The Rise (And Fall?) Of Sex Doll Brothels

Over the last couple of years, the internet has been a flurry with articles about sex doll brothels opening, usually to great success before being shut down or going out of business. So the question is, are these businesses trailblazers knocking down walls for an industry which is on the precipice of taking off, or are they merely unsustainable businesses doomed to fail? In a world where buying a fully customizable sex doll is just a click away, how can brothels that focus on dolls even compete?


Why would someone go to a sex doll brothel when they could buy a doll and keep it at their home?


When Fabrice Jacobs opened Belgium’s first sex doll brothel in 2018, he wasn’t sure whether the idea would take off, but he was initially surprised with the patronage.

I did not expect the success at all...” he told The Brussels Times in 2019.

Fabrice identified several reasons why people visited his sex doll brothel, many of those who visited once and never come back were mainly there to satisfy their curiosity, but he had regulars too. He told the Brussels Times:

A lot of the businessmen that are staying at hotels nearby come to visit every once in a while. I’ve received a few couples, and a man with a disability as well. My oldest client is 81. I have another client who is in his sixties and his wife does not want to have sex anymore, but he still does. Going to a real sex worker would be cheating, he feels.

Fabrice gets to the heart of some of the reasons why dolls are so sought after in the first place, but why they may be well suited to brothels.


  • Companionship: it’s not always possible to travel with a spouse or partner(s), and it’s hard to travel with a doll. Humans are by nature social creatures and so sex and companionship is a basic human need. Business people and travellers still need to satisfy those needs and desires.
  • Sex: sometimes in a relationship, the companionship is still there, but the physical, intimate and sexual side is no longer possible. This can be due to various reasons such as sickness, disability, libido changes etc, and when the libidos of two partners are mismatched, friction within the relationship can occur. Sex dolls, as Fabrice’s client identifies, can be seen as not cheating with another partner outside the relationship. To have a doll in the home may be too much, but visiting a doll brothel is in this customer’s case an option.
  • Curiosity: There’s nothing like a novelty to get customers in the door, that’s how nitrogen ice cream and cronut stores opened all over the place and then quietly disappeared. Would a sex doll brothel buck the novelty trend and keep customers coming back? Fabrice noted that some men seemed to be using his brothel as a try before you buy situation. If the men liked their experience they were probably just as likely to never come back, as they could buy the dolls at sites like ours (Silicone Lovers), which they can then keep at their own home and use at their own convenience.


Add onto this some of the other reasons why dolls are popular, such as not having to interact with a human and attraction to dolls and their anatomical proportions as a fetish, and you have a number of reasons for sex doll brothels to be successful.


So why are sex doll brothels shutting down? Is society ready?


It was recently reported by The Brussels Times that Fabrice’s doll brothel had closed its doors. While it seems Fabrice’s motivations were of a more personal nature, if we went by internet articles it would seem doll brothels are being shut down worldwide:

  • Aura dolls was shut down before it even opened in Toronto, Canada in 2018. It has tried moving locations, but now their new city, Mississauga, is also trying to shut them down.
  • In 2018 again, the mayor of Houston Texas blocked the opening of a sex doll brothel by tightening a city ordinance after a campaign gathered over 13,000 signatures.
  • Lumidolls Italy was shut down in 2018 just days after opening.

The backlash to sex doll brothels are similar to the backlash received against regular brothels, that they will be bad for the area, bring crime into neighbourhoods, that they’ll operate too close to schools and cheapen the value of sex and that they degrade women, however with sex dolls there seems also to be a fear of the unknown and the unusual.


            So is that it? Goodbye to sex doll brothels?


Well, no. Remember Lumidolls, the one that got shut down in Italy? Well, they have now reopened and are looking to be a great success story. The company currently has doll brothels operating in Russia, Spain and Italy, and are moving into the already established Japanese market.

Where Aura dolls were struggling in Canada, KinkySDolls and others have opened and stayed open. Canada even boasts a delivery service Natrl Dolls, which by only offering a delivery-only service manages to avoid laws which have held up others from opening.

One of the claims used by critics of doll brothels has been that they would allow men who are predisposed to violence against women to act out their fantasies, and eventually encourage them to act them out in real life. Kerry Porth of Pivot Legal Society told Vancouver magazine:

There have been numerous studies debunking the idea that playing violent video games or watching violent pornography leads to real-life offending. I suspect the same will hold true with the sex dolls,” says Porth. “They may, in fact, provide a safe outlet for certain fantasies.


Press F to pay respects to human sex workers...


Well, not quite. As Porth goes on to say, “​Sex workers provide a uniquely human sexual experience and the sex dolls can in no way replace actual human contact.

Let’s face it, the oldest profession in the world is not about to be put out of a job yet. In fact, the different clients that visit a doll brothel are unlikely to wholly overlap those that would visit a traditional brothel. The doll brothel opens up new opportunities to access a clientele that may have difficulties with, or otherwise have no interest in interacting with humans or interacting with a traditional brothel, those who see using a sex worker as cheating, or those who have no space or current finance to purchase a doll.  Since traditional brothels don’t tailor for these kinds of clients there will always be a returning customer base.

Even if a client was to purchase their own doll, they may still be interested in trying other models or makes of dolls which may be available in a brothel. As far as competition between doll brothels and doll vendors such as ourselves is concerned, this is fairly limited, as those that tend to purchase a doll are doing so not wholly or primarily for sex, but for many and varied reasons.


So what does 2020 hold for Sex Doll Brothels?


Sex doll brothels are taking off. Sex dolls alongside flesh and blood humans in traditional brothels are taking off. 2018 wasn’t a great year, but since then there have been far fewer companies being shut down, and many more quietly opening up. With the current trajectory, sex dolls could one day be as commonplace and acceptable as a vibrator (and who would want to deny men the pleasure of such a device?). The companies we lost along the way have been knocking down barriers toward adoption, just as early sex shops did for adult movies, magazines and sex toys in the 1960s. As robotics and AI begin to mesh with sex dolls, these rocky early years will almost certainly be seen as just a tiny blip on the path of acceptance.

March 15, 2020