There’s a woman on TikTok that goes by the name of Pinky Doll. Her blonde wig and pink flat iron have taken over the site in the past few weeks. Celebrities like KeKe Palmer have begun to mention her and imitate her unique style. Though she is not an AI generation and is real in every way, she’s doing everything she can during her livestreams to pretend she is not.
Her voice comes across as monotone and her movements are rigid. Often pretending to lick the screen any time someone sends her a virtual food gift. She uses the flat iron to do her hair, or to make popcorn with it. Yes, make popcorn with a flat iron. Many say they don’t get it. But someone clearly does. Because it’s estimated that Pinky Doll is pulling in over $2000 with every livestream. That’s right. She goes live, pretends to be an artificial character, sells nothing, and makes money.
How? Through the TikTok Creativity Program. When 18+ US based creators get at least ten thousand followers and have a consistent 100,000 views for their livestreams they are welcome to join the program. Once a creator is in the program they can go live and receive virtual gifts. Their viewers who “send” the creators virtual gifts have to pay anywhere between $0.12 to $500 per gift. Keep in mind all of these virtual gifts are VIRTUAL; a wide range of things from fruit and vegetables to diamonds and cars pop up on the screen for just a few seconds. And the creators usually receive around 50% of the value of each virtual gift that the viewers paid to “send” it. That’s how Pinky Doll and the other NPC¹ Dolls get their coins.
When the trend started a few weeks ago, when people began to realize there was real money in pretending to be a NPC Doll on Tiktok, I have to admit I was one of the people that just didn’t get it. I’d heard about it and just didn’t see the hype with it. Until I finally stopped scrolling and sat in for one of the livestreams.
“Oh! Pinky Doll is a sex doll”, I typed out to a friend when discussing the trend.
“What?!”, my friend typed back in bold letters, “No she’s not!”
If you ask me, yes she is. Hair done, makeup beat,pretty face, and a low cut top to draw in attention to the cleavage. This is sex work. No she’s not taking off her clothes or performing any sexual acts. But Pinky Doll is definitely playing off a a certain type of fetishization. Once I thought about the amount of ads I see on the side panels of websites I go to trying to draw people into virtual sex chats or to watch simulated sex it all made perfect sense why this trend is so popular on TikTok.
AI tech has been around for awhile, and one of the first places it took off was internet sex work. People began to make avatars and characters using AI technology, then used code to get them to simulate pretty much anything related to sex. There are even creators using Sims 4 to create virtual sex scenes, recording it, then uploading that recording to be paid for it. You cannot tell me that many of these viewers aren’t thinking about some little AI tech hot avatar that got their socks off when they watch these creators. The way that these AI tech sex characters move, the way they talk, and the way that they interact with the screen is exactly what Pinky Doll and her copycats are doing.
To take that fetish and put it to use with the rise of NPC Dolls is unique and …genius. The NPC Dolls really don’t need to take off their clothes if their voices and the imaginations of the viewers do the rest of the work. And it’s not as easy as it looks. Viewers are beginning to critique creators that fall out of character or move with too much lifelike movement. It definitely takes a certain type of person with precision who can also engage an audience at the same time. I still think it’s not for me, but with the price of food rising and the beginning of a recession at our doorstep I am not mad at Pinky Doll’s hustle.
Get your coins boo.
- NPC = Non-Playable Character. Referring to the characters you will often see in the background of virtual games that players cannot control. The viewers of these TikTok live streams cannot control the creators pretending to be virtual. Thus they are uncontrollable like NPC characters.