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I Tried to Sell My DIY Sex Robot at an Invention Convention

Oobah Butler

Weirdly, it did not go down well at all.

The Oobot (Photos: Chris Bethell)

Earlier this year I revolutionised both sex toys and the world of human-robot interaction with my breakthrough invention: the "Oobot". My affordable sex robot was capable of providing millennials the love and companionship absent in their lives – something I hoped they would spot and go in for en masse.

Sadly, things haven't gone as planned. Despite promotion on both social media and the popular website vice.com, it's not inspired the rampant robophilia I assumed it would. In fact, to date, there have been exactly zero orders for the Oobot.

But I'm not panicking. Deep down, I always knew the Oobot's entry point may well be in more liberal countries like France or Spain, rather than prudish old Britain. For that route, however, capital, expert advice and a marketing plan are needed. So that's what I've been seeking, sending out top secret emails to people in the know. People like Dragons' Den star and entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne.

Unfortunately, presumably due to technical errors, I'm yet to receive a response. This initially left me frustrated: how would the world discover and benefit from my creation? Do these industry experts not realise how many lives would be improved if people just knew that a watermelon-in-a-wig witha punched-out hole for a mouth was available to them for a low, low price?

And then I spot the answer online – a place where the most remarkable inventions the world has to offer would be gathered together under one roof: The British Invention Show. For just a few days, experts from various industries judge and inspect innovations people have to offer, offering funding to the best. It's a dream come true: finally the Oobot would get a shot at changing the world!

Now the only thing in my way is the formality of getting my sexbot into the convention. Again, emails prompt no responses, but after much thinking I come up with a flawless plan: just show with the Oobot by my side.

After pacing through the rain, I show up at the Barbican, the Oobot stuffed under a giant white tablecloth. Walking through the automatic doors I hear "Excuse me!" Fuck. I exchange long, suspicious eye contact with the doorman and, eventually, he cuts through the silence: "Are you here to do the meat for later?" He points up and down at my outfit, giggling to his friends. They laugh. Hah. People giggled at Edison; called Galileo a mad man; guffawed at Bell – and history taught them a lesson. I'll be coming for you when the revolution sweeps through, doorman, but I have more important things to worry about today – this is my big shot.

Stepping into the conference, I see that it's everybody else's, too.

It's something like the atmosphere of a doctor's surgery; everybody sitting tightly with their pride and joy, eagerly waiting for utter turmoil or jubilation. Shaking with nerves and shoulder-to-shoulder with the best the world has to offer, I park the covered Oobot up in the corner and decide to check out the competition.

A waterproof plug socket?

An engaging game to entice generation-Z into being active?

A 100 percent organic product designed to help you quit smoking?

I'm on my knees! I assumed I wouldn't have much competition, but it looks like I'll walk it! You may as well write that cheque up now, fellas, as I'm the only one providing the world with something it desperately needs.

Pucker up, darling. This is your time to shine.

Gasps echo around the room, inventors rubberneck. A woman locks eyes with me – we both know exactly what she's thinking: 'The cavalry just rolled in and we're all fucked.' I grimace and nod knowingly: 'Yes you are, dear. Yes, you are.'

I get set up and, within seconds, spot a man trying to sneak a photo. "Roll right up!" I say. "Come and get a proper photo!"

"So what is your invention?" he asks, checking out the photo on his phone.

"It's the Oobot," I point to my whiteboard. "An affordable sex robot." The man's face transforms. He points off into the distance and walks away. The Oobot must have blown his mind.

My creation has a similar effect on the rest of the inventors, whose people have shied away into the opposite corner. Lord, I knew this was a powerful machine, but only now are we seeing its potential!

Soon enough, a call goes out over the tannoy: The Investors are beginning their circuits. So to give myself the best shot, I decide to move the Oobot to a space where it will truly excel, and take five behind the curtain, waiting for destiny to arrive. This crazy dream that transformed my world a few months back might be about to do the same to the world at large.

It's then that I hear it: "Excuse me?"

I gather my thoughts, wait a moment and burst out.

"Can I help you, sir?"

"I'm Tony and, well..." he stops. "What on earth is this thing?"

"This is the Oobot."

Tony scratches his head and folds his arms. I match his casual body language; sales 101.

"And what exactly have you brought it here for?"

"This, Tony, is a piece of innovation, a piece of brilliance that I believe to be worthy of your investment."

"I'm in the facilities industry, so what use would I have for this?" he asks.

I take a deep breath, pinch my legs through my pockets. I've got this: "Well, what does every person on this earth need to do, Tony?"

"Eat, drink, sleep?"

"And?"

"And what?" He shoots back abruptly.

"And fuck!" I leap forwards.

"Good grief!"

"Feel free to try it, Tony! It's very intuitive!"

He stops for a minute before checking his phone. "What exactly are you here for? Is this a wind-up or are you genuinely bonkers? You're not registered here, you know?"

"I know, yes."

"Okay, I need to get Kane."

Wow, I must really have taken these boys off guard. Kane is the organiser of the whole convention; the man who holds the patent for the MP3 player. A maverick who shot from the hip, leading the world of technology for decades. If anyone was going to understand the Oobot, it would be him.

"Are you presenting here today?" he asks.

"I've brought an invention of my own, yes."

"Well, I'm going to be invoicing you for £1,500 to present here then, because that's exactly what all the other people who've flown from all around the world to present have paid." Oh dear. "Are you bloody daft? What are you trying to pull? Seriously, I've had five separate complaints about you."

Out on the street within seconds. Five complaints and the threat of a thousand-plus-pound fine: is the Oobot so repulsive – so out of place – that it simply doesn't belong in this world? Have I, like Dr Frankenstein before me, created a monster? All of a sudden, everybody is looking at the Oobot differently.

Where do you turn when everybody seems so disgusted by what you've got? When something you love so dearly all of a sudden seems so sordid? Who'll embrace the Oobot for what it's meant for? Solitary businessmen?

Not a peep. The common person?

Never.

Staring deeply into its mop-head pubes, I think of all the things we've been through together – getting into the invention convention, being thrown out of the invention convention – and I realise exactly where the Oobot belongs. The very place that I came up with it.

Prowler, Soho: home. Walking through the door of the famed sex shop, the man behind the till stops serving a customer in his tracks. He stares at the Oobot, back up into my eyes and down to the Oobot again. "I can't believe you've brought this into the shop."

"Do you remember us?" I ask, tentatively. He sighs.

"Of course I do. I saw the piece on the website!" The tension lifts. "Look at it; it's got a pumpkin head now – I love it!"

"And all the features that we spoke about."

"Fantastic, I can't believe it."

"Say, my friend: we need a space for the Oobot to live. Do you think, by any chance, there's a spot at the store?"

"We don't have much space..." My heart sinks.

"...Down here. But I don't see why we couldn't find a spot for it upstairs. It's a beautiful little part of our mythology."

So there we have it. The fairytale ending this story deserves. Just remember: whichever path you may take in life, there's a home out there for everybody. And after its long journey, the Oobot found its home here.

If you ever want to go and visit the Oobot, head to Growler in Soho and just ask.And while you're there, make sure to give it a peck on the cheek from me.

@Oobahs

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