John Walsh: Frigid Farrah or Foxxxy are not a girlfriend experience I recognise

Tales of the City

Share
Related Topics

When the former New York governor Eliot Spitzer ran into trouble for employing the resources of an escort agency called the Emperor's Club, I checked it out (unsleeping sense of journalistic duty, you understand) and was impressed by the way the site described its enticements. "Meet Samantha," read one. "Breathtaking beauty, inspiring conversation and a candid personality make her a peerless companion. When seeking a vivaciously rejuvenating girlfriend experience, Samantha is the obvious choice."

At the time I assumed that the "vivaciously rejuvenating girlfriend experience" was a comically overblown euphemism for a shag, but I was wrong. In sex-worker terminology, a Girlfriend Experience (or GFE) means a hooker who offers a fair impression of emotional intimacy for an hour: who can share your mood, mirror your enthusiasms and converse as if she understands what you're on about. To the chronically lovelorn, it's probably well worth $400 an hour, with a shag, as it were, thrown in.

Now here's proof that the essential ingredient in the bedroom isn't, after all, a battery-operated device or mink-lined restraints, but conversation. In Las Vegas, at the Adult Entertainment Expo, an inventor called Douglas Hines, of the True Companion corporation, unveiled a $7,000 life-size sex robot called Roxxxy, whose secret weapon is that it/she can be programmed to chat. She murmurs with pleasure when touched, and, when you tap commands into a laptop (don't snigger) she can project a variety of personalities – "outgoing and adventurous" Wild Wendy, caring and mumsyish Mature Martha, severe, no-nonsense S&M Sarah and "reserved and shy" Frigid Farrah (who sounds, quite frankly, a dead loss as a sex toy.) All have the technological wherewithal to hold a conversation, using pre-recorded words and sounds. "She knows exactly what you want," said Mr Hines excitedly. "If you like Porsches, she likes Porsches, if you like soccer, she likes soccer."

Roxxxy will be a boon to certain male dwellers of Losers' Lane. At last, they can have a "girlfriend experience" with someone interested in their views on the BMW Z4 compared to the Porsche Boxter. But will the robots be programmed to hold proper conversations, with robust exchanges of views? I can imagine S&M Sarah telling her new owner that, although he is a god, a Titan, an Olympian between the sheets, he knows less than sod-all about goalmouth tactics. And I can't see the "outgoing and adventurous" Wild Wendy holding back her contempt after listening to half an hour of techno-bollocks about torque ratios.

But I wonder if the inventors have missed the point about bedroom conversations. In my experience, they tend not to be about subjects, topics, current affairs or world events. They tend to be about people, the oddities and shortcomings of previous partners (to delight and reassure one's present partner), or the theoretical desirability of other people as yet unexplored (to tease one's present partner). Whatever her other virtues, it's hard to imagine Foxxxy the robot lying beside you and murmuring: "I used to be involved with this servo-mechanism in Detroit. He was cool, mostly steel and chrome but with, you know, attachments. He showed me his circuit board. That was amazing. He'd do anything for me but he was too much of an automaton."

***

A study by a linguistics professor at Lancaster University suggests that the speech of British teens is limited to 800 words of "teen-speak", as used on social networking sites like Facebook. Jean Gross, the Communication Champion for Children, says the failure of children to use their full linguistic potential will damage their later job prospects. I don't share her gloom. The teenagers I know enjoy two things related to language. One is making up and phrases ("Totally rammin'", "well weapon") and persuading their elders that they're from the new, decadent teen-speak. The other is finding long or unusual words ("It was relentless"; "I was aghast") to salt their conversation. Last week, I told a boy that my favourite line in the Sherlock Holmes film was Holmes's reply when asked by Irene Adler: "Why do you never seem to trust me?" "Shall I frame my reply," he murmured, "chronologically or alphabetically?"

The youth beamed. "Tell me that again," he said. You could hear him memorising it for future use. Possibly at a job interview.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Letters: No vote poses difficult questions – so why rush?

Independent Voices
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits