America’s first ‘sex robot brothel’ in Houston faces resistance
Kinky S Dolls, a Canadian firm, is targeting Houston as the first market in a planned US expansion
Houston’s perhaps lesser-known status as a sex trade hub was noted by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in June when he lamented that the city has more brothels than Starbucks outlets.
And this city has a lot of coffee shops.
But what Houston is apparently badly missing is a robot brothel, so called. Now a Canadian company is trying to fill that yawning gap.
Kinky S Dolls, a firm that bills itself as the first “adult love dolls rent-before-you-buy service in North America”, sells realistic-looking life-size dolls with basic artificial intelligence functions – and also offers them for use by the half-hour or hour at a warehouse in Toronto.
Now the firm is targeting Houston as the first market in a planned US expansion, but is meeting resistance from a Christian anti-sex trafficking and anti-pornography group and the city’s mayor.
“It’s not the sort of business that I want in the city of Houston,” the city’s Democratic mayor Sylvester Turner said at a press conference last week, adding that he has asked the city’s legal and health departments to examine the proposal.
Kinky S Dolls, which did not respond to a request for comment, had reportedly intended to open its new location imminently.
“The states is a bigger market, and a healthier market, and God bless Trump,” owner Yuval Gavriel told The Washington Examiner, referencing the United States’ 45th president, Donald Trump
But city officials have frustrated that hope, at least for now.
The city “has told the lessor or owners of the property to cease demolition and/or construction work there until they obtain a city construction permit – for which they have not yet applied,” a spokesman for the mayor’s office said.
There do not appear to be any local, state or federal laws specifically banning “robot brothels” but Elijah Rising, a Houston not-for-profit that gives public tours of areas where sex-trafficking is common, hopes moral pressure will force a rethink.
It started a “Keep Robot Brothels Out of Houston” online petition that as of Monday had more than 12,600 signatures.
“We want to see the end of this systemic problem. We said, this robot thing looks very similar to pornography, in that when men engage with pornography it sort of detaches them from any sort of human relation, and we’ve noticed that with sex buyers,” said a staff member, David Gamboa.
He fears that realistic sex dolls will increase, not lower, demand for human prostitution and embolden men to act out violent fantasies.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of people on social media say this is going to solve the issue of sex trafficking. That is not our stance. We saw it as going to actually encourage men, or at least create that proclivity in men, to go out and purchase a woman,” he said.
Elijah Rising consulted Kathleen Richardson, professor of ethics and culture of robots and AI at De Montfort University in Leicester, in the UK, and founder of the Campaign Against Sex Robots.
“Sex dolls are merely a new niche market in the sex trade,” she said.
“While these dolls are hidden from the public at the present there is nothing stopping any of the buyers taking their ‘sex doll’ to the supermarket, on the school run, or in any public space. Therefore we have to consider the dolls as a form of 3D pornography.
“There are also issues about what happens when you normalise a culture where women as the prostituted become visibly and openly interchangeable with dolls.”
Kinky S Dolls offers nine dolls for sale on its website, all young-looking, light-skinned females.
A part-silicone blonde doll for sale at US$3,499, “Kim”, is listed as 153cm tall and weighing 35kg with a voice and heated body.
Another company is reportedly opening a sex doll brothel in Vancouver.
A company in California has produced a prototype hyperrealistic sex robot that can tell jokes, quote Shakespeare and remember birthdays.
As developments in animatronics and artificial intelligence make “sexbots” ever more lifelike, the sphere of internet-connected sex toys is also set for a boost since a US “teledildonics” patent that was blamed for stifling innovation expired in August.