The strangest requests Graham Tempest says he gets are when customers come armed with photos.

He is the owner of the UK's biggest sex doll supermarket. "They ask if we can make a doll that looks like the woman in their picture," he tells LADbible. "I'll ask who it is and they'll say it's a colleague or a neighbour."

Graham thinks for a moment. "Technically, we could do that but...it's a bit creepy, isn't it? It wouldn't be healthy. We always gently suggest other options," he says.

Sex dolls are a rising phenomenon. More are being bought in the UK than ever before. Lovedoll, the store which Graham runs in Gateshead, has gone from selling a couple a month when it was founded three years ago to now, it claims, shifting more than 1,000 a year.

Where once such toys resembled swimming pool inflatables - albeit, swimming pool inflatables with big old pairs of tits - today's generation come with A-list good looks, an ability to stand unaided and, for the discerning gent perhaps, a double-L cup chest. They cost in the region of £2,000 (US$2,757).

'The Heartbreaker' and 'Jessica (Soccer Mom)' Sex Doll. Credit: Lovedoll
'The Heartbreaker' and 'Jessica (Soccer Mom)' Sex Doll. Credit: Lovedoll

"Physically, having sex with them is very similar to the real thing," says Graham. "The only difference is you don't get as much interaction. It's the midpoint between masturbation and sex."

The 40-year-old is talking to LADbible because he wants to normalise the whole sticky business. LADbible, on the other hand, is here because we're curious; just who and why are more and more men splashing cash to get down and dirty with an inanimate object.

"It's all kinds of men," explains Graham. "Mainly middle-aged and middle class. They've worked hard all their lives and want to treat themselves. But we get younger, too, and older. We had one chap who was 75. He was happily married but he wanted more sex than his wife did. This was their solution."

Guys in their 20s regularly express interest. The company has an Instagram account with plenty of millennial followers - but many can't afford what they want. "We're in talks with a finance company so they can buy now and pay later," adds Graham.

Lovedoll
Lovedoll

Some customers do have social issues, he admits. "For whatever reason, they find it particularly difficult to interact with members of the opposite sex - perhaps there has been issues in their childhood, serious issues, I mean - but these men still have desires. In that way, we are helping them. We are offering a life-altering facility," he tells us.

Other men are connoisseurs, it seems. "We have one customer who has bought nine or 10. Some men collect them like others might collect vintage cars," says Graham.

Each doll is made in China from a mix of plastic and rubber. Particularly popular with customers at the moment are, predictably perhaps, Kim Kardashian figures. But Lovedoll is no stranger to unusual inquiries, too.

"We get a lot of people asking for three breasts," says Graham, matter-of-factly. "It's not something we do at the moment but in the future, perhaps, why not? There's a big thing for blue skin, too - because of the Avatar films."

People wanting celebrity look-alikes isn't as popular as you might imagine. But the company is, by all accounts, in discussion with two reality TV stars about modelling a doll on them. "It's early days, we're talking to the agents, but the feedback has been positive," Graham reveals.

But a word of warning for anyone thinking of saving up and buying. Cleaning is super-important. If you don't follow provided instructions to keep them well-maintained and get rid of any, um, spillages, then bacteria will develop in the holes. That bacteria could then pass to any part of the body coming into contact with it.

The UK's First Sex Doll 'Brothel'. Credit: North News
The UK's First Sex Doll 'Brothel'. Credit: North News

As it happens, Graham is speaking to us just days after his latest service - in which potential customers could "try" a doll before buying - was stopped following concerns being raised by the building's landlords. The practice had seen the store labelled 'Britain's first sex doll brothel' - which "isn't the image we're going for," he says. "So we've ceased that for now."

Nevertheless, sales remain brisk. The popularity of dolls appears to stay on the rise.

Has Graham himself ever used a doll? He answers without hesitation. "Of course," he admits. "I'm a businessman and I couldn't sell a product without knowing what it's like. It's fun, very realistic. They now come heated so it feels very human. I enjoyed it."

That's serious business. Eat your heart out, Lord Alan Sugar.

Words: Colin Drury

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