Photographers often findsinteresting subjects through online forums. There are the cosplay enthusiasts who are always a fun bunch to document visually, there are the pet enthusiasts who usually shows up with a pimped-up canine equivalent of a a Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton, but for Copenhagen-based photojournalist Benita Marcussen the vast and intricate web of online forums helped her convince a small group of men who share the same enthusiasm: owning and collecting sex dolls. These men became the subject of her photography series “Men & Dolls,” an idea born out of the documentary “Guys and Dolls” she saw years earlier.

'Deerman' lost his wife to cancer and ended up buying this doll years later © Benita Marcussen

‘Deerman’ lost his wife to cancer and ended up buying this doll years later © Benita Marcussen

“The men featured care about their dolls and treat them with respect like dear friends,” Marcussen wrote in a statement sent to The Huffington Post. “They care for them like material things with a little more presence and personality.”

'Shadowman' always wakes up with 'Carly' one of his 4 dolls © Benita Marcussen

‘Shadowman’ always wakes up with ‘Carly’ one of his 4 dolls © Benita Marcussen

It is a sub-culture that up to now has remained vastly undocumented and if seen from an outsider’s point of view is usually regarded as ‘weirdness’ for the ages. An air of taboo always accompany such idea of men possessing a life-size female doll. While the men Benita contacted are private individuals, the urge to change the social stigma that associates with owning such dolls contributed for them to say yes to her.

Phil doesn't hide his doll's existence to his friends © Benita Marcussen

Phil doesn’t hide his doll’s existence to his friends © Benita Marcussen

“They agree to have their picture taken because they feel that there is more to the story than the regular ‘man owns a sex doll’ – even though most still choose to be anonymous,” Marcussen said. “The majority of the doll owners stay completely out of anything that has to do with media as they feel society often misunderstand and it does affect them, naturally.”

'Sasha' and 'Lily' are owned by 'Nescio50' a man who never had a girlfriend before © Benita Marcussen

‘Sasha’ and ‘Lily’ are owned by ‘Nescio50’ a man who never had a girlfriend before © Benita Marcussen

Throughout the time Benita spent with the men, she discovered some interesting insights with how the men regard the dolls with intimacy and up to the point that the dolls were assigned a personality preferred and based on the fantasy of each doll owners. The type of men Benita met are as distinct as one would find inside an ordinary coffee shop, she photographed married men, divorced men, men with a family, single men and men who have never had a girlfriend before. To say that these life-size female dolls appeals only to the loneliest of the lot is downright incorrect. While most of the men admits talking to the dolls as if they were alive, Benita finds the men as far from delusional as nobody among them really believes the dolls are real.

After spending a considerate time photographing them, Benita felt secured with the men. “They were really gentlemen,” she says. “They weren’t interested in me at all! They wanted to show me how the dolls worked” she tells CNN after admitting that her friends were really concerned for her safety when she told them about the photography project.

After his 1986 divorce, Chris' relationships with women was affected, not so with his two dolls © Benita Marcussen

After his 1986 divorce, Chris’ relationships with women was affected, not so with his two dolls © Benita Marcussen

After doing the photography project, Benita realized that these men are no much different than any group of enthusiasts, like most of us photography and travel junkies, they also form their own community and have their own reasons outside of anything sickening, for their perchance for owning these dolls. “They enjoy showing their dolls off either at meetings or via the Internet where they upload pictures of established situations,” Marcussen said.  The dolls serves as their security blanket and for most times – a source of companionship, comfort and unending presence.

'Baron von Doll' is another of those who chose to be anonymous © Benita Marcussen

‘Baron von Doll’ is another of those who chose to be anonymous © Benita Marcussen

If this makes them happy then “Who are we to judge?” asks Benita.

  • tiffany gonzales

    Fascinating series.

  • phototeacher

    There are two dolls in the last picture that look like children. Whilst
    having an intimate relationship with dolls which replicate a female
    adult may be simply unusual, is it not worrying that some may be having
    intimate relationships with replica dolls that look like children?