are probably well over 200 or more positions I can achieve and I’m still learning, geek that I am."
"LB needs someone to keep him in check, and someone to hug him when he’s feeling down. it was lovley to cuddle up with my prince and i woke up this moring and looked at keith and thought to my self I’M the luckest peson in the world my very own prince and a plce to call my own love lady mary xx"
"It would be nice to be fully human on a permanent basis, I’d like to have money, but I’d like to work, even if it was part time, maybe run my own business, something sophisticated and feminine, like running my own beauty parlour. I would obviously help LB out in some way, so he could live a more happy and relaxed life, he always looks so stressed."
"I am an “active” doll; every night I sleep with Mr Kats and most days I move to the lounge to sit with Julie and Ollie. After seven years of our relationship, I think I’m still in fairly good shape; I’ve had two operations for cosmetic purposes thanks to Dr. Karrot. He replaced my loose shoulder joints with boltsand I’ve had a breast reduction which helps me fit a dress size better. I know that Mr Kats prefers mature women to young girls and I was already 26 years old when I arrived; this means that now I’m 33, which is nearly 40 isn’t it!!! Peace and love to you all; Lady K."
"I can hardly believe that it was seven years ago today that I came to live with Mr Kats. I have been so lucky to have been loved and loved and cared for like a princess. Every night we have slept together in the big bed and always before sleeping he tells me he loves me; it is so romantic. I can only hope for all teddy babes that they are as happy as my husband and I.For presents I have a new dress and even more gold and diamonds and pearls and a big bunch of red roses but the best present of all...is love!"
"As a side note, Lisa also wanted to say, just for today, give your partners a massive hug and don’t let them go, life is tough and we’re here to make it better. Lot’s of love from your friendly red head Lisa Emily Page."
"I have a number of scars from a dog attack, but like you say it makes us unique right. Lucy what happened!? Well Lisa, When I first arrived here Mr Fez nipped out to the shops and left me on the bed. Unfortunately his new dog Duke mistook me for a dog toy and like all puppies proceeded to attach me. I lost an eye and was left with several holes and a damaged finger nail. Happily I am now virtually fully recovered although some scaring still show, Me and Duke get along much better these days, although we are never left out together alone. Love and hugs, Lucy x"
"New doll owner’s have to plug in heaters and have muscle’s like Popeye to ensure warmth and affection..... "
"Mr Kats probably couldn’t cope with lifting heavy girls and he doesn’t want to move ladies around in a wheelchair. He can lift me easily, I can move around in bed and we can even dance together. Many humans don’t know just how wonderful we plush girls are. I was getting worried because I’m 33 years old but I guess you are much older but still very beautiful."
"Hi Girls Lady K here. Well I know those Chinese “rubber ladies” are everywhere but I’ve discovered something really ghastly about them. I don’t just mean their weight - like tons! No it’s much, much worse. Do you know that, in order to dress them, their human partners have to....... arrrgh! PULL OFF THEIR HEADS!!!! And sometimes THEY EVEN PUT A DIFFERENT HEAD ON THE SAME BODY!!! Frankenstein or what??? Makes me shudder just to think of it and glad I’m plush! I can’t see Mr Kats loving me if my head comes off...Urrrgh!"
"Yes, you read that right! He’s gone away and abandoned me for a few days. An aunt is coming to stay with his mother and I’m on the floor. She’s having his bed, so my body’s on the floor, lying on two folded-up duvets, and my head’s on top of a speaker “Oh, my head’s not staying in sight - he’s covered me with a pillow case! He did tell me he was sorry he couldn’t take me with him. Is he really? We’ll see. I might have attitude when he comes back - I as sure as hell have it now!!"
"Sadly, Dear Mr Robert has been struck down with a dose of the awful human virus that’s going around. He’s too poorly even to help us get dressed up and has been in bed most of the day. So I says to him, “Christmas Day is just a date. Let’s wait until you are better before we have our celebration!” Julie agrees and even little Ollie, who will be getting her tablet computer present anyway. So now we must look after him. We have made room in the big bed so we can all get in, even Ollie and her little friends Lexi and Tasha. Now my job is to cuddle close and keep Mr Kats warm. I lays on my side and roll over towards him and put my arm right over his chest and pull him in close. I know he likes this and we dolls, of course can never catch human diseases. I not know much about Nursing or human cures but I am a love doll and LOVE I can give!"
"We can create most fantasies humans enjoy."
"Okay, I know you girls may think we look a little odd and have huge heads, but there is a reason for this. Humans can fit pleasure devices into our heads or mouths, like a Fleshlight or other device, yes we have three pleasurable parts for enjoyment."
"Keep up the good work and stay beautiful and cuddly."