Back in January 2010, to much fanfare and ultimately huge anti-climax, the ‘world’s first sex robot‘ was announced. Her name was ‘Roxxxy’, and was unveiled to the world at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Observers quickly noted how ugly she was. Her appearance was more of a mannequin than a realistic sex doll, and her mobility was even less than that of a sex doll. This ‘sex robot’ was completely paralysed but could say a small number of pre-recorded phrases in a Stephen Hawkins type voice. Nethertheless, the sex bot apparently went on sale via the website TrueCompanion.com for $7,000, and within months the maker – Douglas Hines – claimed to have received thousands of orders. By the end of the year not only had a male version of Roxxxy been unveiled (Rocky), but Roxxxy herself had had a slight upgrade, now with the added feature of being able to awkwardly buck her hips during sex.
However, nobody appears to have actually claimed to own one of these things. I have not encountered any review or video or forum post online from a person describing his experience after purchasing a Roxxxy sex robot. Douglas Hines still regularly appears in the news to discuss sexbots and robot ethics, and his site is still up, appearing to have changed very little since 2010, with the two sex robots still on sale, now for close to $10,000 each.
A Guardian article on the ‘Race to build the first sex robot‘ appeared today. As its title suggests, the writer doesn’t think much of Roxxxy’s claim to be the world’s first true sex robot. It does give a good background to the creation and marketing of Roxxxy however, and the rest of the article is certainly worth a read too.
Named Roxxxy, she was designed with lonely, bereaved and socially outcast men in mind. She would provide an opportunity for them to practise social interaction and get better at human relationships.
“The sexual part is superficial,” he told me over the phone from his office in New Jersey. “The hard part is to replicate personalities and provide that connection, that bond.”
He has never considered that there could be something emotionally empty about replacing a human presence with circuitry and silicone. “The purpose of True Companion is to provide unconditional love and support. How could there be anything negative about that? What can be the downside of having a robot that’s there to hold your hand, literally and figuratively?”
After three years of work on the first prototype Roxxxy, Hines launched her at the 2010 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, the most high-profile annual convention and trade show in the adult industry calendar, where porn stars, studio bosses and sex toy designers show off their latest products. She was the talk of the show before her unveiling, and the laughing stock after. Far from being the sexy, intelligent machine Hines had promised, Roxxxy was revealed to be a clunky, mannish mannequin with a square jaw, reclining awkwardly in a cheap negligee. She had internal sensors so that if you touched her hand she would say, “I love holding hands with you” when in “Frigid Farrah” mode, or “I know a place you could put that hand” when in “Wild Wendy” mode. But Roxxxy’s lips could not move, either, so she spoke in a disembodied voice, through a speaker under her wig, like an overgrown child’s toy talking filth. “Luckily guys,” said the popular American comedian Jay Leno on the Tonight Show, “there’s a button that turns that off.”
Even though it was not quite what he had hoped for, the launch generated huge amounts of press for Hines, and Roxxxy made international news. Seven years on from her launch, Hines told me he was working on his 16th version of Roxxxy. However, no images have been released of his robots since 2010, and although he was happy to speak to me by telephone, he would not agree a date when I could visit him and his latest model in person. Roxxxy is a mystery among the online robot enthusiast community. Although the True Companion website has bulging purple “ORDER HER NOW!” that allow would-be customers to purchase one of Hines’s robots for a starting price of $9,995, no one has ever reported owning one. But Hines continues to get calls. He promised a fantasy so potent that potential buyers, reporters and critics remain fascinated by Roxxxy, even in the absence of any proof that she exists.