Robot Sex Doll Shop to Open in Houston, Petition Launched, Mayor Looks for Options

A robotic expert warns that robot sex doll could be exploited, hence, there should be laws and guidelines for its development and sale. | REUTERS/Albert Gea

A robot sex doll shop is slated to open this month in the fourth largest city in the United States, even though its mayor says it is unwanted.

Houston's mayor Sylvester Turner is exploring legal options to "restrict or regulate" KinkySdollS, which would reportedly be the first doll brothel of its kind, Fox News reported Tuesday.

The owner of the outfit, Yuval Gavriel, maintains his business is a "showroom" and not a brothel, where customers can come and rent the merchandise before buying. Gavriel intends to open 10 locations across the country by 2020.

"This is not the kind of business I would like to see in Houston and certainly this is not the kind of business the City is seeking to attract," Turner said in an email to the outlet, noting that "the city is currently reviewing existing ordinances that may restrict or regulate such businesses as well as looking to upgrade our ordinances to cover these type of businesses."

Area residents are disgusted and want the business nowhere near their homes.

"There's kids around here and it's a family-oriented neighborhood and I live right here and to have that here is just gross," resident Andrea Paul told the local Fox affiliate.

A petition was launched to keep the business out of Houston last week and as of Wednesday afternoon has gained over 7,500 signatures.

At present Gavriel's business does not meet the definition of a "sexually oriented business" under city ordinace and only requires an occupancy permit.

The Houston mayor's search for ways to curb the business comes just weeks after Toronto closed one week before opening day what was going to be the first sex doll brothel in North America, following many complaints from the community. But that shop was an actual brothel that had planned to be open for customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Meanwhile, Gavriel maintained that last May he had opened the first sex doll shop a few miles away from the previously planned Toronto sex doll brothel. Like the planned Houston business, his Toronto location is like a "showroom" and he reportedly has around 500 male clients; he has a business license and the shop run like a sex retail store and not an "adult entertainment parlor" and is therefore legal. To use a robot sex doll for 30 minutes costs $60 and to purchase one starts at $2,500.

The robotic dolls respond to touch, he told local reporters, and his company also sells models equipped with artificial intelligence and are designed to engage in conversations with the user. These more expensive dolls are available only for purchase and cost $10,000.

Writing on her Facebook page, author and Houston Baptist University scholar Nancy Pearcey noted in her most recent book Love Thy Body, that sex with robots has been predicted given the dehumanizaing trajectory of materialism, which has a low view of the human body.

"A materialist philosophy has been teaching people that they are merely complex mechanisms, and now we are seeing the logical outcome — the substitution of machines for real persons. The ultimate depersonalization," she wrote.

Earlier this year the U.S. House of Representatives banned the importation and sale of robotic dolls that resemble children due to concern it would lead to users acting out their fantasies on actual children.

"Once an abuser tires of practicing on a doll, it's a small step to move on to a child. My bill takes necessary steps to stop these sickening dolls from reaching our communities," said lead sponsor of the bill, Rep. Dan Donovan, R-New York, at the time.

Follow Brandon Showalter on Facebook: BrandonMarkShowalter Follow Brandon Showalter on Twitter: @BrandonMShow

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