Secrets of the Living Dolls heading to Aus

25 February, 2014 by Emily Blatchford

A scene from Secrets of the Living Dolls. 


Nick Sweeney’s documentary Secrets of the Living Dolls is heading to Australian TV screens after causing quite the stir on the UK’s Channel 4. 

The 47-minute doco takes a look at ‘female maskers’ – men who dress up as rubber dolls in order to look like, and pretend to be, glamorous and beautiful women. The transformation includes a full body suit (complete with breasts and a vagina) as well as wigs, make up and face masks.

In its first week of airing on Channel 4 in the UK, Secrets of the Living Dolls drew a whopping 3.7 million viewers.

“We knew it was going to have a lot of interest but we could not have anticipated it would have 3.7million viewers in the first week,” director Nick Sweeney tells IF. “It’s very much gone mainstream and this is a subculture nobody really knew anything about until a couple of weeks ago. Now it’s on morning TV and in the mainstream newspapers and the reaction for the most part has been a really positive one.”

Sweeney and producer Luke Malone, who are both Australian, first came across the concept of female masking on (surprise, surprise) the internet.

“Like all good things it kind of started from YouTube,” Sweeney says. “The producer and I had discovered the female masking community through YouTube about five or six years ago and we’d always been quite obsessed with it because it’s so visually stunning and unusual.

“We kind of kept watching these videos and seeing what the community was up to, but it was only we took the idea to Channel 4 last year that it really became a proper documentary.”

Channel 4 swooped on the concept and the doco was picked up “straight away. We were filming the next day,” Sweeney says.

It took the pair a year of “hardcore work” and travel across various countries in order to meet with their various characters, most of whom Sweeney describes as being extremely normal.

“Did I know much about the culture beforehand? I thought that I knew a lot about it but I actually knew nothing and I realised that as soon as we started talking to the people involved,” he says. “One of the most shocking parts of the documentary is actually how ordinary most of the character’s lives are. Most of them are family men with wives or female partners with children living in suburban America. And I think that’s one of the most surprising things about it is people would expect it to be a very inner city or maybe a very GLBT thing and it’s not.”

Secrets of the Living Dolls will screen on ABC2, this Friday February 28 at 9.30pm.