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Courtesy Abyss CreationsDown the 405 in northern San Diego County, behind a Circle K, lies Abyss Creations. Abyss makes Realdolls, $6,000 high-grade silicone "sexmates" the size and shape of real women. They really are lifelike. When I visited creator Matt McMullen in his workshop, Realdolls were seated on chairs around us. I kept feeling like I should greet them: the librarian, the dominatrix, the French maid. The dolls come with tongues, teeth, fingernails, eyelashes and all the necessary "feminine parts." Each has a movable steel skeleton, weighs 85 to 125 pounds and can support 500 pounds of weight. According to the company Web site, Realdolls have the "poise and relaxed state of sleeping girls." Ad copy aside, the girls look like 20-somethings in a drug-stall: blank-eyed and too medicated to know what you’re doing with that rope . . .
Abyss Creations began in 1996, when McMullen — between rehearsals for his garage band Chaotic Order — applied what he learned on the job at a special-effects company to an art project. The project inspired many questions about anatomical correctness, which led to an offer to fund an A.C. prototype. On a whim, the finished product was displayed on the band’s Web site. A flood of orders followed, and the business was born. Now McMullen’s wife and sister-in-law help fill a lot of Betty Page look-alike requests.
The dolls are shipped in lockable crates, which I mistakenly referred to as "coffins," drawing glares from the McMullen clan. They are seated and strapped into the crates like Apollo astronauts — astronauts in miniskirts, bras and panties. Perfume is optional, but each Realdoll holds a flower in her hand. Five basic body styles — supermodel, dancer, petite, voluptuous I and II — are available. One of the voluptuous models has a 38DD cup, and the other has a 34C. Five skin tones — medium, fair, tan, African and Asian — are offered. There is also a Japanese head style named Mai. Other head models differ primarily in details such as painted-on makeup and wig color; the skulls are equipped with Velcro strips to hold on the fake hair. Each Realdoll comes with its own cleaning kit.
McMullen does not use life forms; every nipple, thumb and anus springs from his imagination. And who is the typical customer, breathlessly awaiting delivery of one of these winsome creatures? I asked him.
"Maybe an old guy, a retiree without a wife who has some cash saved away," McMullen replied. "A guy who ain’t going anywhere in the singles scene." Some customers have confided that they buy their dolls elaborate wardrobes, and prop them up at the dining table so they can eat with them, McMullen said. Other purchasers are clothing designers and art collectors, he said. Think of the Realdoll as "a very expensive work of art," he added.
Abyss currently is developing a male model, is considering a she-male, and will make custom dolls for an extra fee. Robotics and microprocessors are on the drawing board. McMullen said there’s no competing product that approaches the Realdoll in quality, but that could change soon. "A reporter from Japan showed up, and we caught him taking pictures of everything we asked him not to photograph," McMullen told me. "Turned out he was with a company working [on an] imitation."
Deflating and wadding up a blowup figure each night is one thing. Wrestling a woman’s 120-pound form into a lockbox after you’ve done God-knows-what to her is quite another. Invited to grope a doll during my visit, I was disturbed. I caught myself wondering if I shouldn’t cop a last feel before I left. I left quickly.—John Nelson
For the past decade, Señor Fish has been pampering the taste buds of Angelenos with superb Mexican-style seafood fare, first at a Highland Park roadside stand and now at locations in South Pasadena, Alhambra, Little Tokyo and Eagle Rock. Glowing reviews from the likes of Westways, Los Angeles Magazine and the Los Angeles Timeshave drawn foodies from around the country to sample the signature fish tacos, ceviche tostadas and scallop burritos. So, everything’s ducky, right? Not quite. According to Keith Pylant, owner-manager of the Señor Fish on Eagle Rock Boulevard, some "nasty corporate infighting" has impelled him to split off and rename his restaurant Señor Fresh.
"I take a great deal of pride in my operation, the quality of service and, above all, the freshness of the food," he says.
Enrique Ramirez, who runs the other three restaurants, says freshness remains a hallmark of his eateries as well.
"That’s how it’s been from day one, everything fresh, using the best shrimp and the best fish," Ramirez says. "The beans, rice and salsa are made in the morning. All the rest is cooked to order."
Complicating matters are family ties. Pylant’s wife, Alicia, is a member of the Ramirez family, which opened Señor Fish in 1988. While she has broken away with her husband in the Eagle Rock operation, Alicia remains involved with her brother, Enrique, in the other three restaurants, he says.