After Canada’s first sex doll brothel shuttered its doors, months after opening in Vancouver, a new rental delivery service is hoping to penetrate the luxury masturbation market.  

Sex, as expected, sold well during Natrl Dolls’ first weekend of operation—but just how well, or at what cost is something partner Randy Williams wouldn’t share in detail.  

“The opening was stronger here than in Calgary,” Williams tells me from Natrl’s Langley warehouse. The businessman brought the snow with him when he left his two partners behind in Calgary ahead of the company’s January 10th launch in B.C. 

Williams won’t say how many dolls were delivered in the first days of operation, fearing it may inspire copycat entrepreneurs. I suspect part of his vagueness, however, may be related to the fact that Williams is working solo to run the B.C. business—making him responsible for balancing the online booking of all eight dolls, delivering them to customers in cities suffering snow-induced traffic pandemonium, and administering the multi-stage cleaning process of used products. 

Before the dolls are delivered with mandatory-use condoms and lube, they endure a full interior and exterior wash with antibacterial soap and hydrogen peroxide. Between wash-cycles, they are inspected with a black light and UV-C light for trace contaminants.

“I don’t know how a customer could prove he got anything from a doll, “ Williams says, adding that the company hasn’t had any issues since the Calgary business began in July 2019. “You can get these cleaner than you can any person.”

While the cleaning technology may be modern, the concept of life imitating sex toys is far from new. Williams—a former oil and gas worker seeking a recession-proof profession—says his company was inspired by how popular the concept is in Japan. Sex doll services have gained traction in Europe, the U.S., and Canada’s first sex doll brothel—Bella Dolls—came to Vancouver in November 2018. 

Kristen Dickson had to stop running Bella Dolls, as well as her Kamloops-based rental delivery service House of Dolls, when personal matters saw her move back to Calgary in May 2019. Prior to placing her businesses on hold, Dickson told media that she was averaging 15 deliveries a month, and that each sterilization took about 90 minutes. 

By delivering rentals, rather than operating at a space for sex doll services, Natrl has been able to legally operate and avoid the criminal charges facing its competitor in Ontario, Aura Dolls. 

Aura is facing two charges made by the City of Mississauga, where the sex doll brothel moved after they were shut out by Toronto bylaws and public outrage. The company is being accused of operating an unlicensed adult entertainment business, and doing so without a proper zoning certification.

Natrl operates with the business licence of an adult novelty item rental agency. According to a sex work policy researcher, Pivot Legal Society’s Kerry Porth, Natrl isn’t violating any current prostitution law in Canada because they are simply renting inanimate objects.

“While the sex dolls are designed to be used sexually, the business would be treated the same as any business providing sex toys, says Porth. “People buy these dolls the same way they'd purchase a sex toy. It makes little difference that in this case they are being rented.”

Porth dismisses some concerns being raised over sex doll services potentially perpetuating violence against women.

“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.”

Unlike many workers who fear of their jobs being replaced by new technologies or robots, Porth says the sex workers she’s spoken to don’t feel threatened by the existence of these services. 

“​Sex workers provide a uniquely human sexual experience and the sex dolls can in no way replace actual human contact,” Porth says. 

As a male escort, Leo*, can be especially relaxed about any potential conflict with current sex doll services available, as Natrl only provides one male doll—Cameron. At $189 for two hours and $289 for an overnight, Cameron may have the price point of Leo, but not the intellect or emotions. 

“Sex often is not the main reason why people get a sex worker. Often these are sad people who just want people to talk to,” says Leo. “That isn’t always the case, but 75 per cent of my clients are really looking for just to connect.”

Leo acknowledges that sex work can be daunting for both people involved, and sex dolls remove the risks of contracting an STI’s, being outed as a customer, facing legal repercussions or having to pay for the services of someone they didn’t expect or enjoy. 

Wiggins notes that his B.C. clientele consists of a lot of seniors, many of whom lost their wives years ago and aren’t interested in having a partner. He says the company’s eyes are set on Edmonton for its third location, before seeking out Victoria and parts of the Okanagan.