Channel 4's Weird, Wonderful Living Dolls

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What a peculiar programme Secrets of the Living Dolls turned out to be.It is strange in these hedonistic times to encounter a subculture hitherto unheard of, but encounter one I did, courtesy of Channel 4, last night.


The documentary Secrets of the Living Dolls (not to be confused with RealDolls) shone a light on the rubbery face of Rubber Doll masking, where men transform themselves into full-sized female dolls by wearing latex (or silicone if they can afford it) suits, a la Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs.

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‘Femskins’ they’re called, in RDM parlance.

Perhaps surprisingly, the men featured didn’t identify as transgender. In fact, all three featured in the show identified as heterosexual. California retiree Robert, Essex-based, live action role-playing nerd Joel and doll conference co-ordinator John.

“Only one of the ‘maskers’ featured, father-of-six John, was “out of the doll house” to family and friends.

The documentary crew filmed barman and masking-newbie Joel as he prepared to introduce his (strangely-mute) alter ego to his friends. The expression on the face of his female friend – who obviously expected Barbie, but got a microwave-melted Pete Burns – really said it all.

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Perhaps the most interesting ‘masker’ of all was 70 year-old Robert. Obviously well-moneyed, Robert displayed a series of disembodied, man-sized silicone Barbie masks of varying degrees of quality to the camera before initiating his transformation. Out came the talcum powderand on went a very-expensive, fully-customised (not a fan of the ‘bald’ look, Robert had added pubic topiary) doll suit.