One of the more appealing elements of the BDSM lifestyle is the rigidly dual worldview. In the BDSM realm, people can always be neatly divided into groups: dominants and submissives; masochists and sadists; masters and slaves; daddies and princesses, owners and critters; and now, dolls and their makers.
A new link in the expanding chain of kinks that wraps itself around the BDSM community is dollification, the practice of dressing up as a human doll and being played with, sexually or otherwise. The one getting dressed up is called a doll, and the one doing the dressing is a maker. A doll's look can be as simple as wearing a Courtney Love-style baby-doll dress, or as complicated as plastic surgery to get the big eyes, and tits, of Barbie. While the aesthetics change, one element stays the same: power. Dollification is a power exchange. Some dolls can be the dominant player, instructing their makers to dress them to perfection. More often, though, the doll is submissive with his or her maker, who manipulates the doll to his or her satisfaction
"The main reason I love dollification," says Danarama, the dean of Kink University, "is because, when you dress them and play with them and manipulate them, it builds a unique connection between you and your partner. It's hard to compare to anything else you do in a relationship."
Danarama is a maker; he dresses and plays with his partners. Already into the bondage scene, he got into dollification when friends and partners asked him to turn them into marionettes, making Danarama a kinky, dominant Geppetto. He found that the kink was fulfilling artistically as well as sexually. "I'm very empathetic and very artistic," he says. "I get a great artistic satisfaction from dollification because it enables me to use my partner as a canvas, and as a sculpture, and as a performance that's just between the two of us."
A marionette (think *NSYNC's No Strings Attached album cover) is only one flavor of doll. Here are some other popular kinds:
- Ragdoll: Ragdolls will paint on fake freckles, kewpie lips, wear yarn wigs and lay totally limp while their Maker does whatever they like. A Dollification 101 video made for Kink U shows a ragdoll getting done up, then spanked for being very naughty.
- Ball-joint/poseable doll: These dolls can be positioned into provocative poses and made to stay still for long periods of time. Poseable dolls can be ballerinas (like in a music box) or action figures, among other options.
- Barbie: Dolls that want to be Barbie sometimes more strongly identify with the bimboification kink. These women may get liposuction, breast implants, and other body modifications to better imitate the German doll.
- Rubber Doll: Not Stretch Armstrong, but dolls in full-body latex suits.
- Kitty/Puppy Doll: Sometimes just a girl with cat ears on, sometimes a full puppy play outfit. The kink world doesn't lack for diversity.
- AI Fuckbot: Sentient-ish doll, programed to love (and fuck).
Kinkster Despoena Calypso prefers being a fuck bot. "I can talk. I can give a blowjob," she says. "I already know how to do all the things; you just have to tell me what you want."
Calypso doesn't want to be the perfect Barbie blonde, but she does admire her versatility. "Barbie is a doll," she says, "but also a model and a lawyer. She drives a car, she's a doctor. You just have to dress her up to do those things."
Calypso, in civilian life, loves to dress up, and dollification feels like a natural extension of her love of costume. Calypso has doll costumes for every role you can think of: cowgirl, Alice in Wonderland, schoolgirl, little sailor boy, cop. In the act of play, one doll can be every person, every job, every gender.
Since consent is a key part of any BDSM dynamic, people have to get creative with how to express their boundaries when dressing up as an inanimate object. "I just taught a class [on dollification], and one of the things I did was make a doll," says Calypso. She drew buttons on her human doll with a sharpie. Each button prompted a different phrase. When she pushed one button, the doll said, "I love you!" Another one: "Spank me, daddy!" Another: "I feel pretty!" The "I feel pretty!" button also served as a way to check in emotionally with the doll without making him or her break character. "If she said 'I feel sad' instead of 'I feel pretty,' I knew she wasn't totally into it. I'd have to step back and think, have I objectified her too much?"
For Calypso, being a doll doesn't have to be about giving up your free will. "There are times when being tied up and fucked like a sex doll is fun," she says, "but what I get out of doll work is the control I get from the play."
Artist Kat Toronto was also attracted to the aesthetics of dollification. Her photo series Dolls in the House of Venus is currently showing at the Resistance Gallery in London. Toronto's photography examines femininity as a mask, something put on or discarded. "I was introduced to dollification via a friend of mine, about five months ago, who is a latex fetishist and also seriously into dollification," she says. "He has a huge collection of vinyl and latex doll masks as well as outfits that he graciously allowed me to experiment and play with."
Due to a health crisis, Toronto underwent a total hysterectomy and was left questioning her own womanhood. "The surgery was a bit of a mind-fuck because, even though, on the outside, I look just like any other woman, on the inside, I no longer possess the organs," Toronto says. "Was I still considered female if I no longer had a uterus?"
She began taking self-portraits as Miss Meatface, a latex-clad human doll. "I found that the dollification masks were a fantastic way to push my exploration of gender and identity in my photography work as they visually epitomize the cultural perception of the 'perfect' Barbie doll woman," she says.
For adult performer Odette Delacroix, there's something fun about giving up control. "Someone contacted me through my website and asked if I could make a custom video," she says. "They sent me a doll-like dress and a wig and wanted me to pretend to be a lifeless doll that could be repositioned and manipulated." Delacroix wound up making a video once a month for this client for about a year. "I was never much of a female dominant so the submissive aspect of being beautified and told what to do as a model is fun to me," Delacroix says.
So why would someone want to pretend to be an inanimate object, especially an inanimate object that gets banged? "Think of how people treat their dolls," says Danarama. "To be taken care of and dressed is a fun experience for someone who has a life of intense responsibility."
This sentiment is all over Tumblr—our generation's Congressional Library for kink. Tumblr user, Maker-of-Dolls, published an slam-poem-style ode to her doll kink that reads:
Gone... the mundane decision of food stuffs, clothing choices, budget calculations, political correctness, and socialized societal mandates.
Enhanced... your purpose in life, serenity of it (self), the calm elation of a flat- lined mind.
Enhanced... the flow of blood to nether regions, the natural release of serotonin, tactile touch and sensory feedback from every inch... every pore... every input and erogenous point on it's body.
How wonderful it must feel to quietly wait for Maker to lay next to it, whispering the sweetest cotton candy instructions into the empty... soft... pliable mind.
The soft, pliable mind of the doll fetishist dovetails with those who seek bimbofication. Being a bimbo basically means transforming from a thinking woman into a sex-crazed, big-breasted, tiny-waisted, full-bootied fuck machine. And while you may think that this is just a fantasy women are conjuring to appeal to men, bimbofication has been a popular erotica genre for female romance readers for several years. Again, it's the appeal of losing control and being dehumanized as an object of pure desire. Of course, with any kink, there are extremes. For bimbos and dolls, sometimes surgery comes into play. Tumblr user Make Me a Perfect Girl writes: "[i] totally loveee the thought of someone picking apart every part of my body and face and telling me what procedures and treatments i need to get and telling me what is wrong with myself, standing there while they measure me and poke and pinch me clinically like i'm just some defective object."
Websites like Dollification.com and FetLife provide a place for Dolls to hook up with Makers that will play by the doll's rules. So if you're feeling constrained by your life, there's a community of people online waiting to dress you up and give you tea.
And maybe fuck you.