Objects of Desire

If you find yourself without a date this Valentine’s Day, don’t despair! Human relationships are no longer the only option. Men and women around the world are choosing increasingly bizarre significant others. From tourist attractions to farmyard animals, it seems nothing can be ruled out as a potential life partner…

In Japan, a few men have pursued relationships with dakimakura, or love pillows. These are giant pillows with life-size pictures of anime characters on them, and their human partners are referred to as ‘otaku’, which roughly translates to ‘obsessive nerd’. 28 year-old Lee Jin-Gyu married his love pillow in a special ceremony in front of a local priest. Lee had his dakimura, who was based on a character from an anime series called Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, fitted with a wedding dress and apparently regularly takes it out for meals, buying it its own dinner.

Erica La Tour Eiffel, a 37 year-old American woman with a fetish for inanimate objects, has an interesting romantic history. Following a relationship with a bow which she names Lance, La Tour Eiffel has married the French landmark and has legally changed her name to reflect this commitment. This is apparently an open marriage, as she also claims to be dating several other objects, amongst which is a piece of fence which she keeps in her room.

Another object fetishist, a Swedish woman named Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer, married the Berlin Wall in 1979, telling the press that “the Great Wall of China’s attractive, but he’s too thick – my husband is sexier.” The 54 year-old, whose surname means ‘Berlin Wall’ in German, became obsessed with the wall when she saw it on television and started saving up for a visit. This marriage fell apart when the wall was torn down in 1989 and Mrs Berliner-Mauer has since started seeing a garden fence.

Charles Tombe, a South Sudanese man, was forced to marry a goat when he was found having sex with it. When the owner of the goat caught the two in the act, he took Tombe to a council of village elders who decided that the perpetrator should pay a marriage dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dollars because he “used the goat as his wife”. The goat, named Rose, tragically passed away in 2007 after choking on a plastic bag, leaving behind a four-month-old baby goat.

When Amy Wolfe, a 33 year-old woman from Pennsylvania, was a teenager, she found herself “instantly attracted sexually and mentally” to a fairground ride at Knoebels Amusement Park. Ten years later, she travelled 160 miles to visit 1001 Nachts, the 80 foot gondola ride, and declared her love to it. Now she sleeps with a picture of it and carries parts of it around with her. Wolfe says that she does not get jealous when others ride the gondola, claiming to have a unique spiritual relationship with it. The two are now engaged and Wolfe plans to change her surname to Weber, after the manufacturer of the fairground ride, following the wedding.

Defying the stereotype of the mad cat woman, a German postal worker became a mad cat man when he married his terminally ill cat, Cecilia. When Uwe Mitzscherlich was told that Cecilia didn’t have much time left, he dressed the feline all in white and hired an actress to play the registrar when shocked officials refused to take part in the ceremony.

Even more bizarrely, some people have started marrying themselves. This trend began in 2003 when a Dutch artist married herself in a large ceremony on her 30th birthday. In 2007, a Chinese man named Liu Ye wed a cardboard cutout of himself, and, after facing pressure to settle down and marry, Chen Wei Yih from Taiwan became her own wife.

While most of these marriages are purely ceremonial, the relationships seem to be real and people really are settling down with animals, rides and even themselves.

So next time you find yourself cringing over a drunk hook up, remember it could have been worse – you could have gone home with a Japanese love pillow.