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04/05/2019 17:49 EDT | Updated 04/06/2019 08:07 EDT

Montreal's Ultimate Dolls Lets Users Rent Out Sex Dolls

Clients will be required to use condoms.

It's common knowledge that business success relies on offering consumers a product or service that's unique. That's what a young Montreal-area couple were thinking when they decided to launch a sex -doll rental company.

HuffPost Quebec met with Émilie K.* and Charles C.*, the 20-something pair who decided to open Ultimate Dolls, Montreal's first sex doll rental service.

In an interview, Charles said the idea came out of a conversation with a friend who returned from a long trip to Asia. "When he came back, he told us that sex dolls were a phenomenon there. He had a lot to say about all the benefits he had heard about."

"That's when we started wondering if anyone was doing this in Quebec. We did some research and found out there was one business in Vancouver, but none here."

Ultimate Dolls
The sex dolls that are available from Montreal's Ultimate Dolls, a sex-doll rental service.

Along the way, the couple realized the business wouldn't be an easy one. In order to find the best possible product for their future clients, Charles and Émilie examined about 20 different kinds of sex dolls, all from China, to evaluate the quality of the build and get a sense of the maintenance process. "Once we found a supplier who could meet our needs, we figured this business was worth trying. We just thought: 'OK, let's go!'" Charles said.

Did they get any negative feedback about their project from their loved ones? "My parents still don't know!" Émilie says. "But when they find out, it'll be pretty funny. Maybe I'll even film them to see their reaction. We just said 'Let's do this,' and we did it."

It was important to the couple that they find the best way to serve their clients, and avoid the fiasco surrounding Toronto's short-lived sex doll "brothel." Ultimate Dolls delivers their models to a private home or hotel room, and they're available 24/7.

"We considered opening up locations where clients could visit, but we decided our clients' privacy was a priority. It's the kind of thing you'd rather do privately, in the comfort of your own home, far away from any prying eyes."

Doll vs. escort

Charles has an explanation for why someone might choose to rent a sex doll rather than contacting an escort service or directly soliciting a sex worker.

"Our clientele is broader than that," he says. "Whether it's someone who wants to spice up their sex life, or someone with a physical or mental disability, or someone who wants sexual release but who has trouble opening up to other people, or just someone who wants to fulfill a fantasy," he says. He's quick to add that "at $120 an hour, it's also cheaper than sex with a real person."

How to wash a sex doll

1. Rinse it in water

2. Soak it in disinfectant for 45 minutes

3. Scrub

4. Antibacterial sanitation

5. Dry for about an hour, using a heat gun in the orifices

6. Dress

Charles and Émilie say they're now experts in cleaning methods, and that they've developed a technique to offer clients an immaculate product. "Making sure the dolls are usable is vital for us. It's our cornerstone," Charles says. "We've spoken with suppliers to figure out how to make the dolls 'like new' after every use. That's how we established our washing and sterilizing process."

A doll delivery will also come with water-based lube and non-latex condoms. The goal is to protect not only the client, but the doll as well.

"We'll never be able to say, 'We're 100 per cent sure that there's zero traces of anything.' But we can guarantee that with 99.9 per cent certainty. It's the same thing as if you go out to a bar and find someone you like, and you two have sex — you still have to protect yourself. It's the same principle."

No sex robots — for now

Sex dolls equipped with artificial intelligence are making their way onto the market. These sex robots can interact with their owner and even role-play. But Ultimate Dolls won't offer that service — at least not yet.

"We'll adapt to what our clients want. But in terms of cost, the robots that are available now are super expensive and super fragile, so for now we're not going down that road," Charles says. But he adds that "it's an industry that's evolving quickly, so we're not closing the door to potentially doing that one day."

Ultimate Dolls currently offers three dolls for rental on its website: Tifanny, a buxom blonde, Tori, a slender Asian, and Candice, a doll with breasts and a penis. Jay, a male doll with a penis, and Patricia, a Black doll, will be available soon.

Phenomenon that still needs more study

The effects that sex doll-use has on humans is a rarely studied area, and the existing research isn't conclusive, according to psychologist Simon Dubé, a researcher at Concordia University's Centre for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology.

"It would be irresponsible for me to say that this will have either benefits or disadvantages," he said. "We can anticipate certain advantages, in terms of access to intimacy, or even just people who want to have sex with a doll. But some research suggests this [use] might create further isolation.

"For now, we don't know. All we can do is present hypotheses and test them in a lab."

Dubé said the stigmatization of users happens in online discussions about sex dolls.

There are still significant taboos around sexuality in our society, and the people who like these dolls don't escape themPsychologist Simon Dubé

"Personally, I think there could be several advantages, especially because they offer a service different from sex with a human," he said. "The simple fact that they don't move makes them different than a sex worker, and that will attract a specific clientele. Right now, I don't see a problem with that, but it still has to be confirmed with empirical data."

Philip Jai Johnson, a psychologist and researcher at the Toronto Sexuality Centre, previously explained to HuffPost Canada that it's normal to feel some discomfort at the idea of a sex doll. "On some level, it is kind of a moral view, which is just the sense that anything that deviates from the real thing is not appropriate."

Research has suggested that fear and rejection lead people to use sex dolls — not loneliness, as many people assume. "For men with sexual functioning difficulty, they do go on dates, and if they can't perform, they will get rejected very often. It does put some men in a catch-22 position. And for that reason, I think sex dolls could be — and I don't want to say for sure, but they could be a good treatment approach."

For Michelle Shnaidman, CEO of feminist sex and porn platform Bellesa, using a sex doll isn't wildly different from using other devices.

"Eradicating the shame around people using — or even requiring — sex toys to find sexual satisfaction is an ongoing battle," she says. "Their humanoid resemblance gives us — non-sex doll users — pause. But just because these dolls have a face doesn't make them any more threatening than the vibrators in our nightstands."

*Émilie and Charles asked to withhold their real names to protect their current employment.

What do you think of sex robots?

As part of his work for Concordia's Centre for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology, Simon Dubé is working on a study about perception and beliefs related to sex robots. To participate, email sexrobotstudy1@gmail.com. He is scheduled to present a French-language conference on the subject from May 30-31 in Gatineau, Que.

This story originally appeared on HuffPost Quebec. Translation by Maija Kappler.

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