She lay quietly on a narrow bed, greeting potential customers with an impassive stare and a disproportionately buxom form: meet "156", a stand-in companion for Chinese men with empty beds. Named for her height, she is a high-quality sex doll made of thermoplastic elastomer, a rubbery material softer than silicone, with adjustable hands, a removable head, hair and genitals, and available from specialist stores in Beijing for around $2,500. Liu, a local car designer, bought one for his dimly lit studio apartment, deep in an industrial suburb of the capital. Like millions in China who leave their hometowns to work in the cities, the 29-year-old automobile designer leads a bachelor's life during the week, returning to his wife and toddler in neighbouring Hebei province every weekend. He has already been married for more than a decade, and says he simply wants to satisfy his sexual appetites without being unfaithful to his wife.
Micdolls salesman Yi Jiange explains that most of his customers are professionals like Liu, and that even women come in sometimes and buy dolls for their husbands. And it's not necessarily about the sex, he adds, sometimes it's more about the companion. But of course he admits that even such real-feeling doll can never replace the real thing.