Sex doll brothel to open in Toronto

By Faiza Amin

A brothel is set to open in Toronto’s north end, but the sex workers won’t be real women — they’ll be high-tech sex dolls made of silicone.

Aura Dolls is launching what it claims is the first sex doll brothel in North America on Sept. 8 in a plaza on Yonge Street near Sheppard Avenue, which also houses a nail salon, a massage parlour and a dry cleaner.

“We operate similar to a brothel where guests come in, they have their own room,” said marketing director Claire Lee. “We have a TV monitor that plays adult entertainment and a doll … will be ready and waiting for you in your room.”

Names, photos and descriptions of the dolls can be found on the company’s website along with rates which range from $80 for one doll for 30 minutes to $960 for two dolls for four hours.

Aura Dolls told CityNews the customers will only interact with the dolls when they visit the business, which will have a private entrance at the back and a buzzer system to exit.

“They put their payment down on the counter and they go straight to their room,” Lee said. “They’ll probably not bump into a single person.

“We don’t have staff there, just a camera. The payment is taken at the beginning, you go into the room, do your time and just leave.”

The company also encourages the use of lube and condoms and said the dolls will be cleaned after each customer using a three-step routine to get them as clean as possible.

The owners wanted to remain anonymous, but Lee said they got the idea to start the business after visiting Japan.

While it’s believed to be a first of its kind in Canada, sex doll brothels have opened elsewhere in the world, including Europe, where people have raised concerns over the dehumanization and objectification of women.

“At the end it’s just a doll,” said Lee. “I see it more as a way for men to fulfill their fantasies.

“We try to focus on the fact that since we have this service, for men who have these dark, violent fantasies, instead of putting out the urge to act aggressively, they can do something like this which is safe for everyone.”

The dolls last about six months, Lee said, and customers can do whatever they want with them within reason, and nothing disturbing or violent.

Aura Dolls said it has had requests from women for male dolls and is looking to add them to their roster.

The company is incorporated and the owners told CityNews they have a business licence with the City of Toronto.

However, city officials told CityNews on Monday that the business is not licensed with the city.

The owners of the company say they researched the rules and regulations around owning a business of this kind and found it was completely legal.

“We found that the only rule on anything that relates to what we do is that we can’t have dolls that look underage … they can’t be under a specific height limit,” she said. “Besides that, there’s no restrictions.”

The City of Toronto told CityNews it does license adult entertainment businesses, such as body rub parlours and adult entertainment clubs, but not sex work or brothels.

“If a new business sets up shop in Toronto and there is an identified need for municipal regulation, then we will respond as appropriate,” said Tracey Cook, executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards.

Sex work advocates say a business like this can alter the landscape of the sex industry and spark debate about the laws they have been working to change.

“I think it’ll open up a bigger conversation hopefully around the decriminalization of sex work and the importance around how decriminalization will allow sex workers to work in safety, to have rights, and to validate that it’s a form of work,” said advocate Monica Forrester.

“With the brothel thing, I think it’ll open up more dialogue hopefully, and have sex workers included in that in how they can be a part of changing some of that stigma.”

Forrester said she hopes the Trudeau government will sit down with advocates and sex workers to have a conversation about the laws pertaining to the industry.

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