WARNING: Post contains fetish and hardcore images

In 1997, The Billy Doll (Produced by the UK company Totem International Ltd. and created by John McKitterick and Juan Andres “as a political statement against hostile government policies and homophobia in general”) swaggered onto the scene, with his (literally) stiff and hard dick in everyone’s faces, proclaiming to be the world’s first gay doll.

They weren’t. That title belongs to Gay Bob, who came out of the closet (also literally since his box is made to look like a closet) two decades before the trio did.

If Billy, Tyson, and Carlos are the perpetually horny jocks in the frat house next door, Bob is your cheeky guncle. He wears a flannel shirt, jeans, cowboy boots, and a brown shoulder bag where he keeps his receipts.

However, the success and long-lasting impact of Billy, Tyson, and Carlos are undeniable, as these discontinued dolls have become a coveted item by gay men, adult doll collectors, and adult gay men who collect dolls. I don’t have any concrete data, but I’m sure the two populations have an inevitable, and perhaps noteworthy overlap, like yours truly.

My own experience with the Totem dolls is somewhat limited. I purchased two Billies from eBay about ten years ago but decided to resell them and never looked back.

However, an Instagram account called The Tyson Doll Project, which is the fictitious Insta for Tyson Doll @tyson.thee.doll, chronicles Tyson’s (and Billy’s and Carlos’s) lives and their adventures. It showcases these dolls’ charms as they (and the person behind the account) navigate through life.

This interview has been edited for clarity. Find the links to support The Tyson Doll Project at the end of this interview.

Dollsexposed: Tell us about your Tyson project. 

tyson.thee.doll: The Tyson Doll Project is a photo homage to the fictitious life of Tyson Doll’s sometimes naughty but always fun adventures and run-ins with grabby hands celebrities through American pop history.

I’ve had my Tyson for seventeen years. I started out collecting celebrity dolls only. But had to have Tyson after discovering him. I only bought my first Billy and Carlos dolls last year for the project.

I had Tyson and he went pretty much anywhere I went. I’ve taken him to Mexico. He’s been all over. I just had him.

But when I went back to school in San Francisco, there was a six-year break where I didn’t post anything. I only started posting again last year (2022). That’s when the whole project came about.

So, it’s all relatively new. The collecting is relatively new.

Billy is kind of Totem’s number-one guy and original star, why did you choose Tyson as the face of your account and your project? 

Tyson is my mini-me! And deserved more love than I saw him receiving from the pictures other collectors posted. I wanted Tyson to live his best life. A life that made other dolls jealous!

When I first got Tyson, he didn’t look like a playful Ken doll. He looked like a grown man. He looked like me with a shaved head. So, Tyson is my favorite.

Did you know about the other Totem Dolls before?

Yes. I’ve seen Billy and Carlos at the store (Does Your Mother Know, in San Francisco’s Castro district), but until I saw Tyson, I’d never wanted them.

That’s what I like about the line also. They’re ethnically diverse, I do wish there was an Asian, that would’ve been cool as hell, but there’s still diversity in having the drag dolls.

But ever since becoming a part of the doll community, I’ve branched out to include other dolls that I think are really cool and use them to help tell whatever story I’m trying to tell about Tyson.

How many Totem dolls do you have? It looks like you have multiple Tysons, Billies, and Carloses? 

I have two of Tyson, two of Carlos (and one on the way LOL!), two of brunette Billy; who I call Bobby, and three Billies.

The hours spent dressing the dolls, undressing them, redressing them, it helps to have multiple dolls because I’d be shooting multiple things at the same time.

Do you have the Drag Queen Billies?

I don’t. I want my dolls to be more inclusive. It’d be really cool to have a trans-Billy and call her “Champagne.” I never pulled the trigger on buying the drag dolls due to not developing a storyline to include them.

Did it take a long time to build the collection? 

Yes and no. Yes, because it was 17 years later that I bought my second Totem doll, which was just last year. No, because once I committed to The Tyson Doll Project, I bought what I needed to complete it.

Around this time last year, I was in my last semester of grad school in San Francisco and I was doing school remotely. I knew that I was gonna leave SF and there were many things I wanted to do,

Pre-pandemic, I had a lot of photos of my time in SF. During the pandemic, all those photos were gone, disappeared. The whole drive was just gone. So, I just wanna capture my time in SF in photography, but through Tyson.

I wanted to capture the gorgeous San Francisco but through the eyes of Tyson. I wanted to do the stereotypical landmark, like The Golden Gate Bridge where I shot Batman.

There’s one I never posted and it was of Dick Tracy. It was shot everywhere. At the SF Zoo, The Columbarium, Alcatraz, and Sutro Heights as well.

