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Inside Bordoll, a German sex-doll brothel

Chase Winter
April 29, 2018

A brothel in Dortmund offers a dozen sex dolls that users can rent for any service. DW takes a look inside.

Sex doll brothel, Dortmund
Image: DW/C. Winter

Down a dead-end street in a quiet neighborhood south of Dortmund's city center stands Germany's first sex doll brothel.

For €80 ($97) an hour, customers can take one of 12 silicone dolls, including one male doll and a model with both breasts and a penis, into a tidy room to fulfill their sexual desires.

Evelyn Schwarz, 30, is the founder and owner of Bordoll, which is also a brothel and a studio for bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism (BDSM).

A BDSM mistress, Schwarz opened Bordoll last year, after she struggled to find German-speaking women to work in the brothel. In BDSM, she told DW, communication is critical and sex workers who come from abroad and don't speak the language could miss key cues.  

Doll brothel
Customers can sit down with the dolls as they decide which one to take to the roomImage: DW/C. Winter

"Then I saw a video about doll brothels in Japan, and I thought that could work in Germany," she said, sitting on a couch next to three busty dolls, a porno playing on the television.  

She started out with four dolls ordered from China.  They were quickly booked, and she bought more, each costing between €1,000 and €2,000.

"They are nonsentient, they look good, are not sick, they provide whatever service without complaining, and one can make them with the bodily features you like," she said, pointing out some of the positive aspects of sex dolls.

Daily, she said, five to 12 people, mostly men but occasionally women and couples, come by to have sex with the dolls. Schwarz has an assistant who cleans the dolls, redresses them and puts on their makeup. How the dolls are cleaned is a "house secret," Schwarz said, "but after every use they are very well cleaned, washed and disinfected."

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Dortmund: Doll brothel
Customers can also take the dolls in the the BDSM rooms to play out fantasiesImage: DW/C. Winter

Who visits?

One reviewer on an online sex forum gave the doll Anna a 10 out of 10, describing his various forms of sex with the doll as "a really hot new experience." His only complaint was the difficultly he had in manipulating the 30-kilogram (65-pound) doll into different positions.

The dolls are indeed too "passive" for some customers, Schwarz said, but added that others appreciate not having to negotiate for "extra" services.

"You can get whatever sexual service you want," she said. "The man can be egoistic and not be concerned about the doll's feelings."

Schwarz said 70 percent of her customers had returned for further encounters. They come from all stripes, young and old, rich and poor, "just like in any brothel."

Others just want a new experience, she said, and some people who have not had sex with another person come, too. Customers must be at least 18-years-old, she added.

Dortmund: Doll brothel
Schwarz sees no moral issues with sex dolls: They are "toys," she said Image: DW/C. Winter

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"Many people come here with social problems who can't interact with people," she said. "They make no eye contact and stare at the ground when talking."

Then there are clients with dangerous sexual fantasies.  "Better to be violent with a doll than with a woman," Schwarz said.

Some customers even appear to have developed an emotional attachment to the dolls.

"One notices that when the guests come again," Schwarz said. "Some come every week, and it is clear they prefer dolls over women. Some appear to develop feelings for the doll and visit it every time and are sad when it eventually is broken."

Dortmund: Doll brothel
Schwarz said Diego (left) was rented by men curious about sex with menImage: DW/C. Winter

Socially acceptable?

Bordoll isn't the only such doll brothel to open its doors. There are dozens in Japan, one recently opened in Barcelona, and a doll escort service is running in Berlin.

It comes as technology advances to create dolls with artificial intelligence that could potentially be used in brothels. However, Schwarz said she didn't believe that AI sexbots would be ideal for brothels — not least because of their high cost and need for repeated cleaning in such an environment.

According to a study by the Foundation for Responsible Robotics, "it is too early to tell how this will fare in Europe but it shows an increasing social acceptability that will pave the way for sex robot brothels."

That worries people such as Kathleen Richardson, a professor of ethics and culture of robots and AI at De Montfort University in the United Kingdom.

Dortmund: Doll brothel
The childlike look of sex dolls has raised questions about pedophilia Image: DW/C. Winter

Richardson, a co-founder of the Campaign Against Sex Robots, questions a "strong anti-humanist section of society that is defining what it means to be human.”

"Why are we living in a world where we think it is OK to have relationships with dolls?" she asked. "We are entering an egocentric world. ... We've already created a world full of sadists through pornography, prostitution and child sexual exploitation, so now we are going to give those sadists even less opportunities to develop their humanity by giving them dolls."

"This idea that human beings are interchangeable with property is really problematic," she said. "We are moving towards a culture where sex ... is being defined outside a human relationship. It's not sex with dolls: It's masturbation."

Richardson also pointed out that many of the dolls look like children and that that using sexual violence against a doll that is meant to represent a human is also unacceptable and a possible sign of other problems.

Dortmund: Doll brothel
Most of the dolls are about 150 centimeters (5 feet) tallImage: DW/C. Winter

In a back room back at the Bordoll, Schwarz pointed out Liz and Emily, both of which had "damage to the silicone and cracks in the genital area," lying motionless and naked on a bed, waiting to be purchased secondhand. Each doll lasts about six months, and 10 have been used up since Bordoll opened in April 2017.

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