RICKTER SCALE: Rubber on the rebound

RICKTER SCALE: Rubber on the rebound

Rick Stiebel | Columnist

When it comes to Vanity Fair, you can’t judge a magazine by its cover.

Once you get past whatever celebrity graces the cover and the parade of glossy ads pitching the latest in lifestyle and fashion choices, a selection of excellent writing covering politics, science and culture lies within.

It was Tina Brown who rose above the glass canopy and took over as editor in 1983 to steer the magazine in a new direction. With her hand on the rudder until 1992, Vanity Fair hired writers who set new standards for analysis and opinion, and Brown’s fingerprints remain all over the magazine to this day.

An article from the May 2015 edition the bride brought home from our local library recently caught my wandering eye, despite the distraction of a cover promising a photo spread and story on Sophia Vergara, who I consider a form of visual Viagra.

The article, Dawn of the SEXBOTS, takes an in-depth dive into the work of Matt McMullen, the owner and artist behind Abyss Creations, which manufactures RealDolls.

These silicone sirens look so lifelike that I would wager my monthly payment from the Mirror that you couldn’t pick one out if it was dressed up sitting on a bus or reading a magazine in a doctor’s office.

I’ll bet another month’s salary that most of the people who shell out $3,500 to $10,000 for McMullin’s creations could care less what the dolls are wearing.

RealDolls offers a selection of 11 different body types, and 31 faces including some celebrities, with their permission. The attention to human detail is highlighted by the 40 nipple types available.

McMullen, who also creates a selection of Ken dolls along with the Barbies, sells between six and 10 a week, and one in 10 customers are women.

Before you dismiss those who purchase these pleasure machines as a bunch of whack jobs, I must point out that the writer, ironically named George Gurley, interviewed several owners, including a well-known author who spoke with intelligence and candor about the reasons behind his decision.

Reading the article and perusing Jonathan Becker’s startling selection of photos does raise a few questions.

Dr. Henrik Christensen, chairman of the European Robotic Network at the Royal Institute of Technology at the University of Stockholm, offered the perspective back in 2006 that humans would be having sex with robots within the next five years. While that turned out be ahead of the curve, an expert in a Pew Research Center report predicted in 2014 that robotic sex partners would be commonplace by 2025, adding that the popularity would be initially greeted with the same scorn critics today reserve for selfies.

Artificial intelligence expert and international chess champion David Levy suggested that by 2050, “robots will have the capacity to fall in love with humans and make themselves romantically attractive and sexually desirable to humans.”

At the bare minimum, it makes you wonder what’s on the horizon. Rentaraunchyrobot.org here we come, ready or not.

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Rick Stiebel is a Sooke resident and semi-retired journalist.