But this time last year was my last semester and I knew I was going to leave San Francisco, so it was do or die time, it exacerbated the project because I knew I was gonna be moving after a set amount of time. The opportunity was going to be gone. So, I started buying the dolls.

Some of them were great deals, and some of them weren’t. It was just, “Swipe this card, swipe this card.”

Where did you get them?

I found my initial Tyson doll at a store called Does Your Mother Know, in San Francisco’s Castro district. All the others were purchased from eBay. 

When I got my first Tyson, who was a sailor, he came with no box and his hat was missing. So they discounted him. He was like 60 bucks I think, which I think was not a big deal, but a lot of people do. But when you’re an artist and you want to create, you just do it.

Last year, when I did the Tyson Doll project, I kinda got teary-eyed and probably should’ve done an unboxing video, because he finally had his first complete outfit.

But there’s only so much you can do with a sailor costume. I took it off, put it on backward, and he just ended up being naked for a very long time.

Nobody can complain about that. He’s made to be naked.

Exactly! And then once when I did a laundromat photoshoot, I put his underwear over his penis and I took pictures and I was like, “Why did you do that? Why did you cover it up?”

So my rule now is to never cover it up.

You’ve never had somebody report your Instagram?

Never, but I’ve definitely had pictures removed because if you look at my page, it’s all done landscaped – portrait – landscaped – portrait. So if one of them gets removed, it changes the whole layout.

We’re not just posting photos here. There is a plan!

God, people are so stupid!

No, this is Instagram, because it happened immediately. And when I first started the Tyson Doll Project, I’d post fifteen pictures at a time and notice something was not looking right. Then I’d get a notice from Instagram that said, “This has been removed due to bla bla bla.”

That happened about three times, then I started challenging the decision (and won). Ever since then, I never had any problem with my post, honestly.

I do know that I’ve gotten away with a lot, but other pages have gotten away with a whole lot more. I have no idea who’s doing what. I know it happens to me. It doesn’t happen frequently, but it happens.

(Side note: this interview was conducted before my own account @toyphotostudio was locked and then permanently suspended due to a violation of community guidelines. Tyson Doll Project also shared Instagram’s takedown in their story)

It’s crazy because you do doll photography, I do doll photography. Now that I have a website, I have an outlet to post, but I’ve seen real guys with very skimpy, see-through clothes or underwear and they got away with it.

There’s so much porn on Instagram but even on TikTok they have their rules about posts, but I see how people get away with doing it.

I’m not necessarily trying to get away with it. If I were, I wouldn’t use that many hashtags or make it so easy to find me.

What do you hate the most about the Totem dolls?

They aren’t very articulated. Their heads don’t turn, knees don’t bend, arms only go up and down, and legs spread in a weird V-shape. It’s also hard to find clothes for them because they’re so big. Ken doll clothes just don’t fit. So Tyson was naked for a long time. 

They are thirteen inches instead of twelve, and they’re so all over. Everything on this doll is so huge.

What I really did was buy the Billy dolls with the different outfits that came with the line, so I have almost all of those, so I just took them off and put them on Tyson.

But when it comes to the superheroes, Mego has fourteen-inch dolls, and the clothes usually have a lot of Spandex, so they’re stretchy and they really work.

That’s genius!

But you can’t go too big. I’ve tried eighteen-inch dolls and those are too big. The Mego is great. I’ve done Batman, Superman, and Star Trek.

What’s the most expensive Totem doll you purchased?

My second Tyson was almost $300.

What’s the least expensive? 

Billy. There were so many made that he’s very easy to find. 

Would you ever sell your Totem dolls? If so, how much would be the minimum amount to part with them?

Yes. I have a Master Billy for sale on eBay right now. The minimum price depends on which doll it is. Tyson is rare and regularly sees bids for over $400. But I plan to keep two of each so I’ll always have at least eight. Unless I commit to buying the Billy and Carlos drag dolls, which I’m still debating. [this paragraph is from email]

I have been watching every single day for years now and I have seen how people will say, “Oh, I can get $400 for this, I’m gonna list this for $400.”

Those don’t sell.

But people will bid up to that amount, but no one’s really ready to just say, “Oh let me swipe my card for $400.”

Do you own other anatomically correct dolls?

Yes, Gay Bob, Jeff Stryker, and the Tom of Finland dolls.

How do you compare the other dolls with the Totem dolls?

The biggest comparison is that the Totem dolls are always flaccid, while the Jeff Stryker and Tom of Finland dolls have bendable penises to make them erect or flaccid. And articulation is lacking in the Totem line.

It helps to have other articulated dolls to convey action in the shots.


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All photos belong to Tyson Doll Project.

Dollsexposed showcases queer erotica, kink, fetish, and activism through twelve-inch doll photography.

Their adventures in the doll world began in 2011 before establishing a home on dollsexposed.com eleven years later.

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