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TV review: Channel 4's latest shock-doc: Secrets of Living Dolls

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 07, 2014

By Jonathan Whiley

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Forget eating cheese at night. Channel 4's Secrets of Living Dolls documentary - I use that term in the loosest possible sense - was truly nightmare-inducing from start to finish.

Just to map things out for those of you who missed it and managed to enjoy a fitful night of sleep. There are men that live in this glorious world of ours that get a kick out of wearing a full body - that extends to the nether regions I might add - plastic outfit that makes them look like life-sized female dolls.

Digest that for a moment, dear reader. Got it? Nope, me neither.

I'm not talking Barbie here; more Pete Burns meets Roald Dahl's The Witches. Basically, a bit of a haggard mess.

So who are the mysterious figures that seek solace and pleasure in the mysterious art of female masking; a freak show surely to end all freak shows.

Well first on a list that would have given Freud a field day we were introduced to 70-year-old Robert from California. Or Sherry as he's known to a select few who see him, quite literally, dolled up to the nines.

There are touching scenes throughout here; none more so than when he hangs his "femskin" over his bath while adding his own hair clippings to give his vagina the finishing touches.

In some kind of weird Blue Peter 'here's a female foreskin I made earlier moment' he was in his new body in no time, taking great care to admire his blonde locks in the mirror like the opening scene of a horror film.

So, we mused, an American phenomenon; it's not like McDonalds caught on. But then we enter that strange land we call Essex where we meet Joel the bartender who, it turns out, also shares a passion for spending thousands of pounds on making himself look like a woman that looks like a man.

Still, his girlfriend is understanding. She even watches while he romantically navigates his silicon breast implants. God love her.

His friends are a little more taken aback when they are given the great reveal. I think they expected a Gok Wan-style makeover and were more than a little surprised by the outcome. The scene which saw him hug his male friend was, I imagine, totes awks.

But hey, who are we to judge. People after all are making a living out of this new fetish. An American company supplies custom-made outfits to people all over the world. In a particular poignant moment a younger member of the family firm reveals he just wants to follow in the footsteps of his father and continue the proud legacy of moulding plastic female genitalia. Aww.

Overall, it was a freak fest to rival Channel's 4's previous outings; particular the memorable adult baby documentary which compelled the nation. But once again, I found myself eerily gripped as though watching a really bad circus act in slow motion.

After all, nothing says entertainment like a a rubber doll rendezvous

Seriously though, when did drag get so scary? Certainly puts Mrs Doubtfire in a whole new light.

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