Police are investigating a ‘try-before-you-buy’ sex doll shop over concerns it is really a brothel which would make it illegal.
But the owner of the store is trying to claim that in many cases his clients do not even want to have sex with his dolls and prefer to sit and talk to them.
Customers are invited to pay 500 HKD (50 GBP) for an hour in the company of the ultra-realistic sex dolls at the shop in the former British colony of Hong Kong in south-eastern China.
The man behind the venture, named only as Rex by local media, says when customers do use the dolls intimate services, he takes care of hygiene concerns by insisting customers wear condoms and by soaking the dolls in disinfectant after each session.
He says the business is not a sex doll brothel, but an adult entertainment shop which offers a ‘try before you buy’ service on some of its products.
The business, called ‘This Mary’, is based on the fifth floor of an industrial building in the Kung Tong district of Hong Kong.
It offers a choice of three realistic silicone sex dolls which can be bought for between 18,000 HKD (1,800 GBP) and 30,000 HKD (3,000 GBP).
Rex said he decided to open up his business after stumbling across the latest super realistic sex dolls when he visited two adult fairs last year as a salesman.
He claims he invested 300,000 HKD (30,000 GBP) on setting up the ‘This Mary’ store two months ago, buying the dolls from a dealer on the Chinese mainland.
Rex says he sees it as a sex shop showroom and venue for adult parties, as well as providing a service for people who had intimacy issues.
He said: “I’m helping with their mental needs. Some men have been single for a long time and do not have many chances to meet women.
“Someone may want to talk to people, but perhaps they are not good at social skills, and so they talk to the dolls. It’s more than sex.”
But he admitted business had been slow to get off the ground, partly because he had struggled to find a way to advertise it.
Prostitution is legal in Hong Kong but operating a brothel with two or more sex workers is against the law. If the probe concludes the man is running a brothel, it will be illegal and he could face prosecution.
Police have confirmed they are looking into whether or not the business fits the definition of a brothel, and if not what licensing regulations it needs to comply with.
Family doctor and sex therapist Dr Angela Ng Wing-ying said she did not see the use of sex dolls as a problem, so long as the user could still relate sexually to other people.